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Cranberry Chili Meatballs Recipe

Cranberry Chili Meatballs Recipe

Using packaged meatballs helps save time in the kitchen and they are just as tasty as homemade. My friends look forward to enjoying these meatballs at our holiday gatherings and there are never any leftovers! The sauce is tangy yet sweet, and the festive color is perfect for any holiday party. —Amy Scamerhorn, Indianapolis, Indiana
TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min. YIELD:76 servings


  • 1 can (14 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) chili sauce
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 package (32 ounces) frozen fully cooked homestyle meatballs, thawed


  • 1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the first six ingredients; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add meatballs; cook for 20-25 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
  • 2. Editor's Note: To prepare in a slow cooker, heat sauce ingredients as directed. Add sauce and meatballs to a 4-qt. slow cooker. Cook, covered, on low 2-3 hours or until heated through. Yield: about 6 dozen.

Nutritional Facts

1 each: 51 calories, 2g fat (1g saturated fat), 12mg cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 0 fiber), 2g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1/2 lean meat.

Reviews for Cranberry Chili Meatballs

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ransonjay User ID: 6631369 264941
Reviewed Apr. 20, 2017

"My husband hates cranberries but loves these meatballs. I make these all the time for the family. They are a big hit at our potlucks at work, too."

TerriObie User ID: 8922559 253319
Reviewed Aug. 28, 2016

"Anyone have specifics on what type / brand of chili sauce works best?"

tlp31397 User ID: 7394177 253152
Reviewed Aug. 25, 2016

"Huge hit! Super easy! Now my go-to for everything. Thank you for sharing."

katehugs User ID: 1263799 240637
Reviewed Dec. 30, 2015

"These disappeared in no time."

mjlouk User ID: 1712085 240163
Reviewed Dec. 24, 2015

"E everyone enjoyed these! I only used the cranberries and chili sauce."

c_breeze User ID: 8665643 239574
Reviewed Dec. 16, 2015

"I made this for our annual Christmas party and EVERYONE asked for the recipe! Our old standby meatball recipe (the one with grape jelly), just got replaced!!! And In Canada, I was able to buy gluten free Angus beef meatballs (President's Choice Blue Menu), so everyone could enjoy them!!!! Great recipe and SO easy!"

fhquilting User ID: 2569371 238068
Reviewed Nov. 25, 2015

"I add an 8 oz can of undrained crushed pineapple and only 1/4 c brown sugar."

keely27 User ID: 4249986 237973
Reviewed Nov. 23, 2015

"Made the recipe as is. The sauce tasted like it was made with applesauce instead of cranberry somehow, and the consistency looked like it too. It was OK, but will probably try a new recipe next time"

lberry222 User ID: 4948624 237704
Reviewed Nov. 19, 2015

"Huge hit with my family!"

engprof User ID: 889040 236336
Reviewed Nov. 4, 2015

"I make these for every party, and all you need is the chili sauce and the jellied cranberry sauce. I don't see the need for the extra spices."

PageRD User ID: 5881442 236138
Reviewed Nov. 1, 2015

"These sweet and tangy meatballs are a big hit at my annual Christmas party. Even people who aren't big fans of the ubiquitous meatball appetizer rave about them. The cranberry definitely makes the difference."

marilynlouise1 User ID: 5665560 236128
Reviewed Nov. 1, 2015

"Don't remember where I've seen this similar recipe before but all it called for was a bag of frozen meat balls, a bottle of chili sauce and a can of cranberries all mixed together in a crock pot."

Beckatha User ID: 7369893 227713
Reviewed Jun. 10, 2015

"I get rave reviews on these at every gathering I have brought them to. Super easy to make. The only thing I did different was to make them in a crock-pot so they would stay warm during service."

Worshipguy User ID: 6391761 218264
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2015

"For packaged meatballs, these were very good and super easy. I took these to a family Christmas and after the meatballs were gone, my grandma wanted the leftover sauce and said I better not throw it away!"

