Crockpot Grape Jelly BBQ Meatballs
Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs with Grape Jelly
How to Make Crockpot Meatballs with Grape Jelly and BBQ Sauce
Lusciously tender crockpot BBQ meatballs with grape jelly and BBQ sauce and honey! Seriously, the combination of jelly and barbecue sauce is a gift to your taste buds. Perfect for game day snacking—especially served as cocktail BBQ meatball appetizers on skewers. Learn how to make grape jelly BBQ meatballs in a slow cooker or crockpot, cooked low and slow.
If you’ve never tried crockpot meatballs with grape jelly and BBQ sauce, now is the time. I came across this recipe on Pinterest and, once I tried it, I fell in love.The salty, smoky flavor of BBQ sauce melds perfectly with sweet grape jelly and the savory acidity of ketchup. After cooking for 6 hours on low heat, these slow cooker BBQ meatballs are melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
Personally, I like to serve my grape jelly BBQ meatballs as an appetizer on skewers, but you can serve them so many ways. With mashed potatoes, on a sandwich, or even as part of a BBQ spaghetti dish! Irresistibly savory yet crave-ably sweet—these crockpot BBQ meatballs are sure to be a crowd pleaser. An ideal dish to serve at a gathering, or as part of a family dinner!
Crockpot Grape Jelly BBQ Meatballs Ingredients
- Ground Meat: I make my slow cooker BBQ meatballs with a mixture of ground beef and ground pork, but any ground meat will work. Use all beef or all pork, ground turkey and/or chicken—whatever you like!
- Egg: The egg is essential in this recipe to help bind these BBQ jelly meatballs together. I don’t recommend substituting for it!
- Breadcrumbs: Similarly, these are an essential binder to hold your meatballs together. As an alternative, you could also try quick cooking oats, crushed chips or crackers, or crushed nuts.
- Onion & Garlic: These add some irresistible savory flavor and texture that I love! Be sure to finely chop them for the best texture. If you’re not a fan of these flavors, you can omit them—just know the texture of your meatballs may change.
- Seasonings: I keep it simple with salt and pepper, so the flavors in the grape jelly BBQ sauce can shine. Of course, you can add additional seasonings to the meatballs themselves if desired.
Ketchup and Grape Jelly BBQ Sauce
- Barbecue Sauce: Choose a store-bought BBQ sauce with a flavor you enjoy and ingredients that work for your lifestyle. Personally, I like the savory yet sweet flavor of Stubb’s Original BBQ Sauce! Or, try my easy homemade BBQ sauce for a low sugar option to use in this grape jelly BBQ meatballs recipe.
- Ketchup: A simple yet underrated condiment that pairs deliciously with barbecue sauce! I like classic Heinz ketchup, or you can use your desired brand with the ingredients that you prefer. (For a low sugar and paleo option, try True Made Foods Vegetable Ketchup.)
- Honey: My favorite BBQ dishes have a satisfying sweetness, which the honey provides here. It adds some comfort and highlights the fruity flavor in these crockpot BBQ jelly meatballs!
- Grape Jelly: Honestly, making these slow cooker meatballs with grape jelly and BBQ sauce opened my mind about the possibility of different flavor pairings. The sticky-sweet, mildly tart flavor of the jelly melds with the savory barbecue for a flavor bonanza! You can use grape jelly, jam, or preserves—or an alternative jelly.
What can I use instead of grape jelly in my meatballs?
If you don’t have grape jelly, you can make these crockpot BBQ meatballs with a substitute. Other fruit spreads like strawberry jelly or jam, raspberry jelly or jam, apple jelly, or red currant jelly could all work well in this recipe (Of course, I recommend trying these meatballs with grape jelly if and when you can find it!)
How do you thicken BBQ meatballs?
In my experience, the combination of BBQ sauce, grape jelly, honey, and ketchup creates a lusciously thick sauce that sticks to the meatballs well! Alternatively, some people choose to add a cornstarch slurry to thicken their slow cooker BBQ meatballs even more. To do this, whisk together 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 1 Tbsp water. Then, during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking, pour the slurry into your slow cooker if desired.
How to Make Crockpot BBQ Meatballs with Grape Jelly
- Whisk together jelly BBQ sauce and set aside.
- Combine meatballs ingredients with hands and form into balls. I use a 4-tsp cookie scoop to create 36 meatballs, 1-oz each. (Optionally, you can freeze uncooked meatballs here to cook later.)
- Sear meatballs on a hot pan, just until browned on all sides.
- Add sauce and meatballs into crockpot. Pour half of sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker, layer in meatballs, and then cover with sauce.
- Cook crockpot BBQ meatballs on low heat for 6 hours.
Do you have to brown meat before putting it in the slow cooker?
No, you don’t always have to brown meat before cooking it in a slow cooker. But, in many recipes, browning the meat first prevents clumping and reduces excess grease. For this grape jelly BBQ meatballs recipe, searing the meatballs first will prevent them from falling apart in the crockpot. This way, they’ll keep their shape, but still turn out deliciously tender and juicy!
Can you overcook meatballs in a slow cooker?
Yes, it’s possible to overcook meat in a slow cooker, but it’s unlikely—especially if you can set your machine to cook for a certain time. Generally, you want to cook these crockpot BBQ meatballs for 6 hours on low heat, or 3 hours on high heat. You can cook longer than this and they will turn out fine, especially on low heat. These cook times are just a good guideline!
Is it safe to cook frozen meatballs in crockpot?
Yes, you can cook frozen meatballs in the crockpot straight from the freezer! They just need to cook a bit longer than fresh meatballs. For these crockpot meatballs with grape jelly and BBQ sauce, you’d need to cook for 8-10 hours on low heat if your meatballs are frozen. No need to thaw your frozen meatballs before cooking.
What goes well with BBQ meatballs?
You can enjoy these slow cooker honey BBQ meatballs in so many different ways! Serve them on skewers as an appetizer of cocktail meatballs, or serve them as part of a larger meal:
- With rice, mashed potatoes, or sweet potato mash
- On a sandwich or sub
- With BBQ spaghetti
- With mac and cheese
- As a BBQ bowl with veggies
See how to make these slow cooker BBQ meatballs in my Super Bowl Party Food video!
Crockpot Grape Jelly BBQ Meatballs
- 16 oz ground beef
- 16 oz ground pork
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- ⅓ cup onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
Grape Jelly BBQ Sauce
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup grape jelly
- Whisk together sauce ingredients. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine meatball ingredients, mixing well to integrate.
- Form mixture into meatballs. I used a 4-tsp cookie scoop to yield 36 meatballs, 1-oz each. (You can freeze the uncooked meatballs if youwant at this point.)
- To cook, heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add meatballs, leaving space in between so you can turn them over. Use tongs to turn meatballs to brown all sides. (They don’t need to be cooked through—just seared on the outside so they won’t fall apart in the slow cooker.)
- Sear in batches until all meatballs are ready.
- Add half of jelly BBQ sauce to crockpot. Place seared meatballs on top of sauce. Spoon remaining sauce on top of meatballs.
- Cook fresh meatballs on low heat for 6 hours. (If frozen, cook 8-10 hours.)
- Serve on skewers for BBQ meatball appetizers, or however you like!