4 Ingredient Spicy Cranberry Meatballs (Slow Cooker Recipe)

These cranberry meatballs are the perfect addition to any party, but they also make a fantastic dinner any night of the year.

Made with just 4 ingredients, this spin on traditional grape jelly meatballs has a great sweet-and-spicy flavor that everyone loves. Since they’re made in a slow cooker, they save on oven space, too — perfect for holiday gatherings!

A white serving bowl filled with cranberry meatballs appetizers and a cocktail pick for serving them.

I love adding my own unique twist to classic holiday recipes. Of course, these Slow Cooker Spicy Cranberry Meatballs are no exception!

I can still remember the first time we had glazed jelly meatballs. It was at an office Christmas party about fifteen years ago and Shawn couldn’t get enough. He kept going back for seconds and thirds and raved about them so much that my boss finally gave me the recipe.

Shawn made them for a Superbowl party later that year and, again, they stole the show. Everyone was obsessed.

Of course, I can never leave well enough alone.

These meatballs are traditionally made with grape jelly and chili sauce but I wondered how they’d come out if I used cranberry sauce and gochujang instead.

4 Ingredient Spicy Cranberry Meatballs (Slow Cooker Recipe) 1

The answer?

FANTASTIC. We both love this spicy cranberry meatball recipe even better than the original version.

They’re are perfect for holiday parties as tasty bite-sized appetizers, but I also love turning them into a full meal.

There are few things that are cozier on a cold winter day than the smell of cranberry and gochujang wafting through the house. Bursting with flavor, these tasty bites are perfect for enjoying while watching your favorite holiday movie or sitting by the fireplace after a long walk in fresh snow.

They only take minutes to prep and will cook themselves so you can chill while dinner is being made! 

Ingredients for making slow cooker turkey cranberry meatballs with gochujang chili saice.

Ingredients

To make these meatballs in cranberry sauce, you’ll need a few simple ingredients:

  • Meatballs. I typically make these with frozen turkey meatballs but, if you prefer, you can also use homemade meatballs. Air fryer chicken meatballs make a great addition to this recipe!
  • Cranberry Sauce. I love using whole berry cranberry sauce for this recipe, but you can also use jellied cranberry sauce if that’s what you prefer. Either way, I like to check the ingredient list and steer clear of sauces that contain high fructose corn syrup. Some of my favorite cleaner brands are Cadia and Woodstock. You can also use homemade cranberry jelly.
  • Gochujang. Gochujang is a pungent fermented paste made from chili peppers, glutinous rice, soybeans, sugar and salt. It has a sweet and spicy flavor that varies from tangy to even nutty. It balances out the tart cranberries so well!
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce. A splash of soy sauce adds another level of rich umami flavor to this recipe. Be sure to use low sodium soy sauce to keep the overall flavor balance in check!
  • Sesame seeds (optional). I love finishing off these meatballs with a sprinkle of sesame seeds for added color.

How to make sweet and spicy cranberry meatballs in a Crock Pot

These meatballs are so easy to make! Just add everything to your slow cooker and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours, or until they’ve reached an internal temperature of 165F.

If you’re short on time, you can also make these on the stove by combining all of the ingredients in a large pot or Dutch oven and heating until the meatballs are cooked through. Then transfer everything to your slow cooker to keep warm.

I like to serve the cooked meatballs directly from my crock pot so they stay warm as people mingle and nibble. Place a plate of toothpicks next to the pots so everyone can have free range when they please!

Pro Tip: To prevent the sweet sauce from burning, layer the meatballs into the slow cooker first, then stir in the remaining ingredients. This will limit the amount of sauce that comes into direct contact with the crock.

Two cranberry chili meatballs on an appetizer plate.

What to serve with cranberry meatballs

These spicy cranberry meatballs are great on their own as holiday appetizers.

You can also serve these cocktail meatballs with other ingredients to make a complete meal. Here are some options to consider:

  • Serve them over egg noodles, spaghetti, or other pasta of your choice. There should be more than enough sauce in the slow cooker to add to your pasta as well. with a complementary sauce or use the sauce from the slow cooker.
  • Serve them over mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower (this is one of my favorite dinners!)
  • Create a turkey cranberry meatball sub
  • Bake a Spicy Cranberry Meatball casserole for a family-sized meal;
  • If you’re looking for a lighter meal, pair your meatballs with a light green salad.

How to store LEFTOVER SLOW COOKER SPICY CRANBERRY MEATBALLS

You can store any leftover cranberry meatballs either in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

REHEATING Glazed MEATBALLS

Reheating your stored slow cooker meatballs is pretty straightforward. 
If you’ve stored leftover meatballs in the refrigerator then simply reheat them on the stovetop. Covering the pot add while they reheat will help prevent them from drying out.
If you froze your meatballs, you can reheat them right from frozen or thaw them in the fridge overnight.

More Irresistible Meatball Recipes To Try

Overhead view of a light grey plate with cranberry glazed meatballs, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.
Slow Cooker Gochujang Cranberry Meatballs

Slow Cooker Gochujang Cranberry Meatballs

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces frozen turkey meatballs
  • 1 can (14 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce
  • ¼ cup gochujang (korean red pepper paste)
  • 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions

    1. Add the meatballs to your slow cooker. Pour in the cranberry sauce, gouchoujang, and soy sauce. Give everything a stir. 
    2. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours, or until the meatballs have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.

Notes

You can also make these with my air fryer chicken meatballs.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1/4 recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 263Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 24mgSodium 1441mgCarbohydrates 49gFiber 2gSugar 35gProtein 8g

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By on September 14th, 2021

About Lauren

Hi, I'm Lauren! I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook.

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