Chili Bourbon Meatballs

Chili Bourbon Meatballs. Simmered in chili sauce, grape jelly, hot sauce and bourbon!

I almost don’t feel right sharing this recipe. You probably know it already; everyone and their dog knows (and loves) this classic recipe for slow cooker meatballs simmered with chili sauce and grape jelly. I’m certain you’ve had these at a party, served right out of a slow cooker or on a heated tray, speared on toothpicks and dripping with their sweet, tangy, peppery sauce.

Chili Bourbon Meatballs. Simmered in chili sauce, grape jelly, hot sauce and bourbon!

My family has been serving these meatballs at holiday parties for as long as I can remember. And, as long as I can remember, they have consistently been the first items to vanish from the snack table.

I guess my main motivation for sharing this recipe is the thought that there may be some of you out there in the great wide internet that have never had these meatballs. Or, perhaps more likely, there are a handful of you out there who had one of these tasty morsels at a party once and forgot to ask for the recipe. If you are one of those people, you are in luck!

However, even if you have had these meatballs before, you should try mine because I adapted the recipe slightly by adding a healthy swig of bourbon, and it totally works.

Chili Bourbon Meatballs. Simmered in chili sauce, grape jelly, hot sauce and bourbon!

I do generally try to stay away from store-bought ingredients, but this  is one of those times where I break my own rule. Maybe someday in the future I will be extremely ambitious and try to make this sauce from scratch, but there is something magical that happens when the store-bought chili sauce meets the grape jelly.

The addition of hot sauce is optional, but undeniably tasty. The amount I’ve called for doesn’t make the meatballs overly spicy. If you love spicy things, you can add more to suit your taste. The addition of bourbon is also optional – it was a total random experiment that luckily ended up blending beautifully with the rest of the flavours.

Sweet, tangy, peppery, boozy, spicy. Perfect. The perfect party snack food.

Chili Bourbon Meatballs. Simmered in chili sauce, grape jelly, hot sauce and bourbon!

Chili Bourbon Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 lbs. frozen, pre-cooked meatballs, heated according to package directions (or homemade meatballs, cooked)
  • 2 cups bottled chili sauce
  • 1 cup grape jelly
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
  1. In the bowl of a slow cooker, combine chili sauce, grape jelly, hot sauce and bourbon. Heat on high until sauce is heated through, about 5 minutes, and whisk to combine thoroughly.
  2. Add meatballs to slow cooker and stir to coat evenly with sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Serve immediately.
  3. If you're not serving these right away, you can leave them in the slow cooker on the "Keep Warm" setting. If you have leftovers (which is unlikely!), extra meatballs will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two; reheat either in the slow cooker, microwave, or on the stove top before serving.



  1. Alice E. says

    My experience is that there are now folks who haven’t had these and love them when they are served. I do mine with equal parts of ketchup and jelly, since I don’t keep chili sauce on hand and that is the ratio in the recipe I first found. I do recommend grape jelly, as I found out the hard way that it doesn’t work the same with apple.

    • says

      You’re right – there’s a whole new generation that we can expose these meatballs to! And good to know about the ketchup. I’d always assumed that you could use it in this recipe, just never tried it myself. Thanks!

  2. Susanamantha says

    I have made these with a touch of bottles BBQ sauce added to chili sauce (or ketchup) and grape jelly. I’ve never tried it with bourbon and hot sauce but I sure will.

    • says

      The flavour from the bourbon is subtle, but definitely delicious. I hope you like it! BBQ sauce is a great idea too. :)