These Cranberry Meatballs are super easy and delicious! They make the perfect holiday party appetizers!
Throwing a holiday party this season?
I love holiday parties! It’s so much fun to fill the house with friends and family, pump up the holiday music, pour some wine, and enjoy delicious party food.
Holiday Party Tips
Here’s a sneak peek at a recent wine party I threw with a small group of dear mom friends.
I like to serve a LOT of different food when I host parties. Nobody leaves hungry!
Slow cooker meatballs are one of my favorite appetizers to serve at holiday parties. They’re easy to make early on in the day so you can prep the house and the rest of the food. They’re also easy for people to eat while mingling.
My Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Meatballs are a regular crowd pleaser at our parties.
Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs
But holiday parties are a fantastic time to jazz things up a bit – to add a holiday twist to your classic recipes.
A couple of weeks ago, I threw my first gathering of the holiday season – a Friendsgiving party – and I decided to add some winter holiday flavors and create these Cranberry Meatballs.
One word: YUM! These are a new holiday party appetizer fave!
Use Fresh or Frozen Meatballs
You could use your favorite homemade meatball recipe for these Cranberry Meatballs, if you prefer. Any meatball recipe that doesn’t have a lot of spices or strong flavors that would compete with the sauce would do.
If you’re making these for a party, I recommend you save yourself a lot of time by buying pre-made meatballs in the frozen section of your local grocery store. That’s what I did, and that is what I include in the recipe below.
Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce
While I heartily recommend going the purchased meatballs route, I strongly believe you should make the sauce from scratch.
The sauce is what MAKES these cranberry meatballs.
It’s a very simple, fast, oh so tasty homemade cranberry sauce.
Simply combine cranberries, water, sugar, and a little lemon juice.
Bring to a low boil and cook until the cranberries have “popped” and create a beautiful sauce. Then you stir in the BBQ sauce and brown sugar. This only takes a few minutes, and the resulting flavor is 100% worth it!
Side note: This cranberry sauce is awesome on its own, by the way. You could serve it over turkey breast, use it in turkey and cream cheese sandwiches, or pour it over baked brie in puff pastry. So fast, so good!
Making Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs
Once the cranberry sauce is ready, combine it with brown sugar and pour over the meatballs in a slow cooker.
Slow cook on low for 4-5 hours, or high for 2 hours.
I am SO in love with how these Cranberry Meatballs turned out!
They are packed with yummy holiday flavors thanks to the cranberry sauce. The BBQ sauce and brown sugar temper any bitterness or tartness that you might worry about when using cranberries in a recipe.
My guests LOVED these easy holiday recipe, and I know your guests will love them too!
More Party Recipes
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Nachos
- Best Instant Pot Chili
- Loaded Pub Chips Bar
Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs Holiday Recipe
- 2 cups cranberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 jar of barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 22- ounce package pre-made frozen meatballs approximately 22-24 meatballs
- In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a low boil. When sugar dissolved, slowly add cranberries and lemon juice. Boil until cranberries “pop” and become soft. Lower heat and simmer about 5-7 minutes, until most of the cranberries have popped and the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and add barbecue sauce and brown sugar. Stir well to combine.
- Add entire package of frozen meatballs to a slow cooker (no need to thaw). Pour cranberry sauce over meatballs.
- Slow cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4-5 hours.
What’s one classic favorite recipe that you like to jazz up with holiday flavors for the holiday season?
More Holiday Recipes
- 33 Freezer Friendly Holiday Cookies
- Gingerbread Loaf with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
- Easy Cranberry Peppermint Holiday Bark
This post was originally published November 27, 2017. It was updated February 2, 2020 with new photos and updated original content.