Grandma’s Meatballs

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My grandma’s meatballs recipe is a family favorite and is so simple to make! You’ll love the molasses and chili sauce flavors of these baked meatballs. This is one of my favorite meatball recipes!

grandma's meatballs covered with a sweet chili and molasses sauce

Grandma’s Meatballs Recipe

I’ve got a special recipe for you today.  I love creating new recipes, but sometimes it is nice to pull out a long-time family favorite such as this one.  This homemade meatball recipe is simply called Grandma’s Meatballs. I can remember my grandma fixing these uniquely flavored meatballs and I remember my mom making them, too.  Because we like to try so many new recipes, it is easy to overlook the classic recipes.  This is one of those recipes that bring back so many memories as soon as I take a bite.

Pure comfort food.

Grandma's meatballs (homemade sweet and tangy meatballs)

How to Make Grandma’s Meatballs

We know you love our authentic Italian meatballs. They’re a classic with a big bowl of spaghetti. But you’ll love my Grandma’s meatballs, too, because they are easy and unique.  The meatballs themselves have only 4 ingredients:

  • beef,
  • eggs,
  • water and
  • potato pancake mix.

I’ve never actually made potato pancakes. I’ve only used the mix in this meatball recipe! It makes the meatballs so moist and they hold together well. I often have a hard time finding the potato pancake mix in the grocery store. I feel like the store workers are constantly moving it. It may be by the rice, it may be by the instant potatoes, it may be by the pancake mixes. Just ask a store clerk. You can see the kind I use here.

Molasses Chili Meatball Sauce

The sauce that covers these meatballs is not your typical spaghetti sauce flavor.  The simple sauce has only three ingredients:  molasses, chili sauce and vinegar.  The kids are always unsure about this strange sauce concoction, but trust me. You’ll love it! Pour this sauce over the meatballs before they bake and you’ll end up with sweet and tangy meatballs.

So good.

Baked Meatballs in Molasses and Chili Sauce

What to Serve with Meatballs

We serve Grandma’s meatballs with any classic side dish such as corn casserole, mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese. And don’t forget to make some Garlic Lover’s Cheesy Biscuits to go along with them!

how to make meatballs
how to make meatballs

Grandma's Meatballs

4.91 from 11 votes
This is my grandma’s meatballs recipe. It’s a family favorite and is so simple! You’ll love the molasses and chili sauce flavors that the meatballs are baked in.
Servings 25 meatballs
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

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  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 envelope potato pancake mix
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine the ground beef, eggs, water and pancake mix. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, then shape into balls. Place the meatballs in a greased 9x13 baking pan.
  • In a small bowl, combine the chili sauce, molasses and vinegar. Pour the sauce over the meatballs. 
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.



We use Hungry Jack brand of potato pancake mix.
Calories shown are per meatball.


Calories: 103kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 172mg | Potassium: 177mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 95IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.9mg
Author Lizzy T
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 103

About Lizzy T

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Lisa Bader
2 years ago

5 stars
Made these last night and they were a HUGE hit! Thanks for sharing a family heirloom!
I couldn’t find the pancake mix, so I used some potato flour, onion powder, salt and pepper. Worked like a charm.

Laurie S
4 years ago

5 stars
Delicious! Tangy! You can find Potato pancake mix also in the aisle of your grocery store where they sell the “Passover” or Kosher items. Manischewitz brand. Right next to Matzo.

5 years ago

Hello,. I live in a smaller town, no one carries the potato mix….I did find a recipe on Allrecipes to make own potato mix…they mixed instant potatoes with a complete pancake mix (2 parts potatoes 1 part pancake and hungry Jack, of course, makes both those). Once mixed, wondering how much to actually use?? How many ounces, or cups are in one packet of the mix you buy?
I appreciate your help!

5 years ago

Found some! In fact, 2 different brands!!!

One in Kosher section and one in Mediterranean section.

5 years ago

I checked 2 stores yesterday for the potato pancake mix. Nothing in the pancake aisle or instant potato aisle. I plan on checking another store today and will include the ethnic section. Now my question is this: with except of 1 or 2 items, I’m a scratch cook/baker and have never used a pancake mix. Do the boxes contain envelopes? How many oz in an envelope.

5 years ago

I’ve just finished making up the meatballs….not sure yet how they will turn out as I had to use pancake mix…could not find the potato pancake mix anywhere. But after watching the video I’m wondering if I could use instant potatoes? In the video the potato pancake mix looked to be the consistency of instant potatoes. Just a thought……..

5 years ago

What percent fat on the meat would be best?

5 years ago

What is chili sauce exactly? Like beef and bean chili, Asian sweet chili, sriracha? It seems like I’m the only one who isnt sure, sorry!

5 years ago

5 stars
OMG that molasses chili sauce! It sounds so amazing. I feel like it would be awesome on chicken wings too. Love the use of potato pancake mix here, I’ll definitely have to give it a try!

Joan R.
6 years ago

If used box pancake mix what is the equivalent ? 1/2 cup, 1 cup???
Thanks a lot!

6 years ago

Can’t wait to try them – they look delicious! Thanks for adding suggestions for side dishes!

6 years ago

I have never heard of or seen potato pancake mix in all my years of living. Which is 72 years. I don’t think we sell that in our grocery store. I suppose there is not a substitute for that is their? If only I knew where to get that potato pancake mix ! ! ! I would love to try it.

Erin Moore
6 years ago

5 stars
Just made a double batch and froze half. I will make the sauce for the frozen batch before cooking those. For the ones I froze I lightly dusted them with regular flour so they didn’t stick together. Thanks for the recipe!

6 years ago

gonna make these ,they look delish am guessing they could go with any combo as well…


10 years ago

That sauce looks amazing – It must be what really lifts these meatballs.