Spicy Barbecue Grape Jelly Meatballs are a classic appetizer that’s been kicked up with spicy barbecue sauce for added heat and flavor. A perfect game day appetizer or delicious as a meal served with a side of rice and veggies.
Grape Jelly Meatballs
Ok, let’s be real here for a minute. Grape Jelly + Meatballs? Sounds a little out there, I know. But let me tell you, the grape jelly mixes with the spicy barbecue for a sweet and spicy sauce that lovingly coats the meatballs for snacking perfection.
Meatballs are one of my all-time favorite game-day snacks. I say that like I actually participate in game day…I don’t. But I participate in food and if game day means food then I’m totally there. Therefore, game day is my thing. And meatballs are totally a manly, game day kind of food.
These Spicy Barbecue Grape Jelly Meatballs are a perfect sweet and spicy appetizer for game day or any party. My family enjoys them as a meal too, served with a side of rice and veggies, and my daughter has been known to be the hit of the playground after requesting them in her thermos for her school lunch.
As crazy as they sound, I’ll bet they’ll be the hit of you family’s table too!
How to Make Barbecue Grape Jelly Meatballs
This recipe couldn’t be simpler. There are literally just 4 ingredients, or 3 depending on how spicy you like it. You can easily double or even triple the recipe as long as they will all fit in your pot.
- Grape Jelly – Any brand is fine. Currant jelly or apple jelly would be a suitable replacement. Orange marmalade would also work.
- Spicy Barbecue Sauce – I linked to one of my favorites, but I also like Sweet Baby Ray’s. If you like a sweet sauce, go with that, but I prefer it to be more on the savory side. Chili sauce is sometimes use but I love the richness of the bbq sauce.
- Red pepper flakes – You could also use a little cayenne pepper or hot sauce in place of the flakes.
- Meatballs – You could definitely make your own meatballs if that’s your thing. You could even make Baked Chicken Meatballs. Saving time is also my thing so I usually just use the frozen meatballs. Let’s face it, we’re gonna slather them in grape jelly so does it really matter?
Stovetop or Slow Cooker?
This recipe can easily be made on the stove top in about 20 minutes or less, or you can toss it all in your slow cooker and let it do the work. I like to make them on the stove top because it’s so easy and I can use my slow cooker to make some amazing Asian Style Chicken Drumsticks or BBQ Ribs. Be sure to thaw meatballs overnight first.
Slow Cooker Method – To make grape jelly meatballs in your crockpot, add the meatballs to the crockpot, then pour the sauce on top, replace the lid and set to low. Cook for 3-4 hours and give them a stir before serving. Add a cornstarch slurry during the last 15 minutes if needed.
Stovetop Method – To make them on the stovetop, combine the barbecue sauce and grape jelly in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. You can toss in some red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper or hot sauce for even more heat, but that’s totally optional. Whisk the jelly and bbq sauce together until the jelly is melted and the sauce is starting to simmer. Add the thawed meatballs and toss them around in the sauce to coat completely. Cover it and let it simmer for several minutes until the meatballs are heated through.
How to Make a Cornstarch Slurry
To make a cornstarch slurry, which is used as a thickener for sauces and soups, whisk together equal parts cornstarch and liquid. In this case I used about a tablespoon of cornstarch and a tablespoon of water. If you don’t want to add water to whatever you’re thickening, you can add some of the liquid from the recipe.
Slowly pour the slurry into the pan and stir. The sauce will react with the cornstarch and begin to thicken almost immediately. Let it simmer for a few minutes, then add more cornstarch if you desire a thicker sauce.
You can also thicken slow cooker sauces this way like I do with the gravy in my Crock Pot Roast. Stir in the slurry and let it cook for another 10-15 minutes, sometimes as long as 30 minutes.
How to Serve Grape Jelly Meatballs
Or make them for dinner, with steamed white or brown rice and a fresh green salad. I sprinkle parsley on top or sometimes sliced green onions just for a little added color.
Store leftover grape jelly meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Reheat on low in a saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave.
For more easy meatball recipes, try these:
- Buffalo Ranch Meatballs
- Spicy Cranberry Barbecue Meatballs
- Spicy Honey Garlic Meatballs
- Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
- Swedish Meatballs
- Turkey Meatball Subs
Spicy Barbecue Grape Jelly Meatballs
- 36 meatballs fresh or frozen (thawed)
- 1 ½ cups grape jelly
- 3 cups Spicy Barbecue Sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch whisked with 1 tablespoon water
- In a large deep skillet or saute pan over medium heat, combine grape jelly, spicy barbecue sauce and red chili flakes. Cook, stirring often, until bubbly.
- Stir in thawed or fresh cooked meatballs and coat completely with the sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until meatballs are heated through. Stir a couple of times to avoid scorching the bottom.
- If sauce needs thickening, stir in the cornstarch mixture (slurry) and stir to completely incorporate and until sauce is thickened. Let simmer for a couple of minutes, and add another portion of the slurry if desired.
- Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh parsley or green onions if desired.
- Combine grape jelly, barbecue sauce and red pepper flakes in the pot of your slow cooker. Add thawed or fresh cooked meatballs and stir to coat.
- Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on low. Stir before serving. If thickening is needed, add the cornstarch mixture and stir to combine. Continue to cook on low for 15-30 minutes, or until sauce is thickened.