No Fuss Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Meatballs

The holidays are always stressful. Getting the house ready for family, entertaining, prepping the holiday dinner, it can be an unrelenting storm of chaos that sets itself upon your kitchen and absolutely does not relent until the last family member has gone home.

This recipe was passed over to me by my dad who created it as a way to get an appetizer out for hungry guests with as little involvement on his end as possible – so that he could focus on whatever else was going on in the kitchen that day, rather than one more app.

These won’t be the made from scratch meatballs your grandmother lovingly toiled over by hand in the kitchen, working breadcrumbs and eggs into ground meat and onions. Instead, this recipe uses frozen meatballs, some jarred pasta sauce and another… unconventional ingredient to make something delicious, fast and easy for you to serve during your next gathering without having to spend a lot of time on it.


  • Frozen meatballs, usually “homestyle” of whatever brand you prefer
  • Your favorite pasta sauce, two jars
  • Grape jelly, about 1/2 – 2/3 a jar
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • A slow cooker (instant pot, crock pot)


Set your slow cooker to low (or if you’re really in a hurry you can set it to high, just make sure to check on it more often) and add the meatballs. Come back when the crock pot has warmed up.

Add everything else – all the kids are going into the pool – and give the contents a good mix. Come back once the sauce has heated up (20 minutes or so) and mix everything again to ensure that the jelly has broken down and integrated into the sauce.

Now you just set the pot to low and let it rest. Once the meatballs are warm guests can start consuming them. I’ve made this for every thanksgiving and christmas and the meatballs were so popular they are now a staple of my wife’s family’s holiday dinners. the meatballs end up a spicy, sweet, sour mix which keep you coming back for more until they are all gone.

If you do end up with left over meatballs, combine them and a bit of melted provolone to make a killer meatball sandwhich the next day.