February 28, 2020

Frozen meatballs are such a handy item to keep in the deep freeze. They are so versatile. You can make a quick spaghetti and meatballs dinner or an easy appetizer recipe such as these grape jelly meatballs. 

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Meatballs are the perfect set it and forget it dish for a party or quick gathering. Next time friends are headed to your house, set out some toothpicks and these meatballs and everyone will be begging you for more. 

What is in grape jelly meatballs?

This recipe is super easy to make. All that you have to do is pick up a few ingredients from the grocery store and you are all set.

Meatballs - We like to use Italian meatballs in our recipe but you could just as easily use plain meatballs or homestyle meatballs. If you prefer you can even make your own meatballs.

Jelly - Grape jelly is the star of this recipe. The brand doesn’t really matter here. Go with what you have on hand or your favorite brand. Quick tip though: Don’t use the special jelly that you got at the farmers market here. Those special flavors will get lost in this dish.

Chili sauce - Chili sauce is a bit hidden in the grocery store. It is generally placed with the ketchup. Chili sauce is essentially spiced-up ketchup.

Lemon - The juice of a whole lemon adds a special zing in this recipe and brings all of the flavors together. It is the secret ingredient that makes all of the difference. 

Crushed red pepper We use a full teaspoon of red pepper in this but you may want to start with just a pinch and adjust according to taste. You can always add more but you can’t take it away.

Make grape jelly meatballs on the stovetop

You can make this recipe on the stovetop if you prefer. If you need this easy appetizer sooner than the 3 hours required with the slow cooker then follow these directions.

  1. Cook the meatballs in a skillet. Grab a skillet that has a lead and add in a cup of water. Turn it to medium-high temperature. Add in the meatballs and spread them around. Cover with the lid and cook for 10 minutes. Frozen meatballs are fully cooked so you are just trying to warm them up.
  2. Add the sauce ingredients to a glass mixing bowl. Use a whisk and fully combine. Make sure that there aren’t any lumps from the jelly.
  3. Drain the meatballs and then place them back in the skillet. Stir in the sauce and coat the meatballs.
  4. Return the lid on the skillet and simmer the meatballs with sauce for an additional 10 minutes or until sauce is hot. Stir occasionally to make sure that they don’t stick.
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What are the best meatballs for this dish?

We normally cook this with beef meatballs but pork is fine as well. Feel free to use whatever meatballs you have on hand.  We prefer Italian meatballs for this grape jelly meatballs dish. 

However, you can use any kind of meatballs that you like. Feel free to use home-style meatballs or even bbq meatballs. If you have extra ground beef you can even make homemade meatballs.

Do you have to defrost frozen meatballs?

When making jelly meatballs you don’t need to defrost the meatballs in advance. You can place the frozen meatballs right into the slow cooker. 

Yield: 10 servings

Grape Jelly BBQ Meatballs

Grape Jelly BBQ Meatballs

This is an easy appetizer recipe for grape jelly meatballs. This is a 5 ingredient recipe that can be cooked in a slow cooker. This is a set it and forget it a recipe.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes


  • 1 (1.5lb) bag frozen Italian meatballs
  • 3/4 c grape jelly
  • 6 oz chili sauce
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 t crushed red pepper


  1. Create the sauce - Juice the lemon and add the juice to your slow cooker. Add the jelly, chili sauce, and red pepper to the pot with the lemon.
  2. Use a whisk and thoroughly mix sauce. Make sure that there aren't any clumps of jelly.
  3. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Stir the meatballs and make sure that they are completely immersed.
  4. Cook on low for 3 hours. Stir occasionally.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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About the author

Meet Go-Go-Gadget Renee'. Her passion for #kitchen gadgets is matched only by her love for tech. A real #foodie, she's all heart for red wine and delicious meals. #CookingChewTribe

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