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Chili Sauce and Grape Jelly Slow Cooker Meatballs

49 Reviews

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!

Slow Cooker Chili Sauce and Grape Jelly Meatballs

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.

meatballs with grape jelly and chili sauce on white plate

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. 

fork spearing grape jelly meatballs

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: 

  1. Add the meatball ingredients to a large bowl and mix until just combined. 
  2. Shape the mixture into bite-sized balls. 
  3. 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. 

slow cooker grape jelly meatballs piled high on a plate

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:

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Raise your hand if your mom used to make Chili Sauce and Grape Jelly Slow Cooker Meatballs! Mine did too but I'd forgotten about them until now! ohsweetbasil.com

Slow Cooker Chili Sauce and Grape Jelly Meatballs

4.15 from 49 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6
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!


  • 12 ounce Chili Sauce
  • 12 ounce Grape Jelly
  • 2 Teaspoons Corn Starch see note*
  • 2 Teaspoons Water see note*

For the Meatballs

  • Lbs Ground Beef
  • 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 cooked meatballs, chili sauce and jelly in a slow cooker on low for 3-4 hours.
  • Serve alone or which mashed potatoes or rice.


*Note: If you want your meatballs to be in a thicker sauce, mix together the cornstarch and water at the last hour of cooking and stir it into the sauce. If you need to do it faster, put the sauce in a saucepan and add the cornstarch slurry. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer until thickened slightly. You may use frozen meatballs as well.
Meatballs will keep for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Chili Sauce and Grape Jelly Meatballs
Amount Per Serving (6 meatballs)
Calories 578 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 10g
Cholesterol 109mg36%
Sodium 1150mg50%
Potassium 635mg18%
Carbohydrates 61g20%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 35g39%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 442IU9%
Vitamin C 15mg18%
Calcium 86mg9%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

chili sauce and grape jelly meatballs recipe

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Healthy Habits That Help Me!

About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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Recipe Rating


  • Your directions are not clear above. You indicate to put the raw meatballs in the slowcooker. Then elsewhere you say to put the cooked meatballs in the slow cooker. It wish I knew. I’m making these today

    • Reply
    • Hi Christal! Follow the instructions listed in the recipe card. You will want to cook the meatballs as stated in the instructions and then place the cooked meatballs in the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • Two quick questions: Do you bake the meatballs first, and then add them to the crock pot with the sauce? 2nd, how many meatballs does your recipe make?

    I’ve never made meatball appetizer and am looking forward to trying them.

    • Reply
    • Hi Christal! You are going to love these! Yes, bake the meatballs before adding them to the crockpot. I cleaned up the instructions a bit to make that more clear. This recipe makes about 30 meatballs.

      • Reply
  • It was supposed to say that it was delicious and being from Pittsburgh I only use Heinz chili sauce .

    • Reply
    • Gotcha! Heinz is great!

      • Reply
  • Delicious! Bing from the burgundy Heinz chili sauce is the only one for me ..

    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed this recipe! Thank you so much Eugenia!

      • Reply
  • Seriously thinking about making these for The Super Bowl, but I was wondering if you’ve ever made these with ground turkey? Love all your recipes!!! 💜

    • Reply
    • Yes! Turkey works great!

      • Reply
  • What makes your recipe so much better than the others is the stellar meatball recipe! I’m making the meatballs again today. They’re a perfect meal for the guys while I’m in the mad crush of the day before Thanksgiving cooking and prepping.

    • Reply
    • Woop woop! Love to hear this Marianne! Homemade meatballs make all the difference!

      • Reply
  • Hope this gets through to you. Do you bake the meatballs in the oven BEFORE putting them in the slow cooker with the other ingredients, or just put them in raw? Also, if you put them in raw, can they be frozen when put in the slow cooker? Thank you so much; I can’t wait to serve this to my friends.

    • Reply
    • Hey Marcella! Steps 5-9 in the instructions are for cooking the meatballs. They will be cooked all over the outside and will finish cooking through in the slow cooker.

      • Reply
      • Thank you for answering my question so quickly!

      • You’re welcome!

  • Can’t wait to make these but I have a question. Is the chili sauce, sweet chili sauce? Like the kind you use for a dipping sauce for lumpia?

    • Reply
    • There’s a brand called Homade Chili Sauce that is pretty good. It’s not sweet Asian style chili sauce. It’s tomato based and chunky, but not super sweet or spicy.

      • Reply
  • What is the brand of your chili sauce. 

    • Reply
    • We like Mae Ploy or Huy Fong Foods.

      • Reply
  • can grape jam be used rather than grape jelly

    • Reply
    • Yes, they can be used interchangeably!

      • Reply
  • Great recipe.   
    My first of hearing about grape jelly in meatball ingredients.
    Looking forward to trying out and tasting. May add Bourbon
    Derby Doris 
    Louisville, Kentucky

    • Reply
    • Hi Doris! It seems so strange, but it is seriously most the delicious combination of flavors!! I just know you’re going to love it!

      • Reply
  • The recipe doesn’t say what temperature to put the oven on.

    • Reply
    • Hi Deb,
      It’s in there but I made it more obvious for oven versus slow cooker.

      • Reply
      • Can I use frozen meatballs

      • Sure can!!

  • Ordered your cookbook for my Kindle and am going to make these meatballs ASAP. I have been residing in your internet life for a couple of years and love your food, your family and your faith! Thank you, P

    • Reply
    • Pat, thank you so much for your kind words and support. We just love getting to know who our readers are. Hope we get to meet one of these days!

      • Reply
  • I was like you, I had forgotten about these delicious meatballs. Used to make them years ago to take to parties as appetizers. I had lost my “simple” recipe and then just forgot about them. I am anxious to try them again, using your meatball recipe and will serve them for dinner with rice! Thanks for the recipe.

    • Reply
    • I love them with rice! Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • My sister in law made this recipe yrs ago, I couldn’t believe how simple it was. I just dug it out this past holiday season, just as good as ever……

    • Reply
    • Aren’t they so yummy?! I love that it’s often the very simple recipes that really become family favorites

      • Reply

Healthy Habits That Help Me!