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 these bbq meatballs, Cheesy BreadsticksSpinach Artichoke Dip or crab cakes.

BBQ Meatballs appetizer served in a bowl garnished with green onion.

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.

Four process photos for making BBQ meatballs including frozen meatballs in crockpot, sauce made, poured on top, and cooked.

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:

You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST for more great recipes!

Recipe

BBQ Meatballs appetizer served in a bowl garnished with green onion.
Prep 5 mins
Cook 2 hrs
Total 2 hrs 5 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Video

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

Storing Instructions: Store crockpot meatballs in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in a sealed container.  Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top until warmed through.
Meatballs: Frozen pre-cooked meatballs are recommenced. 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 262kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 8gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 439mgPotassium: 271mgSugar: 31gVitamin A: 170IUVitamin C: 1.9mgCalcium: 27mgIron: 0.8mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @TastesBetterFromScratch on Instagram with #TastesBetterFromScratch!

Nutritional label is based off of one serving of 4 meatballs.

Have you tried this recipe?! 

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

I originally shared this recipe October 2016. Updated with additional instructions, tips and photos October 2020.

Related Posts

Share Recipe

Categories

About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These were sooo good! I made them for a potluck and they were gone by the end of it. I used frozen turkey meatballs and they turned out great in the crock pot. This will be my go-to potluck meal from now on!

  2. 5 stars
    I used turkey and everyone loved them! Easy to make as well. I’m going to add only 1/2 cup of water next time to see if the sauce remains a little thicker.

  3. 5 stars
    Made these over the weekend and they were a big hit! Loved that I could make them in the slow cooker and loved all the leftovers. So easy and delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    I Love this recipe but want to change it up to make more of an Asian flare.
    Would you recommend substituting any of the ingredients for soy sauce and adding a little spice? Need your expertise….
    Thanks Laura! Love your website!

See More Comments