These are some of the most tender and flavorful party meatballs I’ve ever made. First of all, the basic meatball recipe that follows is incredibly simple yet flavorful. Plus they taste better than pre-frozen, store-bought. But whether you make your own meatballs, or have a good brand of pre-made meatballs, you’ll LOVE creating this dish in your slow cooker. The sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. You can make them a little spicy, too, if you like. The recipe can be served as a delicious hot appetizer, or double the sauce and serve these yummies over rice.
For the meat, you can easily use purchased meatballs, but I highly recommend making these super easy and perfectly delicious meatballs from The Food Charlatan. I have a recipe for Ultimate Meatballs that I love but I admit, it’s quite involved. Karen has come up with this simple recipe that results in nicely seasoned, basic meatballs that will also work in many other recipes. It’s just a matter of combining some nicely complimented seasonings plus panko, with ground beef, pork, egg and milk. Then mix it all with your hands, roll meatballs and bake. Done. These also freeze well, so I recommend doubling the recipe and freezing half for another time.
The sauce combines sweet raspberry jam with balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, fresh ginger and a touch of red pepper flakes. They look festive and inviting sprinkled with chopped scallions and sesame seeds. Plus the scallion adds a fresh bite. As written, the recipe makes the perfect amount for cocktail meatballs, and they’re ready in no time. I recommend serving the day the sauce is made. But you can make and bake the meatballs in advance and freeze until needed for serving. The meatballs can be placed frozen into the sauce in the slow cooker.
Slow Cooker Party Meatballs with Raspberry Balsamic Glaze
For the meatballs
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3/4 pound ground pork
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the Raspberry Balsamic Glaze
- 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
- 2 tsp sugar
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 tbsp ginger, freshly grated or 1 tsp ground ginger
- sliced scallions, for garnish
- sesame seeds, for garnish
For the meatballs
- Pre-heat your oven to 450F degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray.
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Use your hands to mix everything together. Don't over mix; this will result in tough meatballs.
- Shape the mixture into walnut-sized meatballs. To speed this process, using a small cookie scoop is very helpful.
- Place the meatballs close together (but not touching) on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 450 for about 10 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Serve hot.
- To freeze: Let the meatballs cool. Use a fork or spoon to scrape the fat away from the sides. Place the meatballs on the same pan that you just baked them on, without the tin foil. (Just fold it up as you go.) I didn't grease the pan and they came off fine. Place the pan in the freezer and set a timer for 45 minutes to an hour. Transfer the meatballs to a large ziplock bag, seal, and return to the freezer.
- Makes about 60-65 meatballs, depending on the size you make.
For the raspberry balsamic glaze and to finish the meatballs in the slow cooker
- To a slow cooker, add the raspberry preserves, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and red pepper flakes, and stir together, using a whisk if you want.
- Once combined, remove a 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Add the meatballs (it's okay if they are frozen) and stir to coat. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or on high for 2 hours. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meatballs and set aside.
- Pour the sauce through a sieve into a small sauce pan. The sieve ensures the sauce is smooth. Some bits of the meatballs just naturally break off into the sauce during cooking in the crock pot. Add the reserved 1/2 cup sauce.Turn the heat to medium-high and let sauce come to a simmer. Stirring occasionally, let sauce cook until thickened and slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. This will take longer if you doubled the sauce quantities for serving as a main dish.
- If you want the sauce a little more spicy, add a dash more red pepper flakes to the glaze at this point.Once sauce has thickened, add the meatballs back in and stir gently until all meatballs are covered.Garnish with scallions and/or sesame seeds.
- Meatballs may be made and baked, then frozen for up to a month before placing in the slow cooker with the sauce. You can add them frozen and they'll be just fine by the end of 4 hours on low.
- Alternately, you can shape the meatballs and freeze before baking. To bake the frozen meatballs, defrost them overnight in the refrigerator and then bake according to the directions.