These easy Cranberry Sauce Meatballs are the perfect appetizer. With just four ingredients, you can enjoy delicious meatballs slow-cooked to perfection and coated in a sweet and tangy sauce.
These cocktail meatballs are the ideal choice for game time, parties, and Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers.
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Easy Appetizer Meatballs
Cocktail meatballs are an easy appetizer and always a crowd-pleaser. They usually require only a few simple ingredients and can be put together in a variety of ways. Whether they are paired with marinara sauce or served with dipping sauce, appetizer meatballs are a great go-to choice for minimal effort and irresistible flavor.
Meatballs can be simple enough to serve for game-time like these Meatball Sliders, hearty enough for dinner with these air fryer meatballs, or elevated by plating them with garnishes such as cranberries and rosemary for holiday parties.
Why You'll Love These Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce
Deliciously sweet and sour with chili sauce, cranberry sauce, and sauerkraut. If you enjoy chili sauce and jelly meatballs, these meatballs with cranberry sauce are the next level of flavor!
Only 4 ingredients! What could be easier?
Super easy to make - just put everything in a slow cooker and let it do all the cooking. You can even serve out of it!
Store-bought convenience - don't have to make meatballs or a sauce.
Cocktail meatballs with cranberry sauce are perfect for parties, game-day festivities, and holiday celebrations. They are especially great to serve for Thanksgiving and Christmas garnished with fresh cranberries because that's when all things cranberry are so popular.
Here's what you'll need for cranberry sauerkraut meatballs:
- Cranberry Sauce - canned whole berry, canned jellied, or homemade cranberry sauce.
- Meatballs - pre-cooked frozen meatballs. I love Perfectly Cooked Angus Meatballs and use them all the time.
- Chili Sauce - Heinz brand is an excellent choice.
- Brown Sugar - either light or dark.
- Sauerkraut - canned or refrigerated
Crockpot - Almost any size will work although I do like my Crock-pot 6 quart.
How to Make Cranberry Meatballs in Crockpot
Making sweet and sour meatballs with cranberry sauce and chili sauce could not be easier! Here are the simple steps for cooking them in a Crockpot:
- Put everything except the meatballs in your slow cooker.
- Stir until it's well combined.
- Add the meatballs.
- Stir to cover the meatballs with the sauce mixture.
- Cook on LOW for 4 hours or until the meatballs are heated through.
How to Cook the Meatballs on the Stovetop
Don't have a slow cooker or it's being used for something else? No worries! Just make these chili and cranberry sauce meatballs in a pot on the stove. Here's how:
- Place all of the ingredients except for the meatballs into a large pot or Dutch oven. Stir to combine them.
- Bring the sauce mixture just to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to prevent scorching.
- Add the meatballs and reduce the heat to low.
- Cover the pot and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are heated through.
- Use fully-cooked frozen meatballs.
- Add a little water if the sauce is too thick.
- Low heat is best because it allows the flavors from the sauce to infuse into the meatballs.
- Meatballs are done when the internal temperature is at least 165°F.
- BBQ Cranberry Meatballs - use barbecue sauce instead of chili sauce.
- Cranberry Orange Meatballs - Add ½-3/4 cup orange juice and 1 tablespoon of orange zest.
- Extra Cranberry Meatballs - Add ½-3/4 cup unsweetened cranberry juice.
- Spicy Cranberry Meatballs - Use Thai Sweet Chili Sauce instead of regular chili sauce.
- Turkey Cranberry Meatballs - use turkey meatballs because turkey and cranberry are a classic combo.
How to Serve
- Appetizer - serve warm in the slow cooker or in a chafing dish. Or place them on a platter with toothpicks.
- Main Course - with a side of potatoes (mashed, roasted, or hasselback), air-fried, roasted, or steamed vegetables, or a salad.
- Sandwich or Sliders - on a hoagie roll, Hawaiian rolls, or dinner rolls.
How to Store and Reheat
Storing: Allow the meatballs to cool to room temperature. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will last up to 4 days.
Freezing: Allow the meatballs to cool to room temperature. Store them in a freezer-safe container or plastic freezer bag. They will last up to 3 months. Thaw them in the fridge overnight.
Reheating: Microwave them in a microwave-safe dish in 1-minute increments until heated through, stirring after each increment. Or heat them in a pan over medium heat until heated through, stirring often. Add a little more water if needed.
More Cranberry Recipes
Make your celebration extra festive with these tasty cranberry drinks, dishes, and desserts:
- Cranberry Mimosa
- Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail
- Cranberry Orange Relish
- White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Nut Cookies
- White Cranberry Margarita
Find lots of easy appetizer recipes right here on 2CM!
Cranberry Sauce Meatballs
- 12 ounces chili sauce (12 oz)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (14 oz)
- 1 ½ - 2 cups sauerkraut (about 1 14-oz can)
- 1 bag frozen meatballs (about 20-25 ounces)
- Combine all ingredients but meatballs in the slow cooker. Mix well.
- Add meatballs and stir to coat.
- Cook on low for 4 hours.
- Serve them right from the slow cooker, in a chafing dish, or place them on a plate with toothpicks.
This post has been updated with new photos and more helpful information. It was first published on January 24, 2016.