Throw away those old kitschy cocktail meatball recipes that call for grape jelly and frozen meatballs — these are easy-to-make and so much better. You’ll love that the meatballs are baked, not fried, and the sweet and tangy sauce is ready in under 15 minutes. What’s more, you don’t need to wait for a party or special occasion to make them; they’re delicious over white rice for dinner and kids absolutely love them.
Mash with a fork until the bread is mostly dissolved.
Next, combine the ground pork, garlic, baking powder and spices in an electric mixer and whip until the mixture is smooth and pale. (I know it seems odd to make meatballs in an electric mixer, but the technique makes tender meatballs with a nice snap, which is what we’re going for.)
Add the egg mixture and beat until smooth.
Add the ground beef and mix again until just combined.
Using moistened hands, form the meat mixture into meatballs and place on a rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. The rack is useful because any fat from the meatballs drips down but if you don’t have one, don’t worry about it. It’s fine to just place the meatballs directly on the baking sheet.
Bake the meatballs for about twenty minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining the ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, grated shallot, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, water, salt and pepper in a sauté pan large enough to hold all the meatballs. Simmer the sauce for about ten minutes, until slightly thickened.
Add the baked meatballs to the sauce and stir to coat evenly.
Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with finely chopped parsley if desired, and spear with pretty toothpicks.
Note: The technique for mixing the meatballs and the meatball ingredients, for the most part, come from Cook’s Illustrated’s Swedish Meatball recipe.
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- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
- 3/4 cup cubed white sandwich bread, crusts removed
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 pound ground beef (85% lean)
For The Sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1-1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon finely grated shallot, from one shallot
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Finely chopped parsley, if desired
- Preheat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up and place an ovenproof baking/cooling rack over top; spray rack generously with nonstick cooking spray.
- Whisk the egg and cream together in a medium bowl. Stir in the bread and mash until no large bread chunks remain. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the pork, garlic, allspice, pepper, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary. Add the bread mixture to the mixing bowl and beat on high speed until smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the beef and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping the bowl as necessary.
- Using moistened hands (it's sticky and wet hands help; keep wetting them as you go), form the meat mixture into 1-1/2-inch round meatballs and place on the prepared rack. Bake for about 20 minutes, until just done.
- Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the baked meatballs to the sauce and stir to coat evenly. Transfer the meatballs to a serving platter, spear with toothpicks and spoon the sauce over top. Garnish with parsley if desired. Serve warm.
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