Grape Jelly BBQ Meatballs

20 servings
3 hr 5 min

During the holiday season, many of my meals are really just a selection of great appetizers. The same principle applies to football Sundays, come to think of it. 😀

Having a super easy meatball recipe helps with this. And I can’t think of an easier one than this one: Grape Jelly BBQ Meatballs.

This is a pretty old recipe that has updated ingredients, but the simple approach still works great!

And the sauce, with its surprising combination of ingredients, is truly delicious. There's a reason it continues to be popular year after year!

Ingredients needed

  • Meatballs – make your own or buy pre-made
  • BBQ sauce – I use Sweet Baby Rays, see options below
  • Grape Jelly

That’s it – I’m sorry, I just can’t make this any easier.

How to make the grape jelly BBQ meatballs

If you are picky about your meatballs, I encourage you to make your own. I used my Freezer Meatballs recipe, just increased the meat to 2 pounds so I’d have more meatballs. These can be made ahead of time so they are ready when needed. Or, as mentioned, you can use pre-made meatballs from the store. Either way, you can start with frozen meatballs to make this recipe.

Add jelly and BBQ sauce to slow cooker
Add frozen meatballs
Stir gently to coat meatballs

First add the grape jelly and BBQ sauce to the slow cooker and stir. Then, add the frozen meatballs and stir gently to coat. Cover and cook on high for 3-3 ½ hours, stirring about halfway. The sauce will be bubbling when the mixture is ready.

Once everything is heated through, be sure to turn the slow cooker to a much lower setting. This will help prevent the sauce from tasting “burned” from all the sugar in the jelly and BBQ sauce.


How can I shorten the cooking time?

To make this even quicker, start with thawed meatballs. You can also place the jelly and BBQ sauce in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a minute or two in the microwave before adding to the crockpot, but I’m not sure that would have much effect. The biggest factor is the temperature of the meatballs, if they are thawed and at room temperature the sauce will be bubbling in about an hour.

What can I substitute for the grape jelly?

Apple jelly is an excellent substitute for the grape. Raspberry or strawberry jam can also be used.

What can I substitute for the BBQ sauce?

This recipe was originally popular when I was a kid (so a LONG time ago) using chili sauce in place of the BBQ sauce. Feel free to use chili sauce or your favorite BBQ sauce in place of the Sweet Baby Rays.

Grape Jelly BBQ Meatballs
Recipe details
  • 20  servings
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 3 Hours Total time: 3 hr 5 min
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  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs
  • 18 oz grape jelly about 2 cups
  • 18 oz BBQ sauce about 2 cups

Place the jelly and BBQ sauce in a large slow cooker.
Add meatballs and stir gently to coat.
Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 4-6 hours, until heated through. Sauce will be bubbly. Lower heat while serving.
  • Serving size is approximately 3 meatballs.
Sula **
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