Pinot Noir & Cranberry Meatballs are an easy to make appetizer coated in a tangy sauce. Make them as crockpot meatballs or use your stovetop!
Crock pot appetizers are a must for holidays. These Pinot Noir & Cranberry Meatballs are super yummy and simple to make while you focus on what’s important: family and making memories. My family always asks me to make my Crockpot Buffalo chicken dip for holiday parties too! It’s our go-to holiday party combination and you are NOT going to want to miss out on this recipe!
PINOT NOIR & CRANBERRY MEATBALLS
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These meatballs are quick and easy to make and work perfectly as an appetizer or a lunch. They would even be great over noodles or rice with this sweet and savory sauce! I make this slow cooker meatball recipe during the summer for a great poolside snack, too.
You can use any meatballs you want for this recipe. I prefer smaller meatballs for the perfect bite-sized crockpot appetizer meatballs. I serve these in a bowl with toothpicks so everyone can easily grab some while we’re opening presents.
Pinot Noir & Cranberry Meatball Ingredients
FROZEN MEATBALLS: Homemade meatballs are delicious, but frozen meatballs are great when you’re slow cooking them in a sauce! I like using Italian meatballs since they already have a nice seasoning to them.
CRANBERRY AND WINE SAUCE: The best Pinot Noirs for cooking are the ones you’d drink yourself! Dry reds are typically better to cook with than sweet wines. You could also use a cabernet sauvignon or a merlot for this Crockpot meatball recipe in a pinch.
How to Make Meatballs in a Crockpot
- First, dump the still-frozen meatballs in your slow cooker.
- While it heats up, mix the cranberry sauce, brown sugar, Pinot Noir, and mustard together. Then pour it over your meatballs and stir. Make sure the meatballs are coated in sauce.
- Cover and cook on LOW for about 4 hours, stirring every hour. When you’re ready to serve, garnish them with chopped chives and serve warm.
Want to make these crockpot meatballs on the stovetop? Just bake the meatballs first, and then simmer the sauce until the sugar dissolves in a small pot before combining the two.
You can mix them together in a mixing bowl or transfer the baked meatballs and cranberry and Pinot Noir sauce to your Crockpot until it’s time to serve.
Should I Thaw Meatballs before Putting in the Crockpot?
You can use store-bought or homemade meatballs in this Crockpot appetizer, fresh or frozen!
If you’re using frozen meatballs, there’s no need to thaw them. The beauty of the slow cooker is you can cook frozen meatballs right in the crockpot, and enjoy the best crockpot meatballs recipe in just a few hours.
If the meatballs aren’t pre-cooked, you do need to bake them beforehand to brown the edges and seal in the juices.
How Long Do You Cook Already Cooked Meatballs in a Crockpot?
When you’re using pre-cooked meatballs in the Crockpot, you’re just looking for them to be warmed through.
When making frozen meatballs in the Crockpot, I like to cook them smothered in the sauce for about 4 hours on LOW. Then they can be left covered in the slow cooker for up to another 2 hours on WARM, stirring occasionally.
If you’re running out of time, you can cook them on HIGH in about 2 hours. Whenever you’re cooking on the high setting, be sure to stir more often than if you were using the low setting.
If you make these for a stovetop preparation, bake them according to your package direction and mix them into the warm sauce.
More Amazing Christmas Party Foods
- Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels
- Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs
- White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Dip
- Bacon Wrapped Figs
- Baked Brie
- More APPETIZER recipes…
Tools used to make this Pinot Noir & Cranberry Meatballs recipe
Crockpot: When choosing a Crockpot, you want to pay attention to the settings and the lid. I love this slow cooker because it has a lid that clamps on for easy transportation. If you find one with a warm setting, it’s also great for crockpot appetizers to keep them just right until time to eat!
Wooden spoon: I love my old school wooden spoons. They’re great for stirring on deep pots like soup pots, Dutch ovens, and crockpots. You always wanna reach the bottom!
- 40 ounces frozen Italian meatballs (two 20-24 ounces bags)
- 14 ounces canned whole cranberry sauce
- 1 cup light brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 cup pinot noir wine
- 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard (or Chinese hot mustard)
- Fresh chives chopped, for garnish
Slow Cooker Method
- Add frozen meatballs to a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, whisk together cranberry sauce, brown sugar, wine, and mustard. Pour over meatballs. Stir to coat.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours, stirring 2-3 times. Uncover and garnish with chopped chives, if desired. Serve warm.
Stove Top Method
- Bake meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet according to the package directions.
- Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, add cranberry sauce, brown sugar, wine, and mustard. Whisk to combine. Let simmer for 5 minutes until sugar is melted, stirring often. Remove sauce from heat.
- Option 1) Pour meatballs and sauce into a mixing bowl and stir to coat meatballs. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped chives. Serve immediately.Option 2) Transfer cooked meatballs to a crock pot and pour prepared sauce over the meatballs. Keep warm on WARM or LOW setting until ready to serve. Stir occasionally.