This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Meatloaf Meatballs are bite sized appetizers that have all the flavor you love in a classic meatloaf recipe smothered in a tasty sauce!

Our family loves meatballs and they make such a great party appetizer. Everyone loves meatloaf. It’s a favorite dinner recipe across many American homes. That’s why I wanted to transform my super delicious meatloaf recipe into bite sized appetizer portions! Why should meatloaf only be enjoyed at dinner? It should most definitely be a party appetizer too.

meatloaf meatballs recipe
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox. Plus you’ll get great recipe ideas from me every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Why this recipe works:

In addition to wanting an appetizer that I knew everyone would love, I had one more motivation for turning my classic meatloaf recipe into a bite sized tasty treat. The sauce.

I can never seem to get enough sauce with my meatloaf and I always want an end piece because the outside is more crispy.

The meatball tackles both those issues! They’re so good, in fact, that next time I plan to make meatloaf for dinner, I’ll be making these meatballs instead!

recipe for meatloaf meatballs

How to make them:

  • One of the reasons these meatloaf meatballs taste so good is because the first step is to saute up some diced onions. Raw onions pack too much of a punch but you still want the flavor, so sauteeing them is the answer! Once those cool you mix them together with the rest of the ingredients.
  • To bake the meatballs, you’ll want to line a baking dish with parchment paper. It makes for easy clean up and prevents sticking.
  • I actually like to use a cookie dough scoop to measure my meatballs before I roll them. That way they all stay the same consistent size. Do your best to roll a nice round shape without overworking the meat. Then, just pop them into the oven!
  • When the plain meatballs are cooking, you’ll want to mix up the sauce. This takes like two minutes, so don’t stress.
  • Now here’s the secret to a tasty sticky coating. About two thirds of the way through the cooking process, you’ll take the meatballs out of the oven and coat them in the sauce. Then, back into the oven they go! This makes the sauce set and really stick to the meatballs.

Make ahead directions:

Can you make this recipe ahead of time? Yes!

I prefer how they look set out on a platter with toothpicks for easy eating, but we all know that sometimes party food just needs to be easy.

To make these meatloaf meatballs ahead of time, just follow all the cooking instructions and then keep them warm in a slow cooker.

Trust me. Next time you go to a potluck, bring a batch (or two or three) of these meatloaf meatballs and watch them disappear. The only competition they might have would be against the deviled eggs!

Love meatballs? Then you’ll have to try these recipes:

meatloaf but in meatball form as an easy appetizer

Pin this now to save it for later

Pin It

Meatloaf Meatballs

Prep10 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Total40 minutes
Servings 28 meatballs
Meatloaf Meatballs are bite sized appetizers that have all the flavor you love in a classic meatloaf recipe smothered in a tasty sauce!



  • 1 small yellow onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/3 pound ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbso Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt


Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox. Plus you’ll get great recipe ideas from me every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


  • Preheat oven or grill to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up.
  • Melt butter in saute pan over medium heat. Cook onions until fragrant and slightly brown while stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • In large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt and cooked onions and garlic. Use hands to mix well, but try not to over work the meat. Shape into 1-2 inch sized meatballs on parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 20 minutes. While meatballs are cooking, combine ketchup with mustard and brown sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
  • After 20 minutes of cooking, insert toothpick into each meatball, dip into ketchup mixture, return to baking sheet, and continue baking for about 10 additional minutes to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Serve warm with toothpicks for easy eating. Can be kept warm in slow cooker, if needed.
    recipe for meatloaf meatballs


Nutritional info based on a serving size equal to one meatball.


Calories: 76kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Sodium: 158mg, Potassium: 88mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 50IU, Vitamin C: 0.5mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 0.5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

Hi! I’m Krissy.

I love to create the BEST versions of your favorite recipes. If you love to cook, love to eat, or just have a deep appreciation for good food, you're in the right place! Stick around... I have hundreds of recipes for you to make.

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

Ask a question or leave a comment. I'm happy to help in any way and I love hearing what you think about the recipe. Be sure to leave a rating!

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I’m planning a shower with several dishes an hour and a half away so on-site work needs to be minimal. What is the best way to travel with these? I can pre-make the ground beef and scoop it on to baking sheets, cover it with saran / tinfoil, and refrigerate it and travel with it in a cooler. (Also make the ketchup mix in a tupperware and that goes in the cooler as well). Then I just bake, dip, and bake once I’m there. Do you think the meatballs would dry out if I did that? I can also make them here cooking for 30 minutes, then warm up with ketchup and the toothpicks in the oven there. Thank you!

    1. Hi Tiffany, I think the easiest option for you would be to pre-bake the meatballs and then reheat when you get to the party and bring the sauce along. I don’t think they would dry out that way and the sauce will fix everything! That will minimize your mess at the party too. Enjoy! Krissy

  2. You cook the meatballs for 40 minutes, then sauce them, and then put them back into the oven for 30-35 minutes? I think you have a typo up there. Making these tonight, I can’t wait 😁

    1. Oh my gosh! I can’t thank you enough for pointing that out to me. Ugh. I was using my original meatloaf recipe as a base and those cook times were carried over. I can’t believe I did that! Recipe has been updated . -Krissy

    1. Wanted to add that I would think the meatballs would cook well in an airfryer but not once the sauce is added.

  3. 5 stars
    I’m a big fan of the crispy edges of meatloaf too, so this is a genius way to have lots of the edges! These meatballs disappear off our dinner table in a hurry!

    1. You can use any kind of mustard, but the closest thing to spicy brown mustard would probably be a whole grain mustard.