co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (2024)

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co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (1)

By: Becky Hardin

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co*cktail Meatballs are the best holiday appetizer! These sweet and spicy cranberry meatballs are cooked in a cranberry pepper jelly sauce, which gives them the perfect kick of flavor. These cranberry sauce meatballs are just so delicious! The best Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve appetizer without a doubt.

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (2)

Table of Contents

Why We Love This co*cktail Meatball Recipe

I’ve always loved pepper jelly, and it adds just enough zip to these cranberry meatballs. They don’t have a strong cranberry taste, but it’s just the right amount. Just enough spice and just enough sweetness.

Variations on Cranberry Meatballs

You can mix up the flavor of these meatballs by using different flavors of jelly. I like the spicy element hot pepper jelly adds to the sauce, but classic grape jelly also works well, and so does apricot! The chili sauce will still provide some heat, making these meatballs a great balance of sweet and spicy.

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (3)

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How to Store and Reheat

Store leftover co*cktail meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a saucepan set over medium-low heat until warmed through.

How to Freeze

Freeze co*cktail meatballs in an airtight container or Ziplock bag for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Serving Suggestions

Serve these cranberry meatballs simply as an appetizer with toothpicks for easy grabbing and extra sauce for dipping. Or serve them as a meal over a bed of basmati rice or mashed potatoes.

Pair them with holiday punch, Christmas sangria, or cranberry margaritas to play up their tart and sweet flavor.

What are co*cktail meatballs made of?

These bite-sized meatballs are made from beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, sweet chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, minced onion, and kosher salt.

How many eggs should you put in meatballs?

I recommend using 1 egg per pound of meat.

Can you over-mix meatballs?

Yes! Use your fingers and a light touch to mix and shape the meatballs so that they do not turn out tough.

How many co*cktail meatballs per person?

I usually plan for 4 meatballs per person. This recipe makes about 40 (1½-inch) meatballs, so it will serve 10.

Can I make these meatballs smaller?

You sure can! I like the 2-3 bite size of these meatballs, but you can make them 1-inch for a one-bite treat. This recipe will make about 140 (1-inch) meatballs, which is enough for about 24 people!

Can you eat co*cktail meatballs cold?

You sure can! These meatballs are tasty both hot and cold.

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (5)

More Appetizer Meatballs We Love

  • Sheet Pan Party Meatballs
  • Grape Jelly Meatballs
  • Crockpot Honey Garlic Meatballs
  • Crockpot Teriyaki Meatballs
  • Baked Turkey Meatballs
  • Peruvian Chicken Meatballs

5-Star Review

“I have tried many different meatball recipes over the years. I made these last night and they are now my family’s favorite.” – Sherry

Recipe

co*cktail Meatballs Recipe (Cranberry Meatballs)

4.19 from 167 votes

Author: Becky Hardin | The Cookie Rookie

Prep: 20 minutes minutes

Cook: 1 hour hour 30 minutes minutes

Total: 1 hour hour 50 minutes minutes

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (6)

Serves10

Print Rate

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co*cktail Meatballs are a must for any holiday party. These delicious Cranberry Meatballs are perfectly sweet and spicy, and so delicious!

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (7)

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Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion optional
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the Cranberry Pepper Jelly Sauce

  • 10 ounces hot pepper jelly (1 jar)
  • 12 ounces chili sauce (1 jar)
  • 8 ounces jellied cranberry sauce (1 jar)
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from ½ lemon)

Recommended Equipment

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, breadcrumbs, eggs, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion, and salt. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated but do not overwork the mixture or the meatballs will be tough.

    2 pounds ground chuck, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons minced onion, ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • Form into 1½-inch meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Leave at least 1-inch space between meatballs.

  • Cook at 350°F for 10 minutes, then turn each meatball over. Cook another 10-15 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through. Remove from oven.

  • While the meatballs cook, prepare the sauce: In a large skillet set over low heat, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Stir until well blended then remove from heat until the meatballs are ready.

