Reader Interactions


  1. I am with you on the already prepared meatballs! I've had this recipe with the chili sauce before but never with bbq. Sounds yummy! I love anything with BBQ sauce.

  2. I make mine with BBQ sauce and grape jelly. And, yes, it is always Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce in this house. Love it! I'll be making these on Saunday for our family's SuperBowl munchies. My kids are excited about our "snack food dinner" that night 🙂

  3. Oh, yum…I think this is the classic Super Bowl dish…my boys would be thrilled with a plate of these…and I know how wonderful the house would be with these warming in the crock pot! Thanks, Brandie 🙂

  4. Wow, your meatballs look so yummy! I like the fact that there is a shortcut involved. Sometimes it gets so busy and this little shortcuts are life savers!!!! Grape Jelly, love it! Thank for sharing Brandie 🙂

  5. Sweet Baby Ray's here too! But no grape jelly. Maybe I need to try it that way….

    Lately I've had to back off on making these so much because certain men in the house overindulge and we have BIG heartburn issues from the seasoned meatballs.

    I love this recipe though because it's so "fire and forget!" And you only need 4 hours, not 8-10 hours like many other Crock Pot specialties!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Instead of the jelly, I used The Jug BBQ sauce along with the sweet baby rays, mixed them together, and they flew out of the dish! I made dozens of smaller meat balls and just added sauce whenever it seemed to need more. The jug has a polynesian flavor and offsets the other BBQ sauce just right. Try it, we love them!

  6. You are right ! Go to a potluck or party, and someone always brings these wonderful meatballs. Sometimes it's BBQ sauce or chili sauce, but always the grape jelly.
    We still have a big jar of grape jelly in the fridge. My husband made these meatballs to take to work during Christmas week.

    Happy Super Bowl!

    • wow I’m so glad I across this site. I’ve seen people boil them first…then add the sauce and jelly.

  7. Idk, this is really weird. Grape jelly in the sauce? I guess I will just have to trust you. This is the kind of thing that I would make and not dare tell my husband what was in it until after he scarfed it all down and raved about it. I am always up for trying something different!

  8. These look so simple and delicious! I love coming across easy-to-make recipes like this one. And thanks for the heads up on the grape jelly–it is indeed an unusual ingredient. But I totally belive it works!

  9. Mmm they look good! I thought about making meatballs for tomorrow, but I just haven't decided yet. And you're right about the grape jelly – it's good! I was very surprised when my mother-in-law told me that was the "secret" to her really good party meatballs!

  10. Looks delicious! I have seen grape jelly+bbq sauce meatballs before but have never tried them. I'll take your word that the jelly taste doesn't shine through! 🙂

    Visiting from It's a Keeper

  11. Ah, these are like the little smokies we make only we use ketchup and grape jelly. Never thought about doing meatballs. Would sure make them last longer!

  12. No Party is complete without Meatballs and your recipe looks very good. I am so happy that you brought them to share with us at Full Plate Thursday and we look forward to seeing you next week!

  13. OK, I had to take a look at this recipe too before signing off tonite. I know what you mean about this being a fav at pot lucks. I too am a Sweet Baby Rae's fan and never heard of trying these with BBQ sauce. Adding this to my list for sure! And how do you get your pics to look so absolutely YUMMY?

  14. Grape jelly? That is brilliant, Brandie! I'd love if you'd consider sharing this recipe in the online Get Grillin' & summer bbq event I'm sponsoring (it's appetizer week right now).

  15. I love a good meatball. I make cocktail weenies w/ ketchup and cranberry sauce, so this makes perfect sense to me! Thanks for sharing @ Church Supper!

  16. I had these during the holidays and was amazed at how yummy they are. I'm glad I came cross the recipe so I can enjoy them more often. Great call in rue jelly. Really gives it a twist.

  17. Just made these with turkey meatballs and sugar free grape jelly to make it slightly more healthy – still delicious! Give it a try!

  18. I used to make it this way all the time! Now I switch back and forth from this to

    Chili Sauce and a can of cranberries!

    Both are a delicious snack for football days!

  19. Anyone ever tried apple jelly or red pepper jelly? Just trying to use up what I've got on hand, to avoid going to the store today

  20. When I make these, I also go with the pre-made store brand. I add the grape jelly and BBQ sauce but I also add brown sugar and honey to taste.

  21. We get these meatballs from Wal-Mart! They really are delicious! Thanks for the recipe. Sounds yummy!

  22. I just love these…There are never any left..They are ready in about 40 mins but the longer you cook them the more tender and tastier they love love them..add some hot sauce to give them some zing…great turn over meals next night(if any left) put them over egg noodles or make a sandwich with them!

