Cranberry BBQ meatballs are festive and fast! They’re a fantastic Christmas party appetizer with just 3 simple ingredients!
I make these Cranberry BBQ Meatballs every Christmas because it’s a great savory snack to graze on until dinner! Whether it’s tailgating or holiday parties, I always love meatball appetizers. My family loves this recipe and I know yours will too!
CRANBERRY BBQ MEATBALLS
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Crockpot meatballs in bbq sauce are the best appetizer! You can make them with so many different sauces and garnishes.
The tart cranberry sauce combines with slightly sweet honey BBQ sauce for a sweet and tangy glaze that clings to the meatballs. I serve these with toothpicks for everyone to eat as they please!
Cranberry BBQ Meatball Ingredients
FROZEN MEATBALLS: I love to keep a bag of store-bought frozen meatballs on hand. It’s super easy to add them to a main dish or whip up a saucy appetizer. You don’t need to thaw the meatballs before making this recipe. Just keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to cook.
SWEET AND SAVORY SAUCE: This mix of cranberry and BBQ sauce is a perfectly festive, savory appetizer. The honey BBQ sauce and cranberry sauce make a shiny glaze for your meatballs. I prefer whole berry cranberry sauce for this recipe, but you can use jellied sauce too in a pinch.
I like to top this with fresh cranberries and sliced green onions for an extra festive red and green garnish!
How to Make BBQ Meatballs
- First, bake the meatballs.
- Then, while the meatballs bake, whisk together the cranberry sauce and barbecue sauce together and simmer until bubbly.
- When the meatballs are cooked, add them to the saucepot and cook for a few minutes. Every couple of minutes, give the meatballs a stir so they get coated in sauce.
- You can serve these meatballs immediately or throw them in a covered slow cooker on WARM for a party. If using the Crockpot, be sure to stir the meatballs every half hour or so.
You can also make this BBQ meatball recipe in the slow cooker completely!
How Do You Cook Frozen Cooked Meatballs
I love keeping frozen meatballs on hand because you don’t have to thaw them!
Most recipes have you bake meatballs in the oven. It’s an easily accessible way since most people have an oven. Bake them on a nonstick baking sheet with a lip to make sure no excess grease drips into the oven.
You can also make saucey meatballs on the stovetop. Follow the direction in this recipe, but in a pot on the stove. Be sure to stir often so they don’t burn on the bottom.
You can also make frozen meatballs in the Crockpot!
For this recipe, a crockpot is used to keep them warm for your party, but you could cook them in there too if you have the time. Mix the sauce ingredients in the crock pot, then pour in the bag of meatballs. Stir to coat the meatballs in the sauce, and cook on LOW for about 4 hours. Be sure to stir every hour so the meatballs stay covered in the sauce and don’t burn on the bottom.
What Goes with BBQ Meatballs
Cranberry BBQ meatballs are a delicious festive appetizer that goes with so many things!
I have to have bacon-wrapped figs around Christmas. The salty-sweet combo is such a great pairing with the saucy meatballs.
There’s no greater appetizer than spinach artichoke dip. I always make mine in the Crockpot so I can focus on other things.
Surprise everyone with these Buffalo chicken deviled eggs! They’re spicy, crunchy, and creamy and perfect for tailgates, too!
More Delicious Holiday Appetizer Recipes
- Bacon and Rotel Cups
- Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
- Cauliflower Hummus
- Sriracha Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball
- Baked Brie with Cranberry Cider Chutney
- More APPETIZER recipes…
Tools used to make this Cranberry BBQ Meatballs recipe
Baking sheet: You need a good nonstick baking sheet to bake frozen meatballs. This one is super sturdy, and the food slides off the coating with ease.
Large Pot: This pot is a kitchen essential for everything from dinner to desserts. I use mine all the time and with proper care, it’ll last for years and years.
- 32 ounces frozen cocktail meatballs
- 14 ounces whole berry cranberry sauce
- 2 cups honey bbq sauce
- Green onions thinly sliced, for garnish
- Fresh cranberries for garnish
- Bake meatballs according to package directions.
- While meatballs cook, add cranberry sauce and bbq sauce to a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine. Cook until bubbling and heated through.
- Remove meatballs from oven and add to pot with sauce. Stir to coat meatballs. Let cook for 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a crock pot on WARM until ready to serve, or spoon meatballs onto a serving plate and spoon sauce over top. Garnish with green onions and cranberries, if desired. Serve warm.