Crock-Pot Cranberry Orange Meatballs are easy to make in the slow cooker and are perfect appetizers for holiday parties and gatherings.
Cocktail meatballs make the best appetizers, and this Crock-Pot orange cranberry meatball recipe is probably the easiest appetizer ever! It's perfect for holiday entertaining, or you can even turn this into an easy fix it and forget it type of dinner -- just like we did tonight.
My grandmother always made the most amazing cocktail meatballs whenever my parents had their annual Christmas party. Everything was made from scratch, from the meatballs to the sauce, and these were some awesome meatballs. Honestly, all of the guests raved about them!
So, I've been trying to find my grandma's recipe, without much luck. But in the meantime, I have an easy cocktail meatball recipe that tastes just as good and is made entirely in your slow cooker. Seriously.
Update! Here's the homemade cocktail party meatball recipe!
This recipe is inspired by our favorite cranberry orange ham, which we usually have for Christmas dinner. And, it only uses five ingredients. You can't beat that!
You start off with some pre-cooked frozen meatballs -- You can use your favorite recipe for homemade meatballs, or you can buy them from the store -- just make sure that they're fully cooked.
How to make Crock-Pot cranberry orange meatballs
You put them into a slow cooker -- I used a small one, but if you're cooking for a crowd, you can easily double the recipe and make these in a larger Crock-Pot.
Then, you add some orange marmalade and cranberry sauce, plus the remaining ingredients, stir, and cook on high for two hours. After that, you can let the meatballs simmer on low until you're read to serve them.
Easy peasy? Definitely!
The sauce is thick, tangy and slightly sweet, and the meatballs are super tender and juicy.
Recipe for Crock-Pot cranberry orange meatballs
Crock-Pot Cranberry Orange Meatballs
- 20 frozen meatballs (can use homemade or your favorite brand)
- 1 can jellied cranberry sauce
- ½ cup orange marmalade
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onions
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or non-stic cooking spray
- Add olive oil to slow cooker, or use non-stick cooking spray
- Add meatballs, and top with remaining ingredients
- Stir to coat meatballs, cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Turn heat to low until ready to serve
Nutrition information is estimated. Please do your own calculation to fit special diets.
This recipe for Crock-Pot cranberry orange meatballs is picky-eater approved. My kids absolutely loved them, so they're guaranteed to be a hit at your holiday parties.
If you want a spicier version, you can add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
OMG - these are amazing! I made them last year for a cocktail party I hosted, and everyone raves about them! I am so glad I pinned this recipe. My cocktail party has become an annual tradition and the first everyone asks before RSVPing is if these will be there! I did use frozen meatballs, and I made these on the stove, covered, cooked on low. I’m doubling the batch this year.
I'm so happy to hear this, Kathryn! Thanks!
These would even be good over rice!
That sounds delicious! Thanks for the suggestion. 🙂
How long do you think I should cook if using stovetop and not crock pot?
It only takes a few minutes on the stove for these meatballs. 🙂
Lori Williams says
Thanks for this recipe!
Do you think if the meatballs are thawed, I could cook on low for 3-4 hours?
I would like to put this in the crockpot before I go to church in the morning.
Thanks for any advice you can give,
Hi Lori. That should be fine. 🙂
Perfection! Everyone wanted this recipe that tried it. The red pepper flakes added a great touch of spice to this sweet yet savory appetizer. Thank you thank you !!
That's awesome, Amy! Thanks so much for letting me know. 🙂
Ann Kick says
What do you mean by "dried minced onions"?
ike Lipton soup onion mix?
These are dried onion flakes by themselves -- not a mix. They're in the spice section in most grocery stores.
Lynne | 365 Days of Baking and More says
What an easy and fun thing to serve on Game Day. These have so much flavor and I love the use of the slow cooker! SO easy!
Thanks, Lynne. We had this again on New Year's Eve -- It's one of our favorites now!
Amanda Williams says
Definitely want to try this, it sounds delicious. My question is why do the meatballs have to be cooked first if they will be cooking in the crockpot on high for 2 hours?
They might fall apart under the heavy sauce if you use raw meatballs, but cooking or at least browning them first will prevent that.
If I doubled the recipe do I double the time?
You shouldn't have to, especially if your slow cooker is large enough. I've made more before, and the cook time was fine. 🙂
How would you suggest I cook them if I made homemade meatballs and they are raw? Maybe bake in the oven first then follow all steps into the slow cooker? Thanks! Looks and sounds DS delicious!
I would definitely bake them first. You could even do this ahead of time, freeze them and add them to the Crock-Pot. 🙂
Jessica | The Novice Chef says
Tis the season for cranberry orange!!
Brandy | Nutmeg Nanny says
We love meatballs! What a great twist!
Angie | Big Bear's Wife says
I love this version! We make meatballs for almost every holiday! We'll have to change it up and try these this Christmas!
Thanks so much, Angie. Meatballs are the best!
Cathy Trochelman says
Such a perfect flavor combo for party meatballs!
Catalina @ Peas & Peonies says
Interesting combination of flavors. I would like to try your recipe. Thanks
Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious says
Yeah, I could eat these meatballs for dinner. Forget the appetizer!
That's what we did tonight -- we're a little bit addicted to them!
I've never used the slow cooker for meatballs before but I'm definitely going to after seeing this! These look so juicy and flavorful!
Thanks, Sabrina! It's one of my favorite ways to make meatballs. 🙂
Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom says
These sound delicious, especially with the hint of orange flavor! Def. going to try these the next time we have friends over!
Thanks, Carrie! We absolutely loved them, and they are super easy!