3-Ingredient Cranberry Meatballs – I Heart Naptime


These 3 ingredient cranberry meatballs with a cranberry chili sauce are so easy to make in the crockpot. They make the perfect appetizer for any holiday party.

Cranberry meatballs in a crockpot.

Table of Contents

Cranberry Meatball Recipe Ingredients

This is one of the easiest recipes to make with only 3 ingredients! It’s full of flavor takes only minutes of prep using frozen meatballs.

Cranberry meatball ingredients.

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 sauce: I prefer the Ocean Spray brand to add just the right amount of tartness.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Sauce. 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 homemade 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.
  • Spice. Have fun with different flavors and try adding pepper, ginger, garlic powder, or whatever you like.
  • Lighten it up. Use ground turkey meatballs or chicken meatballs to lighten up your meatball ingredients.

How to Make the Best Cranberry Meatballs

This cranberry meatball recipe is a classic holiday appetizer. It’s a family favorite for Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and more.

Showing how to make cranberry meatballs.
  1. Combine: In a small bowl, combine chili and cranberry sauce. Heat in the microwave. To add a little sweetness, combine the brown sugar.
  2. 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.
  3. Eat: Have some toothpicks and napkins handy when serving as a tasty party appetizer.
Up close photo of the cranberry meatballs on a wooden spoon.

Recipe FAQ’s

What to serve with meatballs?

These sweet and sour meatballs with cranberry sauce can be served as part of an appetizer spread or part of a larger meal. Enjoy over cooked rice for a main dish garnished with sliced green onions or chopped cilantro.

How to bake cranberry meatballs?

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.

Can I make cranberry meatballs on the stove?

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

It’s simple to store crock pot cranberry meatballs 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.
  • Freezing: Cool meatballs completely then transfer to a freezer safe bag and keep frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze sauce separately in an airtight container.

Looking for more appetizer recipes for the holidays? Add this charcuterie board with brie bites, classic smokies, or our popular spinach and artichoke dip.

More Meatball Recipes

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Cranberry Meatballs

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These 3 ingredient cranberry meatballs with a cranberry chili sauce are so easy to make in the crockpot. They make the perfect appetizer for any holiday party.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Optional (for serving): Cooked rice, Sliced green onions, Chopped cilantro

  • In a microwave-safe bowl, stir together the chili sauce and cranberry sauce. Microwave 30 seconds. Stir. Add brown sugar, if desired, for a sweeter flavor.

  • In the bottom of a crockpot, add the meatballs. Pour sauce over the top and stir until coated in 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.

Bake Cranberry Meatballs: 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. Variations
  • 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!
Storage: Place the cranberry meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge 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.  

Serving: 3meatballs | Calories: 211kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 318mg | Potassium: 249mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 159IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

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