Sweet and Tangy Balls

With only 3 ingredients these sweet & tangy balls make a quick and easy party appetizer. Your guests will love them!

With only 3 ingredients these sweet & tangy balls make a quick and easy party appetizer. Your guests will love them!

I asked everyone on Twitter & Facebook last night what I should post today. I was torn between posting a savory or a sweet and needed some votes. Of course they ended up with the same amount of sweet votes and savory votes so luckily I have both in one dish for y’all today :)

I’m bringing a post back from the past today. These sweet & tangy balls were first on the blog last year and they definitely needed to be in the spotlight again cause first, I doubt you guys even went back that far in my archives to find them, and secondly, I doubt my pictures back then could’ve whet your appetite ;)

Whenever I throw a party, this is my NUMBER ONE go to dish, and for extremely good reason. These meatballs are like crack. They fly out of the crockpot. Everyone’s plate is always full of these and I don’t blame them. Honestly, if you make a double batch of these and have chip, guac, salsa (and some booze, duh) and nothing else; your guests would be more than satisfied. I could’ve sworn, at the rate the meatballs were being consumed at our housewarming a couple weekends ago, there could’ve been a rock-paper-scissor championship for the last couple meatballs.

One of the BEST parts of this appetizer is: it’s three ingredients, you don’t do anything except throw everything in the crockpot, stir every few hours, and serve. So easy. Who needs a complicated dish when they’re hosting?

I guarantee you that if you make these for your next party, everyone will go ape-sh!t over them. No exaggeration. These are 200% guaranteed to be a hit. My mom made these for us when were younger and we ate them over white rice for dinner. Yeah, we were healthy kids.

Man, now I’m craving some (meat)balls.

Oh, bee-tee-dubs, officially 8 months today ’til the big day…who’s counting? Certainly not me ;)

Sweet & Tangy Balls
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 5 mins

The easiest appetizer for a party! These sweet and tangy meatballs will be a hit!

Servings: 64 meatballs
  • Large pack of frozen meatballs, mine had about 64 in them
  • 1: 16- oz jar grape jelly
  • 1: 12- oz jar of chili sauce (I used a Wegman's brand but Heinz sells them too it's usually located near the ketchup & hot sauce)
  1. In a small pot on medium high heat, combine jelly and chili sauce until they're combined and jelly is not chunky.
  2. Put the entire bag of meatballs in the slow cooker insert and pour the jelly chili sauce on top, stir the meatballs around until they're all coated.
  3. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. Toss every couple hours or so to re-coat the meatballs in the sauce.
  4. Serve hot.



Posted on August 27, 2012

dinner for two by julie wampler



Perfect for: singles & couples, newlyweds, empty-nesters, college students, YOU!


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  1. Arlene Kennedy
    02/13/2013 at 1:18 pm

    I’m making the meatballs now for our condo get-together. Can’t wait to taste them!

  2. 06/24/2013 at 7:22 pm

    These look absolutely amazing. I’m not sure if we have frozen meatballs here in Australia so I’m off to find them. Just wondering if there is a different kind of thing I could use instead of a jar of grape jelly. We don’t have grape flavour here. Is there another flavour you think would work just as well?

    Thank you so much.

    • 06/24/2013 at 8:47 pm

      Apricot preserves or jam would work wonderfully!

    • Lola Montez
      09/14/2016 at 1:20 am

      The ORIGINAL 1950s recipe called for CURRANT JELLY…not grape. People used grape because it is very common in the US and most people have it in the fridge. Smuckers used to make currant jelly but discontinued it recently. It may be that in AUSTRALIA, nobody eats grape jelly (but then how do you folks make PB&J???) but in the US apparently currant is not very popular. Cross & Blackwell still make it. I think you could also substitute lingonberry jelly or cranberry jelly (NOT preserves) as they are also “tart”. APRICOT JAM will not work! it will be much too sweet and too “lumpy”!

      I have made this in a pinch (no jelly of any kind) with barbecue sauce and chili sauce — it was good, but not this particular wonderful sweet/tart sauce that is so unique!

      NOTE: it is much better with a good homemade meatball, using high quality hamburger. But I have made it with frozen meatballs….ground turkey….even ground chicken. They were all good, but the traditional recipe calls for a HOMEMADE ground beef hamburger meatball. And currant jelly. Trust me. My family has been making this for over 6 decades to RAVES from EVERYONE who tries it!

      • Sarah
        10/22/2016 at 11:29 am

        Apple jelly would probably also work. :)

      • Sheliah
        08/26/2017 at 8:52 am

        Make homemade meat balls include a plg of dry onion soup and an egg.. Use brown sugar instead of grape jelly, ketchup, brown mustard. It’s much better!!!

    • Dianna B.
      09/19/2017 at 5:46 pm

      I have made these for years, only with jellied cranberry sauce.

  3. kathryn
    07/13/2013 at 4:22 am

    If I make these the day beforehand what’s the best way to reheat? Thanks

    • 07/13/2013 at 8:54 am

      I would put it in a pot over medium heat and reheat, stirring occasionally for 25-30 mins until it’s all warmed through.