  23. I've used this recipe for years! I make it a lot when we have a function at work because it's so easy and portable. I have in recent years though changed from meatballs to little weenies. I can fit a lot more into the crockpot and feed a lot more people.

  24. I have used Grape jelly in a similar recipe using Cocktail Smokies and the addition of crushed pineapple and diced jalapenos. Will have to try this Meatball version, sounds delish!

  25. I love these but changed it up for some senior citizens who had blood sugar issues. I used premade meatballs also, a no brainer, and added fruit only cherry jam,1/2 cup no sugar added catsup, 1/4 cup Country Bob's Sauce, and small can of crushed pineapple in juice. Everyone loved it, not just diabetics, and those said it did not bother their blood sugar.There are no bad crockpot meatballs!

  26. I have been looking for this recipe. I did not know how much grape jelly to use..I have it in the pantry..going out to buy meatballs and Diana BBQ sauce now!


  27. Well here it is Thanksgiving Day and I have a taste for meatballs. I came on here to see if there were any recipes and I found this one with the grape jelly and Rays BBQ sauce. I am going to use homemade grape jelly with this and see how it turns out. I always keep some Rays Sweet BBQ sauce and I had a 32oz. bag of store brand meatballs. They are in the crockpot now and I'll be sure to let you know how everyone liked them. Thanks for the help. Happy Thanksgiving to all the readers.

  28. I am going to try this with BBQ sauce. I made this tonight with the Heinz Chili Sauce, but the BBQ sounds more yummy. You do not taste the grape jelly -it cooks down. Also going to try the frozen meatballs. I did mine from scratch and they stayed together but were a bit dry.

  29. Smoked or polish sausages cut into one inch pieces works well with this sauce too. I buy the three pound packages. I love this with chili sauce, but the bar-b-que version is yummy too.

  30. I'm making these tonight but they were out of sweet baby rays!! So I went with bullseye. Hopefully they turn out good they look delicious!!!

  31. I have always blended chili sauce and cranberry sauce in a pan on the stove and poured it over the meatballs. Now I will have a new one to try! Sounds great!

  32. My cousin from Australia has just rented a slushy machine for her party next week, then I saw this blog, so I thought, these meatballs would taste great with slushy! Looks like I'll be drinking too much frozen cocktails in Perth next week… Thanks for the recipe!

  33. I have always been leary of packaged frozen meatballs. Sounds like the Walmart brand are good? Would sure be easier than having to make meatballs from scratch.

  34. Anonymous – yes I've had good luck with the Wal-Mart brand and other store brands as well. Obviously homemade meatballs are awesome. The only reason why I don't recommend the homemade for these is because they always fall apart at some point during the heating up in the crock pot. I've tried it several times – even tried freezing them. They would still fall apart or would get so soft, folks couldn't easily scoop them up with a toothpick. The frozen, packaged just hold up better and taste great with this combo. of flavors. 🙂

  35. I like the grape jelly/SBR BBQ also! Im gopint to try it with Apricot Jelly this time, Ill let ya know how it is.

  36. Used this recipe for a munchie during the superbowl game for our guests. It was beyond easy to prepare, very tasty and a huge hit with our guests. Will be making them again in the future!

  37. Hopefully I didn't miss this in the comments, but what size crockpot do you use? I only have a 4qt so I didn't know if it would all fit. Thanks!

  38. I use Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ Sauce for the meatballs; making 2 large crocks full for my daughters wedding shower as I type this!!! 🙂

  39. Great recipe! I added some finely chopped onion; and after few hours added some flour for thickening.

  40. I love these, always a hit! I use a spicy salsa but basically get the same, yummy result! Guests are always shocked when I divulge the "recipe".

  41. I make this sometimes when we head for the weekend home on the block of the motor inside the hood/bonnet. I start the recipe at my home in Houston by putting everything in a big plastic covered bowl, microwaving, stirring in any other flavors I want to try (onion powder, various rubs, even cream of mushroom soup), and then wrap it all 3x into foil recipe. You don't know the meatballs are there if you are moving in her car (the motor is in the back of her sports car). Still my wife kept asking when we got into traffic if I could smell BBQ but I just would say, well its Friday night – people must be BBQ'ing. When we got to the lake, we emptied the car of the few things we carry back and forth including a cheese plate and wine. Wanting to capture the sunset on the water, I carried the snacks out back and poured my bride a glass of wine. Whilst she asked about our dinner plans, I crept away, retrieved a nice serving dish and two bowls and chopsticks, opened the hood, retrieved the meatballs (she was already suspicious)and served my favorite food critic. It is nice to use the rolling kitchen in your car motor and you never heat up the house. Thanks.

