These easy bbq meatballs only have three ingredients: frozen meatballs, grape jelly, and bbq sauce. They’re the perfect party appetizer!
I found this recipe for Crockpot BBQ Meatballs in my grandma’s recipe book, clipped from a newspaper.
They’ve been a popular party appetizer since the 1960s, despite the one slightly unusual ingredient: grape jelly.
But, it just works! The grape jelly is combined with bbq sauce, the bbq sauce provides just enough tanginess to offset the sweet jelly. And the meatballs are still savory, of course, though the glaze is slightly sweet.
Similar to these Crockpot Little Smokies, the ease of the recipe is likely why they’ve continued to be popular through the years. You just dump everything in the crockpot and let it cook, and then take them out to serve them.
All you need to add is toothpicks for your guests to grab them!
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You just need 3 ingredients for this recipe:
- Frozen meatballs—choose plain or “homestyle” meatballs. Avoid using Italian seasoned meatballs.
- Grape jelly—any brand will do!
- BBQ sauce—choose your favorite brand and flavor.
You’ll also need a crockpot (slow cooker). This is the crockpot that I have—I love it!
How to make bbq meatballs in a crockpot
Place the frozen meatballs, grape jelly, and bbq sauce in a crockpot. Stir everything to combine.
Place the lid on and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for 4 hours. After the meatballs are done cooking, you can set the crockpot to “warm” and keep them warm for several hours if needed.
The sauce will thicken slightly as it cools. If desired, transfer the meatballs to a serving platter, top with chopped parsley for some color, and serve with toothpicks.
You can also serve them straight out of the crockpot! I like using a slotted spoon for serving them.
To make bbq meatballs without a crockpot, place the meatballs, grape jelly, and bbq sauce into an oven-safe dish, and stir to combine. Cover the dish with foil or an oven-safe lid, and bake at 350°F for 35–40 minutes, or until the meatballs are warmed through and the sauce is bubbling.
Chose frozen meatballs that are gluten free (such as Rosina gluten-free meatballs) and proceed with the recipe as directed. Be sure to check the label of the bbq sauce for any gluten. Most bbq sauces shouldn’t contain gluten, but it’s better to check to make sure!
There are many brands of dairy-free frozen meatballs. FarmRich is a popular brand, though there are plenty of others. Be sure to check the label—it will say “contains milk” if there is dairy in the meatballs. Most bbq sauces should not contain dairy, but check the label on that, too, just to be sure.
I love serving these meatballs as part of an appetizer spread. Similar to these Bacon Wrapped Meatballs, they’re casual enough for a football watching party, and fancy enough for a dinner party.
For a casual party, you can serve the meatballs straight from the crockpot! It’s particularly handy to do this when guests are eating over the course of a few hours. Keep the crockpot set to warm, and let guests scoop their own with a slotted spoon. Homemade Dill Dip with cut-up veggies would be a great accompaniment.
For a more upscale event, transfer the meatballs to a serving platter and serve with toothpicks to allow guests to get their own. You can also put them on a platter with toothpicks already stuck in them. I love the look of bamboo knot food picks or bamboo paddle food picks for serving.
Need more inspiration? Check out these 20 Recipes for Little Smokies!
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Crockpot BBQ Meatballs
- 1 (20 oz) bag frozen meatballs
- 1 cup bbq sauce
- 1 cup grape jelly
- Place all of the ingredients into a slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- Cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for 4 hours. Serve warm.