      • Jesica H
        10/12/2013 at 11:07 am

        Can you just put them in the crockpot and reheat? Also, have you ever had them a second day…just wondering if the taste changes.
        I would like to make these the day before and then reheat so they are ready for a brunch party. :-)

        • 10/13/2013 at 10:08 am

          Yup, you certainly can! I’ve had them the second day before and they taste just like the first! Enjoy :)

      • Sheliah
        08/26/2017 at 8:54 am

        They are better the next day! Warm in crock pot!!

  4. Christina K.
    08/06/2014 at 7:05 pm

    I usually use bbq and grape jelly on my homemade meatballs. I have never found a frozen meatball that taste good to me, what brand(s) have you and others used? Also, what does the chili sauce taste like, spicy, hot? I don’t like “hot” things.

    • Julie
      08/06/2014 at 8:26 pm

      I don’t remember which one I used. I got it from Wegmans and it had a grandma photo on the logo, haha. The chili sauce is more sweet than hot. I didn’t really feel much heat with it but everyone has a different heat preference.

    • April
      01/02/2015 at 2:42 pm

      Try Turkey meatballs (frozen). Tastier and not greasy.

    • Melanie
      09/18/2016 at 8:46 pm

      Costco sells a really good meatball. I use them for this recipe. I also sometimes substitute a can of cranberry sauce (the loaf one) for the jelly.

  5. skylar
    01/30/2015 at 4:49 pm

    Would it make that big of a diff. If I got a 14oz thing of jelly?

    • Julie
      01/30/2015 at 9:13 pm

      Nope, it wouldn’t!

  6. ashleigh
    04/15/2015 at 6:36 pm

    what is the green garnish you used ?

    • Julie
      04/16/2015 at 7:33 am


  7. Ashley
    07/14/2015 at 7:46 pm

    Hi, do you recommend any other cooking method other than slow cooker? I’m a poor college student :(.

    • Julie
      07/15/2015 at 6:10 am

      I’ve never done it without the slow cooker but I imagine in a large pot on the stove would work just fine!

  8. Karen
    07/24/2015 at 6:39 pm

    think I could substitute apply jelly for grape?

    • Julie
      07/25/2015 at 9:20 am

      The taste might not be the same so I can’t guarantee how it’ll turn out or if it’ll taste good, but you can try it!

  9. Ashlyn
    09/03/2015 at 12:08 pm

    Can i double the recipe?

    • Julie
      09/04/2015 at 7:40 am

      You can, but you have to make sure you have a large slow cooker for this. This recipe barely fit my 4 quart slow cooker!

  10. 09/15/2015 at 6:23 pm

    i was wondering if this would taste okay if I make it as meatball subs. And had cheese to put on top. Thanks in advance!

    • Julie
      09/15/2015 at 9:21 pm

      I don’t think that’d taste very good with the cheese. If you make these as subs, I’d leave the cheese off.

  11. Jen
    10/12/2015 at 10:11 pm

    Do you actually taste the grape??

    • Julie
      10/13/2015 at 9:38 pm

      Not really. I couldn’t.

  12. Priscilla
    11/04/2015 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Julie! Just wondering if you’ve tried this recipe again recently, and if so what brand of frozen meatballs did you use? I haven’t had any luck finding a good frozen meatball. Thanks!

    • Julie
      11/05/2015 at 9:40 am

      I just buy Wegmans frozen meatballs brand :)

    • Sheliah
      08/26/2017 at 8:58 am

      Make homemade meatballs with hamburger, Lipton onion soup and an egg!! Bake in oven.

  13. Jazz
    11/17/2015 at 2:25 pm

    Hello. To keep the holiday theme could you use a cranberry preserve, jam, or jelly for the meatballs?

    • Julie
      11/18/2015 at 7:23 am

      You could but I’m not sure how it would turn out due to the tartness of the cranberry…if it’s too tart, you may want to add a bit of sugar.

      • Bekah
        05/14/2016 at 7:05 pm

        The cranberry sauce option is delicious. It’s not as sweet as the grape jelly, but it’s not tart either. I think it’s perfect!

  14. lynn
    11/27/2015 at 10:21 am

    I don’t have a slow cooker….can I just cook on low heat on the stove top for an hour?

    • Julie
      11/27/2015 at 8:29 pm

      Yup, you can!

  15. desiree
    01/06/2016 at 11:34 am

    i made these for party i was hosting but i used sweet ans sour some sweet some sour they left t eh crock pot like it was nothing

  16. Babbs
    03/05/2016 at 10:20 am

    You show them with a miniature appetizer fork for serving. I’m assuming they are still good if room temperature?

    • Julie
      03/05/2016 at 7:42 pm

      Yup, they’re delicious! :)

  17. Robin
    08/26/2016 at 4:39 pm

    We don’t have chili sauce here, have you tried any other kind of sauce? Would salsa work?

    • Julie
      08/27/2016 at 7:23 am

      I haven’t tried any other kind of sauce, unfortunately. And salsa wouldn’t work in this recipe, sorry!

