Slow Cooker Sweet and Smokey Cocktail Meatballs

 Slow Cooker Sweet and Smokey Cocktail Meatballs the perfect holiday Appetizer
Holiday time definitely calls for cocktail meatballs. It's a tradition right? And who doesn't love these little bites of heaven anyway. Everyone has their family version and it's always interesting to taste the different ways these meatballs can be prepared. 

A while back a lovely woman and her daughters were in our winery tasting room. The conversation had turned to food, as it often does. She told me that she makes cocktail meatballs with grape jelly and French dressing. What? Really? Never heard of it. Is this common?

Now, I did know grape jelly is often used with chili sauce and sometimes French dressing is used with BBQ sauce, but I had not heard of  the jelly and dressing mixed together. Turns out it's an amazing combination, but I did add two things to make it even a little tastier. 

I love when meatballs have a smokey taste so I pulled out one of my favorite ingredients, smoked paprika. It was perfect for this. And apple cider vinegar gave the whole dish a tune up. 

Your friends and family are going to want you to share the recipe. 

Slow Cooker Sweet and Smokey Cocktail Meatballs
These will me.

Print Recipe

Slow Cooker Sweet and Smokey Cocktail Meatballs

Recipe from: Created by Cathy Pollak for | Serves: Lots


  • 3 lbs frozen, cocktail sized meatballs, thawed (or homemade)
  • 1 (16 oz) bottle French dressing
  • 2 cups Concord grape jelly
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika


  • Add meatballs to the bowl of a 7 quart slow cooker.
  • In a large bowl whisk together dressing, jelly, vinegar and paprika. Pour over meatballs. Cook on high for two hours. Serve warm.
  • I garnished mine with a little chive but it's not necessary.

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9 Comments and 10 Replies

  1. Now those are some ingredients I never would have thought would go together. I’ll have to try these but with homemade meatballs. I’m not a fan of the frozen ones.

    • Cathy 2

      I know right? It’s a really nice combo. As far as the meatballs, homemade are always amazing but with frozen it’s about finding the right brand. I think there are some good ones out there. Using frozen allows even the non-cooks to serve this recipe.

  2. Diane in Cincinnati 3

    Are the meatballs pre-cooked??

  3. Anna 5

    Can you share some of the frozen brands you like? All the ones I’ve tried tend to gross me out, but who wants to make all those meatballs by hand?

  4. I’m so intrigued by recipes like this! I’ve seen lots and lots of variations on the grape jelly cocktail meatball recipe but never with French dressing. I bet they are wonderful!

  5. Suzie Waclawski 13

    I have never tried this with the french dressing but I use a merlot wine jelly in mine it is simple amazing….

  6. Jamie 14

    The ingredients remind me so much of recipes made by my mom’s generation and there is something so nostalgic about it. But they were so delicious (and addictive) back then… and boy do they look good now!

  7. snowmoonelk 15

    Mmm my mouth is watering! I have a pack of Ikea frozen Swedish meatballs in the freezer (where else!) and am going to do this for lunch! Might have to sub something for the grape jelly, though.

    Ikea meatballs are really tasty, I normally serve them with lingonberry jelly and a cream sauce.

  8. Shelley 16

    Canned cranberry jelly or apple jelly are a good substitute for the grape jelly.
    Or you could use apple jelly and just add some purple grape juice.

    • snowmoonelk 17

      Thanks, Shelley, that’s a great idea! I jjust re-read my post and see I could probably use the lingonberry jam, too!

  9. Sherri Schreiber 18

    sounds great .. 1 question …if you don’t use a slow cooker… how would you cook it??? bake on low for a while??


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