Cranberry Sauce Meatballs

Cranberry Sauce Meatballs
Photo: Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Kathleen Varner
Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
30 mins

These cranberry sauce meatballs are the perfect party appetizer with a tasty twist on the classic. We nixed the usual grape jelly and chili sauce and used jellied cranberry sauce and hot jalapeño pepper jelly. A package of frozen meatballs makes quick work of assembling this recipe, but feel free to make homemade meatballs if you have the time; whether you use beef, chicken, venison, or pork, this cranberry sauce is delicious spooned over any meatball. These little, two-bite appetizers are a nice balance of sweet, savory, and spicy. The little bits of fresh jalapeño that top the glazed meatballs add some great color contrast and a touch of raw heat to the meatballs. Cocktail meatballs are a classic in the South, and these sweet/sour/spicy cranberry meatballs will have your guests going back for seconds. To keep them warm for your gathering, put the meatballs in a slow cooker and keep on the WARM setting. You don't need a cocktail party to enjoy hearty meatballs, though. For a main course, spoon the meatballs and sauce over rice, mashed potatoes, or grits and serve with a tossed green salad and warm bread.


  • 1 (14-oz.) can jellied cranberry sauce

  • 1 (10.5-oz.) jar hot jalapeño pepper jelly

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

  • 2 (1-lb.) pkg. frozen beef meatballs

  • 1 small jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Whisk together cranberry sauce, pepper jelly, lemon juice, and garlic salt in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium, whisking until mixture melts and is well blended, about 4 minutes. Add meatballs, stirring to coat in sauce. Cover and continuing cooking over medium until meatballs are thawed and sauce is beginning to bubble, 6 to 8 minutes.

  2. Uncover and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until meatballs are heated through and sauce is thickened giving the meatballs a glazed coating, about 6 minutes. Spoon meatballs on a platter; spoon additional sauce from pot over meatballs, and sprinkle evenly with jalapeño and parsley. Serve hot.

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