Are you looking for a stress-free appetizer recipe that is a real party crowd-pleaser? Here is the answer, 3 Ingredient Crockpot Meatballs. It’s super easy on you, just grab a big bag of frozen meatballs and stock your pantry with the sauce combination list to make this easy no-fuss recipe.

6 bowls of 3 ingredient sauce idea meatballs

3 Ingredient Crockpot Meatballs

When you need an easy appetizer, all you have to do is grab some frozen meatballs and pick your sauce combination. The best part is it will take you less than 5 minutes to prep these saucy meatballs.

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Fill your crockpot with the meatballs, and stir in your sauce combination. Then set it and forget it. Let the crock pot work its magic while you relax. You will have saucy and delicious meatballs in no time at all! 

🎉 Want to have a meatball party? Be sure to check out my other crockpot meatball recipes: Buffalo Air Fryer Turkey MeatballsEggplant and Beef MeatballsEasy BBQ MeatballsMeatballs and Gravy, Cheesy Baked Parmesan Meatballs

 35+ Easy Appetizer Meatballs Ideas For A Party and this easy recipe for Sweet and Sour Meatballs are popular with my readers.

Sauce Combination Grocery List

If you enjoy serving an easy appetizer recipe without much planning, print this recipe card and use it as a shopping list. Stock your freezer with meatballs and the pantry with sauce ingredients.

You will enjoy how easy it is to serve slow cooker meatballs when entering friends and family. You can serve the 3-ingredient meatballs as a main dish or as the perfect appetizer for an impromptu get-together.

bottles of bbq sauce, jelly, broth and cans of fruit around meatballs
  • 3 bottles of your favorite sweet BBQ sauce
  • 1 bottle of mustard-based barbecue sauce
  • 1 jar of Heinz Chili Sauce: Heinz brand jar of chili sauce is a tangy sauce with a slightly sweet taste and mild spiciness. 
  • Yellow Mustard: You will only need 1/2 cup of yellow mustard.
  • 2 jars of grape jelly
  • I can of cranberry sauce: This is the traditional cranberry sauce in a can served all across America at Thanksgiving time. 
  • Pineapple: Buy pineapple chunks in its natural juice.
  • Lipton Dry Onion Soup Mix
  • Beef Broth

Pick Your Meatballs

This recipe is designed to be quick and easy, allowing you to spend less than 5 minutes in the kitchen. For added ease and convenience, I recommend using frozen meatballs. 

I like to use Kirkland brand frozen meatballs. However, any quality brand will work great. 

What other types of meat can be used instead of frozen meatballs?

If you like making homemade meatballs, I recommend preparing a triple batch of my soft meatballs recipe and freezing them for later use.

If you enjoy canning, you could use my  Easy Step-By-Step Guide For Canning Meatballs In Broth stocked on your pantry shelves. 

Pick A Mix and Match Sauce Combination

You only need 3 ingredients, meatballs and the sauce of your choice. 

bottles of bbq sauce, jelly, broth and cans of fruit around meatballs
  • Chili Sauce and Grap Jelly: This combination is a classic grape jelly meatballs recipe. The flavor is sweet and savory. Heinz chili sauce is mild, not spicy. The jar of grape jelly combines just the right amount of sweetness. 
  • Grape Jelly and Mustard BBQ: When we moved to SC, we experienced our first ‘Piggy Park” mustard BBQ. I like it better than tomato-based sauce now. If you have yet to have mustard barbeque sauce, try this combo. 
  • BBQ Sauce and Cranberry Sauce: My grandkids love canned cranberry sauce, and this combo tops their favorites list. 
  • Sweet and Sour Meatballs: This is a classic cocktail meatball recipe. Serve skewered on kabob sticks for a party appetizer. Make these pineapple bbq meatballs a meal served over white rice. 
  • Meatballs and Gravy: These are perfect delicious appetizers for holiday parties, game day parties, baby showers, wedding receptions, or cocktail party. If you need an easy main course on busy weeknights, serve them over mashed potatoes or crispy air fryer baked potatoes. 
  • BBQ and Yellow Mustard: If you enjoy tangy sauces, this combo makes a tasty appetizer for a large gathering or special occasions. 

Can the sauce combinations be customized or adjusted to personal tastes? 

You can customize the combinations to meet your taste. If you enjoy spicy cuisine, choose a hot BBQ sauce. Watching your calories, pick sugar-free grape jelly and no-sugar-added barbeque sauces. Feel free to get creative and come up with your own unique sauce recipe!

How To Make Three Ingredient Meatballs

1 To start, defrost the frozen meatballs. You can easily accomplish this by following the microwave instructions on the package.

