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I love recipes that allow my slow cooker to do all the work and let me get all the credit. Like these Cocktail Meatballs that I grew up having at various parties and showers that Mama hosted.

There are a couple of variations of these that she would make, but regardless, they were always gone in a flash.

I think I may have contributed to a few disappearing before the party would even get started. In the name of taste-testing, ya know.

I do believe my favorite has always been the cocktail meatballs she’d make with cranberry sauce close to Thanksgiving. The cranberry sauce adds just a touch of sweetness and tart to this savory appetizer. Of course, you can easily substitute other jellies for the cranberry sauce if you’d prefer. Some that I’ve found to be our favorites are: grape, apricot, and even blackberry. Each one gives a bit of a different flavor, so you’ll want to try them all for yourself to find your favorite.

This really is a classic recipe that you’ll find a lot during the holidays or on game days, especially in the south.

You can make these with homemade or frozen meatballs, depending on the amount of time you have. Either way, they always turn out to be a crowd favorite.

Here’s the recipe for my Cocktail Meatballs.

5 from 1 vote

Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs Recipe

Appetizers 1 hr 30 mins

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 20 mins
Servings 12
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Author Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch
Cocktail Meatballs are a classic Southern appetizer throughout the holidays and on game days.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 medium onion minced
  • 1 cup jellied cranberry sauce or your favorite jelly, such as grape, apricot, or blackberry
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce optional


  • Preheat oven to 350º F.
  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, garlic and onions until well-combined. Form into 1-inch meatballs. Place onto a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, turning half way through cooking time.
  • Alternately, you may use frozen meatballs that have been thawed completely in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Pour jellied cranberry sauce or other jelly, chili sauce, honey and Sriracha sauce into the crock of slow cooker. Stir well. Add meatballs and simmer over low heat setting for 1 hour before serving.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 371mg | Potassium: 208mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 186IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

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Slow Cooker Recipes

Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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Recipe Review


  1. Just a quick question . . . with the chili sauce are you referring to the Heinz brand or can I use a Thai chili sauce or homemade chili sauce?

    Also, I have your balsamic roast beef in the crock pot right now and I can’t wait to try it tonight!!

    Thanks for all your great recipes!

    1. Hey Amanda,
      You can absolutely use any of those chili sauces, Amanda. I generally use either homemade or the bottled variety.

  2. My sister-in-law just ask me yesterday if I had a recipe for cocktail meatballs using frozen meatballs.
    Your timing is perfect and this one is a bit different from most. Pinning it!

  3. Hi Robyn!
    Could I premake the meatballs, cook and freeze them and when ready defrost and put in the slowcooker with the sauce ingredients? Thanks ☺

  4. 5 stars
    I prepared this for a college football game day party. I didn’t plan ahead so I let the frozen meatballs rest/thaw slightly on the countertop while I prepped the chicken for the Buffalo Chicken dip (also from this sitet!). I baked the meatballs for a little less time than called for on the package as I didn’t want them to be crusty. I simmered the whole can of cranberry sauce (appx 10 oz) and whole jar of chili sauce (appx 12 oz) on the stovetop until smooth because I had almost 2 pounds of frozen meatballs. I really enjoyed the addition of the honey and Sriracha plus I squeezed in a bit of lemon juice. Then I put the meatballs in the slow-cooker and poured the sauce over the top and let cook on low for about an hour before taking to the party. Because I didn’t use equal parts cranberry sauce to chili sauce, it had a bit more spiciness but it was excellent. I look forward to having time to make the meatballs from scratch with this sauce.

    1. So happy to hear that you enjoyed the meatballs and the the Buffalo Chicken Dip! Aren’t they great for football game parties?! Thanks so much!