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Sweet & tangy dump-and-go Grape Jelly Meatballs take minutes to prep and are the perfect dinner or appetizer to feed a crowd!

With only 5 minutes of prep, Grape Jelly Meatballs are one of our go-to appetizers for parties and holidays. It’s a favorite along with our Classic Slow Cooker Meatballs and Sweet and Sour Meatballs.

Grape Jelly Meatballs piled on a plate and topped with sliced green onions.

Meatballs with Grape Jelly

We’ve been long-time fans of meatballs and think they are the perfect appetizer for a large gathering.

Yes, we often make them for dinner at home too, but if you are looking for a simple yet delicious recipe to make for your next event, I highly encourage trying meatballs like our favorite Grape Jelly Meatballs!

I know grape jelly may not be the first ingredient you think of when mixing with meatballs, but let me tell you – it’s the perfect addition.

What’s even more amazing about this recipe is that it only requires 3 ingredients – grape jelly, meatballs, and Heinz Chili Sauce.

Oh yes, I can’t forget that it also only takes a few minutes of prep time. You can’t beat that!

Frozen meatballs on table.

Dump + Go!

Making these meatballs are as easy as they sound. Since they only require 3 ingredients and just a few minutes to make, it’s a dump-and-go kind of slow cooker recipe.

SAUCE. Add grape jelly, chili sauce, and cayenne pepper to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes making sure the mixture is well combined.

To save time skip this step and add these directly on top of the meatballs in the slow cooker for a more speedy process.

COOK. Place meatballs in a slow cooker and top with the grape jelly mixture (for less mess use a crock pot liner). Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours. Stir every hour or so to make sure everything is cooked evenly.

Add some heat. Want to add a bit of nip to the meatballs? Just add a pinch of cayenne pepper. With little kids, we tend to leave that out.

Instant Pot Grape Jelly Meatballs

Using the instant pot is just as easy and much quicker.

COMBINE. Add the frozen meatballs to the instant pot and pour the grape jelly, chili sauce, and ½ cup of water over the meatballs.

COOK. Seal the lid on and set the “pressure cook” button for 5 minutes. It’ll take about 7-8 minutes for the pressure to build up enough then the timer will start its 5 minutes countdown.

When the timer is done, press cancel to turn off the pot and quickly release the pressure. 

Chili sauce and grape jelly for meatballs.

Jelly Meatballs TIPS

Jelly substitute. Our favorite substitutes are red currant and apple jelly. Some other great choices include orange marmalade, apricot preserves, or peach jelly.

Meatball Tips.

  • Use any type of meatball, from Italian pork meatballs to turkey meatballs, we typically use beef.
  • To make homemade meatballs, I suggest browning them in a skillet before adding them to the crockpot. This will help them keep their shape and not fall apart in the long cook process. 
  • Meatballs do not need to be thawed before placing them in the slow cooker. If they are thawed you won’t need to cook as long, but putting them in straight from the freezer is quick and works perfectly with this recipe.

Thicken the sauce. Take about ¼ cup of the sauce from the slow cooker and add it to a pot on the stove. Add a tablespoon of corn starch. Cook and mix until the sauce thickens. Add more corn starch if needed and mix back into the crock pot sauce.

Replace chili sauce. We love using BBQ sauce as a great substitute. Honey BBQ sauce is our favorite. Ketchup or other flavor variations usually taste great with meatballs as well.

Dumping all grape jelly meatballs ingredients into a crock pot.

serving suggestions

Make Grape Jelly Meatballs for a party. We like to double the recipe if serving at a party. Use 2 bags of frozen meatballs, 32 oz. grape jelly, and two 12 oz. bottles of chili sauce.

For smaller parties, we leave the recipe as is and make one bag of meatballs – which still has about 64 meatballs.

Serving. Place toothpicks near the meatballs for people to eat them on their own as a party appetizer, or they pair well on top of a bowl of rice or on a mound of mashed potatoes served as a main dish.

  • appetizer – plan for each person to have 3-4
  • main dish – plan for each person to have about 8
Grape Jelly Meatball Recipe served on a white plate.

Storing info

STORE leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

FREEZE. They can also be kept in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 4 months. Thaw and reheat. 

Reheat them quickly in the microwave. Warm in a covered baking dish in the oven. If you have extra time, reheat them in the crockpot.

For more meatball recipes, check out:

5 from 132 votes

Grape Jelly Meatball Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
Sweet & tangy dump-and-go Grape Jelly Meatballs take minutes to prep and are the perfect dinner or appetizer to feed a crowd!
Servings: 6
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 3 hours 5 minutes
Total: 3 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 16 oz Grape Jelly
  • 12 oz Chili Sauce
  • 32 oz meatballs (frozen)
  • 1 pinch cayenne (optional)

Instructions 

  • Add grape jelly, chili sauce, and cayenne pepper to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes making sure the mixture is well combined.
    To save time skip this step and add these directly on top of the meatballs in the slow cooker for a more speedy process.
  • Place meatballs in a slow cooker and top with grape jelly mixture (for less mess use a crock pot liner).
  • Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 6g, Calories: 660kcal, Carbohydrates: 63g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 109mg, Sodium: 869mg, Potassium: 702mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 44g, Vitamin A: 403IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
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Share it with us on Instagram using the hashtag #lilluna, so we can see what you’re creating in the kitchen!

About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating




34 Comments

  1. Making these at the moment for New Years Eve tonight. Using for the first time(first time made kinda by accident home canned”chili”/chicken wing sauce )and home canned for the diabetic grape jelly. My son-in-law is diabetic and loves meatballs, so we will see if these ingredients past muster.(I usually do make meatballs with chili sauce and grape jelly).

      1. I have never tried using grape spread, so I’m not sure how it would turn out. You could certainly give it a try. The flavor and/or texture may obviously be a little different. If you do give it a try, you’ll have to let us know how it turns out!

  2. 5 stars
    This is a great meatball recipe. Handed down from my mom, and I’ve used it for years. We use a 12 oz jar of chili sauce,
    10 oz grape jelly, 3 T lemon juice and a few shakes of Tabasco. I usually double this with a big bag of frozen meatballs.
    It’s not Christmas in our house without them.

    1. 5 stars
      OMG Lee (from 12/28/20) – the addition of lemon juice and Tabasco took my sauce over the top! I had 3# frozen meatballs. Used 12 oz Heiz chili sauce, 6 oz spicy bbq sauce, 18 oz grape jelly, 4.5 T lemon juice, and ++ dashes of Tabasco sauce. Best EVER – THANK YOU my family is going to love it!! ❤️ TY K

  3. 5 stars
    I have been making these for 50+ years. It was popular back in the 1970s and still a big hit today. This is a keeper!

  4. 5 stars
    These by far are my favorite! They taste good but now they have a sentimental reason. My mom first made these after I asked her to give them a try. She passed away last month. I’m making them in Christmas Eve in her honor.

  5. 5 stars
    Been making these for years. Got this recipe from my mother in law back in the 70’s. Always a big hit at parties.

  6. 5 stars
    These sweet and savory meatballs are delicious. This recipe has been around for literally decades and I’ve made it several times. I like to make the meatballs myself, but the frozen ones are quick and easy and can be a real timesaver.