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Sweet and Sour Meatballs

These sweet and sour meatballs use Russian dressing and apricot preserves for a new spin on a crock-pot classic! With 4 ingredients and less than 5 minutes of prep, your dinner or party appetizer is ready to feed a crowd.

Serve as cocktail meatballs with a fancy toothpick or a sweet spin on mini meatball subs.

crockpot of meatballs

These sweet and sour crockpot meatballs are the perfect party meatball. Made in the crockpot, slow cooker, or instant pot, they are a delicious appetizer!

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Meatballs

With all the crockpot and slow cooker appetizer meatballs out there, quite a few boast a sweet and tangy flavor profile.

If you look at enough, the ingredients all look the same.

  • Chili Sauce & Grape Jelly
  • Grape Jelly & Ketchup
  • Barbecue Sauce and Mustard
  • Pineapple Juice & BBQ Sauce
  • Vinegar & Soy Sauce

But I don’t see any with Russian dressing. Or apricots.

By the way, I stole this idea from a friend of mine who makes Sweet and Sour Chicken with Russian dressing and apricot preserves.

A simple mixture of the two poured over chicken and baked until done. What an easy recipe in my eyes!

I thought I would give it a try over some meatballs instead of chicken, and give it a whirl in my slow cooker. They turned out great, in case you are wondering.

Which I why I am sharing these sweet and sour crockpot meatballs with you today.

Why this recipe is amazing

  • less than 5 ingredients
  • prep in less than 5 minutes to prep
  • set it and forget it
  • amazing appetizer or delicious dinner that everyone loves!!
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labeled picture of meatball ingredients

Ingredients Needed

Meatballs – I prefer to make homemade meatballs and store in the freezer or grab a bag of frozen meatballs next time you are at the store. I love beef meatballs but you can use turkey meatballs, Italian meatballs, or chicken meatballs too.

Apricot Preserves – I like the preserves because it has some texture to it but you can also use apricot jelly. This takes the place of brown sugar in other sweet and sour sauce recipes.

Russian Dressing – Use the Russian dressing that is not cream based. This is my favorite. If you can’t find it you can also use Catalina or French dressing.

For more insider tips & tricks, and a candid behind the scenes look follow me on social media! Check use out on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter (yes, people still use Twitter, LOL!)

How to Make Sweet and Sour Meatballs

First: Combine the dressing, apricot preserves, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to mix.

Second: Add the frozen cooked meatballs to the crockpot or slow cooker. Pour sauce over the meatballs. Stir to coat evenly.

Third: Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 3-4 hours. If you are using an Instant Pot, cook on high for 7  minutes. Keep warm in the crockpot/slow cooker/instant pot while serving.

Fourth: Serve with toothpicks or mini forks. You can keep hot on the low warm setting during the party. Enjoy!

For the full recipe and detailed instructions, please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

meatballs in a crockpot

Can I make my own Russian dressing?

Yes, but make sure it is a recipe similar to Catalina or French dressing.

Can I substitute the apricot preserves?

You can use orange marmalade but it won’t be as tangy as with the apricot.

spoon with 3 meatballs

Can I reuse the leftover sauce?

This recipe makes really saucy meatballs! Yes, but be sure to store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat all the way through before using it in another recipe.

Can I make sweet and sour meatballs in the instant pot?

Yes, just cook them on manual high pressure for 7-8 minutes. Quick release the steam. These are great served with bell peppers, over white rice and garnished with green onions for a quick and easy dinner. This is a family favorite!

toothpick holding a meatball

Speaking of sauce, this meatball recipe makes a lot of it. So much in fact, that you will have some leftover!

I like mine the next day with chicken wings. Or you can store in the freezer for use later on chicken, pork, meatloaf, and chicken wings. Just be sure to reheat it thoroughly before using again.

The only limit is your imagination when it comes to cocktail meatballs. Want more recipes? Check out this list!

  1. Grape Jelly Meatballs
  2. Teriyaki Meatballs
  3. BBQ Steakhouse
  4. French Onion Meatballs
  5. Hawaiian Meatballs

To see the rest of the list of 40+ Best Meatball Appetizers check out this post.

collage of party meatballs

Looking to make these a complete meal? Check out What to Serve with Meatballs for delicious side dish ideas. I like to serve mine over cauliflower rice.

Tapas Tips & Tricks

  • Use a slow cooker liner for easy cleanup
  • Make your own meatballs for extra flavor
  • I prefer my meatballs with lean ground beef but you can use ground turkey.
  • Prep the sauce ahead of time and just pour in when ready to use.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

crockpot with meatballs

I hope you enjoy this slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs recipe at your next party, for an easy midweek meal over rice, or for a lazy Sunday afternoon watching football! It’s my favorite meatball recipe of all time!

crockpot full of meatballs and sauce

Tangy Sweet Slow Cooker Meatballs

Yield: 20 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

These tangy sweet crockpot meatballs are the perfect party meatball! Made in the crockpot, slow cooker, or instant pot, they are a delicious appetizer!


  • 28 ounces frozen meatballs
  • 16 ounces Russian dressing
  • 18 ounces apricot preserves
  • 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce


Prepare the Tangy Sweet sauce

  1. Combine the Russian dressing, apricot preserves, and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Stir to thoroughly mix.

Prepare the Meatballs

  1. Add the frozen meatballs to the crockpot or slow cooker.
  2. Pour the Tangy Sweet sauce over the meatballs.
  3. Stir to coat evenly.
  4. Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 3-4 hours.
  5. If you are using an Instant Pot, cook on high for 7  minutes.
  6. Keep warm in the crockpot/slow cooker/instant pot while serving.
  7. Serve with toothpicks or mini forks.
  8. Enjoy!


*If you like this recipe, please leave me a comment and rate it with some stars.  Thank you!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 2 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 263Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 622mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 6g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

More Slow Cooker Recipes

{Originally posted 10/2/2018 – Photos and notes updated for better reader experience 11/1/2021} Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.


Friday 10th of February 2023

This was tasty, but a little but strong. I will make this again, but I think I will cut the Worcestershire Sauce to 1/3 cup and for the other 1/3 cup I will use Teriyaki Sauce to smooth it out some. I added cooked egg noodles to the meatballs after they were done.


Monday 13th of February 2023

I love having this over egg noodles. From appetizer to dinner!

Peggy Sue Sandage

Sunday 13th of February 2022

These were so good, I was asked to make them for the Super Bowl by a 9 year old


Thursday 11th of March 2021

DELICIOUS! I've shared this recipe with family and friends who also love it. They always disappear at gatherings! Kids even love them. I fix with white rice & I've also been meaning to add in water chestnuts & pineapples while they cook... maybe even some onion & green peppers. TRY it asap!!


Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Tried this recipe it was delicious, had it with rice. Very good everyone loved it.

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Friday 13th of November 2020

[…] Sweet and Sour Party Meatballs […]

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