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Crockpot Meatballs in Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce

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Crockpot Meatballs in Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce are a classic appetizer for any party or holiday dinner. The Vintage Homemade Sweet-&-Sour Meatball recipe was huge in the 1950s with just grape jelly and chili sauce. It is served at dinner parties and card parties through the 1960s and then made a resurgent in the 1980s. A friend of mine brought this to a dinner party once and I have been continuing to revitalize the vintage sweet-and-sour meatballs ever since.

You and your guest will love this sweet and sour meatballs crockpot grape jelly and chili sauce recipe. They are so easy to make and you can start them early in the day and they are ready when the party starts. Just 3 simple ingredients and you have a party appetizer. Each holiday season my friends ask if I am making this recipe. And each year they are added to the menu even if I did not plan to make them.

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What Meatballs are best for Sweet & sour Meatballs in Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce

This recipe is best if you make homemade meatballs baked in the oven and then added to the Crockpot with chili sauce and grape jelly. I go to Costco and buy a large 6-pound package of ground beef and make the meatballs ahead of our Christmas party. I freeze the cooked homemade Italian meatballs and they are ready for the Crockpot on the day of our party.

But if you are short on time you can buy any frozen premade meatball. The sauce is so delicious and distinctive no one will know the difference. (do not ask my husband he just loves our family meatball recipe so I make them homemade each year) But you can make this recipe quick and easy with frozen store bought meatballs.

I have this year as many of our guests are not meat eaters I have used frozen plant based meatballs. If you are plant based eater, try these frozen plant based meatless meatballs.

Buonpane Family Italian Meatballs

We have been married for 35 years and I have been making this recipe for 35 years. I make our homemade Italian meatballs for this recipe that Jim’s mother Grace taught me when we were first married. That way if I need to save some to feed the children for dinner I have plenty of meatballs on hand.

I usually make a double batch of meatballs as they freeze well and they do take a little bit of time to make. I have also used frozen meatballs from any big box store and they work just as well.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Family Traditions

When our girls were little and the neighbor twins boys were teenagers they used to come over and play video games at our house.

When I wanted to buy a PlayStation for Jim one Christmas the neighbor twins told me exactly what to buy. They were so excited as did not have a PlayStation. The day after Christmas I let the twins know I had gotten the PlayStation and I needed them to come over and help Jim set it up.

This Christmas present started a two to three-year tradition of the high school neighbor boys coming over to our house on a Friday or Saturday playing PlayStation, while Jim and I and the girls watch, cheered, screamed, and have a great time eating sweet-and-sour meatballs and other finger appetizers.

During the first six months of playing the β€œshoot them up” PlayStation games, we would have the boys for fun appetizers and around 9 o’clock I would put the girls to bed because I thought the games were too scary. Christene and Katie get so disappointed that they didn’t get to watch the games, I soon gave in and let them watch Brian control the controls, and the rest of us tell Bryan what to do. This was in the late 1990s when the favorites were Resident Evil, Laura Croft, and Dino Crisis.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs for the Holidays

Along with game night, the sweet-and-sour meatballs were always a big hit at the holidays. We had several groups of friends that we made sure around Christmas time we had over for a dinner party and at each of those dinner parties I always had these meatballs as an appetizer when everyone arrived. This is an easy favorite as I can make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them and then just put the grape jelly and chili sauce, frozen homemade meatballs in a crockpot. It is a dump it and forget it recipe.

The meatball recipe below is the same recipe I make for our homemade Italian spaghetti sauce. I make the meatballs a little larger for sauce and for the sweet-&-sour meatballs I make the more appetizer/bite-size.

I have included Jim’s mother’s meatballs that I now bake instead of fry and I have added the flax seed and the quinoa to give them more moisture as well as nutrition.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs
Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Check Out These Budget Friendly CrockPots


Crockpot Meatballs in Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce

Crockpot Meatballs in Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce are a classic appetizer for any party or holiday dinner. The Vintage Homemade Sweet-&-Sour Meatball recipe was huge in the 1950s with just grape jelly and chili sauce.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 20 to 25 Meatballs oven-baked (or a large bag of frozen)
  • 2 bottles of Chili Sauce – 12 oz
  • 1 Grape Jelly – 10 oz


  1. Turn on the Crock pot to high.
  2. Put the fresh baked or frozen homemade meatballs in a crockpot and add 2 bottles of chili sauce and 10 oz of Grape Jelly. (you can adjust this proposition to your taste, spicier add less grape jelly, more sweet add more grape jelly)
  3. Cook on high for 4 hours or 6 hours on low. Stir every so often.
  4. You can also make this recipe on your cooktop. Bring to boil and simmer until the meatballs are at 160Β° F.Β 

Keywords: Crockpot Meatballs in Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce


Italian Meatballs Oven Baked

  • Author: Susan Buonpane
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 65
  • Yield: 20 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 2 lbs Extra Lean Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup Ground Golden Flax Seeds
  • 1/2 cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs or Cooked Quinoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBSP Dried Basil
  • 1 TBSP Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Onion Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients together and form two inch balls. You can use any spices you like. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes and then test with a meat tester to 170 degrees in the center.


  • I almost always us the Quinoa as it is moister and has more nutrition.

Keywords: Italian Meatballs Oven Baked

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

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