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Beef meatballs with zesty cranberry cocktail sauce

Move over, boring party appetizers: These cranberry cocktail meatballs are taking center stage!

Homemade cranberry cocktail meatballs

Whether you need some scrumptious appetizers for an office party or are looking for fancy New Year’s Eve recipes for a party at home, you’re going to love these sweet and spicy meatballs.

Drenched with a sweet-hot sauce made with seasonal cranberry sauce, chili sauce and red pepper jelly, this holiday appetizer is destined to become your go-to party nibble.

Better still: You can hold these in a slow-cooker for several hours — ideal if you need to make them well ahead of the scheduled festivities.

Consider making a double batch even for a small party gathering, because your guests will gobble these meatballs right up and ask for more.

cocktail meatballs

Admittedly, buying frozen premade meatballs cuts down on the prep time for this party appetizer; however, we strongly recommend that you get your hands in the ground beef and discover meatball-making for the simple cooking pleasure it is.

Homemade cranberry cocktail meatballs

It’s even more fun when you enlist a family member or friend to help you make these irresistible bites of savory succulence.

Homemade cranberry cocktail meatballs

Beef meatballs with zesty cranberry cocktail sauce



  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1/3 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 scallions, green part only sliced (for garnish)


  • 1 can (12 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 jar (12 ounces) chili sauce
  • 1 jar (10.5 ounces) red pepper jelly
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Line baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Arrange wire rack on top of baking tray.
  4. Spray wire rack with cooking spray.
  5. In large bowl, mix ground beef, onion, egg, milk, salt, pepper, bread crumbs and Worcestershire sauce with your hands until well combined.
  6. Roll into firm, tablespoon-sized balls.
  7. Place meatballs on wire rack-lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake until meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  9. In medium bowl, mix cranberry sauce, chili sauce, red pepper jelly, brown sugar and lemon juice. Blend well.
  10. Once meatballs are cooked, place in slow-cooker on low setting.  
  11. Add sauce and blend well.
  12. Cook until heated (about 30–45 minutes).  
  13. Garnish with sliced scallions.
  14. Serve.  

Note: Meatballs can sit in slow-cooker on warm setting for several hours.

Courses Appetizers

Homemade cranberry cocktail meatballs

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