Raise your hand if your mom used to make Slow Cooker Chili Sauce and Grape Jelly Meatballs! Mine did too but I’d forgotten about them until now!
Creating This Grape Jelly Meatball Recipe
When I was growing up, I knew that there was one and only one recipe that we would never share, Mom’s chili sauce. Which is actually Grandma’s chili sauce. In case you haven’t read this blog before, we love heirloom recipes passed down through generations. To this day, we haven’t shared that secret recipe as we respect the “secret,” however I do make it every year. It takes all day. In fact, it often takes two. But it’s worth it.
Somehow I ended up with extra chili sauce this year, and when deciding what to make with it I suddenly remembered those meatballs with grape jelly and chili sauce. I couldn’t wait to make it again.
Because you’ll be buying your chili sauce, make sure you look for one that is thicker and preferably one that’s local to your area. Those local products often taste much better when you’re talking about a chili sauce. Ours is thicker with chunks of our secret ingredients, but this isn’t a deal breaker if you can’t find it.
Grape Jelly Meatballs Ingredients
The ingredients list for these grape jelly chili sauce meatballs is deceptively simple, but there’s plenty of flavor packed into these babies, don’t worry! For the meatballs themselves, you’ll need ground beef, bread crumbs, dry minced onion, egg, milk, ground mustard, and salt.
For the easy meatball sauce, you’ll need grape jelly, chili sauce, cornstarch, and water. Seriously, that’s it! We didn’t want to add extra ingredients to this recipe since the meatball sauce with grape jelly is such a classic!
Can I Omit the Bread Crumbs?
The bread crumbs are a binder (aka panade) that helps add moisture to the meatballs and also prevents the meat proteins from shrinking and becoming tough. If you’re making the meatballs from scratch, the breadcrumbs cannot be omitted or substituted.
How to Make Slow Cooker Grape Jelly Meatballs
Making these meatballs with grape jelly and chili sauce takes very little prep work — the slow cooker does the hard work for you! Here’s how to make slow cooker meatballs:
- Add the meatball ingredients to a large bowl and mix until just combined.
- Shape the mixture into bite-sized balls.
- Place the raw meatballs, grape jelly, and chili sauce into a slow cooker and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.
How to Thicken the Grape Jelly Meatball Sauce
When making slow cooker grape jelly meatballs, you may wind up with a thinner sauce than desired (it really just depends on the type of chili sauce you buy). That’s okay, it’s easy to thicken the meatball sauce.
To thicken runny grape jelly meatball sauce, mix up a teaspoon of cornstarch (or even two depending on how thick you want things) with an equal amount of water. Stir this into the bubbling meatball mixture during the last hour they’re in the slow cooker. If you’re in a hurry, put the sauce into a saucepan and simmer with the cornstarch slurry until thickened to your liking.
Can I Make Grape Jelly Meatballs in the Oven?
Yes, if you don’t have a slow cooker you can also make these grape jelly chili sauce meatballs in the oven. Simply add the meatballs, grape jelly, and chili sauce to a baking dish and tent loosely with foil. Bake at 400ºF for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the meatballs are no longer pink inside.
Can Meatballs be Made Ahead of Time?
Yes, the meatballs can be shaped and kept refrigerated up to a day ahead of time. (Meatballs can also be frozen for longer, but they tend to develop freezer burn.) We don’t recommend cooking the meatballs in the sauce until you’re ready to serve them, since these taste better fresh.
Can I Use Frozen Meatballs?
If you’re in a time crunch, you can also use pre-made frozen meatballs instead of making them yourself. You’d make the meatball sauce with grape jelly as the recipe instructs and then cook everything together in a slow cooker.
What to Serve With Grape Jelly Meatballs
Grape jelly meatballs are great on their own as an appetizer at a party, with rice or mashed potatoes as a main dish or even on subs as a sandwich! These meatballs go really well with anything, but we especially like dishes that already go well with a sauce or gravy which is why we often choose mashed potatoes. Occasionally we will go healthier route with quinoa and it’s still good!
Tips for Making Grape Jelly Meatballs
If you plan on serving these grape jelly chili sauce meatballs to a crowd (which you totally should!), we recommend serving them straight from your slow cooker. Most slow cookers have a “Warm” setting, which will keep these slow cooker meatballs warm throughout the whole night.
To make cleanup easier, use a slow cooker liner when making these meatballs. They’re available at any grocery store, are fairly inexpensive, and they keep your slow cooker squeaky clean!
If you have leftover grape jelly meatballs, we recommend reheating them on the stove over low heat. Microwaving them can make them a little rubbery, which is why we avoid it.
More Crock Pot Recipes:
- Crock Pot Chicken and Rice
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili
- Crock Pot Cafe Rio Chicken
- Slow Cooker Smothered BBQ Beef
- Tender Crock Pot Whole Chicken
- Slow Cooker Pineapple Mexican Chicken
- Slow Cooker Potato Broccoli Corn Chowder with Bacon
- Sweet and Sour Meatballs in the Slow Cooker
- Asian Sticky Slow Cooker Ribs
- Slow Cooker Korean BBQ Beef
- Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken
- Chicken Carnitas
- All our CROCKPOT and SLOW COOKER recipes here!
Slow Cooker Chili Sauce and Grape Jelly Meatballs
- 12 ounce jar Chili Sauce
- 12 ounce jar Grape Jelly
- 2 Teaspoons Corn Starch see note*
- 2 Teaspoons Water see note*
For the Meatballs
- 1½ Lbs Ground Beef
- ⅔ Cup Bread Crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons Dry Minced Onion
- 1 Egg
- ¼ Cup Milk
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Mustard
- ½ Teaspoons Salt
- For the Meatballs
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, egg, milk, mustard and salt.
- Only mix until just barely combined, I use my hands.
- Shape mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls into meatballs.
- For the Oven
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Place meatballs on a baking pan and tent with foil.
- Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on meatball size.
- Just watch them and when all the pink is gone pull them out.
- For the Slow Cooker
- Place the meatballs, chili sauce and jelly in a slow cooker on low for 3-4 hours.
- Serve alone or which mashed potatoes or rice.