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Easy Pizza Meatballs

A playful and delicious appetizer, these Pizza Meatballs are the perfect way to bring a touch of pizza-azz to your table. Bite-sized, cheesy, and bursting with pizza flavors, they’re guaranteed to be a crowd-pleasing hit at your next game day, cookout, or binge-watching party!

Easy Pizza Meatballs arranged on a dark gray plate, with a bowl of dipping sauce in the background.

In my large collection of favorite appetizers, these Pizza Meatballs have scooted their way towards the top of the list. They’re fun, they look great on the table, and they have all the best flavors of pizza in a bite-sized treat.

Plus, they’re built for a crowd, and if you use frozen meatballs, the “easy” in this recipe’s title is built right in!

A plateful of Pizza Meatballs, ready to serve.

What kind of meatballs to use?

You have some choices here, and none of them are wrong! The important thing is to make sure the meatballs are cooked all the way through, and beyond that, you’re good to go.


Because we’re going for easy, I used frozen, pre-cooked turkey meatballs for the photos in this post (they were the back-up selection on my grocery store pick-up order — I was going for the cheeseburger meatballs I found in the store’s app lol). But any flavor or meat variety will work. Even meatless. Or a combo. So feel free to decide what’s best for you and your family and friends.

Do note, however, that when it comes to frozen meatballs, there will be a size differential, depending on the brand and type.

Often, “Italian Style” meatballs are those hyyuge meatballs served with spaghetti, where 3 meatballs fill the plate. Here’s an example product on Amazon, where you can see in the nutrition label that 3 meatballs weigh 85g. Other varieties have smaller meatballs, like these from the same brand, but “Homestyle,” where 85g is 6 meatballs — half the size of the Italian style.

I have a personal preference for the smaller meatballs, because it makes a one-bite appetizer. The larger meatballs might be two, semi-awkward bites off of the toothpick. But, again, there’s really no wrong answer, only preference.

So when you’re shopping at your store, be sure to double-check the serving size and weight. Or, if the meatballs are packed in a light bag instead of a box, you can feel them with your fingertips.

Fresh or Homemade

My grocery store sells many options for pre-packaged fresh meatballs that you can cook up from raw. My recipe here does not use raw meat, so, be sure to follow the package directions for cooking them thoroughly (obviously, it will take a little longer).

If you’re feeling very fabulous, you can use your favorite homemade meatball recipe to make a batch from scratch. Mine are these Ricotta Meatballs that I use in a lasagna-like soup. The meatball recipe is found within the soup recipe and makes plenty of meatballs for this appetizer!

Close-up of one assembled Pizza Meatball, with the plateful in the background.

Other components of Easy Pizza Meatballs

Pizza sauce — Use your favorite pizza sauce, jarred or homemade. I think for dipping and eating purposes, you’ll appreciate the thicker “pizza” sauce rather than “pasta” sauce that’s purposefully thinner so it can drape over spaghetti.

You’ll use part of the jar to cook with the meatballs, and also to stabilize them on the serving tray. The other part will be served in a bowl for dipping.

Cheese — You can use whatever pizza-complementary cheese flavor you prefer, such as mozzarella, fontina, Monterey jack. I bought some thick-sliced white American cheese and cut it into squares to drape over each meatball. Whatever you pick, a melty cheese will work best.

You could use cheese cubes, but remember that there are several things that have to fit on — and stay on — the serving toothpick, so I felt the melty slices both fit better and help to glue the pepperoni to the meatballs.

Pepperoni slices — Pepperoni might not be everyone’s cup of tea for pizza, but they work so well here! No need to cook the pepperoni slices — I just folded each slice over once and threaded it on to the party pick. You can substitute your favorite salami slices. For extra-large slices, you could cut them in half and use one half per meatball, folded once.

Herbs — Some chopped fresh herbs sprinkled over everything at the end are a lovely touch, and add visual appeal as well.

How to Make Pizza Meatballs

Again, my recipe here uses frozen meatballs. Frozen and fresh take about the same amount of time to cook; the savings comes in the prep time (i.e., there is none with frozen). I don’t mind making homemade meatballs, but these are party appetizers, and I appreciate having a shortcut because there’s usually so much going on, in terms of party food prep!

Step 1: Cook the meatballs

Seared meatballs in a skillet.

Cook the frozen meatballs according to package directions. Most brands offer several methods — it doesn’t really matter which one you choose, just make sure the meatballs are heated through to the recommended safe temperature on the package.

Here’s what I do, because I don’t want to spend 20 minutes waiting for the meatballs to heat up: I microwave the entire batch on a plate for 4 to 5 minutes. This doesn’t quite cook them all the way through, but does thaw them.

While they’re heating in the microwave, I preheat a large skillet (that comes with a lid) over medium to medium-high heat on the stove top. I then dump all of the meatballs into the hot skillet and finish cooking them through. This gives a sear to the meatballs and brings them up to a safe temp (check one or two meatballs with a digital thermometer. Covering the skillet with a lid helps to trap heat and makes the cooking go quicker.

Step 2: Distribute the pizza sauce

Cooked meatballs in a skillet with pizza sauce.

When the meatballs are heated through, add them to a skillet over medium-low heat, and dump the entire jar of pizza sauce on top. Stir to coat the meatballs and heat the sauce. Choose a small dipping bowl and spoon a little bit of the pizza sauce from the skillet into it. You’ll serve this with the pizza meatballs.

