The Unexpected Ingredient That Will Totally Change The Way You Cook Meatballs

cocktail meatballs with toothpicks on skillet
cocktail meatballs with toothpicks on skillet - Fudio/Getty Images

If you find that your go-to meatball recipe feels a little ho-hum lately, there's an unlikely ingredient you can include to really pep it up. Using grape jelly as an element in the sauce offers a hint of sweetness that truly elevates the flavor of the dish. This is especially true when you include a spicy ingredient in the mixture too, such as cayenne pepper or hot sauce. If you're seeking something more savory than spicy, you can opt for barbecue sauce instead.

While the pairing seems a little off the wall, grape jelly and meatballs appear to have been a popular hors d'oeuvre option for many years. The recipe was included in a 1967 cookbook that combined meatballs with a sauce consisting of grape jelly, hot sauce, and lemon juice. However, there's anecdotal evidence of home-devised recipes that date back much further, which proves just how compelling this combination of flavors is on the palate.

Read more: 15 Tips For Making The Best Meatloaf

A Word On Flavor Combinations And Pairings

different jam flavors in glass jars
different jam flavors in glass jars - Matveev_aleksandr/Getty Images

You may be wondering whether you can substitute other types of jelly in your grape jelly meatball recipe. While experimentation in the kitchen can lead to some delicious discoveries, there's a reason why grape jelly is included in so many meatball recipes, as opposed to something like strawberry or cherry. Strawberry and cherry versions of jelly are quite tasty, but they impart a tartness that is missing with grapes. This sour flavor might not mesh well with savory dishes, especially when combined with spicy ingredients. As for something like peach jelly, it might just be a touch too sweet, while grape offers a less intense sweetness that pairs better with savory dishes.

If you're looking for something to serve alongside, or even with, your grape jelly meatballs, rice is always an excellent option. Rice is the perfect vehicle to soak up the delicious grape jelly sauce on meatballs. Also, rice has a relatively neutral flavor, so you won't need to worry about it competing with the flavor of your appetizer. Hawaiian rolls also make a great accompaniment to cocktail meatballs, as they allow friends and family to make their own sliders for a more hearty meal.

Tips On Making The Perfect Cocktail Meatballs

woman frying meatballs on stovetop
woman frying meatballs on stovetop - Solstock/Getty Images

Meatballs have a tendency to fall apart, which can ruin your appetizer. In this case, you can use flour to bind the meat together and ensure it remains intact while cooking. Simply take some all-purpose flour and use it to cover the meatballs, then transfer them to a pan or crockpot. If you struggle with sizing meatballs, a humble ice cream scoop is a must-have tool in the kitchen. When meatballs are all the same size, you can rest assured that they'll cook uniformly.

Keep in mind that you can add raw meat directly to the crockpot containing your sauce. If you want to give your appetizer a bit of a toothsome texture, fry the meatballs slightly in a pan on your stovetop prior to placing them into the slow cooker. Remove the meatballs from the pan when they start to get a little brown, then cook them as you normally would. These tips ensure your grape jelly meatballs will be a huge success among friends and family.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.