3 Ingredient Candied Kielbasa Bites

This recipe has been around for as long as I can remember.  Everyone’s mother made this at least once or you were at a party and the hostess made these or you had a potluck at work and someone brought these in via a crock pot. Yep, I’m talkin’ about grape jelly, chili sauce and kielbasa.  That’s it; plain and simple.  Now I have mixed it up a bit over the years by using cooked meatballs, Little Smokies, hot dogs or even cooked sausages.  Plus I’ll even use strawberry jelly in place of the grape.  It’s pretty versatile and equally as delicious!

I have no clue who is the proper creator of this recipe though I know for me, it’s been around for decades.  I can remember my Mom making these for picnics and holidays.  Actually I can remember one specific time she made these.
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I must have been around 12 or so and it was the dead of winter.  It was bitter, bitter cold out and we had about a foot of snow.  It was around 6 and the power went out.  Since it was in the winter, it was already dark out by that time.  Mom always kept candles on the table and throughout the house.  Mom lit up the candles to light up the kitchen in such a beautiful glow.  Immediately Dad put on the one furnace in the ‘little room’ off of the kitchen to help keep that part of the farm house warm while Mom turned on the burners to high on the stove.

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Since the rest of the house was dark (remember we lived in the middle of 41 acres) and I was such a huge scaredy cat, I had my Mom go with me to my room to put on warmer clothes.  When we got back to the kitchen, where my father, sister and 2 brothers were sitting around the table there was a knock at the door.  One of our neighbors drove over to keep warm.  Their furnace was electric and not having a generator their house got cold super fast.

Immediately Dad welcomed them in, took their coats and gave them coffee to warm up.  Well Mom, being Mom, went into hostess mode.  She managed to put together a spread of hoagies, chips, cookies she had made earlier and these candied kielbasa bites.

Candied Kielbasa Bites Collage

As we all sat around the table where the heat was, we laughed and ate til our hearts were content. Once the food was done, Dad got the extra leaves from under their bed and put them in the kitchen table.  This made our table HUGE and extended it almost into the living room.  We had enough room for 10 people to sit around easily.

What was funny is my Dad said “it’s a shame we didn’t plan this Bob (my neighbor), we could have played poker.” Well up Bob stood, on went his shoes and he ran out the door.  Do you know that man brought their jars of change just in case?!  LOL  That’s how often my parents and they played.

Candied Kielbasa Bites

We must have played poker until 2am before the power finally came back on that night.  I think we took a break around 10:30 to “eat again”.  One thing my Mom was strict on was you were not allowed to eat or have food on the table while you played cards.  Oh no, Mama took her food and cards serious.

Wow, it’s funny how foods can trigger a memory like that.  I honestly had forgotten about that night until just now, as I was typing this.
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After that night, this dish because a regular in our house and everyone wanted the recipe from my Mom.  I think she got this from some lady she went to bingo with who got it from a lady who got it from a lady – you know how that goes.

This morning as I was going through my photos and picking what recipe to post next I decided to stick with yesterday’s Tuesday’s Tip about throwing a last minute party theme. What if it were me that decided to throw a last minute party and I had a bajillion things to get done, what are some easy, but delicious dishes to make.  Honestly, this one came immediately to mind. It’s simple, only 3 ingredients and takes hardly any time to make.

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Seriously you whisk together some grape jelly and chili sauce, pan sear some sliced kielbasa and then let it all simmer together in the pan for about 30 minutes.  And yes, you can make these in the crock pot on low for about 4 hours but again, the whole concept is last-minute party. You really don’t have 4 hours.  These are seriously delicious and the sauce it sweet and tangy.

Of course I’ve seen folks try to make it all gourmet by adding sriracha, chili flakes, this seasoning or that seasoning but why?  Keep it simple here folks because this dish is divine as-is. Really.

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While I kept the recipe as basic as they come, I did make it look pretty. There’s no reason why you can’t.  Sure you can serve it in a big serving bowl full of the sauce and bites.  Just put toothpicks to the side and a slotted spoon in the both.  Since my thinking was a small, intimate party (again, all hypothetical here), I wanted something a bit more refined looking.  Upstairs I do have a container of ‘fancy’ toothpicks with the frilly colored ends but I didn’t want those colors to distract from the candied kielbasa.  And sure I had regular ol’ toothpicks but again, I wanted pretty.

So I journey downstairs through the endless construction crap into my food porn props room and there, sitting right in front was a box of plastic silver appetizer forks.

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Okay seriously I totally went full on girl when I found them meaning I maybe squealed out in delight.. maybe. LOL I wanted to run up the stairs to use these in my shoot however the stupid washer buzzed which meant I had to put the clothes in the drier however that meant I had to fold what was already dried.  Seriously, someone needs to invent a dryer that not only dries your clothes but doesn’t eat your socks AND folds your clothes.  Just sayin…

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Finally I was able to plate these and for a pop of color I added some chopped fresh chives.  Again, how you serve these is totally up to you. For a big party, it’s probably best just to put them in a big ol’ bowl and let folks scoop them out.  And hey if you want, mix and match the meats – use a few types of kielbasa with some Little Smokies and hot dogs.  Or if you want, toss in some cooked meatballs and enjoy!

3 Ingredient Candied Kielbasa Bites


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  • 2 lbs kielbasa, sliced into 1/2” rounds
  • 1 cup grape jelly, not jam (can also use strawberry jelly too!)
  • 1/2 cup bottled chili sauce
  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium low heat add in the jelly and chili sauce.
  2. Whisk together until combined and simmer stirring occasionally.
  3. While the sauce is simmering, heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat.
  4. Place each round of kielbasa cut-side down. Do not crowd the pan – you want to sear the cut sides, not steam them.
  5. Cook for 5 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown and seared. Flip over and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until seared on the bottom.
  6. Once all the kielbasa bites are seared, place them into the sauce and gently stir to coat all pieces.
  7. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  8. To plate allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes in the pan, insert a party fork or toothpick into each bite, allow the extra sauce to drip off then plate.
  9. Garnish with chives. Serve the extra sauce on the side.
You can also use little smokies, cooked meatballs and even cut up hotdogs. Omit the searing part for the smokies and meatballs.

If you’re interested, the plastic silver appetizer forks I used in the shots are found on Amazon.

appetizer fork

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