No_Time_To_Cook User ID: 6334849 215935
Reviewed Dec. 26, 2014

"very easy and good"

bernerlover User ID: 2342652 215694
Reviewed Dec. 23, 2014

"these are very good and so easy. I made them for a Christmas party at work last year and they all really liked them so I'm making them again this year."

deerock User ID: 7499299 214500
Reviewed Dec. 10, 2014

"love this recipe thanks"

diggerandcrafty User ID: 6708313 214066
Reviewed Dec. 5, 2014

"Made this for Christmas Eve last year and making it again!!! Everyone loved them."

njmarsh User ID: 212116 109680
Reviewed Nov. 5, 2014

"@lidalu - It's not a 32 BALL package - it's a 32 OUNCE package and there about 72 balls in a 32 oz package."

lidablu User ID: 7014268 156248
Reviewed Nov. 4, 2014

"Something is wrong with the math here,,,,,,,,,,,,,,one 32 ball pkg turns into servings for 72? How?"

Bonito User ID: 1630276 98993
Reviewed Nov. 1, 2014

"What a great new twist on an great appetizer snack and so easy to do"

SE58 User ID: 5862099 79074
Reviewed Oct. 31, 2014

"These are delicious and the easiest thing to make ever! I put them in my crockpot. I really like the chili sauce and cranberry flavors better than barbecue sauce. Will be making these again for the holidays this year."

[email protected] User ID: 2127591 173241
Reviewed Oct. 31, 2014

"I love this recipe. It is a "go to" recipe for a party appetizer or to use in a meatball hero topped with motzerella cheese. I never have leftovers and have been asked for this recipe time and time again!"

KristineChayes User ID: 1441542 168912
Reviewed Oct. 16, 2014

"Excellent recipe! I've made these twice already, for parties, using my slow cooker; I added a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder to them. Turned out great and everyone loved them! A definite keeper!"

michelle2984 User ID: 5654072 109676
Reviewed Oct. 5, 2014

"These were so good and so easy to whip up. I doubled the recipe for a party, and there were just 4 meatballs left at the end. I used a little less cayenne pepper in fear that it might be too spicy for my son, but will use the full amount next time as I didnt find them spicy at all. My son, 12 months, ate 3 meatballs in one sitting! I will definitely make these again."

spiker1 User ID: 264159 168879
Reviewed May. 13, 2014

"These were fabulous. Everyone loved them."

Sprucetree18 User ID: 6006412 100846
Reviewed May. 10, 2014

"Made this for a work potluck and it was a big hit. I cut the sugar in half, it could stand to be cut down even further I would say. Super easy. Cooked in the crockpot, meatballs right from frozen. Used the Italian -style meatballs from Giant Tiger, 9 bucks a bag."

Jaxssy User ID: 7517261 99231
Reviewed Feb. 2, 2014

"Made these meatballs for a get together with friends and everyone loved them."

Racheldee User ID: 7639358 109674
Reviewed Jan. 28, 2014

"When I made the meatballs for a gathering everyone loved them. There were no leftovers."

memryskr10 User ID: 7211420 170279
Reviewed Jan. 23, 2014

"I made these meatballs for a party,and they were gone within 30 minutes. i myself did not like them because of the cumin in it, and I will not make them ever again, unless someone that loved them so much, requests them ."

harperleesmom User ID: 6428060 158110
Reviewed Dec. 28, 2013

"Originally I made the recipe as directed. With the left overs I cooked down a half a bag of cranberries and added them to the sauce. MUCH better and somehow even more spicy! So I'd definitely suggest adding a bag to the saucepan and cooking them down until they pop before adding the meatballs. Otherwise, great recipe!"

PTuttle User ID: 3628184 79073
Reviewed Dec. 21, 2013

"I had printed this recipe to make it for a potluck last week when I found a simpler recipe on the back of the Heinz chili Sauce bottle. It just calls for a bottle of their chili sauce, a can of cranberry sauce, and a two pound bag of frozen meatballs. You can use whole berry or not. I used whole berry because that's what I had in the cupboard. I doubled the recipe because it was a large gathering at work. I used turkey meatballs and just dumped them into the crock pot, frozen. I mixed the cranberry sauce and chili sauce in a saucepan on the stove and heated it just until the cranberry sauce melted down. Then I poured it over the meatballs and cooked it on high for 4 hours. I lifted the lid and made sure that the sauce coated all the meat balls a couple of times the last 2 hours of cooking. They went over very well. I'm sure the above recipe is good, but I wanted to let readers know that you can make something similar with less sugar and fewer ingredients."

carolynspen User ID: 3795973 98992
Reviewed Dec. 21, 2013

"Use 2 pkgs. ( or about 44 oz.) of froz. Meatballs for this recipe! I just made it for a potluck today. Not necessary to add brown sugar."

bsmorgan71 User ID: 3429975 82610
Reviewed Dec. 10, 2013

"I made these for Thanksgiving and they was hit. Not one meatball left in my crockpot. I did not buy the store meatballs I made my own. So much better."

vbag User ID: 1135425 171660
Reviewed Dec. 4, 2013

"I absolutely love the bittersweet taste of the cranberry sauce. This is a keeper!"

kissfea User ID: 7511839 170097
Reviewed Dec. 2, 2013

"Loved it!"

