a peek inside the fishbowl

04 Mar, 2010

The big cheaty recipe: saucy meatballs

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

The girls and I went to an afternoon Christmas party on the last day before holidays. There were a ton of kids running around, decorating cookies, wreaking havoc, and generally falling all over everything. The joy of the looming holidays on their faces was wonderful.

Besides the aforementioned cookies there was also food. I hung out with friends in the crowded kitchen, wine in hand, and we all gorged on cheese and crackers and a killer warm brie (!). Much to my amusement, I watched as Sarah and Emma both discovered a slow-cooker full of tangy, saucy meatballs. They both approached the thing like a pair of wild cats; eyeballing it, hungry and unsure, wondering if something unpleasant was going to jump out at them. Happily they tried the meatballs and loved them. As any mom, I was VERY happy and excited that they discovered something new and actually liked it.

It wasn’t until after we created our List of Favourite Foods that I remembered to email Pam, the Meatball Maker, to ask her for the recipe. (It was very important I get my hands on a recipe that BOTH children loved so much.)

Her recipe was simple, more than that, so simple it sounded, well, a bit odd. But I followed her instructions and they turned out great.  We ate them with a big salad and slices of fresh bread. I served the meatballs in small bowls and gave the girls a toothpick with which to eat them. (What is it with kids and toothpicks? Somehow it adds 100% to the Perceived Enjoyment Ratio.)

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Meatball assemblagePam’s Meatball Recipe

You will need:

  • one box of frozen PC meatballs
  • one jar of blackcurrent jam (she said you could also use grape jelly but that blackcurrent, is, you know, FANCIER!) ;)
  • one jar of chili sauce
  1. 1) Bake meatballs according to directions on the package.
  2. 2) Combine jar of chili sauce and jam in a large pot. Simmer. (I personally found the sauce a little too tangy so I added a tablespoon of sugar. Maybe I’ll make it with less chili sauce next time.)
  3. 3) Once meatballs are cooked, add to sauce. You can also dump the whole thing into a slow cooker if you’re going to be serving it as an appetizer at a party or just to a crowd of crazed children and their exhausted parents. :)
  4. 4) Eat.

It’s so easy it’s embarrassing. But the kids loved it, and sometimes that’s all that matters to me. :)


Edited to add: I think I’ve finally nailed the perfect ratio of jam:sauce. I now make the recipe this way:

  • One onion, diced
  • One can of whole cranberries
  • Approx. one cup of chili sauce (no name brand is fine)

I sauté the onion until softened before I add the other ingredients. Otherwise the rest of this “recipe” is the same. It gets eaten up EVERY TIME.

16 Responses to "The big cheaty recipe: saucy meatballs"

1 | bushidoka

March 4th, 2010 at 9:34 am


My secret meatball sauce is similar – a bottle of chili sauce and a can of cranberry sauce.

2 | Just An Ottawa Dad

March 4th, 2010 at 9:35 am


I make these all the time. It’s even better to throw them in the crockpot and let them simmer all day long. The house smells great when you get home, and dinner is made.

3 | Erica

March 4th, 2010 at 9:38 am


If you’re even lazier (like me!) and three ingredients is one too many, the Gourmet Maple Diana Sauce is STELLAR for both stovetop and crockpot applications (particularly fantastic for work potlucks).

I’ve been known to make meatball subs for dinner using any sort of saucy meatballs and the bakes-in-7-minutes mini baguettes from Costco. With a salad, steamed veg, or any sort of healthy side dish, it’s a substantial, easy dinner in under 20 minutes.

4 | andrea

March 4th, 2010 at 9:45 am


Ok. You guys rock. I like knowing all the variations and having options when raiding my pantry. Keep ’em coming!

5 | Betsy Mae

March 4th, 2010 at 10:25 am


I do what Erica does with the Dianas sauce if we are having a party, they are an easy and inexpensive appetizer to serve and a crowd pleaser. Not to be a kill joy but I think I’m one of the few people who don’t like them!!! I find the texture of storebought meatballs odd!!!

6 | karen

March 4th, 2010 at 11:42 am


I make a variation of that sauce as well and we all really enjoy them. That said, I would never buy pre-made frozen meatballs. I find they don’t even seem like actual meat.

7 | andrea

March 4th, 2010 at 11:56 am


re: texture of frozen pre-cooked meatballs is not my fave either BUT it is much improved if they’ve been simmering all day! I bet this can be done with homemade meatballs too… hmm…

8 | Marianne

March 4th, 2010 at 1:04 pm


I agree with Erica and Betsy-Mae … I love the PC meatballs simmered in the slow cooker with Diana sauce. For a quick meal on a busy night you can cook them up in the microwave in about 5 minutes, although they’re not quite as nice as they are in the slow cooker.

9 | Judy

March 4th, 2010 at 2:48 pm


My mom always used frozen meatballs, but made a sweet & sour sauce and served them with rice.

You can mix all the ingredients in a pot, bring to boil and add frozen meatballs until hot


Put all the ingredients in a slow cooker and let it go. The sauce is thicker this way.

The sauce consists, of ketchup, soy sauce, white vinegar and brown sugar. Super easy.

10 | Stefania (Ingredients for Life)

March 4th, 2010 at 2:50 pm


Do you have the Complete Cdn Living Cookbook (textbook style with blue and white cover)? Awesome recipes, which includes one for meatballs. Before becoming vegetarian they were a staple for all our parties and host gifts. Easy to make, freeze well and are delicious. The sauce is so good too. The recipe is probably online.

11 | Finola

March 4th, 2010 at 3:33 pm


How on earth did you know I needed a meatball recipe for a shower that I’m hosting on Saturday? Thanks so much!!

12 | Vanessa

March 5th, 2010 at 11:36 am


I have been making these for years – ironically the recipe came from my friend Pam as well!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE these Meatballs, and they have even become part of my Christmas dinner!
Here’s a tip: Before you throw them into the crock pot – Toss the frozen meatballs into a hot, naked frying pan (no oil required). Brown/sear them (they’ll still be frozen in the middle) and THEN throw ’em in the crock pot. This adds to the flavour, without adding any fat, and I think it does something for the texture of the meatballs.

13 | Laura

March 7th, 2010 at 8:18 pm


It’s a great party if those little meatballs are on the menu. :) I am surprised by the ingredients…but you’re right Andrea, they are yummy! Thanks for the recipe and the other cooking tips. Now I’m hungry…

14 | ShopHaven

March 9th, 2010 at 9:48 am


These meatballs are delicious! We eat them all the time.

15 | Will they eat it? A slow cooker sesame chicken recipe >> a peek inside the fishbowl

September 19th, 2011 at 12:52 pm


[…] I’ve ever made chicken in the slow cooker. It’s been relegated to hearty beef stews, meatballs, pulled pork and even clam chowder. So when I saw this recipe on Pinterest I thought – aha, this is […]

16 | Saucy meatballs revisited >> a peek inside the fishbowl

November 18th, 2014 at 1:58 pm


[…] read in a French accent) because it only requires four ingredients and very little Actual Cooking. Here’s the recipe. I should mention that we made it with pre-made chicken meatballs this time around, but you can […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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