The bowl shown in my photos here are these black-rimmed dip bowls, which are 3 ounces. For my peeps, this is usually plenty because not everyone wants the extra sauce.

A duo photo: Pizza sauce in a dip bowl and swirled on a serving plate.

THEN, spoon the remaining pizza sauce from the skillet onto your serving plate or tray. Why? Having the meatballs sit in a little bit of the thick sauce will help prevent them from rolling around on the plate and keep them upright.

You can do this in a couple of ways. If you have enough sauce left after the dipping bowl, as I did, spread it in swirls around the plate. Or, drop small dollops of sauce around the plate, one for each meatball. Sprinkle some of the herbs around the plate and on the pizza sauce.

Technically, this is optional, but I do find it helps stabilize the meatballs. And I think it looks very appetizing.

Step 3: Add cheese to the meatballs

Transferring the meatballs to a serving plate and topping with cheese.

Now for the cheese. Cut slices of cheese into small 1-inch squares. You’ll be draping the cheese over each meatball and letting it melt. I do this one of two ways:

  1. I’m using a microwave-safe plate, as I am in the photos here (the dark gray stoneware is microwave safe), I transfer the meatballs to the plate, on top of the swirled pizza sauce and place a square of cheese over each meatball. Then microwave the plate in 20-second intervals until the cheese is melted.
  2. Leave the meatballs in the skillet, separating them so they’re not touching. Place a cheese square on each meatball. Cover the skillet with the lid and let the trapped heat melt the cheese. Then transfer the meatballs to the serving plate or tray using kitchen tweezers, cheese side up.

Step 4: Assemble the Pizza Meatballs

Step 4: thread the pepperonis onto the party picks and insert the picks into the meatballs.

Fold a slice of pepperoni in half and skewer it onto a sturdy party pick, pushing it up the pick to leave room for the meatball.

Insert the party pick straight down into a meatball, through the cheese. Lift the pick to ensure the meatball is securely attached.

Repeat with the remaining pepperoni slices and meatballs. Sprinkle some more herbs over the finished plate, if desired, and serve!

Cook’s Notes

  • This recipe can easily be scaled up or down without impact on cooking times. Just match the ingredients to the number of meatballs. If you go above 30 meatballs, you might need an additional jar (or a larger jar) of pizza sauce.
  • For this appetizer, I use forked party picks, rather than regular round toothpicks, for easy handling and to provide extra adherence of the meatball to the pick.
  • You can save some time leading up to your party by preparing parts of Pizza Meatballs ahead. You could cook the meatballs, without the pizza sauce, and keep them in the fridge. I think the most time savings will come from threading the pepperonis onto the party picks. If you’ve ever made a tray full of toothpicked appetizers, you know that even though it’s extremely easy, it just seems like it goes on forever lol. But it’s also a great task for school-age children, if you can get them to sit still for bit!
  • As I mentioned above, spreading pizza sauce on the serving plate is optional. I just find that it helps the meatballs stay put (and upright) on the plate.
  • When adding the jar of pizza sauce, resist the temptation to splash some water in the jar to get the last bit out. You want to keep the sauce thick. Instead, use a spoon or small spatula to scrape out the last bit.
Close-up, side-view of Pizza Meatballs.

This is such a perfect game-day appetizer, especially if you’re not already serving pizza. That zesty, savory bite of pepperoni gives an immediate hit of pizza flavors, all in a one-bite appetizer.

Karen xo
Close-up of Pizza Meatballs on a plate.
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Easy Pizza Meatballs

Pizza Meatballs combine the best of pizza into a simple, satisfying appetizer that’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Perfect for any gathering, these bite-sized treats are sure to disappear fast!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pizza meatballs
Servings: 8 people
Author: Karen Gibson


  • 24 frozen meatballs (use your favorite)
  • 14 ounce jar pizza sauce
  • 4-6 slices white American cheese , cut into 1″ squares (you’ll need 24 squares)
  • 24 slices pepperoni (pizza rounds, not sandwich-sized rounds)
  • Chopped Italian herbs , such as parsley, basil, and oregano, for garnish


  • Cook the frozen meatballs according to package directions (there are usually several options – it doesn’t matter which one you choose).
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the cooked meatballs. Pour in the pizza sauce and let heat through.
  • Spoon some of the pizza sauce into a small dipping bowl (to serve with the Pizza Meatballs).
  • Optionally, spread the remaining pizza sauce across your serving plate for the meatballs to sit on. This helps stabilize the assembled meatballs and keeps them upright.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the microwave-safe plate*, separating them out evenly, and top each with a square of cheese (I used a flat dinner plate, which perfectly held 24 meatballs).
  • Microwave the meatballs in 20-second intervals, until the cheese melts.
  • Sprinkle the fresh herbs over the plate, for visual appeal.
  • Thread the pepperonis onto sturdy party picks. You’ll probably need to fold the pepperoni in half before skewering.
  • Insert the pepperoni picks straight down into the cheese-topped meatballs. It’s ready to serve!


* There are a couple of options for melting the cheese atop the meatballs. If you don’t have a microwave-safe plate or it’s too big to fit in the microwave, you can add the cheese while the meatballs are still in the skillet (after you’ve scooped out the pizza sauce). Then either place a lid over the skillet to let the heat within melt the cheese. Or, using a broiler-safe skillet, place the skillet under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese melts.
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.
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