These BBQ Meatballs are always hugely popular and couldn’t be easier to make with just a few simple ingredients, including cranberry sauce, cocktail sauce, BBQ sauce and meatballs. They are sweet, tangy and the easiest appetizer and finger food.
I love serving an array of appetizers when I have guests over. I love the chance to make several different fun finger foods like Toasted Ravioli, Cheesy Breadsticks, Spinach Artichoke Dip or crab cakes.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how picky you are, EVERYONE loves a warm meatball appetizer! I particularly love this recipe because you can use frozen store-bought meatballs (I like the Costco brand), or make your own meatballs from scratch. The whole appetizer only takes 5 minutes to prep; just throw everything in the crockpot and let it do the work!
How to make BBQ meatballs:
1. Add your frozen meatballs to the slow cooker.
2. Mix sauce ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix cranberry sauce, cocktail sauce, brown sugar, water, and bbq sauce.
3. Pour over meatballs. Pour this mixture on top of the slow cooker meatballs
4. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Are frozen meatballs already cooked?
Most frozen meatballs from the store are pre-cooked (my favorite brand is Costco’s Kirkland signature meatballs). Frozen meatballs are so convenient because you don’t have to let them thaw. You can cook them in a crock pot on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours, right in the sauce! It doesn’t get easier than that.
Don’t have a crockpot? Make them in a saucepan!
Add ingredients for the sauce to a saucepan and stir until smooth. Add the meatballs and stir to coat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 8-10 minutes for thawed meatballs, or 14-16 minutes for frozen meatballs.
Meatballs: Frozen pre-cooked meatballs are recommenced. I love to make a big batch of homemade meatballs for the freezer to use whenever I decide to make this quick and easy appetizer. Fresh uncooked meatballs can be used, but I recommend a lean meat so the meatballs don’t add a lot of grease to the sauce.
Stove-top Instructions: Add ingredients for the sauce to a saucepan and stir until smooth. Add the meatballs and stir to coat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 8-10 minutes for thawed meatballs, or 14-16 minutes for frozen meatballs.
Other Appetizers we love:
- Toasted Ravioli
- Mini Cheese Ball Bites
- Garlic Knots
- Artichoke Dip Stuffed Bread
- Loaded Potato Skins
- Shrimp Cocktail
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- 50-60 frozen meatballs (store bought or homemade)*
- 14 ounce whole cranberry sauce
- 12 ounces cocktail sauce , or homemade
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup bbq sauce
- green onion , finely chopped for garnish
- Spray the bottom of your slow cooker lightly with cooking spray. Add frozen meatballs to the bottom of pot.
- In a large bowl stir together cranberry sauce, cocktail sauce, brown sugar, water, and barbecue sauce and pour over meatballs.
- Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or HIGH for 2-3 hours.
- Serve warm garnished with chopped green onions, if desired.
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Nutritional label is based off of one serving of 4 meatballs.
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I originally shared this recipe October 2016. Updated with additional instructions, tips and photos October 2020.
A crowd pleaser!
Could I use currant jelly with this recipe instead of cranberry sauce? Would that mix well with the rest of the ingredients?
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