CherrieLayton User ID: 6108431 79066
Reviewed Dec. 1, 2013

"The recipe is a great addition to bring to any gathering. The sauce was a great compliment to our homemade Swedish meatballs."

lorettasylvia User ID: 5357358 170261
Reviewed Nov. 10, 2013

"We will enjoy this one for sure!"

NDachshund2 User ID: 4919910 170257
Reviewed Oct. 30, 2013

"I have made these many times, they can also be done with just the cranberry sauce and chili sauce. So simple and always highly requested!!"

Queenlalisa User ID: 15400 79065
Reviewed Oct. 20, 2013

"These were very tasty. I will make again."

MrsOwens User ID: 7095603 173238
Reviewed Sep. 11, 2013

"I make these and the grape jelly meatballs at family get togethers. There are never any leftovers. My family loves them. I kick up the heat on half a batch by doubling the cayenne. I also make my own meatballs using half lean ground beef and half ground turkey."

zamchik User ID: 5546002 100844
Reviewed Jul. 15, 2013

"Great for parties. Everyone loved them! Super easy to make too."

Wilke421 User ID: 6842399 109673
Reviewed Mar. 31, 2013

"My guests have raved over this"

cheryl956 User ID: 1656985 79064
Reviewed Mar. 23, 2013

"My husband who is picky keeps asking me to make these over and over again. BTW, they are delicious !"

acxicat User ID: 7132271 99230
Reviewed Feb. 10, 2013

"I've never been a big meatball fan until now. These are SO amazing! I will be making these often!"

judygraf1 User ID: 6331035 79063
Reviewed Jan. 30, 2013

"made these for the holidays for the family , wouldn't change a thing , just doubled the recipe for the crockpot now for the superbowl, Yummy gonna make this my family pass down"

momx3girls User ID: 4639771 82547
Reviewed Dec. 25, 2012

"Made these for Christmas snacks. Everyone loved them! I stuck to the recipe only change was putting all ingred in the crock pot on high for 4 hours! Delish! And easy!"

brendasauls User ID: 3430741 209368
Reviewed Dec. 16, 2012

"Made these for a Christmas party and I was thrilled to have them taste so good. The sauce was thick instead of runny and greasy like so made other recipes. I used an Italian Seasoned meatball."

daisyk2010 User ID: 6933457 109672
Reviewed Nov. 23, 2012

"These were delicious and the easiest thing in the world to make. I literally had 35 minutes to get out the door, and even though these took 20-25 min I was able to quickly get all the ingredients in the pot and then transfer them to a foil party pan after they were done, stick a lid on and go....So they are quick, easy and delicous. I wanted these to be served as an apetizer for Thanksgiving, however we ate them with dinner instead, still declious and people commented on how good they were."

grghns User ID: 6975241 79062
Reviewed Nov. 15, 2012

"omg!!! Making this recipe right now for a pot luck at work. One word...WOW!!! Was extremely nervous abouto making this based off the ingredients but I stuck to the recipe and BAM! I only doubled everything and cooked in the slow cooker on low for 4-5 hours....gauranteed hit at any party."