  42. if I need to dbl this would it be best to make it twice or just dbl ingredients? Sometimes it's no good to dbl. thanks

  43. Oh I just made these and doubled the recipe I used 32oz. grape jelly and 2 jars of chili sauce with homemade turkey meatballs.
    These are delicious I put them in an oval 6qt. crockpot on low for 7 hrs. Love them!

  44. We have always used the grape jelly and yellow mustard, but never in the crock pot. I'm going to have to give it a try and see if it works. Sounds much easier!

  45. Very simple and basic, I'm glad others use the grape jelly too, although I use half as much. Also, I always add a good bit of hot sauce, maybe 1-2 tsp. As far as everyone being in love with Sweet Baby Ray's – and don't get me wrong, I have it in the pantry now, it's good – but has anyone ever heard of Bulls-eye? Vastly superior IMHO. Thanks for posting the recipe.

    • I have been using Bulls-Eye for about 25 years. I just recently bought a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's……I just wanted to see for myself. Haven't tried it yet though. Actually, our favorite is Tony Roma's bought directly from the restaurant.

    • I think it should be. I'm sure there will be lots of other food there. I know it's always hard to figure out because you don't want to make too much or have too little, right? 🙂

  46. I've always used the grape jelly with the chili sauce and it is fantabulous … now I have another variation to try with the barbeque sauce … Sweet Baby Ray's s our favorite. Talking about strange combinations … has anyone tried Little Smokies then adding equal parts of yellow mustard and apricot preserves. For my family, I add extra preserves. They like a little more sweetness to them .

  47. I get the frozen meatballs Costco sells and they are fantastic with the Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce & grape jelly. I'm thinking of trying it with the whole cranberries instead of the grape jelly for a Thanksgiving appetizer.

  48. I have been making these for a while. I use the Heniz Chili Sauce, never tried the BBQ sauce. Think I will try it. Everytime I make these, they are a hit. So when the holidays come around, I am asked to make these, They are delish. I usually make enough for my husband and I too.

  49. An alternative to these that I luv on Christmas or New Years, is to use Sweet & Sour sauce instead of BBQ sauce. Awesome! Note: I always use plain or homestyle meatballs, not seasoned (can't control flavor) as some brands are over powering in taste.

  50. I made over 200 of these meatballs for a Super Bowl party and they were all eaten. I use grape jam instead of jelly and Sweet Baby Rays jalapeño BBQ sauce ( No these are not hot or too spicy, ) it's just a hint of n something else in the sauce. People begged for the recipe. The Jam adds more flavor and isn't as sweet as the jelly.

  51. Every year for New Years Eve, I make some "party food" for my grandchildren and we celebrate together. Think I will make these this year, though I'm sure the adults will be in them, too. Using frozen meatballs will sure streamline this recipe!

  52. Trying this for the first time. When I used the suggested quantities (32 oz, 18 oz and 18 oz) it didn't seem to be enough to cover the meatballs… you add water to cover, or do I need to increase the bbq sauce and the jelly? This is my first time with this recipe. Smells great cooking.

  53. These are exactly what I am doing with my Christmas meatballs this year!! It's as though you looked into my kitchen and gave out my 'recipe'. Wal-mart meatballs, Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (hand's down the best), and grape jelly. Everyone loves them and no-one has any idea that my secret ingredient is grape jelly. 🙂

  54. I have made the chili sauce and jelly version for years but just found Rays new cola bbq sauce so will be trying that for my Christmas apps this year. Merry Christmas all!

  55. Hi …I have just received my specially ordered Sweet baby Rays and grape jelly .. I've got raw fresh meatballs so do I need to fry them off first …. Can't wait to try so a big thank you all the way from the UK ……

  56. i bought italian meatballs on accident ande threw em in the crockpot before i even realized, how is that going to change the flavor, just a little more zangy-tangy??

  57. I make meatballs all the time — office parties, church functions, etc. I have always used the frozen meatballs (Rosina or store/discount brand doesn't make a difference, but I ALWAYS use the Italian meatballs). I use Kraft Orignal BBQ sauce (or the store equivalent — Great Value Original tastes EXACTLY the same), and I add a can of pineapple chunks w/the juice. It's FANTABULOUS!!! I've never done the grape jelly, so I'll have to try that. I'll also have to try the chili sauce & jelly combo as well. As much as I LOVE Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, for some reason I have never thought to use it for the meatballs. Brandie, you just keep on throwing my skinny girl dreams out the window!!!

