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!
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Cranberry Sauce Meatballs
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 to add to your easy Thanksgiving appetizers rotation!
This is a simple 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!
3 Simple Ingredients
Yes! This is one of the easiest recipes to make! It is sweet, savory, and full of flavor in addition to making it simple with frozen meatballs. Make this for your next get together and watch it disappear throughout the night! It is always a family favorite appetizer!
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Meatballs: A bag of frozen fully cooked meatballs (If you’re not using homemade)
- Chili sauce: I prefer the Heinz brand. It’s adds the perfect amount of spice.
- Jellied cranberry: I prefer the ocean spray brand.
How to make the Best Cranberry Meatballs
These cranberry sauce meatballs are a classic holiday appetizer or side dish. Whisk together the sauce, then add it to the meatballs in the slow cooker! The slow cooker will do all the work. It is that simple!
- 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.
Variations for Meatballs
Make these meatballs with cranberry sauce just the way you love them! Also, add more sweetness, spicy, or sour. Change the baking method to what is easiest for you! These meatballs are versatile and can change to what is best for your liking.
- Substitute. Swap the chili sauce with BBQ sauce for a smokier flavor. Or swap the cranberry sauce for grape jelly to make chili sauce meatballs.
- Use leftovers. Have leftover cranberry sauce from your Thanksgiving menu? Use it instead of the jellied cranberry.
- Sour. Additionally, add in a dash of white vinegar to add a little extra sour to the sweet.
- Sweet. Also, try adding in a Tablespoon or two of brown sugar and orange juice to sweeten them.
- Lighten it up. Use turkey meatballs or chicken meatballs to lighten it up a bit.
- Other meat. Rather than using meatballs, replace them with wings or use mini hotdogs to make little smokies. The sauce complements almost anything!
With this cranberry sauce it goes well with other protein for several dishes. Try it with oven roasted turkey, grilled pork, cranberry chicken, or brush it on for an additional flavor before cooking or baking.
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.
Yes! Add the cranberry sauce mixture to a large saucepan. Cooking on medium-high heat, place the meatballs in the sauce and stir together. Continue to stir until the sauce is coating each of the meatballs. Once the meatballs are warmed through, you are ready to serve them immediately.
Storing Leftovers and Reheating
It doesn’t happen that often, but you may need to store the meatballs if there are some left over. These are simple to warm up and enjoy a second time!
- Refrigerator: Place the slow cooker cranberry meatballs in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. Make sure to add all the sauce to the container. Otherwise the meatballs will not be as flavorful the second time.
- Reheating: When ready to reheat, warm up in the microwave or on the stove top until warmed through.
More Meatball Recipes
- 32 ounce bag frozen fully cooked meatballs (about 50)
- 12 ounce bottle chili sauce
- 14 ounce jellied cranberry
- light 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 1-2 Tablespoons 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.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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