Crock-Pot Cocktail Meatballs

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!

The party meatballs in a small white serving dish with a Crock-Pot in the background.

If youve been to enough parties, youve 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. Its 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!

A close up image of Crock-Pot Cocktail Meatballs in a white serving bowl.

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, lets make some Crock-Pot Cocktail Meatballs!

The Ingredient List

  • 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 youve 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.

Cocktail Meatballs in a Crock-Pot shot from over the top.

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 its 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.

Cocktail meatballs in a white serving bowl with toothpicks inserted in the center.

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 youve got one item checked off your list hours before your party starts and they will stay warm and tasty throughout the night.

Im telling you it doesnt get any easier!

This post was originally published on December 28, 2011. It has been updated with new images.


A two image vertical collage of Crock-Pot Cocktail Meatballs with overlay text.

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Crock-Pot Cocktail Meatballs

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!

  • 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
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Transfer meatballs to a serving dish or serve them directly from the slow cooker.

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