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

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)

co*cktail Meatballs (Cranberry Meatballs) Recipe - The Cookie Rookie® (4)

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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


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)


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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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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


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


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 you soak breadcrumbs in milk for meatballs? ›

The Key to Tender Meatballs

Here, we're soaking fresh or dried breadcrumbs in a little milk until the bread becomes soggy, then mixing that right into the meat. This binder (aka panade) helps add moisture to the meatballs and also prevents the meat proteins from shrinking and becoming tough.

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.

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.

What not to do when making meatballs? ›

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Meatballs
  1. Not seasoning the meat.
  2. Not adding any moisture to the meat.
  3. Over-mixing the meat.
  4. Not shaping the meatballs correctly.
  5. Not forming evenly-sized meatballs.
May 1, 2019

What is the secret to making tender meatballs? ›

Egg and breadcrumbs are common mix-ins to add moisture and tenderness. Another binder option that people swear by is a panade, which is fresh or dry breadcrumbs that have been soaked in milk. “The soaked breadcrumbs help keep the proteins in the meat from shrinking,” as food writer Tara Holland explained in the Kitchn.

Is milk or egg better for meatballs? ›

Egg is used as a binding agent, and some type of bread crumb or cracker is added to give meatballs a bit more depth. 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.

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 fake meatballs made of? ›

What are vegan meatballs made of? This recipe is made with TVP, flour, onions, garlic, vegan beefless broth (or another kind of vegetable broth), and for flavor I add soy sauce (for salt and umami), nutritional yeast, basil, fennel, and black pepper.

What are Maggianos meatballs made of? ›

WHAT MEAT IS USED IN YOUR MEATBALLS AND MEAT SAUCE? Our meatballs and meat sauce are made with 100% ground beef.

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