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SWEET & SOUR MEATBALLS {Tangy Crockpot Meatballs}

These sweet and sour meatballs use Russian dressing and apricot preserves for a new spin on a crock-pot classic! With 5 ingredients and 10 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.

cocktail meatballs on a white platter

If you’d rather skip my essential cooking tips and tricks and get straight to this delicious recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.

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


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
  • BBQ 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.

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 tangy sweet crockpot meatballs with you today.

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party meatballs in a food container


Lots of recipes claim they are easy. Just when you start to read it you figure out that it takes 75 ingredients and 4 hours just to prep it. NOPE! Not for me.

Easy, to me, means 5 ingredients or less, and 10 minutes or less to prep.

Preferably with ingredients I don’t have to cook before I add them to the recipe, or that I can use store-bought shortcuts. I make my own frozen meatballs and keep them stocked in the freezer for party emergencies.

clear bowl full of sauce

If someone gets in your face about using store-bought ingredients, like bottled dressings, sauces, frozen meatballs, you can tell them to stuff it and go hungry.

I get that homemade is best, but let’s be real.

The table is the place, dinner is the occasion, and the love is time spent together as a family.

Even though specific dishes bring back memories, it’s the memories that we made around that dish that I cherish, not the food itself.

You can always recreate the recipe, but you can’t get that time spent together back.

crockpot full of frozen meatballs

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Can I tell you how awesome this sauce is? The perfect combination of sweet and tangy. Some may say sour, but I like the word tangy better.

The Russian dressing in this recipe is not the same Russian dressing on a Reuben sandwich.

That Russian dressing is closer to 1000 Island salad dressing and not for cooking in a crockpot.

The Russian dressing I use is closer to a Catalina or French dressing. Just grab a bottle of one of these and they will work.

With all the Russian dressing, the apricot preserves, and the Worcestershire mixed together, your sauce is the perfect combination of sweet, sour, tangy, and delicious!

party meatballs on small forks


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


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


Yes, but be sure to store it properly and reheat all the way through before using it in another recipe.


Yes, just cook them on manual high pressure for 7-8 minutes.

slow cooker meatball appetizers in sauce

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

I saved mine in the freezer for use later on chicken, pork, meatloaf, and chicken wings.  Just be sure to reheat it thoroughly before using again.

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!

sweet and sour meatballs pin

I hope you enjoy these tangy sweet crockpot meatballs at your next party, for an easy midweek meal over rice, or for a lazy Sunday afternoon watching football!


close up of meatballs in a container

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.

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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.

Classic Swedish Meatballs - Lisa's Dinnertime Dish

Friday 13th of November 2020

[…] Sweet and Sour Party Meatballs […]


Thursday 4th of October 2018

Omg. These were great. I ate every one from the recipe batch. You must try them for your next get together.

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