Credit: Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Kathleen Varner

Recipe Summary

30 mins
15 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.


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

  • 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.