Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs – Crockpot

Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs are a delicious appetizer made easy with slow cooking in a crockpot.

Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs Served in a White Bowl with Parsley Garnish

This is one of those recipes where the effort is so minor and the cooking so easy, that you will naturally wonder…could they really be any good? And the answer is yes, yes they are!

I was recently reminded of these Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs made in a Crockpot in a roundabout way. A friend of mine brought a crockpot of meatballs to one of the first get togethers held at my house for a couple of families on the street. We raved and they disappeared.

Over a period of several years, it was not only commonplace for Sherry to bring ‘her meatballs’ but it was almost insisted. And luckily she complied. They are easy so I would too; who doesn’t want to make something easy to share that everyone loves?

Covid has taken a chunk out of my standard entertaining practices; both a holiday party and a summer barbecue, and I’ve been missing my friends and Sherry’s meatballs. When I recently gathered with just Sherry and her family, I FINALLY asked for her secret recipe and was shocked at how easy they are to make.

I’ll be sharing that version soon too but first, her recipe took me way back in time to this recipe for Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs that are made in a Crockpot. I admit, I have not made them in years and that’s just wrong. Don’t we all need those quick and dirty AND delicious dishes in our repertoire?

When I mentioned these to friends on Facebook, the response was funny…everyone remembered them, no one had made them in awhile, and I saw some variations I had not seen before. One friend said the recipe was in a Better Home & Gardens Cookbook from the late 70’s.

I checked my copy that is even more antique and while these meatballs are not present, there is a very similar recipe for cocktail weiners. So old that it’s hot dogs cut on the diagonal, not the little Smokies that I would use today!

Serving of Meatballs with a Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce on a White Plate with Oranges, Cheese, and Crackers

Granted those books have some old recipes like those that I wouldn’t touch. Jello salad? No thanks. But don’t discount cookbooks without a slew of photos in them, they have some timeless choices.

I still make the Sour Cream and Bacon Potato Salad from my BHG cookbook and it’s the best. My family also loves this Fresh Strawberry Pie from the same book. I’ve modified it a bit but it is still one they clamor for every spring. Old is not necessarily bad!

I made these according to the easy recipe which is frozen meatballs, a jar of Heinz Chili Sauce, and a jar of Smucker’s Grape Jelly.

It’s only three main ingredients…

  • Meatballs. This recipe calls for frozen meatballs but of course you can make your own and cook them first. But seriously why would you? Give yourself a break and take the easy route, it’s a big part of what makes this appetizer special. It’s easy!
    Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Walmart all sell bags of frozen meatballs that are fine for this appetizer. I buy a big bag of 48 oz to make a lot, but halve it if that’s too much for you.
  • Chili sauce. I’m not brand specific for a lot of things but I have always used Heinz chili sauce. It’s just a bit more flavorful than ketchup with some additional spices and a little kick but it is not what I would consider hot.
  • Grape jelly. I like Smuckers but it’s just grape jelly, so brand is not important. You can actually substitute another flavor; I’ve seen suggestions for current jelly, strawberry, raspberry, or apple, and even cranberry sauce. I might have to try this next time with raspberry and some jalapeno, I love that combination!

One thing that has changed over the years though are my taste buds. The sauce was still good but a bit too sweet for me so I added a couple of spoonfuls of whole grain mustard and another spoonful of horseradish. It wasn’t a lot but it was exactly what I needed. You can consider them optional but I wouldn’t, let’s call it an updated recipe, how’s that?

Appetizer Plate of Meatballs, Fruit, Crackers, and Cheese

Because I made this recipe to test the sauce with those additional ingredients, I didn’t have a Super Bowl party in the mix at the time so I had a LOT of leftovers. I sent some to neighbors but still…I needed either a party or to eat them for dinner. I tried them on pasta but they were a bit too sweet and piquant for that.

Then I had a brainstorm. I’ve bought several jars of Momofuku Chili Crunch. It is the most amazing jar of crunchy chili oil. I use it to spice up Chinese food and eggs and burgers, and well, LOTS of things so wondered if it would help take my meatballs from appetizer to dinner. Oh my.

I topped some mashed potatoes with meatballs and drizzled everything with the Chili Crunch. Perfect. In case you have leftovers. Which you probably won’t!

The Chili Crunch is out of stock but will be in production this month…get your name on their waitlist, you will not be sorry. This is not a sponsored promotion, I just LOVE the stuff!

Have you been looking for that easy appetizer for your Super Bowl Party or another type of gathering? This might be it!

More of my Favorite Appetizers for a Party!

Plus I have a ton of cocktails…I’m sure you can find something to your liking with one of my Friday Cocktails!

PIN IT! ‘Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs’

Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs Served in a White Bowl with Parsley Garnish

Appetizer Plate of Meatballs, Fruit, Crackers, and Cheese

Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs Served in a White Bowl with Parsley Garnish
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Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs - Crockpot

An old fashioned recipe that has stood the test of time. Still easy, still delicious!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: meatballs, grape jelly, chili sauce
Servings: 12 Servings
Calories: 461kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 20 ounces Grape Jelly or Jam
  • 12 ounces Chili Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Mustard Whole Grain
  • 1 Tbsp Horseradish Prepared
  • 48 ounces Meatballs Frozen

Instructions

  • Combine grape jelly and chili sauce in the bottom of a crock-pot. Stir until mostly combined.
  • Add the mustard and horseradish and stir into sauce
  • Put all of the meatballs into the crock-pot and combine with the sauce, make sure all of them are coated.
  • Cook on high heat for approximately 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  • Serve with cocktail forks or skewers

Notes

This is enough sauce for 36-48 meatballs.
The cooking instructions are when using a crockpot on high heat. If using medium heat, cook an additional hour.

Nutrition

Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 492mg | Potassium: 473mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 203IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg

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2 Comments

  1. recipe is missing the fresh lemon juice which helped to balance out the sweetness of the mixture of Heinz sweet chili sauce and Welches grape Jelly original recipe called for. Meatballs were freshly made then reheated in chafing dish as slow cookers were not on the scene in my younger days. Nice that you like adding mustard and horseradish to yours but by doing so, you’re no longer making the original grape jelly festive meatballs recipe that’s been a favourite of many for years, you’re making your version of crockpot meatballs. But, as they say, there’s always room for two especially if you love mustard and horseradish!

    1. Joycelyn,
      Remind me when I hired you to be my editor? I don’t recall. And I’ve never seen lemon juice added to this recipe so there is that; evidence of how recipes always take on some facet of the cooks experience. I’ll stick with my recipe as those two ingredients balanced the sweetness that was needed using other resources but no matter, this is in fact still sweet chile and grape jelly meatballs. And sure, you are welcome to make your own meatballs…this particular recipe is beautiful because you don’t have to!

      I always like to suggest to those folks who feel called to correct my recipes that you could always start your own blog…and then YOU can revisit the recipes you share when people like you critique them…it’s such fun!

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