The famous, 3 ingredients, grape jelly meatballs, cooked in a crockpot until they are sticky, sweet, savory, delicious, the easiest appetizer ever. Perfect for a tailgating party, get together, summer cook out, NYE party, and more. Basically, if you have a group of people getting together, and you want delicious food, these grape jelly meatballs would be great on the menu.
Serve with Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Wings and an assortment of dips and appetizers like: Texas Trash Dip, Fruit Dip, BBQ Chicken Ranch Dip, Best Ever Layered Bean Dip, and Potstickers for a great party spread.
These meatballs are bathed in a delicious sauce that could not get any simpler. It is only two ingredients: grape jelly and chili sauce. But combined, you get a complex, delicious, sweet, a little spicy, and oh so fantastic sauce that will have you licking your sticky little fingers after each bite.
It is perfect with meatballs, but I also love cutting up some kielbasa or summer sausage and tossing it in the sauce as well. As it cooks down, the sauce kind of caramelizes around the meatballs or sausage, and gives you this thick, sweet, fantastic result.
What You Need to Make Grape Jelly Meatballs
These meatballs are only three ingredients, but you want to get those ingredients right in order to get the best ever crockpot meatballs. Luckily, finding what you need is eazy peazy as ingredients are easy to find, and widely carried.
- Grape Jelly: It wouldn’t be grape jelly meatballs without the grape jelly. I suggest Smucker’s Concord Grape Jelly, but this time I made it with the Trader Joe’s Concord Grape Jelly and it was equally delicious. Use whatever you’ve got! But remember, when it comes to ingredients, the better quality, the better the end result.
- Chili Sauce: DO NOT confuse this with the Asian counterpart Sweet Chili Sauce, which will give you a different result. This is chili sauce, or a tomato based sauce that is used to start a good chili. Most include things like Tomatoes, Sugar, Vinegar, Green and Red Bell Pepper, Salt, Onion, etc. in the ingredient list. My favorite brand, and the one I recommend for the best results on these meatballs is the “HOMADE CHILI SAUCE” which comes in a squat, cute little jar.
- Meatballs: Ok, so this is where the magic happens. I used frozen meatballs for this recipe because I figured that is what 90% of my readers are going to do. After all, it is easy, and perfect for a crowd. However, if you want the best ever meatballs, I have created an Ultimate Guide to Meatballs which shares how to make homemade meatballs, and freeze them yourself for all your favorite and fun recipes. So feel free to check that out. Otherwise, select a high quality frozen meatball option.
- Crockpot: You want a 4 qt or so sized one.
- Slotted Spoon for stirring it all together and serving.
- Toothpicks: Fun for serving.
How to Make Grape Jelly Meatballs
Making this recipe could not be any easier.
Step One: Dump Everything in the Slow Cooker or Crockpot
Add your meatballs, add your grape jelly, add your chili sauce. Give it a stir. Then put the lid on.
Step Two: Cook
Cook on high heat for 3-4 hours, stirring it a couple times during the cook time to evenly coat, and cook the meatballs. Every slow cooker is a little different, so you base how much you need to stir off your cooker, and if it has hot spots etc.
Step Three: Serve
Serve these delightful meatballs. You can serve them a few different ways.
- Appetizer – They make for the greatest appetizer, and are always a hit at parties and for tailgating. I love to serve with toothpicks.
- Side Dish– These can be a fun side, especially at a BBQ alongside some Easy BBQ Baked Beans, Smoked Pulled Pork–Pork and Coleslaw. The flavors in these meatballs really compliment the flavors from a bbq, and make a fun addition to the plate.
- Entree – Serve over rice or Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes as a main entree.
This recipe is so perfect for a variety of occasions, including just an easy midweek meal and I love pairing it with:
Tips and Tricks
Making this recipe is Eazy Peazy…
- Tip One: Use a grape jelly and chili sauce you like.
- Tip Two: Use meatballs that are high quality and that you like.
- Tip Three: Give the sauce the time to really come together and start to caramelize, that sticky, yummy sauce is what takes these over the top. If you are in a hurry, try a different method.
- Stovetop Grape Jelly Meatballs – Make these on the stove top by adding everything to a large dutch oven, and stirring well. Place dutch oven on the stove on high heat. Once sauce is bubbling, turn down to a medium-low heat, and let cook for 25-30 minutes or until the meatballs are warmed through. Stir occasionally to keep the sauce from burning.
- Oven Baked Grape Jelly Meatballs – You know I love a good oven baked anything: Oven Baked Chicken Wings, Oven Baked Chicken Thighs, Oven Baked Pork Chops, Oven Baked Shrimp. And these meatballs are no exception. Add all the ingredients into a casserole dish and mix to combine. Cover with foil and bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes or until the meatballs have cooked through. Stir, then place back in oven under the broiler on high for 2-3 minutes to help get the caramelization you want.
Crockpot Meatball FAQs
Can I use fresh meatballs?
Yes, you can use fresh meatballs, instead of frozen. Use this recipe for Homemade Meatballs. The trick is cooking them first. You will want to get a skillet, and sear all the sides of the meatballs until a nice golden brown, before adding them to your crockpot with the sauce. They will cook the rest of the way through during the cook time.
What kind of meatballs do I use?
Whatever you want. I love recipes like this that are so easy to adjust to your preference. I have used Italian Style, Homestyle, Turkey, and more. So you can use any type of frozen meatballs that you like, I prefer the frozen Italian Style, and love the Farm Rich brand or Costco brand.
Can I omit the chili sauce?
Yes, you can, but you will likely want to add some bbq sauce, or ketchup and seasonings to approximate the flavor. The chili sauce is not spicy. But, if you can’t find it, don’t like it, etc. feel free to substitute something else.
What other jelly can I use?
Grape jelly is classic to this recipe, but I have made it with apricot and peach when I have been in a pinch, and it has worked great. The key is using jelly not jam, and look for a flavor combo you enjoy.
Make Ahead and Storage
How to make this recipe ahead of time: Because it is such an easy recipe to make, it doesn’t really require a lot of prep ahead. You can make it 100% ahead of time, then store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 4-5 days. Reheat stove top or in a crockpot.
How to store grape jelly meatballs?
You can store the grape jelly meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Or you can freeze for 2-3 months.
Other Great Meatball Recipes:
- Porcupine Meatballs
- Mongolian Beef Meatballs (Crock Pot and Instant Pot)
- Swedish Meatballs
- Keto Meatballs Skillet
- Mediterranean Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Dipping Sauce
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Crockpot Grape Jelly Meatballs
- 32 ounces Meatballs frozen, any brand
- 10 ounces Grape Jelly
- 12 ounces Chili Sauce
- Place frozen meatballs, grape jelly, and chili sauce into a crockpot, and stir.
- Cover with lid, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, until meatballs are heated through, and sauce is thickened and glazed.
- Serve with toothpicks or as you prefer.
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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