These mouthwatering cranberry meatballs made with cranberry and chili sauce are sweet and tangy with an intensely bold flavor. Made with only 3 ingredients, they are always a super simple crowd pleaser!
My crockpot meatballs are always a hit, but this version of cranberry meatballs is a nice way to mix it up and add a little heat. They’re the perfect holiday appetizer! This is an easy one to whip up last minute and you can keep everything easily on hand in the pantry and freezer. It only takes 3 simple ingredients!
I like to use frozen meatballs to make this recipe easier, but you can definitely use precooked homemade meatballs. If you’re making them fresh, cut the slow cook time by an hour since they’ll already be warm.
This is one of those appetizers that you can absolutely make for a party or gathering, but they also make a fantastic after school snack! The signature aroma of these meatballs as your kids walk in the door is something that transforms a simple snack idea into a “remember when mom used to make” family favorite.
3 simple ingredients!
- A bag of frozen fully cooked meatballs (If you’re not using homemade)
- Chili sauce
- Jellied cranberry
- Optional: brown sugar for extra sweetness
How to make cranberry meatballs
- Combine: In a small bowl, combine chili and cranberry sauce. Heat in the microwave. To add a little sweetness, combine the brown sugar.
- Add: To the slow cooker, add in the meatballs and pour the sauce overtop coating everything. Cook on high or low, the choice is yours.
- Eat: Enjoy over cooked rice for a main dish garnished with sliced green onions or chopped cilantro. Have some toothpicks and napkins handy when serving as a tasty appetizer.
- Substitute. Swap the chili sauce with BBQ sauce for a smokier flavor.
- Use leftovers. Have leftover cranberry sauce from your Thanksgiving menu? Use it instead of the jellied cranberry.
- Sour. Add in a dash of white vinegar to add a little extra sour to the sweet.
- Sweet. Add in a Tablespoon or two of brown sugar and orange juice to sweeten them.
- Lighten it up. Use turkey meatballs to lighten it up a bit.
- Other meat. Replace the meatballs with wings or use mini hotdogs to make little smokies. The sauce complements almost anything!
- Bake it. If you want to use the oven instead, place meatballs in a baking dish and pour the sauce over everything. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1-1.5 hours.
More meatball appetizer recipes:
- 32 ounce bag frozen fully cooked meatballs (about 50)
- 12 ounce bottle chili sauce
- 14 ounce jellied cranberry
- 1-2 Tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
Optional (for serving): Cooked rice, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro
- Combine the chili sauce and cranberry in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir to combined. Add brown sugar if desired (for a sweeter flavor).
- Add the meatballs to a slow cooker and pour sauce over top. Stir until they are coated with the sauce. Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours.
- Enjoy as an appetizer or serve over rice for a main dish. Top with sliced green onions or chopped cilantro if desired.