These Crock-Pot Cocktail Meatballs simmer away in a sweet and tangy sauce in your slow cooker and are ready to serve when your guests arrive. A truly classic party snack!
If you’ve been to enough parties, you’ve probably come across a variety of different cocktail meatballs.
This recipe is my take on this classic party fare.
Instead of the grape jelly you see in the ingredient list for many other party meatball recipes, I use a can of cranberry sauce which gives them a nice holiday vibe. It’s also a good way to use that stray can of cranberry sauce that may be lurking in your pantry at this time of year.
They are sweet and tangy with a bit of a kick and excellent with cocktails, beer, or wine. Perfect party food!
You can use any fully-cooked meatballs that suit your fancy or you can make some meatballs from scratch. That being said, I highly recommend just picking up a bag of frozen meatballs. It makes this recipe incredibly fast and easy which means more time can be spent on the rest of the menu, or cleaning and rearranging the pantry, or organizing your sock drawer.
Enough about my exciting life, let’s make some Crock-Pot Cocktail Meatballs!
- Refrigerated or frozen fully-cooked meatballs (2 to 3 pounds)
- Jellied cranberry sauce
- Chili sauce (not be confused with cocktail sauce. Heinz makes them both and they come in identical bottles so be sure you’ve got the right thing.
- Dijon mustard
- Brown sugar
- Fresh lemon juice
How to Make Crock-Pot Cocktail Meatballs
You should start the meatballs about 2 to 3 hours before your party.
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a sauce pan and allow the sauce to simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes to break down the cranberry sauce.
Add the fully-cooked meatballs to your 6-quart slow cooker and pour the sauce over the top. Mix it up, cover, and cook for 2 to 3 hours on Low. Once warmed to your liking, switch your slow cooker to the Warm setting.
If you are using frozen meatballs there is no need to thaw them first. Just plan on it taking about an hour longer to cook. Remember, the meatballs are fully-cooked so it’s just a matter of cooking them until the sauce is nice and bubbly and the meatballs are warmed through to the center.
I like to spoon some of the cocktail meatballs into a small serving bowl and set it next to the slow cooker. The remainder will stay warm and ready for serving when you need them.
I frequently include these on my party menus, not just at the holidays but all year long. Everyone loves ’em and they are so darn easy to make. Preparing them in your slow cooker means you’ve got one item checked off your list hours before your party starts and they will stay warm and tasty throughout the night.
I’m telling you – it doesn’t get any easier!
More Hot Appetizer Recipes
- Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
- Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Dip
- Cheesy Hot Crab Dip
- Buffalo Chicken Dip
Crock-Pot Cocktail Meatballs
- 2 to 3 pounds fresh or frozen, fully-cooked meatballs
- 14 ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
- 12 ounce jar chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- In a saucepan mix together cranberry sauce, chili sauce, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Mix to combine and allow to simmer, stirring frequently, for about 5 to 10 minutes to allow cranberry sauce to break down.
- Place meatballs in a 6-quart slow cooker, pour the sauce over, and mix well to combine. Set slow cooker to LOW, cover, and allow to cook for 2 hours before serving. If using frozen meatballs, allow them to cook for 3 hours before serving. When the meatballs are warmed through, switch slow cooker to the WARM setting to keep them warm for an hour or two.
- Transfer meatballs to a serving dish or serve them directly from the slow cooker.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
This post was originally published on December 28, 2011. It has been updated with new text and images.
Questions and Reviews
How big of a crockpot do you recommend?
I used my trusty 6 quart slow cooker for this recipe.
My meatballs needed a little more time on the LOW setting 2 hours was not enough barely coated my meatballs. should i just cook them on high for 3-4 hours?
How tasty your dish is! I love the color of it so much. Can i use 1 tablespoons honey instead of 1 tablespoons brown sugar for this recipe?
These look great. I hope Costco’s in Birmingham, AL. has the meatballs so I can pick some up in a couple of days for New Years.
Love your page!
Thank you, Cynthia!
A quick, simple, and delicous recipe. I’ve made these about 5 times and they are the surefire party hit. I’ve even been asked to make them again for Thanksgiving this year. Thanks so much.
It’s great to hear this, Jason! We love them too 🙂
I’ve made a sweet & sour with 3 ingrediences….
meatballs (I usually make my own)
1 jar jelly or jam or preserves any flavor
1 bottle of bbq sauce
I dump everything in a crockpot and let cook about 4 hours … We eat these with Pinto Beans& rice….love them!
Did you cook them on LOW or HIGH for 4 hours?
Seriously AWESOME! Served these at a bday party and they were a huge hit. I was asked to make them for EVERY future holiday party!
So glad to hear it Casey!
wonderful meatballs in a crock pot. making my life just a little bit easier.