    10 ounces hot pepper jelly, 12 ounces chili sauce, 8 ounces jellied cranberry sauce, 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • When the meatballs are cooked, place them in the sauce in the skillet and simmer for 1 hour, or until the sauce has thickened.

Last step! Don’t forget to show me a pic of what you made! Upload an image or tag me @thecookierookie on Instagram!

Becky’s tips

Yield:This recipe makes about 40 (1½-inch) meatballs. A serving is 4 meatballs.

  • Take care not to over-mix the meatballs, or they will become tough.
  • Properly cooked meatballs should register 165°F internally in the center.
  • For a less sweet version, try using whole cranberry sauce instead of jellied.
  • The meatballs and sauce can simmer on high in a crockpot for the last hour.

Storage:Store co*cktail meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 441kcal (22%) Carbohydrates: 46g (15%) Protein: 19g (38%) Fat: 20g (31%) Saturated Fat: 7g (44%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 102mg (34%) Sodium: 816mg (35%) Potassium: 447mg (13%) Fiber: 2g (8%) Sugar: 32g (36%) Vitamin A: 482IU (10%) Vitamin C: 9mg (11%) Calcium: 55mg (6%) Iron: 3mg (17%)

Did You Make This?I want to see! Be sure to upload an image below & tag @thecookierookie on social media!

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Meet Becky Hardin

Becky Hardin is a wife and mother living in Saint Louis Missouri. She founded The Cookie Rookie in 2012 as a creative way to share recipes. Now, she is a trusted resource for easy cooking around the world, being featured in Taste of Home, The Kitchn, ABC’s Home and Family, and more. Here at The Cookie Rookie she is the editor in chief of all recipes and continues to enjoy sharing her passion for cooking for busy families. She has since founded two additional food blogs, Easy Chicken Recipes and Easy Dessert Recipes.

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47 Comments

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co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (13)

janet

Posted on 2/11/2022

At first I thought this would just be a variation of the terrific old standby using jelly and tomato based Heinz chili sauce–which has gotten a bit hard to find. We do love cranberry sauce, and I used traditional tomato based chili sauce, whole berry cranberry sauce and hot pepper jelly. I think using a Thai sweet chili sauce in addition to the other sweet ingredients would have made my teeth hurt. I also made my meatballs smaller–i” is a single bite, 1.5″ is 3 bites and increases the risk of dripping. They were absolutely delicious–thanks for an easy and economical winner!co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (14)

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (15)

Becky Hardin

Posted on 2/11/2022

Reply to janet

Thanks for sharing, Janet!

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (16)

Shannon

Posted on 12/20/2021

Do you use Heinz chili sauce or like Mae Ploy Asian chili sauce? There is a difference and this recipe as well as another one of your meatball recipes do not specify. I really want to make these but I’m going to the store now and am not sure which to buy. 🙁

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (17)

Becky Hardin

Posted on 12/22/2021

Reply to Shannon

Honestly, whatever is in stock at the store!

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (18)

Debbie

Posted on 1/23/2020

It is good but too sweet. I will omit the brown sugar and use whole cranberry sauce next time.co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (19)

1

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (20)

Becky Hardin

Posted on 1/26/2020

Reply to Debbie

That sounds like a good idea, Debbie!! I hope that helps!

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (21)

Sherry

Posted on 1/1/2020

I have tried many different meatball recipes over the years. I made these last night and they are now my family’s favorite.co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (22)

1

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (23)

Becky Hardin

Posted on 1/2/2020

Reply to Sherry

Yay! Thanks, Sherry! I’m glad you enjoyed it!!

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (24)

Rae

Posted on 10/22/2019

How many meatballs do you get out of this recipe? Assuming small co*cktail sized (1-in round).

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (25)

Marissa

Posted on 10/20/2019

I made these for a party today and everyone asked for the recipe.
I thought I didn’t have a lemon so I used white vinegar instead. Also used jalapeño red pepper jelly.co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (26)

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (27)

Becky Hardin

Posted on 10/21/2019

Reply to Marissa

Those sound like great substitutions! I’ll have to give it a try!

