Sweet and Tangy Cocktail Meatballs

So I happened to find myself at a loss of dinner ideas, and for once Pinterest really wasn’t helping.  I texted my husband asking what he wanted for dinner, and he responded “Swedish meatballs.”

sweet and tangy cocktail meatballs from tgipaleo

I took a double take.  Did he mean the ones like at Ikea with all the brown gravy?  Or the ones my parents’ friends used to have in a crockpot at parties in the ’80s?  You know, the ones with the reddish brown sauce that was so freaking addictive?  The ones that aren’t actually Swedish meatballs at all but we call them that because we have absolutely no clue what they are?  Yeah.  he meant those.

sweet and tangy cocktail meatballs

I found a bunch of recipes for cocktail meatballs that fit the profile.  Thank goodness I’m not the only one who loves them so much…except they’ve all got gobs of sugar and apparently a lot of recipes use grape jelly.  I mean, sounds absolutely delightful but not really my cup of tea these days.  At least, not on a weeknight.  So I came up with these…and as usually I feel the need to apologize for my crappy photography skills.  I wish I could do them justice.  Hard to do when the dish is such a sloppy mess…which is part of the reason they’re so freaking good.  And totally worth the shame of your husband walking through the door and catching you spooning the sauce out of the pan into your mouth.  I know.  So classy.

Cocktail Meatballs
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • 8 dates
  • 1 c hot water
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1/2 c rice vinegar
  • 2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
  • 1 T coconut aminos
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t dried mustard
  • 1/2 t salt
  1. Let the dates soak in the hot water for about 15 minutes or so. You can do this while you’re prepping everything else.
  2. Form the beef into meatballs.
  3. Heat the oil over medium high heat and cook the meatballs until they’re nicely browned on all sides.
  4. Whilst the meatballs are cooking away, combine the dates, hot water, tomato paste, coconut aminos, cinnamon, mustard, and salt in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.
  5. When the meatballs are done, remove to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the vinegar to the pan to de-glaze.
  7. Add the date/tomato sauce. Whisk to incorporate all the drippings and bring to a simmer.
  8. Add the meatballs back into the sauce and stir to coat.
  9. Cover and simmer together for 10-15 minutes.


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One thought on “Sweet and Tangy Cocktail Meatballs

  1. Wenchypoo

    Back in the day, grape jelly + mustard made for a cheap, tasty BBQ sauce when you didn’t feel like (or have money for) running to the store. You could probably do the same thing with a civilized form of grape jelly + mustard today. Try it and let us know.


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