CHICAGO — Dean Richards shares a holiday appetizer recipe for Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Meatballs.

See past recipes from Dean on his cooking page.

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Ingredients:

Meatballs

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 22 saltine crackers, crushed
  • 1/3 cup dry minced onion
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 14 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup quality hoisin sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) 
  • Franks Buffalo Hot WINGS Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Place a baking rack on top of a baking sheet. Set aside. If you don’t have a baking rack, line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients, mix until well combined. Roll meat mixture into desired meatball size**. Place meatballs onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  • Meanwhile, whisk all of the Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Sauce ingredients together in a bowl starting with just 1 tablespoon hot wings sauce if you’re not sure how spicy you want them. You can add more hot sauce to taste at the end of cooking.
  • Line the bottom of your slow cooker with meatballs, then a layer of Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Sauce, then the remaining meatballs followed by the remaining. Sauce. Gently stir meatballs an hour after cooking.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 2-4 hours (depending on size of meatballs) or until cooked through. Taste and stir in additional hot wings sauce, if desired.  
  • Keep warm until serving.

STOVE TOP Cranberry Meatballs 

Brown the meatballs in the oven first per recipe instructions so they don’t fall apart when cooked.

Add sauce and browned/baked meatballs to a large pot and gently simmer over medium low heat for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Cranberry Meatballs with store bought frozen meatballs

Part of the deliciousness of this Cranberry Meatball Recipe are the homemade meatballs, but you are welcome to use your favorite store-bought meatballs as well. 

To make Cranberry Meatballs with store-bought meatballs, you will need one 32 oz. frozen fully cooked home style meatballs.

  • SLOW COOKER: Add sauce and meatballs to a 6-qt. slow cooker and cook on low 2-3 hours for THAWED meatballs and 6-8 hours for FROZEN meatballs.
  • STOVE TOP: Add sauce and meatballs to a large pot and gently simmer over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes for THAWED meatballs and 30-35 minutes for FROZEN meatballs, stirring occasionally.

Prep Ahead Cranberry Meatballs

  • Assemble and bake the meatballs for 5 minutes.
  • Let meatballs cool completely.
  • Gently layer meatballs in slow cooker in between layer of sauce per recipe directions.
  • Remove crockpot ceramic insert with meatballs/sauce and refrigerate, covered.
  • Add an additional 30 minutes to cooking time when ready to make OR cook until meatballs are completely cooked through and sauce is hot.
  • Alternatively, you can bake the meatballs for approximately 20 minutes or until cooked through, then just reheat in the sauce.

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