What can be more reminiscent of cocktail parties than meatballs cooked in ketchup and jelly sauce? It’s something about the mix of the tart ketchup and sweet jelly (grape jelly is the favorite way to go) that creates a sweet and sour sauce delicious for nearly every palate. It may also be the sheer naughtiness of mixing two childhood favorites–ketchup and grape jelly–that keeps us coming back. In fact, it seems a little off-putting at first, but it is truly a delicious combination. Whatever it is that makes these so popular, ketchup and grape jelly meatballs have been around for a long time, and they’re not going anywhere soon.
The best part of these meatballs is how easy these are to make, even if you are a rookie in the kitchen. Read on for a quick and easy recipe for ketchup and jelly meatballs. If you haven’t tried them yet, these are sure to become a staple at your home!
1. Gather the Ingredients
You will need one cup of ketchup, one cup of grape jelly, two pounds of lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed), three eggs, three-quarters of a cup of almond meal flour, one teaspoon of garlic powder, one teaspoon of ground black pepper, and one-eighth of a teaspoon of salt. For heartier meatballs, you can use breadcrumbs in lieu of the almond meal. You may need to soften the breadcrumbs with a bit of milk before using them to make the meatball mix. If you are cooking in a saucepan rather than a slow cooker or Crockpot, you will also need two tablespoons of canola oil.
Although grape jelly is the classic ingredient, you should definitely try different jelly varieties and see if you discover one that works just as well or better. Cherry and green pepper jelly tend to go well in this dish. Also, if you want your meatballs to be spicier and more flavorful, you can try adding half a grated onion, two tablespoons of paprika, and three tablespoons of minced fresh parsley. To make the sauce more flavorful, try adding some crushed red pepper flakes to taste, a quarter cup of soy sauce (if using this, eliminate the salt), half a tablespoon of ground ginger, and a tablespoon of garlic paste. (You can also omit the ground ginger and use garlic ginger paste instead).
Of course, if you’re in a rush, it’s okay to save some time by buying frozen meatballs and preparing them with the ketchup/jelly sauce.
2. Prepare the Meatballs
Mix together the ground beef, flour, eggs, garlic powder, and ground black pepper. Once well-mixed, shape the mix into small, bite-sized balls.
3. Mix the Sauce
Mix the jelly and ketchup together to make the sauce. Add the extra sauce ingredients (red pepper flakes, soy sauce, etc.) if you are using any.
4. Cook the Meatballs with the Sauce
If you are using a slow cooker or Crockpot, pour approximately half of the jelly/ketchup sauce onto the bottom of the slow cooker. Then place the meatballs into the slow cooker and add the remaining sauce on top of the meat. Cook on high for about four hours.
If you are not using a slow cooker, you should first heat up the canola oil in a large saucepan and cook the meatballs until they are brown on all sides. Then add the sauce and cook over low or medium heat for about 20-30 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally and make sure the sauce mixes well. The sauce will eventually turn into a glaze. Make sure you continue to cook until the meatballs are hot and fully cooked all the way through.
Ketchup jelly meatballs make both a perfect appetizer or entree. If you’re serving them as appetizers, place them in a serving dish and put toothpicks on each meatball. Make sure to provide napkins to your guests, since the glaze can drip and stain. If you’re serving them to younger children, you may not be able to use toothpicks (plastic utensils also work), and you should make sure the kids are wearing a bib or kept away from any furniture they might stain.
For a hearty entree, ketchup jelly meatballs go very well over a helping of creamy mashed potatoes. A glass of red wine also pairs nicely!