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. Wow, my mom and I have been making these for years.. I didn't realize they're so popular! I love making them, they're always the first to go at get togethers. And no one ever believes me when I tell them the TWO ingredients.. heh heh.. genius.

  2. I used to make this all the time with currant jelly, but it was getting harder and harder to find so I started using the grape. But I'm super lazy apparently, cause I always just dump the jelly in over the meatballs and then pour the chili sauce over that, put the lid on and walk away, lol! No premixing ever and it turnes out just perfectly 🙂

    LOVE your blog, thanks so much for all the tasty recipes y'all post!

  3. We had both grape jelly/chili sauce meatballs AND lil' smokies in BBA sauce at our wedding reception!! LOL It was a great reception- I bought big dishes and asked about 10 different ladies if they'd make something to fill a dish, and then handed it to them. They all did it and it was awesome!

  4. I just thought you might like to know that I sent a link to this page to my husband's email with the subject line "Go ahead & make these. I won't mind."

    I've always wanted this recipe, so thanks!

  5. Sara- Agreed. Any brand of jelly works great for this recipe. I have even combined a few flavors of whatever I had left in the jar. This is definitely a great and easy recipe to keep in your back pocket!

  6. I have made these before and they are AMAZING!!! I don't use the Heinz chili sauce. Instead, I use Homemade Chili Sauce. It is sold in the same section as the Heinz. It comes in a plain glass jar with a white lid with black writing and a small white label on it (resembles something you'd find at a general store). I don't know if the Heinz is spicy but this one has a little bit of a kick to it. No matter what sauce you use, this is a definite MUST try!!!!

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