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How To Make Crock Pot Cranberry Meatballs

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Last Modified: December 8, 2023
Published: December 8, 2023

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An Awesome Appetizer Or A Marvelous Main Dish

cranberry meatballs

I never bought frozen meatballs until this year. And then I tasted cranberry meatballs at our grandson's wedding reception, and that changed everything! Until then, I had the crazy idea meatballs always needed to be homemade from scratch.

Don't get me wrong! Good homemade meatballs are a thing of beauty! But today, I think everyone should keep a bag or two in the freezer at all times because, you know, things can get a little hectic. Frozen meatballs are amazing little nuggets that can be used in so many ways I can't count that high.

These convenient little gems have been waiting in the frozen food aisle literally all my life, inviting me to take some home and try them. They appeared about the same time I did, in the mid-20th century, and they are an extremely popular and versatile food option!

There are two basic varieties of frozen meatballs: homestyle and Italian-style. The difference is mainly in the way they are seasoned. Homestyle meatballs are typically seasoned with common spices like garlic, onion, salt, and pepper, offering a fairly neutral flavor profile. Italian-style meatballs contain Italian herbs and spices like oregano, basil, and parsley. Some have Parmesan or Romano cheese mixed in.

Italian-style meatballs have a more pronounced flavor, but to this meatball rookie, I think they can be used interchangeably. Most frozen meatballs are fully cooked, just ready and willing for you to heat them up and use them in any way you want!

Why You Will Love These Tasty Cranberry Meatballs

They are so simple to make with just a few ingredients! All you need for this recipe is a regular-size bag of frozen meatballs, a 14-ounce can of whole berry cranberry sauce, a 12-ounce bottle of chili sauce, plus some Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar!

cranberry meatball ingredients

How To Make Cranberry Meatballs

Nothing could be more simple! Combine the sauce ingredients in the slow cooker and give them a good stir to make sure all the meatballs are covered. Then, depending on when you want to serve them, cook them on high for about two hours or on low for about four hours.

ready to cook cranberry meatballs

Stir them a time or two while they are cooking. These cranberry meatballs are quite forgiving if they need to stay in the pot longer. When they're done, the sauce will cook down and become more like a glaze. As usual, I like to garnish with some parsley for color!

Now, what do you do with these yummy meatballs? I made a batch for our daughter's family this week. They're at that stage of life when everyone is on a different schedule. Mom is a teacher, Dad works late this time of year, and their son has basketball practice after school. Sound familiar?

That evening, they enjoyed the meatballs in shifts over rice, but they would also make a perfect meatball sub on a soft hoagie bun! Yum! These tasty bits also make a wonderful appetizer for team parties or those fifth-quarter parties after the games. So delicious!

cranberry meatballs as an appetizer

Other Options For Cranberry Meatballs

You can use the jelly-style cranberry sauce instead of the whole berry type, and if you can't find chili sauce, use your favorite barbecue sauce! Not a cranberry fan? Try peach or apricot preserves instead of the cranberry sauce, keeping the quantity the same.

Yield: 10 servings

Cranberry Meatballs

cranberry meatballs as an appetizer

A quick and easy slow cooker recipe for meatballs in a tangy sauce. You can serve them over rice or noodles, in a sandwich, or as an appetizer.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes


  • One one-pound bag of frozen meatballs
  • One 14-ounce can of whole berry cranberry sauce
  • One 12-ounce bottle of chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce


  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir well. Meatballs can be cooked from frozen.
  2. Cook on high for about two hours or low for about four hours.
  3. Serve as an entree with rice or noodles, on a hoagie bun for a sandwich, or with toothpicks for an appetizer.

Cranberries are just right this time of year and all winter long! There are so many wonderful things you can do with them! Here are some ideas! Cranberry Chicken, Cranberry Jam With Peppers, and Cranberry Orange Loaf!

If you liked this recipe, you are my people! If you like this recipe, please share it on your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter! It would sure tickle me, and I would be ever so grateful!

If you haven't already, please look for me on Facebook and Pinterest, where I will share easy, delicious, family-friendly recipes every week!

Love, GB (Betty Streff)

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