AppetizersParty FoodRecipes

Grape Jelly Party Meatballs

By February 5, 2021 No Comments

These sweet, sour, and savory meatballs will become your very favorite party appetizer and you won’t believe how easy they are to make either! Throw them in the crockpot and let them simmer all day and let sauce do its magic. I promise everyone will go crazy over them and will be begging for the recipe. 

When I was growing up, my mother made these delicious cocktail meatballs for all our parties.  

Tender, juicy, garlicky, homemade meatballs all smothered and simmered in the most amazing sauce with only three ingredients grape jelly, chili sauce, and lemon juice. That’s it!

I used a whole 30-ounce jar of grape jelly in this recipe so you can really taste the grape flavor. Well, I actually used grape jam instead of jelly when I made these. I thought I was picking up grape jelly in the grocery store, but it was jam. It was absolutely delicious with the jam. So jam is fine too. 

The chili sauce adds a little bit of spice for the savory taste and the fresh lemon juice just brings it all together. It’s the perfect trio of sweet, (jelly) sour (lemon), and savory! (chili sauce). When you take a bit of the meatball with the sauce, ah-yum! It’s a whole-lotta love going on!😋

I must warn you that they will disappear fast so you might want to go ahead and double the recipe! You can usually count on each person eating at least 3 to 4 meatballs. This recipe makes 36 meatballs. One recipe will serve 9 to 12 people.

Grape Jelly Party Meatballs Are Great For:

  • Super Bowl Parties
  • Tailgate Parties
  • Marti Gras
  • Any Game Day Party
  • Ground Hog Day Parties (Yep, some of us look for any occasion to party 🎉)
  • Any Patriotic Holiday
  • Fall Harvest Parties
  • Cocktail Parties
  • Weddings
  • Engagement Parties
  • New Year’s Eve Parties
  • The list could go on and on


What you will need to make Grape Jelly Party Meatballs

( Please see the printable recipe below for the full complete recipe below)

  • Ground chuck or lean ground beef. I prefer to use ground chuck in this recipe because it doesn’t shrink as much as ground beef does. Otherwise, your meatballs will shrink to almost nothing. (Note: If you are short on time, you can buy frozen cooked meatballs. Just make the sauce and pour over them and heat in the slow cooker)
  • Eggs
  • Yellow sweet onion
  • Soft bread crumbs
  • Milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili sauce (be sure to get the brand Hindz’s Chili Sauce. It’s the absolute best for this recipe)
  • Fresh lemon juice 
  • Grape jelly or grape jam
  • Toothpicks, for serving 
  • Slow Cooker or a chafing dish if you are to use it to simmer or serve

How to make Grape Jelly Meatballs 

1. To make the meatballs, mix the ground chuck, eggs, onion, bread crumbs, milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder altogether and form into 1-inch balls. About the size of a walnut.

2. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until they are brown on all sides. Place meatballs in a slow cooker or crockpot.

3. Next, combine the grape jelly, chili sauce, and lemon juice. Pour grape jelly mixture over the meatballs in the slow cooker and cook on high for about one hour. Once the sauce is hot and bubbly, turn the slow cooker knob to simmer. Or you can heat the sauce ingredients over the stovetop until it’s hot and bubbly and then pour it over the meatballs to save time. I usually do this and then let it simmer in the slow cooker until serving time.

4. Serve with toothpicks. Enjoy!

5. Any leftovers will freeze well for up to 2 months. Also, you can make up the uncooked meatballs and freeze them in a freezer ziplock bag. Just thaw in the refrigerator overnight and cook according to the directions on the recipe. This is the best recipe for a party because you can do the hard work way ahead of time.


Grape Jelly Party Meatballs

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 36 to 40 meatballs


These sweet and sour (spicy) meatballs are one of my very favorite party foods. When I was growing up, my mother made these cocktail meatballs for all our parties. I think they are the perfect appetizer. They can be cooked in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. They disappear fast so you might want to go ahead and double the recipe.


For the meatballs

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef or ground chuck
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten 
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ¾ cup soft bread crumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

For the sauce

  • 1 (12-ounce) jar chile sauce (for the best tasting, I prefer Heinz’s Chile sauce)
  • 1 (30-ounce) jar grape jelly or grape jam
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease a cookie sheet pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, beaten eggs, chopped onion, bread crumbs, milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix until everything is well combined and shape into 1-inch size meatballs. (about the shape of a walnut)
  3. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Drain off any grease. 
  4. In a large-size saucepan, combine the chile sauce, grape jelly, and lemon juice. Heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the cooked meatballs, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir gently so not to break up the meatball. Pour meatballs into a chafing dish or slow cooker to serve. (NOTE: you may also mix the sauce up in a slow cooker and then add the cooked meatballs and let them simmer on low heat and serve out of the slow cooker or crockpot.


Do ahead/Freeze tip: You can make the meatballs and sauce up serval days ahead of serving. Keep stored in the refrigerator. You may also freeze the uncooked meatballs or the cooked meatballs for up to two months. Any cooked leftovers with the sauce can be frozen for up to two months as well. Thaw out in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat in the slow cooker or stovetop. For the uncooked meatballs. Cook in the oven and follow the directions in the recipe.

Recipe Note: This is one of my all-time favorite party foods and they are always a huge hit. You might want to go ahead and double the recipe because they disappear fast. On another note, if you are totally short on time, buy the already cooked meatballs in the frozen section at the grocery store.



Hi, my name is Aletia. I am a true blue Southern girl, cookbook author, entrepreneur, self-taught food photographer and lover of chocolate.