Sweet and Sour Meatballs {Easy!}

Okay folks, we’re kickin’ it back old school today.  This is one of those little recipes that I just assume everyone and their grandma knows about.  Then I make it for some gathering and inevitably find out that there are people in the world who have never heard of such a thing.  (I experienced this same phenomenon recently with muddy buddies.  Seriously- there are people who don’t know about muddy buddies, oh the shame!) Anyway, if you are among those who have never before seen this recipe then your first response will probably start with “What the…”

Why?  Because there are only two ingredients to this magical sweet and sour sauce, and here they are:

Yup.  That’s chili sauce and grape jelly.  Trust me on this one people, have we ever led you astray before?!  If you’re wondering, Chili Sauce can be found in the grocery store near the ketchup.  It’s tangy, sweet, and tart all at the same time and full of spices.  The grape jelly adds sweetness and flavor and the result is a wonderful and quick sweet and sour sauce.

Now what do you put in it?  I grew up on Little Smokies/Cocktail Sausages so I must say those are my favorite.  But since we recently had a cocktail sausage post I decided to feature meatballs this time around, which work equally as well.  All you need is just a bag of pre-made frozen ones from the store.  Did I mention this is easy??

Or if you want to live on the edge and be crazy like me you can put BOTH in!   Yes, I really did do that… and I even used Turkey Smokies, but I will admit I like the original fatties better.

Ready for these instructions?  Mix the chili sauce and the grape jelly together.  Technically you can do this right in your crock pot, but I do it in a bowl in case I need to warm it up to get any lumps out.  Just whisk until smooth.

Then toss it in a slow cooker with the frozen meatballs or cocktail sausages.  There is no science to the cook time.  Personally I think the longer the better because it allows time for the meat to absorb the sauce and the sauce to simmer with some of the flavors of the meat.  At least a couple of hours on low and up to several hours.  You could also just put it in a pan in the oven.  I’d do it at about 300 degrees for at least an hour and more if you have it.

I put the meatballs in a bowl purely for photographic purposes, normally I would just leave them in a slow cooker with the sauce.  And just leave some toothpicks nearby.

How’s that for quick and easy party food?  These are always a crowd-pleaser too and no one has to know how easy it is!



  1. Those are so sickeningly good. I remember the first time I had them and the cook told me the recipe . . . I was glad I had eaten them BEFORE I knew what was in it!

  2. This is such a classic and yummy recipe! My mom would make something similar with hot dogs, grape jelly, and barbecue sauce. She would cook them in the crock pot for a couple of hours and take it to potlucks or family gatherings. I've never seen people eat that many hot dogs. They're super yummy!

  3. Love this recipe! My mom made these growing up- usually at Christmas/New Year's. She calls them "cocktail meatballs". I've made them using apple jelly, red plum jelly and apricot preserves. All are delicious. My only "must" is to use Heinz brand cocktail sauce. Store-brands just don't seem to compare.

  4. I've heard of this recipe but never knew where to find the chili sauce so thanks for filling a girl in! I have a yummy sweet and sour meatballs recipe but it's very time consuming so it will be nice to have a go-to quick recipe that I bet tastes just as good.

  5. This is my "go to" recipe for pot lucks and they are always a hit! However, I have never heard of muddy buddies (hanging head in shame)…

  6. My uncle made these one time and I couldn't believe it when he told me the sauce contained grape jelly. I was floored, really! But man were those meatballs delish.


  7. I used a similar type recipe for my sweet and sours but it uses salsa and apricot preserves. Same idea but I think I will give yours a try!

  8. My Mom always used this recipe when I was growing up. I think I will use it for a Super Bowl party this weekend. Thanks for the reminder and have a great day!

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