  18. Lola Montez
    09/14/2016 at 1:15 am

    This is my mom’s recipe, LOL — goes back a LONG ways, I think she made them in the 50s — there is ONE flaw here. It is CURRANT JELLY — not grape — grape is much too sweet and if you taste it with currant jelly, you will see. Less sweet, more tart — a richer flavor. (Sadly, Smuckers has discontinued currant jelly from its product line….you’ll have to get Cross and Blackwell or another brand!) Seriously, we’ve been making this in my family for 60+ years and no matter where we take them, they get RAVES and men are crazy about them!

  19. carol
    10/03/2016 at 8:27 am

    Why would you put the meatballs so long in a Crock-Pot when they’re already pre-cooked I know you are warming them up but you could do those in the oven I make some really good jalapeno meatballs in the oven

    • Julie
      10/03/2016 at 8:44 am

      Well, some people like to do it this way and you can continue to do it your way! As long as there is delicious food at the end of it, we all are happy :)

  20. Andrea
    11/16/2016 at 7:01 pm

    Ive made these meatballs with a few small differences. 1st Instead of the grape jelly, I use jellied cranberry sauce , just 1 can, i use franks sweet chili sauce, and a tablespoon of brown sugar! They are incredible and will have people inviting you to their parties, just so you can bring them!

  21. June
    12/24/2016 at 11:25 am

    Thank you for your rules on feedback etiquette. Do these go for the author too? I would like to tell you how surprised I was to find a certain term used in the recipe I was researching – Sweet and Tangy Meatballs. Let’s be aware that some readers find that kind of language offensive. Thank you.

    • Julie
      12/24/2016 at 12:58 pm

      I’m sorry that the name of a recipe offends you. Maybe these cookies will lift your holiday spirit? Although, the language might be too much for you to handle. I hope you have a happy holiday season. xo

    • Marilyn
      12/30/2016 at 10:16 am

      What is offensive about the name sweet and tangy meatballs? I can’t think of anything.

    • Keia
      12/31/2016 at 12:00 pm

      I’m just curious as to why the title sweet and tangy woul offend someone?

  22. Gina
    12/31/2016 at 10:48 am

    Omg! I put these in a fresh pita bread with provolone cheese!!! YUM!

  23. Sondra Hager
    01/30/2017 at 4:48 pm

    Really don’t need the foul mouth !

    • Julie
      01/30/2017 at 5:43 pm

      Not quite sure what you find so foul in this post…

    • Joycelyn
      03/18/2017 at 10:13 pm

      Oh good lord, get a life.

      Seriously, what a pathetic comment to leave. A simple I don’t think I’d like this or hey, this was a great recipe would suffice.

  24. Dayna
    02/05/2017 at 12:40 pm

    Great recipe. We like spicy, so i diced up to jalapeños and added them. So tasty.

  25. Nan Perkins
    02/13/2017 at 10:23 am

    I put lil smokies in too

  26. Marianne
    05/06/2017 at 8:58 am

    Try substituting the grape jelly with a can of cranberry sauce (not whole berry); add a tbsp of brown sugar and a splash of lemon juice. :)
    * and be sure NOT to use Italian seasoned meatballs.
    (Haven’t read through all the comments so not sure if this was suggested before)

  27. Ashley
    05/16/2017 at 8:56 pm

    I’ll be cooking these while at work… would they be ruined if I can’t get home quicker than 6 hrs? I’ll be fine for aprox…. 10 hrs

    • Julie
      05/17/2017 at 8:08 am

      They should be okay..might be a bit softer and might fall apart a bit.

  28. Bridget
    09/01/2017 at 7:57 pm

    Can these be made and simmered on the stove?

    • Bridget
      09/01/2017 at 8:01 pm

      I received answer from another lady who posted the same question.

    • Julie
      09/02/2017 at 4:06 pm

      Yes, definitely!

  29. Nicole
    10/27/2017 at 10:43 am

    Are the meatballs frozen when you put them in the crock? If so, I dont see how this recipe could get any easier. Super excited to try it.

    • Julie
      10/27/2017 at 10:53 am

      Yes, they’re frozen! :) Enjoy!

  30. Grace Hayek
    06/09/2018 at 6:17 pm

    Can you use thai sweet chili sauce with this? Or will it be too sweet with the grape jelly?

    • Julie
      06/10/2018 at 9:17 am

      Might be too sweet but you could maybe cut the jelly in half?

  31. Hayley
    06/13/2018 at 9:27 am

    Hey! Can’t wait to try these! Just wondering if they need to be defrosted and precooked/browned before going Into the slow cooker?

    • Julie
      06/16/2018 at 7:13 am

      Nope! They go in frozen.

  32. Sandi
    07/12/2018 at 11:05 pm

    Are these spicy? I don’t like anything spicy but they look yummy.

    • Julie
      07/15/2018 at 7:00 am

      They can be slightly spicy depending on your tolerance. I don’t think they’re very spicy but it’s hard to say because if you don’t like spicy, you might be more sensitive to it.

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