Sammye User ID: 154068 99098
Reviewed Oct. 31, 2012

"Love these meatballs...made them for a party and they were the first thing to go. The blend of flavors is just right. I will definitely make these over and over again. Thanks for the delicious, yet simple, recipe!!!!"

mrstoni32 User ID: 6546638 82522
Reviewed Feb. 24, 2012

"Thank you for this recipe TOH! Everyone loves em and now requests them at every family event."

wcarole7 User ID: 2701090 109671
Reviewed Jan. 4, 2012

"Made these for New Years Eve. Everyone loved them. They were not spicy hot, so more heat could be added if desired."

s_pants User ID: 174050 100840
Reviewed Dec. 21, 2011

"These were so good and easy to prepare. Some of my favorite appetizers! I cooked them on the stove and then kept them in a slow cooker on low for a couple of hours. some fell apart, but everyone loved how they just melted in your mouth :)"

angieherzberger User ID: 5719645 158090
Reviewed Dec. 17, 2011


hbaseley User ID: 3311639 79061
Reviewed Dec. 12, 2011

"My mother first served this to us, and now it's become a holiday tradition. Great flavor with little effort."

griglion User ID: 1749407 79060
Reviewed Dec. 7, 2011

"Just like my grandma's recipe for meatloaf, only she added sauerkraut to the cranberry and chili mix. Delish!"

vajudybug User ID: 581753 168876
Reviewed Nov. 5, 2011

"These are so easy and tasty. Have made them many, many times"

Papa H User ID: 4367052 171657
Reviewed Dec. 28, 2010

"Nice spicy kick"

Summy User ID: 1386846 100836
Reviewed Dec. 23, 2010

"I made this recipe years ago. I made the mistake of using Italian style frozen meatballs one time, and they didn't taste good at all. But when I have made this recipe (in my slow cooker, on LOW), they have disappeared. I love the idea of adding fresh cranberries to this sauce and letting them pop. Sounds delicious. I will try this next time."

feathergirl926 User ID: 5717002 109668
Reviewed Dec. 22, 2010

"Just got home from a dinner with some friends and everyone loved these. I think they could be spicier but that's just because I really love spicy food; my friends all thought they were great the way they are!"

bridgetsoup User ID: 5438714 158089
Reviewed Oct. 27, 2010

"I've also done it with a small jar of grape jelly and a jar of heinz chili sauce. AMAZING. I almost beg for a reason to make them!!

Do it though, you wont be disappointed... except when they are all gone! :)"

vajudybug User ID: 581753 170094
Reviewed Oct. 13, 2010

"I make this all the time-my family all loves this recipe"

Kekrs18 User ID: 1699980 156247
Reviewed Aug. 12, 2010

"This recipe is amazing! I love cranberry and the tang it adds to this sauce as opposed to the sweetness of grape jelly. My family asks for this again and again!"

kimineese User ID: 4617499 78943
Reviewed Jun. 15, 2010

"I make these all the time and everyone wants the recipe. I add a little bit more cayenne pepper for more zip. They are always a hit!!!"

niagaracat User ID: 3122379 99096
Reviewed Mar. 21, 2010

"Delicious sauce and was a good use for home made chili sauce and homemade meatballs. Leftovers were great also."

2muchmuchmtthyme User ID: 4444929 99023
Reviewed Jan. 30, 2010

"Also tasted great with 'little smokeys', vienna sausages and plain old inch size slices of hot dogs."

marie0956 User ID: 4526888 168874
Reviewed Jan. 2, 2010

"Took these to a Christmas get together and found different meatballs everywhere. So I thought, one will eat these. OMG they were the first ones gone. Everyone wanted the recipe!"

ibohemian User ID: 3236611 100831
Reviewed Nov. 24, 2009

"Yes I liked the cranberries and chili sauce -- but cannot seem to find any tasty "store bought meatballs" -- so I make my own -- so much better . The recipe is a variation of the grape jelly and chili sauce . That is good - with homemade meatballs , that is ."

sheribf User ID: 4617327 154687
Reviewed Nov. 24, 2009

"I've made this favorite recipe several timessince finding it last year. It was a huge hit at my November Bunco! It's a unique, spicy, twist on meatballs and full of fall flavor."

bookwormette User ID: 4365823 154685
Reviewed Nov. 23, 2009

"So good!!! I think I could try that with the slow cooker, but cook LOW for maybe at least 2 hours."

shelleyjCA2AZ User ID: 219453 171655
Reviewed Dec. 10, 2008

" you can use Little Smokies links too.....

jennahovey User ID: 3679233 173237
Reviewed Dec. 10, 2008

"I made these meatballs for the Christmas luncheon at work, and they were a huge hit! Many people asked for the recipe, and complimented me for days after. I have been looking for opportunities to make these because they were so delightful! Note: While simmering the sauce I added 1 cup of fresh cranberries. I allowed them to pop open and I crushed them down once they were soft. Yum!"

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