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (28)

Michael

Posted on 6/23/2019

It looks really yummyco*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (29)

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (30)

Judi

Posted on 12/19/2018

Just attended a gathering where there were three meatballs. these sweet and spicy cranberry meatballs were by far the best. Thank you for a great keeper recipe.co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (31)

Reply

Becky Hardin

Posted on 12/21/2018

Reply to Judi

This literally made my day. Thank you Judi!!

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (33)

lauren

Posted on 12/6/2018

I am confused as to why chili sauce is listed twice in the recipe… one says “sweet chili sauce” and has a link, and then further down it just says “chili sauce”. Am I supposed to use the same chili sauce in both places or am I supposed to get two different chili sauces?

Reply

Becky Hardin

Posted on 12/7/2018

Reply to lauren

Yes, the sweet chili sauce. Hope you love the recipe!

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (35)

Cheryl Parker

Posted on 7/11/2018

The meatballs look so delicious! I will try it this tomorrow and see if I can come up with good taste. Thanks for the recipe!

Reply

Becky Hardin

Posted on 7/11/2018

Reply to Cheryl Parker

Hope you love them!

Reply

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (2024)

FAQs

What is co*cktail meatballs made of? ›

Combine the beef, egg, cheese, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, 2 teaspoons mustard, the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a medium bowl; mix with your hands until combined. Form into 1 1/2-inch meatballs (about 24) and arrange on the prepared baking sheet.

Why do people put grape jelly in meatballs? ›

To make these sweet and tangy meatballs, you'll need: Grape jelly: For a sweetness that balances the chili sauce, and to provide a glossy finish to the sauce. Chili sauce: Tomato paste, spices, and garlic give this sauce its depth. Barbecue sauce: Thickens the sauce while complementing the jelly and chili sauce.

What can I use instead of grape jelly? ›

Replace the Grape Jelly with apricot preserves, orange marmalade, canned cranberry sauce, raspberry preserves, or hot pepper jelly.

What is the egg for in meatballs? ›

You only need a small amount of egg – it's there only to help the cooked meatball retain its shape, and shouldn't detract from the meat's flavour or texture. Filler ingredients like breadcrumbs or flour are important too because they stop the meatballs becoming dry.

What does adding milk to meatballs do? ›

When it comes to adding liquid to meatball mixtures, milk is often used for its versatility, depth of flavor, and richness. Without the use of milk, you may be faced with a plate of dry meatballs. Milk adds a certain level of moisture that helps produce perfectly tender meatballs.

What does adding water to meatballs do? ›

Water: Slowly add water to the mixture before you roll the meatballs. It'll keep the meatballs nice and moist. Some reviewers prefer to use milk.

Why do you put baking soda in meatballs? ›

Baking soda acts as a meat tenderizer by changing the physical composition of meat fibers. It raises the pH levels on the surface and makes it tougher (pun intended) for the proteins in the meat to bond.

What is the difference between regular meatballs and Italian meatballs? ›

American meatballs are the biggest in size, with Italian and Swedish meatballs following on the depth chart. Italian meatballs call for seasonings like grated parmesan and oregano, while Swedish ones use seasonings like nutmeg and allspice. While it doesn't sound like a huge distinction, you'll notice it in the taste!

What are co*cktail wieners made of? ›

Pork, Mechanically Separated Chicken, Water, Corn Syrup, Contains 2% or Less: Potassium Lactate, Dextrose, Natural Flavors, Salt, Oat Fiber, Calcium Lactate, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Erythorbate, Beef Stock, Sodium Nitrite.

What are Ikea meatballs made of horse meat? ›

Ikea first said that it would not sell or serve any meatballs at its stores in Sweden after the Czech authorities detected horse meat in frozen meatballs that were labeled beef and pork, even though Ikea's own tests two weeks ago had not detected horse DNA.

Why are they called baby shower meatballs? ›

Why are they called baby shower meatballs? Baby shower meatballs are just meatballs that people like to eat at baby showers. They're a yummy snack that's easy to eat with your fingers. They're not special meatballs, they just get called that because they're often served at baby showers.

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