Cooked meatballs in white bowl on wooden board.
Appetizers,  Recipes

Easy Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs Recipe

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Nothing says mid-century food like unique flavor pairings like the sweet and savory combination in these Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs. This classic appetizer comes from a time when the hostess sought to impress her guests with new flavors and innovative creations. These meatballs combine grape jelly, chili sauce, ground beef, minced onions, salt, pepper, egg, and lemon juice into delicious meatballs that are the perfect appetizer for any gathering.

Meatball on toothpick held above white bowl of meatballs.
Cooked meatball on toothpick.

These meatballs are both succulent and flavorful, making them hard to resist. The delicious glaze made from grape jelly and chili sauce makes these meatballs better than any others I’ve tried. Whether you’re reviving the mid-century spirit or introducing a new generation to this classic recipe, these Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs are sure to please.

Ingredients You Will Need

Ingredients on wooden board.
  • Chili Sauce
  • Grape Jelly
  • Ground Beef
  • Onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Egg
  • Lemon Juice

Equipment You May Need

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it necessary to use both grape jelly and chili sauce? Yes, the combination of grape jelly and chili sauce creates a unique and delicious glaze. It’s the signature element of this vintage recipe, balancing sweetness from the jelly with a hint of heat from the chili sauce.

Can I make these meatballs in a slow cooker? Absolutely! After browning the meatballs, transfer them to a slow cooker, pour the sauce over them, and cook on low for 3-4 hours. This is a convenient option for parties or events.

Can I adjust the level of spiciness in the chili sauce? Certainly! If you prefer a milder flavor, you can use a milder chili sauce or reduce the quantity. For those who enjoy more heat, consider adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or hot sauce.

What are good side dishes to serve with these meatballs? These meatballs pair well with rice, mashed potatoes, or even as a party appetizer. Consider serving them with toothpicks for easy consumption.

Raw ground beef and minced onions in red bowl.
Ground beef mixture before forming meatballs.
Raw ground beef meatballs on white plate.
Meatballs before adding to sauce.
Raw ground beef meatballs in dark brown sauce in saucepan.
Meatballs in sauce before fully cooked.

Substitutions and Variations

Sauce Adjustments: Experiment with different ratios of grape jelly to chili sauce to tailor the sweetness and spiciness levels to your preference. Try using different flavors of jelly or preserves, such as apricot or orange marmalade, for a unique twist.

Spice it Up: Add extra spices to the meat mixture for additional flavor. Garlic powder, paprika, or cayenne pepper can add depth and a bit of heat.

Fresh Herbs: Enhance the flavor by adding fresh herbs like chopped parsley, cilantro, or thyme to the meat mixture.

Asian Fusion Twist: Incorporate soy sauce, ginger, and garlic into the mix for an Asian-inspired flavor profile. Serve the meatballs with a side of rice or noodles.

Ground Meat Variations: Instead of using solely ground beef, some people opt for a mixture of meats like pork, veal, or even ground turkey for a lighter alternative.

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

If you like these meatballs, you might also like my Bacon Curls or my Cream Cheese Pickle Wraps. These Little Smokies and these Charcuterie Cups are also delicious. If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, try these Eggplant Meatless Meatballs.

Final Thoughts

My family really liked these meatballs and they were pretty easy to make. I appreciated that I could leave them cooking on low and only check them about every ten minutes or so. Next time, I might try the slow cooker, but cooking them on the stove worked well.

Cooked meatballs in white bowl on wooden board.

Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs

Heidi Bruaw
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 2 dozen


  • 1 12 Ounce Bottle Chili Sauce
  • ½ Cup Grape Jelly
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • ½ Cup Onion minced
  • ¾ teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice


  • In a saucepan, stir together chili sauce and grape jelly.
  • Cook until blended over low heat. Use a whisk to break up grape jelly, if necessary.
  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, onion, salt, pepper, and egg. Use a meat chopper to break up hamburger meat, if necessary.
  • Shape ground beef mixture into nickel-sized meatballs.
  • Add meatballs to the sauce and cook over lowest heat for about 1½-2 hours or until meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally.
  • Remove from the heat and skim off the fat, if necessary.
  • Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.
Keyword Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs
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