Cranberry Meatballs Recipe | Slow Cooker Meatballs | Slow Cooker Appetizer | Crockpot Meatballs #meatballs #cranberry #appetizer #slowcooker #crockpot #dinneratthezoo Cranberry Meatballs Recipe | Slow Cooker Meatballs | Slow Cooker Appetizer | Crockpot Meatballs #meatballs #cranberry #appetizer #slowcooker #crockpot #dinneratthezoo

These slow cooker cranberry meatballs are a 5 ingredient appetizer that are sure to be the hit of any party!

A crock pot full of cranberry meatballs.

I am sooooo tired of this crazy heat we’ve got going on here in California. It is hot and humid with no sign of it letting up any time before November. I’m dreaming of cooler weather and fall food, like these amazingly easy slow cranberry meatballs. These meatballs take just minutes to put together and they’re sweet, savory and absolutely delicious. I’m thinking this will be the perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving or really any fall get together!

A slow cooker full of cranberry meatballs with cocktail forks.

How To Make Cranberry Meatballs

Here’s what you need to make this recipe: frozen meatballs, cranberry sauce, chili sauce, orange juice and brown sugar. That’s it!! You can add a little parsley for color like I did here, but that’s totally optional. You can use your favorite variety of frozen pre-cooked meatballs in this recipe. I like to use turkey meatballs, because turkey and cranberry is a classic combination that can’t be beat. Not to mention, turkey meatballs tend to be a little lighter than their beef and pork counterparts, so you won’t fill up too much before the main course. I use a jellied cranberry sauce because I like a smooth sauce for my meatballs, but you could use a whole berry sauce if you prefer.

Cranberry meatballs in a crock pot topped with parsley.

Remember those old school meatballs with grape jelly sauce? This is a similar concept expect the cranberry sauce keeps things on the more savory side because it’s not as sweet as grape jelly. While these cranberry meatballs are perfect for appetizer hour, they also make a great dinner served over rice with a side of broccoli.

I am so excited to serve these easy meatballs all fall and winter long, I know my family and friends are going to adore them!

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5 from 28 votes

Cranberry Meatballs

AuthorSara Welch
A crock pot full of cranberry meatballs.
These slow cooker cranberry meatballs are a 5 ingredient appetizer that are sure to be the hit of any party!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 5 minutes
Course Appetizers
Cuisine American
Serves 10


  • 1 2 lb bag frozen pre-cooked meatballs I recommend turkey meatballs
  • 1 12 ounce bottle chili sauce
  • 1 14 ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • optional: 1 tablespoon chopped parsley


  • Place the cranberry sauce in a bowl and microwave at 45 second intervals until just melted.
  • Whisk in the chili sauce, orange juice and brown sugar; stir until mostly smooth.
  • Place the meatballs in a slow cooker and pour the sauce over them.
  • Cook for 4 hours on LOW then serve, topped with parsley if desired.


Recipe adapted from Ocean Spray.


Calories: 306kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 623mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 16g

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Recipe Rating


  1. Hi. I’m wanting to make these for Super Bowl 54. I’ve made several variations before. But how do you think they’re turn out replacing the orange juice with lime juice or lemon juice? Would you recommend or no?

  2. Could I make the sauce a couple days in advance then throw everything into a crockpot the day I need it. I’m pressed for time and am looking for shortcuts.

  3. 5 stars
    I made it a little different. I made my own meatballs and cranberry-orange-ginger sauce. I used 4 cups of cranberry sauce (I cooked 4 bags) to a 12oz bottle of chili sauce, 2T red wine vinegar, 4T brown sugar. I cooked it util everything was blended, poured it over the meatballs, and stuck them in the freezer. I made my meatballs with GF breadcrumbs, because I have a friend with celiac disease. πŸ™‚ It tastes AMAZING! THANK YOU!

  4. Just made these… All I can say is nailed it.. so delicious. Going to make again for sure. πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜‹πŸ˜Ž

  5. At the top of the recipe it says cook time is 3 hrs but in the instructions it says 4 hours, which is it?

  6. Do they have to be pre-cooked meatballs? I make and freeze my own meatballs but wondering if I should cook them and then throw them in the crockpot or will they be ok to throw them in thawed out for maybe longer time?

  7. 5 stars
    Am looking forward to making this as I LOVE cranberries. My ? as there are so many types ( let alone brands) of chili, could you be a little more specific. I want to use the right type. Thank you.

    1. For this recipe you’ll want to use a bottle of chili sauce, I typically buy the Heinz brand and it’s located either near the ketchup or BBQ sauce at the grocery store (it’s smooth and red like ketchup). Hope that helps!

  8. 5 stars
    Quick make ahead recipes are my favorite. We do cocktails and appetizers Friday nights and this would work well as we move into fall days