December 4, 2023

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Grape Jelly Meatballs – Spend With Pennies


This has been one of my favorite holiday appetizers since I was a kid!

Grape Jelly Meatballs may sound like a strange combination, but it’s amazing. I promise. With just 3 simple ingredients, this recipe is so easy it practically cooks itself, and there are never any leftover.

Cocktail Meatballs are great to make ahead by simply adding the ingredients to the slow cooker and turning it on.

cooked Grape Jelly Meatballs

Ingredients in Grape Jelly Meatballs

Meatballs – Use premade or homemade meatballs. Frozen meatballs make for super fast prep!

Grape Jelly – Use any kind of grape jelly. If you can’t find any, other types of jelly work just fine. I’ve even used canned cranberry sauce in a pinch.

Ketchup or Chili Sauce – I most often use ketchup because it’s the recipe we had growing up! You can also use chili sauce which is a zesty ketchup-style condiment.

Sauce Variations

You can change this recipe up a bit based on what you have on hand. The sauce needs something sweet (jelly) and something zesty (ketchup).

  • Replace the Grape Jelly with apricot preserves, orange marmalade, canned cranberry sauce, raspberry preserves, or hot pepper jelly.
  • Replace the Ketchup with Heinz chili sauce, or barbecue sauce.

Important Ingredient Info

If swapping the ketchup for chili sauce, it is not a spicy sauce. Look for the Heinz brand in a glass bottle near the ketchup (you can also get it online here or make homemade chili sauce).

It is the same chili sauce I use in my favorite meatloaf topping.

Ingredients for grape jelly meatballs

How to Make Meatballs with Grape Jelly

This is the easiest homemade appetizer recipe ever, but you’ll get rave reviews because everyone loves these incredibly tasty little bites! I can’t get enough of them.

  1. If making homemade meatballs, prepare and bake them according to the meatball recipe.
  2. Add all ingredients (including the frozen or cooked meatballs) to the slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on low per the recipe below.

The sauce will thicken some as it cools slightly or if you leave the lid off and keep them warm during a party. If you’d like it thicker, combine equal parts cornstarch and water and stir a little in (I never find the need to thicken it).

Feeding a Crowd?

If you have a larger Crock Pot (6qt), this recipe can be doubled. If preferred, the sauce can be doubled, and you can add some little smokies and let it all cook together.

Leave a box of toothpicks near the crockpot, and they’ll disappear quickly.

grape jelly meatball ingredients in a white slow cooker

How To Serve Grape Jelly Meatballs

Crockpot Grape Jelly Meatballs can be an appetizer for any holiday party or served as a complete meal.

  • If serving at a party, once cooked, turn the slow cooker onto the warm setting and keep a bowl of toothpicks nearby.
  • Tuck them into slider rolls or hoagie rolls for a heartier meal.
  • Serve over a bed of white rice or mashed potatoes!
  • Add sauteed peppers and onions to make this into a sweet and sour meatball dish.
grape jelly meatballs in a serving dish with a cocktail pick

Leftovers/Make Ahead

Grape Jelly Meatballs are a great make-ahead dish!

Prep ahead: You can cook them the day before, store them in the fridge overnight, and then reheat them in the Crockpot. If you didn’t use lean ground beef, you may want to skim off any fat that may rise to the top. Or, freeze them for a rainy day! (Or for the next game day!)

  • To store: Keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, and in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. Make sure to use a sealable container, and leave room for the sauce to expand, if freezing.
  • To reheat: Thaw overnight and either place them back in the Crockpot and reheat for 2 to 3 hours, or put them in a pot on the stovetop, add a little extra ketchup or some chili sauce if desired, and heat until bubbly and hot! They will be just as good as the day you made them, and probably even better!

More Party Favorites

Did you make these Grape Jelly Meatballs? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

cooked Grape Jelly Meatballs
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Grape Jelly Meatballs

Grape Jelly Meatballs are a sweet and savory appetizer that is made with just 3 simple ingredients.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 3 hours

Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes

  • Cook meatballs according to recipe directions if using raw meatballs.

  • Place meatballs, ketchup, and grape jelly in a small slow cooker. Stir to combine.

  • Cook on low 3-4 hours or until heated through.

In a hurry? Cook the meatballs according to the package/recipe directions. Heat the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer 1 minute. Add cooked meatballs and simmer uncovered 5 minutes more.

Variations

  • Replace the Grape Jelly with apricot preserves, orange marmalade, canned cranberry sauce, raspberry preserves, or hot pepper jelly.
  • Replace the Ketchup with Heinz chili sauce or barbecue sauce. If swapping the ketchup for chili sauce, it is not a spicy sauce. Look for the Heinz brand in a glass bottle near the ketchup (you can also get it online here or make homemade chili sauce).
Store leftovers in the fridge in a covered container for up to 4 days. Reheat in the slow cooker or on the stovetop until heated through.       

Calories: 292 | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 321mg | Potassium: 328mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 159IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Appetizer, Beef, Party Food
Cuisine American
crockpot full of cooked Grape Jelly Meatballs with a title
plated Grape Jelly Meatballs with a title
close up of Grape Jelly Meatballs with a title
Grape Jelly Meatballs cooked in the crockpot and plated with writing