2. After thawing the meatballs, simply transfer them to the slow cooker.

meatballs in slow cooker

3. Next, in a medium size bowl mix in the two sauce combination you choose. 

grape jelly in bowl, bbq sauce and spatual

4. Give the mixture a good stir. Pour the sauce over the meatballs, ensuring all the meatballs are evenly coated with the sauce.

5. Cover the slow cooker and set the cooking temperature. Cook on high setting for about 2.5 to 3 hours or on low for 4.5 to 5 hours. 

6. Gently stir the meatballs 1/2 way through the cooking time. If the sauce seems too thick, stir in a few tablespoons of water. This will ensure the sauce is evenly distributed and the meatballs are cooked evenly.

Meatball Questions and Tips

This is a simple recipe however, here are a few questions and tips that might make it easier for you to make the slow cooker meatballs.

Do I have to thaw meatballs before putting them in a crockpot?

To safely cook meatballs in a crockpot, it’s best to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave before adding them to the slow cooker.

If you place frozen meatballs directly into a crockpot, it will take longer for the meatballs to cook, and the surrounding ingredients might be overcooked by the time the meatballs are done.

What is a substitute for grape jelly?

If you need to substitute grape jelly, use orange marmalade, hot pepper jelly, apricot preserves, peach, or raspberry preserves. 

What To Do With Leftover Meatballs

Leftover meatballs can be used for a quick and easy dinner on a busy night.

Refrigeration:

  1. Allow the meatballs to cool down to room temperature before storing.
  2. Transfer the meatballs to an airtight container or place them in a resealable plastic bag.
  3. Seal the container or bag tightly to prevent air exposure.
  4. Label the container with the date to track freshness.
  5. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
  6. Meatballs and gravy can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Reheating Meatballs

  1. For refrigerated meatballs, reheat them in the microwave or on a stovetop.
  2. For frozen meatballs, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before reheating them using your preferred method.

Safety Tip: Remember to discard meatballs left at room temperature for more than 2 hours to ensure food safety.

How Many Frozen Meatballs For A Party?

chart for how many frozen meatball

Be sure to pin for later or download your copy of this handy How Many Meatballs For A Party Chart.

6 bowls of 3 ingredient sauce idea meatballs
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3 Ingredient Sauce Ideas For Easy Crockpot Meatballs

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 6 people
When you need an easy appetizer, all you have to do is grab some frozen meatballs and pick your sauce combination. The best part is it will take you less than 5 minutes to prep these saucy meatballs.

Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.

Ingredients
 

Sweet Chili Sauce Meatballs

  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs, about 60 meatballs, 2-inch cooked and frozen
  • 1 jar grape jelly, 18-ounce jar
  • 1 bottle Heinz Chili Sauce , 12 -ounce bottle

Cranberry Meatballs

  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs, about 60 meatballs, 2-inch cooked and frozen
  • 1 bottle bbq sauce, 18-ounce bottle
  • 1 can ranberry sauce , 14-ounce can, jellied

Carolina BBQ Meatballs

  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs, about 60 meatballs, 2-inch cooked and frozen
  • 1 bottle mustard-based barbecue sauce, 18-ounce bottle
  • 1 jar grape jelly, 18-ounce jar

Sweet and Sour

  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs, about 60 meatballs, 2-inch cooked and frozen
  • 1 can pineapple , chunks in syrup
  • 1 bottle bbq sauce, 18-ounce bottle

Beef Gravy Meatballs

  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs, about 60 meatballs, 2-inch cooked and frozen
  • 1 box beef broth, 32-ounce box
  • 1 packet Lipton Dry Onion Soup Mix, 1.8 ounce packet

Southern Meatballs

  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs, about 60 meatballs, 2-inch cooked and frozen
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 bottle bbq sauce, 18-ounce bottle

Instructions
 

  • To start, defrost the frozen meatballs. You can easily accomplish this by following the microwave instructions on the package.
    2 pounds frozen meatballs
  • After thawing the meatballs, simply transfer them to the crockpot.
  • Next, in a medium size bowl mix in the two sauce combination you choose.
  • Give the mixture a good stir. Pour the sauce over the meatballs, ensuring all the meatballs are evenly coated with the sauce.
  • Cover the crokpot and set the cooking temperature. Cook on high setting for about 2.5 to 3 hours or on low for 4.5 to 5 hours.
  • Gently stir the meatballs 1/2 way through the cooking time. If the sauce seems too thick, stir in a few tablespoons of water. This will ensure the sauce is evenly distributed and the meatballs are cooked evenly.

Equipment

Notes

Do I Have To Thaw Meatballs Before Putting Them In A Crockpot?
To safely cook meatballs in a crockpot, it’s best to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave before adding them to the slow cooker. If you place frozen meatballs directly into a crockpot, it will take longer for the meatballs to cook, and the surrounding ingredients might be overcooked by the time the meatballs are done.
Cuisine: American
Course: Appetizer
Author: Gina Dickson

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