cocktail meatballs with toothpicks on a white tray

Looking for the perfect healthier and easy app for the holidays that everyone will devour? Look no further!! These gluten free, dairy free mini cocktail meatballs are an explosion of flavor and incredibly easy to make!

This is the first year I am full-time working for myself for the holidays, and man it feels good to actually get a good round-up of recipes up for your holiday gatherings. I love seeing what everyone contributes to the table 🙂

Last week I hustled to get a good handful of my holiday recipes created and photographed. When I wasn’t doing recipes, I was putting together my first ever Sunday Gatherings newsletter. It was a busy, productive, and rewarding week/weekend! You can subscribe to my newsletter in the sidebar on the right, or at the bottom of the post! The next one will hit your inbox this coming Sunday.

cocktail meatballs with toothpicks on a white tray
cocktail meatballs with toothpicks on a white tray

This recipe uses a turkey-based meatball, with gluten free cracker crumbs and just a few other simple ingredients to make the perfect mini meatballs. Plus, the sauce is only 2 ingredients! Doesn’t get better than that. The holiday cooking can get so chaotic; I wanted to make sure to add something super simple to your menu!

What’s in the sauce?

The sauce is a mix of apricot preserves and your favorite BBQ sauce. That’s it! I use a no sugar added apricot spread here, to cut back on all the added sugars that are already being enjoyed at the holidays. It’s a healthy spin on this classic appetizer, and you guys are going to love them!

cocktail meatballs in a black and red pot with a wooden spoon

Other than being super simple, this recipe also makes a lot! If you have a huge family (me!), you could definitely double the recipe. Bake the meatballs in 2 batches and assign someone the task of helping you roll the mini meatballs :). However, with all the other apps on the table I think the amount this recipe makes should be perfect!

The meatballs are oven baked, and the sauce is made stovetop. Easy peasy! Once the meatballs are all sauced up, sprinkle with fresh chives for a pop of color and stick some toothpicks in them for easy grabbing.

Looking for a cute tray to serve up your appetizers? Linking a few of my favorites below!

  1. Blue Hand Insight Serving Platter
  2. White Mercer Platter
  3. Yuki Blue and White Platter (this one is smaller, so you may want 2-3)
  4. Gardenshire Platter
  5. Keaton Copper Tray

Keys to being the ultimate host: cute serving dishes and cute little finger food to feed your hungry guests! Am I right?

I hope you and your guests love these perfect little bite-sized bbq meatballs! Enjoy! xx

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Apricot BBQ Cocktail Meatballs

  • Author: Mia Zarlengo
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 48 meatballs 1x


Healthier mini cocktail meatballs! Made with a mouth-watering 2-ingredient apricot bbq sauce. 



For the meatballs:

  • 2 lb ground turkey 
  • 1/2 cup gluten free cracker crumbs, crushed in a blender (measure after blended)
  • 1/4 cup very finely diced yellow onion 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • A few cracks of black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

For the Sauce

  • 2/3 cup your favorite BBQ sauce (I like this one)
  • 9 oz apricot jam (no sugar added) (I like this one)


  1. Make the meatballs: Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine all meatball ingredients with your hands until very well combined. Roll meatballs into roughly 1 tbsp sized balls (it helps to oil or wet your hands when the mixture is sticking).
  2. Line meatballs up on the baking sheets and bake for 18-20 minutes (you can bake both trays at the same time– place them parallel on the middle rack). 
  3. Make the sauce: While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, heat the bbq sauce and apricot spread over medium low heat. Continuously stir to until the apricot spread melts and a smooth sauce forms. Allow sauce to come to a boil for 1 minute, then turn off heat. 
  4. When meatballs are done baking, toss in a large pot with the sauce until meatballs are well coated. Allow to simmer stovetop for 10-15 minutes. Serve. *If making ahead of time, gently reheat on the stove until sauce is melted and meatballs are heated through. 

Appetizers + Sides, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Lunch + Dinner, Paleo, Recipes, Snacks


Nov 21, 2019

Apricot BBQ Cocktail Meatballs

Did you make this recipe? Be sure to tag @gatherednutrition on INstagram so I can see what you made! Leaving a rating and review on the site is a huge help too!

  1. Stephanie C says:

    These meatballs are amazing! I made them for meal prep lunches and they worked out perfectly! So easy and the recipe is great to follow! Highly recommend!

  2. Tori says:

    I love making these! They’re so yummy and filling. The sauce is only two ingredients, but it is delicious!

  3. Morgan says:

    So good and easy!! I used primal BBQ sauce and it was perfect!

  4. claire says:

    Can you substitute the graham crackers for almond flour?

  5. Kristina says:

    New party staple for me! So good!

  6. Diana Pyle says:

    No eggs?

  7. Love the idea of using apricot juice in meatballs! Such a unique and flavorful twist on the classic cocktail recipe. Can’t wait to try it out and impress my guests at my next BBQ 🍝🍷

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Simple. Attainable. Gathered Nutrition.