Cocktail Meatballs Recipe

These Cocktail Meatballs (or Grape Jelly Meatballs) are exactly what your party needs, and they’re super easy to make! Homemade Meatballs with an easy, two ingredient sauce. 

White plate with cocktail meatballs and toothpicks.

Whether you are headed to a party, or just craving an easy snack, these Cocktail Meatballs are the perfect answer.

Tender, juicy meatballs in an easy sweet and sour sauce!

You’ll love the versatility of this meatball recipe. Whether you whip up a batch of homemade meatballs with the recipe below, or use turkey meatballs, or buy a bag of frozen meatballs, this recipe couldn’t get any easier!

What you’ll need for Grape Jelly Meatballs

Crockpot with grape jelly meatballs in sauce.

  • Meatballs. I usually make a double batch and freeze half for future use. You can also use store bought frozen meatballs for a quick time saver.
  • Grape Jelly
  • Chili Sauce – found in the ketchup aisle

That’s it. Whether you call these cocktail meatballs or grape jelly meatballs, one thing is for certain, they won’t last long!

How to Make Crockpot Meatballs

STEP 1: Start by making the meatballs. In a bowl, combine ground beef with egg, bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper and milk. Use your hands to mix thoroughly.

STEP 2: Shape beef mixture into small bite size balls. I use a 1 Tbsp scoop for this, as we prefer our appetizer meatballs to be smaller. You can totally make them bigger if you prefer. Arrange meatballs in a hot skillet over medium high heat, turning often until completely cooked.

PRO TIP: You can freeze cooled, cooked meatballs in a freezer safe airtight container for up to 3 months. So go ahead and double that recipe!

STEP 3:  In the bottom of a crockpot or slow cooker, add equal parts of grape jelly and chili sauce. I use about 1 cup of each, but if you like them a little juicier or serving over rice, feel free to double that amount. Whisk the jelly and chili sauce until combined. Add cooked meatballs (or frozen meatballs) to the crockpot. Turn on low for about 3 hours. Serve warm and enjoy!

Closeup of toothpick with grape jelly meatballs. Plate of meatballs in background,

How to Make Grape Jelly Meatballs in the oven

I know one of you is wondering, can I make these in the oven instead. And the answer is YES!

In a large baking dish, combine the cooked meatballs with jelly and chili sauce. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 40 minutes, or until bubbly hot. Stir and serve.

Variations of Crockpot Meatballs

Our family loves the standard grape jelly with chili sauce for these meatballs. But if you’re looking for a little variety, or your pantry is lacking in an ingredient, there are some tried and true substitutions you may like:

  • Sweet and Sour Meatballs: Pineapple preserves with BBQ Sauce
  • Ketchup and Grape Jelly
  • Cranberry Sauce (either the whole berry or jellied) with BBQ Sauce 

Can Cocktail Meatballs be made ahead of time

You can make and freeze your meatballs without the sauce for up to 3 months in the freezer. Or refrigerate cooked meatballs 2 days in advance.

You can also prepare the grape jelly and chili sauce with the meatballs and refrigerate together for up to 24 hours. Then heat and serve.

Freezing the meatballs with the jelly and chili sauce is also an option. Whether you prepare it in advance or want to freeze leftovers, store in airtight container for up to one month.

Can Grape Jelly Meatballs be a meal?

Of course! Serve your grape jelly meatballs with a side of rice or a big green salad on the side. 

Pair your crockpot meatballs with some baked mashed potatoes or hashbrown casserole for a filling dish!

Tips for perfect Slow Cooker Meatballs

  • Mix the chili sauce and grape jelly together in the bottom of the slow cooker BEFORE adding the meatballs. This helps create an even distribution of sauce.
  • Double the sauce recipe if you’re looking to have a little extra on each meatball.
  • This is also a GREAT sauce (the grape jelly with chili sauce) to cook with cocktail weenies (little smokies)!
  • Serve your grape jelly meatballs right out of the slow cooker or plate them with party toothpicks!

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Yield: 30 meatballs

Cocktail Meatballs

Cocktail Meatballs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes

These Cocktail Meatballs (or Grape Jelly Meatballs) are exactly what your party needs, and they're super easy to make! Homemade Meatballs with an easy, two ingredient sauce. 


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 cup grape jelly
  • 1 cup chili sauce


  1. Mix beef, egg, bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper and milk in large bowl. Shape into small bite size balls. Cook in hot skillet, turning, until completely cooked.
  2. At this point you can let them cool, and freeze them. Or you can toss them right into a crock pot with the jelly and chili sauce. Turn on low, heat for about 3 hours, serve, enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 83 Total Fat: 3g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 20mg Sodium: 223mg Carbohydrates: 9g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 5g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 5g
*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Recipe originally published January 12, 2012

Grape Jelly Meatballs are the easiest game day appetizer, served in the crockpot with a delicious sweet and sour sauce!

**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

20 comments on “Cocktail Meatballs Recipe”

  1. this is a childhood recipe from my mom and i made these a few months ago and they’re the best appetizers to serve guests!! i LOVE them and how easy they are!! yay for you making them 🙂 I’m so glad you did!

  2. My idea of a great meatball is called Sam’s Club…jazzed up of course!!! This makes me sound like such a terrible cook huh? Good thing I am a baking blogger:-) The jelly in this totally has me intrigued to try it…maybe a meatball themed dinner is in order

  3. Anonymous

    Do you use the really hot chili sauce or the sweet chili sauce. I want to make these but wonder if they will be too hot for my family.


  4. @anonymous- I use just plain chili sauce (more sweet, it’s not spicy)

  5. Great idea to keep some in the freezer! I love meatballs!

  6. This is such a yummy one…I would love to try it..U have made perfectly Dear..Bookmarking it..


  7. OH yum! THis would be perfect for a super bowl party! My boyfriend would love these, I could make them with ground turkey!

  8. Those are nice looking meatballs. Superbowl or no Superbowl, I would have this any day. Thank you for sharing this beautiful yummers.

    ~ ray ~

  9. Anonymous

    Yummo! Thanks for sharing. I love a good meatball recipe!

  10. YUM. Bookmarking for Super Bowl!!

  11. My sister makes a similar dish and I am always excited when she brings them. I never thought to bring them to our Super Bowl party. So perfect.

  12. Wow, you threw me off when I saw grape jelly. Thats interesting! I am intrigued, now I have to try it! Great idea on freezing the meatballs!!

  13. Cocktail meatballs are always the first to disappear at a party! 🙂

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  15. Kristyn

    Grape jelly & chili sauce give these so much flavor!! Meatballs have become a family favorite! They are great with so many recipes!

  16. April

    One of my favorite appetizer recipes!

  17. Tanya Schroeder

    Wow! I had no idea this recipe was so easy! I’m going to try this for gameday this weekend!

  18. Ashley F

    One of my favorite ways to eat meatballs! So easy and delicious! Just perfect!

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