  58. I've done this with several different kinds of jelly, the important thing is to add the sweetness. I've used apricot, orange marmalade, grape, strawberry, boysenberry and whatever else happened to be in the house or fridge when the mood hits. I've made these every new year's eve for at least 30 years. I've always used Chili Sauce though … I tried the barbecue sauce once and it wasn't as good IMO … I think the pepper jelly would be especially good, give them a nice kick! I may use that on super bowl Sunday .. IF I can get DH to go along with "snacking Sunday" 😉

  59. I will be making these for Church this sunday (superbowl sunday). I bought Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce and now I'll just add the grape jelly (already had that in my cupboard). I'll use frozen meatballs from Gordon Food Service. GFS is awesome if you have one in your area. Everything is "party" sized.

  60. Your food blog is my absolute favorite! Keep me on your list, please! I will make my meatballs with the SBRay's…love that stuff! You're the greatest!!

  61. Love your meatball recipe! And, I definitely want to remain on your e-mail list!! It is one of the first ones I read and get so much out of it!

  62. I have used the original recipe for probably 25 years and it is still a family favorite. I originally had them at a funeral so try not to think about that part. It is equally good to use cocktail sausages in place of meatballs. For those of you that fear the grape jelly-get brave, it does not have a grape jelly taste. only a mild sweet next layer of flavor.

  63. Hi Brandie, I sure do want to stay on your email list! Love these meatballs – I made them a couple years ago, but with the chili sauce. They were a bit spicy for me, so I believe the BBQ sauce will be perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  64. I made these for my Super Bowl family meal, that and several other recipes that you had posted last week. Let's just say that everyone was going back for second's and even thirds of everything. The Asian Slaw, BBQ cups and your recipe for the choc.chip cookie bars were a major hit! Thank you for helping make this day so very special. I've always been a big fan but these recipes blew this party out of the park! (Even though our team lost)

  65. Can I make this a day ahead, keep it overnight in the refrigerator and then re-heat it in the crock pot the next day when I get to the party?

  66. Anonymous….That would work making the day ahead but make sure you allow enough time to re-heat before serving at the party.

  67. I make it with the BBQ sauce but I use grape jam instead. I like the sauce to be a bit thicker. It thins out a bit too much with the jelly. (The crock produces extra moisture so with jam it works great!)

  68. I make theses kind of meat balls as well but I also use 1 can of Holmes Chilli with no beans..My family and friends love them

  69. Sounds like another winner! I make meatball subs for my boys using half barbeque and half spaghetti sauce mixture (put meatballs on sub rolls, add a little sauce, top w/ slices of provolone, microwave for about 15 seconds to melt cheese).

  70. I love the prepared meatballs from (don't know if I should say). They have the best flavor without tasting weird. Then I always use bottled bbq sauce and whatever jelly/jam/preserves I have on hand. Cranberry is really good as is orange marmalade, pineapple or peach or apricot preserves… Sometimes a splash of bourbon is good, too! 😉

  71. Came via Gooseberry Patch, love this recipe and with the big game coming up, it's a winner! We usually make it with the Heinz Chili Sauce as others have mentioned. I have tried it with the cranberry sauce and, although I usually love cranberries, did not care for that strong taste coming through in the cooked meatballs. I am interested in trying your barbecue sauce idea, using Sweet Baby Ray's, for sure. If I am using the frozen meatballs I get the Swedish ones and not the Italian style, the flavor in the meatballs is very mild so that the jelly/chili taste dominates. Loved your description of the fifties, guess we always long for a simpler time!

  72. My kids (grown kids lol) made these once and I loved them! So happy to find the recipe, even if it seems like a simple one.
    Thank you hun

  73. I have heard of mixing BBQ sauce (has to be Sweet Baby Ray's!) with grape jelly for the BBQ, but have not tried it yet. Will definitely have to try this!

    That said, this is very similar to the super simple sweet and sour meatballs that a co-worker brings to all of our workday 'crock pot lucks' (yes, crock pots are required for all hot dishes & the whole place smells like manna from heaven with crock pots bubbling away on desks, in the kitchen, the meeting room and even next to the copier). These meatballs disappear in minutes every time; the power of the crockpot meatball!

    As the only difference is the sauce ingredients (same meatballs, mixing and cook time, also just 3 ingredients), I thought I would share:

    Sweet & Sour Crockpot Meatballs
    – 2 large cans chunk pineapple in juice, do not drain
    – 2 large jars sweet and sour sauce
    – about 2 lbs frozen swedish or homestyle meatballs

    Just a variation on the theme. Happy crocking!

    • You really wouldn’t need to increase the cook time as long as your crock pot is big enough to hold all the ingredients.

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