Looking for the ultimate party appetizer? Skip the cheesy dip and opt for super easy Grape Jelly Meatballs, the best cocktail meatballs ever!
Grape Jelly Meatball Recipes
Grape Jelly Meatballs, or sometimes simply known as jelly meatballs, are one of my favorite childhood recipes.
Long before the days of slow cookers or crock pots, grape jelly meatballs were simmered on the stove’s of 1950’s housewives and served as gourmet hors d’oeuvres.
Really, anything on a toothpick was considered to be a fancy appetizer! Pigs in a blanket, anyone?
As a child, I got so excited when my mom told me she was making cocktail meatballs. The taste was both acidic and sweet and I would do anything in my power to get as many as possible.
I watched the stove like a hawk. I was a slightly type A child. Imagine the day I learned how my favorite cocktail meatballs were made. Grape jelly and ketchup? Say what? GROSS!
Make sure you PIN Grape Jelly Meatballs!
Initial disgust turned into understanding, and after some time my taste buds convinced my logic that the flavors actually paired well together. So much so that I actually even top my award winning Stuffed Meatloaf with the sweet and tangy sauce!
People can never put their finger on the flavor profile. Wink. Wink. Most people use barbecue sauce, so mine is just a little… different.
Grape jelly meatballs still reign as the ultimate party food although there are many ways to make them. Some use ketchup (my preference), others BBQ sauce or even a Sweet Chili Sauce.
The only ingredient that remains the same is sweet and gelatinous grape jelly. Grape Jelly Meatballs for the WIN!
As for the cocktail meatballs, you can make from scratch them however you’d like… or not make them at all. While I can certainly taste the difference, even I break down to save time and buy frozen meatballs sometimes.
For this recipe, the sauce is tasty enough to cover up the shortcomings of a frozen ball. However, if you do decide you want to make homemade, use the use recipe from Grandma’s BBQ Meatballs, only make them into a smaller 1-inch ball.
Also, check out my 8 Meatball Tips before starting. You can also use turkey, chicken or even tofu meatballs!
Instant Pot Grape Jelly Meatballs
Now days the slow cooker isn’t the only way to go for meatball recipes with grape jelly. Nope, now you can make cocktail meatballs in the Instant Pot, too!
Here are my quick Grape Jelly Instant Pot meatballs instructions, also available in the notes section of the actual recipe if you feel inclined to print it out or pin it.
Use the same ingredients, drop everything (including frozen meatballs) into the inner pot of the Instant Pot and set for manual pressure, high or 7 minutes. Use quick release function, stir well and serve!
If you liked making cocktail meatballs in the Instant Pot, check out my Instant Pot Cranberry Meatballs!
Here are a few more easy party appetizers:
Questions you might have about how to make grape jelly meatballs:
Can I freeze grape jelly meatballs? Of course! In fact, I encourage you to make a double batch and freeze half for easy cooking the next time around.
Can I make cocktail meatballs ahead of time? In fact, they are better if you make them ahead. The meatballs flavor the sauce and the sauce flavors the meatballs.
Can I use homemade meatballs? While frozen meatballs make things so much easier, I am a big proponent of homemade meatballs and encourage you to use them.
Is a meatball recipe with jelly the same as sweet and sour meatballs? No. Sweet and sour meatballs typically use brown sugar and soy sauce, having a more Asian flare.
However, grape jelly meatballs seem to have three common preparations:
- Grape jelly + chili sauce
- Grape jelly + barbecue sauce
- Grape jelly + ketchup
Grape Jelly Meatballs
- 2 pounds small meatballs cooked, frozen or fresh
- 12 ounces grape jelly
- 12 ounces ketchup or BBQ sauce
- Place all three ingredients in a crockpot or large sauce pan. Cook over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to mix the sauces. Continue to heat until hot the whole way through.
- Serve with toothpicks and enjoy!
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how they were!
Instant Pot Grape Jelly MeatballsUse the same ingredients, drop everything (including frozen meatballs) into the inner pot of the Instant Pot and set for manual pressure, high or 7 minutes. Use quick release function, stir well and serve!
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