Looking for an easy and delicious crockpot cocktail meatballs recipe? These cranberry sauce meatballs are sweet and tangy, and perfect for a party! No one will know they come together with frozen meatballs and a 5 minute canned cranberry sauce recipe. Absolutely delicious!
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Need a delicious, no-fuss appetizer for a party or holiday get-together? Crockpot cocktail meatballs are always a hit and go perfectly with wine, cocktails and holiday spirits.
These meatballs come together very easily – just frozen meatballs and a simple, sweet and tangy sauce made from cranberry sauce that comes together in just minutes. They can be served right out of your crock pot or place on a pretty platter for everyone to enjoy.
What do I need to make crockpot cocktail meatballs?
Here’s a quick-reference check list of the ingredients you’ll need to make these meatball appetizers:
- Frozen meatballs – you’ll need the equivalent of a 32 oz. package. Some packages are smaller than others, so you may need to grab two of the smaller size.
- Canned cranberry sauce – the sweet and zesty flavor of cranberry sauce coats these meatballs perfectly.
- Tomato paste – helpful in creating a thick sauce.
- Soy sauce – for added flavor
- Sriracha – to help add some mild spice to the sweet sauce.
- Apple cider vinegar – adds a nice, balanced acidity to the sauce
- Honey – for some sweetness
- Freshly grated orange zest – an amazing addition to the sauce!
- Dried minced onions
- Garlic powder
For exact ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post to the recipe card. Thanks!
How do I make cranberry sauce meatballs?
Start by mixing together the sauce. To a mixing bowl, add the can of cranberry sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce, sriracha, apple cider vinegar, orange zest, honey, minced onions, garlic powder and pepper.
Using a whisk, mix the ingredients together well.
Optional step: to save some time, I recommend pre-browning the frozen meatballs. To brown, place the frozen meatballs in a large skillet with 1/2 cup of water. Heat over medium-high heat. As the water simmers, the meatballs will defrost and begin to lightly brown.
Once the water is gone, the meatballs should be completely thawed, and lightly browned. Transfer them to your slow cooker. Pour the prepared sauce over the top of the meatballs and stir to coat.
Note: If you have a slow cooker with a browning setting, this step can all be done in the slow cooker. No need to use a skillet. I have a Cuisinart Slow Cooker 3-in-1 Multicooker (seen in the photos) which is fantastic for browning meat before slow cooking.
Place the lid on the slow cooker and set on high for 1 hour or on low for 2-4 hours.
What can I serve with cranberry meatballs?
These cranberry sauce meatballs are a fantastic party appetizer, and go wonderfully with wine, champagne and other holiday spirits. Here are a few of our popular holiday drinks and appetizers that would be a great pairing:
- Pomegranate Citrus Champagne Cocktail
- Cranberry Moscow Mules
- Saint Nickarita Christmas Margarita
- Hot Mulled Apple Cider
- Fireball Apple Cider Hot Toddy
- Slow Cooker Spiced Mulled Wine
- Spiked Eggnog
- Pistachio Grape Cheese Appetizers
- Philly Cheesesteak Sliders
- White Queso Dip
FAQ’s about making and serving cocktail meatballs for a party:
Yes, these crockpot cocktail meatballs are great for a party. They can be kept directly in the slow cooker to keep warm. The meatballs can be served right out of the slow cooker.
The cranberry sauce for these meatballs is made of canned cranberry sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce, sriracha, apple cider vinegar, honey, orange zest, minced onions, garlic powder and pepper. The sauce is poured over frozen meatballs, and heated in a slow cooker.
For a party, crockpot cocktail meatballs can be kept on a warm setting for a few hours after heating. Store any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate. Meatballs will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Yes, frozen meatballs are a great time-saver and work well in this crockpot cocktail meatballs recipe.
Frozen meatballs will need 6-8 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high to completely heat through.
Looking for more party appetizer ideas? Check out some of our other recipes:
- 1 (32 oz) pkg. frozen meatballs
- 1/2 cup water
Sweet and Tangy Cranberry Sauce:
- 1 (14 oz.) can cranberry sauce
- 1 (7 oz.) can/jar tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce (or your preferred hot sauce)
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. freshly grated orange zest
- 1 Tbsp. dried minced onions
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
- Place the frozen meatballs in a large skillet, and add the water. Heat over medium heat, allowing the water to simmer and for the meatballs to thaw and brown slightly. Heat for 5-7 minutes until the meatballs are completely thawed. Transfer the meatballs to the slow cooker. (If you have a slow cooker with a browning setting, you can do this step directly in the slow cooker.)
- In a mixing bowl, add the cranberry sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce, sriracha, vinegar, honey orange zest, minced onions, garlic salt and pepper. Using a large whisk, mix together well until all ingredients are fully combined.
- Pour the sauce over the meatballs. Using a rubber scraper or wooden spoon, stir to coat the meatballs in the sauce.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 2-4 hours, or on high for 1 hour.
- For a party, keep the meatballs on the low or warm setting and serve directly from the slow cooker.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate. Meatballs will keep for 5-7 days refrigerated.
Can sauce be made in advance? Yes, the sweet and sour cranberry sauce can be mixed and refrigerated in advance. Pour over the meatballs and heat in the slow cooker for serving.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 69Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 249mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 11gProtein: 1g