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Crock Pot Cranberry Meatballs

These Crock Pot Cranberry Meatballs take only a few minutes of prep and have a delicious sweet and tangy taste with a little bit of spice.

Crock Pot Cranberry Meatballs topped with sliced green onion in a bowl.

Great Holiday Appetizer

Just about every southern Holiday Party I’ve gone to has had a crock pot full of party meatballs. And there’s always a swarm of people huddled around them. Cocktail Meatballs are an absolute crowd pleaser.

The typical party meatball is made with a jar of grape jelly and those are plenty delicious, but I sometimes like to change things up. I’ve added cranberry sauce and pepper jelly to give the meatballs a holiday flair. The flavor is predominantly sweet, but they are also a little spicy and tangy.

You see so many cocktail meatballs around the holidays for a reason. Not only are they amazingly delicious, they are super easy to make and economical for feeding a huge crowd. I use a bag of Farm Rich frozen meatballs for this Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs recipe.

Equipment Needed

You will need a 6-quart or larger slow cooker for this recipe.

Cranberry Meatballs in a bowl.

The best way to get the most out of the holidays is to take a few short cuts here and there so that you spend less time in the kitchen and more time making family memories. Each year I try and get a little more efficient during the holidays and I’ve been researching all kinds of Holiday Hacks.

Some of them are pretty creative – others down right crazy!

Did you know that you can boil your potatoes whole with the skins on, shock them in ice water, and the skins will slip right off? I’m going to be trying that one for sure!

Save your empty boxes of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, paint them, and use them as holiday cookie gift boxes. Just be sure to cut off the serrated edge!

If you’re cooking corn for a large crowd, steam it in a cooler. Place the corn in the bottom of the cooler, add boiling water, close the cooler for 30 minutes. Pretty cool.

One of the most off the wall ones I’ve read is to run your potatoes through the dishwasher with no detergent in lieu of scrubbing them. Really???

Do you have any tips or shortcuts for the holiday season? Have you ever tried making Crock Pot Meatballs?

More Holiday Appetizers

Cranberry Meatballs in a bowl.

Crock Pot Cranberry Meatballs

These Crock Pot Cranberry Meatballs take only a few minutes of prep and have a delicious sweet and tangy taste with a little bit of spice.
PREP: 5 mins
COOK: 6 hrs
TOTAL: 6 hrs 5 mins


  • 1 (12-ounce) jar chili sauce
  • 1 (12 ounce) can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 (10.5-ounce) jar Red Pepper Jelly, I use Braswell’s
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • few shakes hot sauce
  • 1 (32-ounce) bag Frozen Meatballs


  • Mix all ingredients except for meatballs in crock pot.
  • Add meatballs and stir to coat them well. Put in crock pot on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 2-2 1/2 hours.


Note: If you have a newer crock pot, you can probably reduce the cooking time some.


Calories: 339kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: crock pot

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Note: If you have a newer crock pot, you can probably reduce the cooking time some.


Originally published December 1, 2014.

Sharing with The Country Cook at The Weekend Potluck.

More Crock Pot Appetizers

Crock Pot Little Smokies- the easiest appetizer ever. Great for a holiday party!

Crock Pot Little Smokies

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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77 thoughts on “Crock Pot Cranberry Meatballs”

  1. cindy Lynn Exley

    I was able to 3x”s the recipe in my crock pot and it’s a normal size if not a little smaller.. taste great and I still have 5 more hours of cooking time left

  2. Great recipe, we have loads of jalapeño peppers every summer so make my own red pepper jelly, family loves these. Great way to use jelly.

  3. Great recipe, we have loads of jalapeño peppers every summer so make my own red pepper jelly, family loves these.

  4. I’ve never been crazy about meatballs. I made these and they are fabulous!! Now I take them to all the food frenzies. Everyone loves them!!

  5. Carole Scofield

    Hey there Christin – so glad to see you’re using the cranberry version of this classsic go-to recipe for cocktail meatballs. Here in the South we like it spicy. I’ve been using red pepper flakes & a few dashes of Roasted Garlic powder (Badia in the Latin foods section). It’s awesome but this weekend I’ll try the red pepper jelly. Thanks for tip!

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      I’m going to have to look for that roasted garlic powder Carole. That sounds fabulous!

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      I would brown them briefly in a nonstick pan for more flavor and then let them finish cooking in the crock pot.

    2. Kathy Hancock

      I only use my own homemade meatballs for this recipe and bake them in the oven first on a cookie sheet. Add them to the sauce.

    3. Ditto, I always make homemade. So much better plus you know what is in them! I bake mine in a mini muffin pan, they come out perfect, crispy edges and all!

