Instant Pot cocktail meatballs make a quick and easy appetizer for your next get-together! Using frozen meatballs in the pressure cooker saves time and effort!
You’ll love how easy it is to make these pressure cooker cocktail meatballs with grape jelly and BBQ sauce! Ready in no time, they’re a tasty appetizer for a crowd.
LAST UPDATED: October 10, 2021
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Chances are, if you’ve been to a number of holiday parties or game day get-togethers over the years, you’ve probably had “grape jelly meatballs.”
I first remember this classic appetizer from my childhood, when my aunt would make them for our family’s Christmas Eve gatherings every year.
This traditional easy appetizer recipe is typically made using frozen meatballs, grape jelly and BBQ sauce (or sometimes ketchup or Heinz sweet chili sauce), which is simmered in a slow cooker for several hours, creating a sauce similar to a sweet and sour barbecue sauce.
In an effort to make these meatballs much faster, I have adapted the slow cooker recipe to be made in my Instant Pot.
I do something similar with my Instant Pot Little Smokies, which are also always a hit.
These Instant Pot cocktail meatballs are a really simple food that almost everyone loves, which makes them such a great party food. I’m sure this will become one of your favorite easy Instant Pot recipes!
Related: Check out my favorite Instant Pot party foods!
Easy Instant Pot Party Meatballs
I just love how gloriously easy the Instant Pot makes cooking. I know so many people are intimidated by it, but it really has simplified meal prep in my home.
These meatballs are no exception! What would normally cook for hours in the slow cooker only requires a cook time of 5 minutes in the pressure cooker.
You do have to wait for the pressure cooker to achieve pressure, but that is still WAY less time than the slow cooker requires.
In fact, I have a whole list of Instant Pot frozen meatballs recipes that make cooking super easy.
The other discovery I’ve made is that these meatballs actually make a really tasty meal, too!
Similar to my Instant Pot Hawaiian meatballs, you can add these to a bed of rice and they’re transformed from party food to dinner. Voila!
Because there’s less evaporation during pressure cooking, the sauce for these Instant Pot meatballs ends up a little bit thinner when cooked in the Instant Pot, so you can add a cornstarch slurry after cooking is complete and allow it to thicken up to your desired consistency.
How to Make BBQ and Grape Jelly Meatballs in the Instant Pot:
It’s really easy to make these frozen meatballs in the Instant Pot pressure cooker!
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- Frozen meatballs
- Grape jelly
- BBQ sauce
- Optional: Cornstarch
How to Make It:
(Full printable recipe is available below)
Add meatballs. First, you’ll add the frozen meatballs to the insert pot of the Instant Pot. No need to thaw or defrost them first!
Add sauce ingredients. Next, you’ll add the grape jelly and BBQ sauce.
Give everything a good stir to coat. It’s okay if some clumps remain. Add in a little water. This is important because it helps to thin the sauce just a little so it doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pot.
Pressure cook. Close the lid and set the vent to the sealed position. Select a cook time of 5 minutes at high pressure.
As the meatballs begin to thaw, they’ll release juices, which will help thin the liquid even more (again, which will help prevent a burn notice from scorching on the bottom of your Instant Pot).
When the cooking time is complete, press the Cancel/Keep Warm button to turn off the pressure cooker. Perform a quick release of pressure.
If desired, add the cornstarch slurry at this time, and use the Instant Pot’s Saute button to simmer the sauce until it’s thickened to your liking.
If you aren’t serving right away, you can use the keep warm setting until your guests arrive. They’re the perfect appetizer!
Notes and Adaptations:
- Feel free to use leftover cranberry sauce in place of the grape jelly if you’d like to make Instant Pot cranberry meatballs! Other options include blackberry jelly, orange marmalade, apricot preserves–basically any kind of jelly or jam will work well here.
- You can use any kind of frozen meatballs that you like. I prefer homestyle meatballs as opposed to Italian style meatballs. You could also use turkey meatballs. If you want to use homemade meatballs, I’d recommend they be fully cooked already so they don’t fall apart too much during cooking.
- Want spicy meatballs? Add some red pepper flakes for some heat in a spicy sauce. Want them a little sweeter? Add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar.
- Leftovers of this perfect party appetizer can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Instant Pot Meatball Recipes You Might Love:
- Instant Pot Meatball Subs
- Easy Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs
- Instant Pot Hawaiian Meatballs
- Instant Pot Italian Meatballs and Rice
Whether you enjoy these Instant Pot BBQ meatballs as an appetizer at your next party or as your next quick and easy weeknight meal of savory meatballs, they’re sure to be a hit! And you’ll love that they didn’t take all day to make! 🙂
Recommended Equipment for Pressure Cooker Grape Jelly Meatballs:
- Instant Pot (I have the DUO60 model, but there are several options to choose from)
- 14-oz bag of fully cooked frozen homestyle meatballs
- 1 cup of grape jelly
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- optional: 2 Tbs cornstarch whisked together with 2 Tbs water to form a slurry
- In the insert pot of an Instant Pot, add frozen meatballs. Add grape jelly, BBQ sauce, and water. Stir to combine.
- Lock lid into place and set the vent to the sealed position.
- Select a 5 minute cook time at high pressure.
- When the cook time is complete, press Cancel/Keep Warm to turn off the pressure cooker. Perform a quick release of pressure. After the pressure has released and the valve has dropped, carefully remove the lid.
- If desired, turn on the Saute function and add the cornstarch slurry, stirring well to combine. Continue stirring while the liquid simmers to your preferred consistency.
Serving Size:5 meatballs
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 936mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 2gSugar: 37gProtein: 10g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is not guaranteed for accuracy.
Want to learn more about using your pressure cooker? Check out everything you need to know about making easy pressure cooker recipes.
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