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
4.98 from 269 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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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
Servings 12 servings
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  • 2 pounds frozen fully cooked meatballs or 48 small homemade meatballs
  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • ¾ cup grape jelly


  • 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.


  • 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. 
4.98 from 269 votes

Nutrition Information

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


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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. Made these for a party and they were a hit! I made them in the crock pot with grape jelly and ketchup. Everyone raved about them. You have been my go to for recipes because you never disappoint. Thank you!5 stars

  2. These are great for potluck, but Hinze Chili Sauce is what you should use and not ketchup. Also great with jalapeño jelly.4 stars

  3. I love these meatballs but my sister made them spicy I wonder what she put in it made red pepper flakes5 stars

    1. Hi Trina, you could try adding red pepper flakes or adding in a little bit of hot sauce or sriracha depending on the type of spicy you are trying to achieve.

  4. If I double the sauce, as suggested, & add little smokies, do I need to match the amount of smokies to the meatballs (2 lbs.) or will 1 pkg (usually around 14 oz.) work? Since I’ve never tried this combo of
    meats, I’m not sure how the consistency will turn out. Too thick? Too thin? What would you suggest? Thx!!

    1. One package will work and it shouldn’t affect the consistency of the sauce. If you end up with extra sauce, it can be used for dipping (it’s similar to sweet and sour sauce) or even drizzled over a stir fry.

  5. I love your page, so many recipes I can test out with my new crock pot. These meatballs were delicious, my whole family loved them!5 stars

  6. This is a huge hit! I have served it for parties and never have leftovers. I have used ketchup sometimes and sweet baby rays bbq sauce other times. I prefer bbq sauce.5 stars

  7. I made this recipe for Christmas for an appetizer and it was so delicious. I tripled the recipe and by the evening time, they were all gone. My daughters birthday is today and this was one of her requests to go along with her beef ribs! HIGHLY RECOMMMEND! Sauce thighens up when left on warm with the lid off.5 stars

  8. We made this a lot when I lived in the South……Montgomery, Alabama. It was a staple at just about any gathering there was… dinners, bridal parties, whatever. BUT we used Manwich sauce instead of ketchup or chili sauce. Manwich is the perfect combination with the grape jelly, and we didn’t measure. We just used 2 cans of Manwich to a jar of grape jelly…….larger jar, and put the meatballs in the slow cooker, then poured in the jars, and stirred, and let cook. Easy peasy! Nice to see someone else knows about using grape jelly with meatballs! :)4 stars

  9. Hi Holly just wanted to tell you that your grape jelly meat balls recipe was a big hit last night! We went to my large family’s pre Christmas pot luck and as was stated not a single meat ball was left in the crockpot!!! Once again a recipe of yours saved the day like so many in the past have! Thank you so much!!!5 stars

  10. Hi! Before I retired a few years back, anytime there was a potluck, a welder friend of mine always brought in a big bag of already thawed Italian meatballs from Sam’s Club, a large jar of Welches Grape Jelly, and equal amounts of Sweet Baby Rays barbeque sauce. He mixed everything together in a crockpot. I think our group of people knew to get these meatballs on first break because only a couple people got any on our second break. so quick and easy. Love, love, love them meatballs. Not one person ever said they didn’t like them. A winner!!!!!!!5 stars

  11. i have been doing the grape jelly with cocktail sauce for years. now i will try it with ketchup. when i tell people about using cocktail sauce instead of chilli sauce they are surprised.

  12. Can’t wait to try this! Do you think bbq sauce could be added to this as well as the grape jelly and ketchup