  6. I know this is coming in late, but regarding the red pepper jelly ~ Howard’s makes a red pepper relish that is very similar to pepper jelly. It’s available in most supermarkets (I’m in the Northeast) in the aisle where you find mustard and ketchup. I’ve used this every time I’ve made these meatballs and it works great. They’re delicious!

  7. Chad Carroll

    Do you mean the cranberry sauce that is in the can and comes out shaped like the can it was in ???? Or something else? recipe sounds delicious by the way.

  8. I just made homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest… can I use it instead of jellied cranberry sauce.

    Can’t wait to try this recipe… I bet you can get the pepper jelly through Amazon? If you have a Trader Joe’s near you they sell it there. It’s great on a slab of cream cheese. Yum!

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      Love pepper jelly on cream cheese! Easiest appetizer ever.
      I haven’t made this recipe with homemade cranberry sauce but I think it should work well Julie.

  9. crockpot canuck

    A crock pot canuck up here in Canada eh!! Its Thanksgiving weekend her 2016 and Im going to make these for our pot luck. We have the heinz chilli sauce up here as well as “Willies chili sauce ( they also make a Willies zuccini relish which is great on dogs and burgers or even your hand lol ) Its more chunkier than the heinz version with lots of onion and peppers and stuff. Im guessing I could use the Willies instead of the heinz. I also put it in my chilli and beef stew when I make them in the crock pot. YUMMY

  10. W. Page Schultz

    I make this with just the cranberry jelly and and chili sauce. Real curious how it tastes with the rest of the ingredients. I’ll try it next time!

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      Oh wow! That’s a lot of people. It depends on how many meatballs you want per person. Do you have more than 1 crock pot? I don’t think you can get much more than 2, maybe 3 bags in a crock pot.

      1. Sande Blakely

        you don’t have to have enough meatball to feed 75 people. They are appetizers not the meal. I’m sure there will be other appetizers. Iv’e learned through the yrs that I always over cook. 🙂

  11. Stacey Dixon

    Have you tried mixing mint jelly and mustard together with hot dogs?
    I cut up hot dogs and mix jar of jelly to a jar of mustard.
    Put in electric skillet to keep warm.
    Big hit at parties. Use toothpicks to serve if you want.
    Also a can of chili with one pkg. 8oz cream cheese. Mix together and put in small crock pot or fondue pot. Keep warm.
    Serve with chips.

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      I haven’t tried mint jelly and mustard mixed together with hot dogs Stacey. Will have to try that!!

      1. Who and the world would eat hot dogs. They are made of junk. The ears, tongue and so forth of the pig or beef. The junk leftovers. Ugg….

          1. I totally agree with you Marsha. Sometimes, nothing beats a good chili, slaw dog. By the way Gloria, not all dogs are created equal. 🌭🌭😉

  12. Kathie Smith

    Could you use grape jelly instead of red pepper , i can’t tolerate hot things? Also, are these meatballs sweet?

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      Yes, these meatballs are fairly sweet and you can use grape jelly instead of red pepper jelly.

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      Yes. I would cook them over low to medium-low heat with a lid on the pot and stir every so often. If you are using meatballs that are already cooked, you really just need to be sure to heat them all the way through.

  13. Hi Christin!They look amazingly delicious!i have few questions cause I m not familiar with the southern kitchen…!when you re saying few shakes of hot sauce what do you mean?Hot sauce like Tabasco or something different?And if I go to a regular grocery store like Safeway or Giant will I find all these ingredients?Thank you!?

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      Yes, I like to use Tabasco sauce or something similar. You should be able to find all the ingredients at a regular grocery store. Although, depending on what part of the country you are in, you may have a little trouble finding the pepper jelly.

  14. Hi Christin, I will definetly try making these. I have a question, I am not too fond of frozen meatballs. Can I make them with fresh ground turkey and do I need to brown them first in a pan. Help!!!

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      Hi Sandy- yes you can use homemade meatballs. I think they will taste better if you brown them first.

  15. Lynette roach

    These were amazing I brought them to work there were none left I do however have a ? Pepper sauce?? Where do u find that and can u substitute??

    1. Christin Mahrlig

      You could try apple jelly and add some red pepper flakes to give it a little spice.

      1. I had a gifted jar of Ga. moonshine jelly that I used in place of the pepper jelly. I sprinkled a few pepper flakes and it was so yummy. I will try with pepper jelly next time. This is a keeper !

        1. Christin Mahrlig

          Oh wow! Now I’m going to have to try it with moonshine jelly. That sounds really good Ann. Thanks for leaving a comment.

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