Mini meatballs are popular appetizer fare, both assembled from ready-made ingredients and done completely from scratch. Whether they’re flavored with sauces or herbs that are homey or sophisticated, familiar or foreign, they’re always a hit.

There’s good reason that some hounds default to shortcut classics like store-bought meatballs bathed in either barbecue sauce or equal parts Heinz Chili Sauce and grape jelly. “I can’t tell you how quickly those things disappeared” when brought to a party, southernitalian says of the chili sauce–jelly version. Those who start with store-bought meatballs strongly endorse the frozen Kirkland brand sold at Costco. They’re “fantastic, better than anything I’ve made myself and, perhaps shockingly, better than most I’ve had in restaurants as well,” acgold7 says.

Hounds who go the homemade route sometimes turn to familiar, comforting flavors. This turkey meatball recipe is “like Christmas in a crock pot, basically meatballs made with stuffing in a cranberry sauce,” danionavenue says. “I’m a huge fan of a traditional Italian meatball in a very herb-y tomato sauce,” thimes says, while herby likes this version with spinach.

Meatballs made with lamb take on international flavors. caviar_and_chitlins prepared CHOW’s Lamb Meatballs with Lemon-Cumin Yogurt—flavored with Mediterranean spices—for a friend’s party and says that some guests “thought I was her caterer and wanted to hire me, based on the meatballs alone.” hotoynoodle‘s most popular meatballs are made with lamb, lots of lemon zest, mint, and parsley, plus sesame seeds for texture; they’re served with a lemon-yogurt dipping sauce. And Terrie H. calls this Thai-inspired recipe “very good and different.”

A couple of hounds recommend meatballs in almond sauce, from Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain. Though the recipe is written for pork, herby makes them with veal.

Discuss: Appetizer Meatballs?

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