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Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs

This post was sponsored by Franks Kraut and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs - Homemade meatballs in a saucy sweet and spicy cranberry sauce. Serve these cocktail meatballs for the holidays. #meatballs #christmasfood

 Saucy Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs made with ground sirloin beef and seasoned with traditional spices.  Great for cocktail parties, appetizers, casual get-togethers, potlucks, office parties and as the main dish for any lunch or dinner.  Serve with steamed vegetables, rice or pasta.  These meatballs are full of flavor and come with a sweet and spicy sauce that will truly shine.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs - Homemade meatballs in a saucy sweet and spicy cranberry sauce. Serve these cocktail meatballs for the holidays. #meatballs #dinner

 These hearty meatballs are a crowd-pleaser and are easy to prepare.  Meatballs are classic comfort food and it’s easy to see why I’d make a batch of these for our holiday party.  The base of this recipe starts with a traditional blend of spices and ground beef and achieves enhanced flavor with parmesan cheese, soy sauce, and minced vegetables like onions, garlic, and Frank’s Kraut.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs - Homemade meatballs in a saucy sweet and spicy cranberry sauce. Serve these cocktail meatballs for the holidays. #meatballs #slowcooker

We are halfway through the holiday season and if you’re like me, these next three weeks will be packed with cooking, baking and holiday parties.  With gift shopping done, it seems all I have left to do it prep for a few parties. Since it seems almost like a tradition full of different parties to attend year each, I wanted to get ahead start and share these homemade meatballs that I’ll be serving as an appetizer.

I always have friends and family asking me for non-traditional dishes to make for the holidays and one that sticks out in my mind are these cocktail meatballs.  Since it is winter, I wanted to use seasonal ingredients like cranberries that everyone loves during the holidays.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs - Homemade meatballs in a saucy sweet and spicy cranberry sauce. Serve these cocktail meatballs for the holidays. #meatballs

A secret ingredient I like to use to add flavor to the beef is fermented cabbage.  Frank’s Kraut makes the best already prepared, store-bought brand.  Celebrate flavor, celebrate with Frank’s this season.  Having grown up in the Midwest, I’ve tried plenty of sauerkraut.  At one point, my grandmother used to jar her own.

Nowadays, I always use Frank’s Kraut because it has a fresh and delicious flavor I love.  Frank’s is a family owned, 4th generation company that is centered around celebration and togetherness.  It’s the #1 sauerkraut in the Midwest and truly has its roots cemented in the Midwestern food culture.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs - Homemade meatballs in a saucy sweet and spicy cranberry sauce. Serve these cocktail meatballs for the holidays. #appetizer

It doesn’t get much better than homemade meatballs covered in a saucy cranberry sauce.  The addition tomato puree, cranberry sauce and a blend of spicy ingredients give this holiday appetizer or family dinner recipe the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.

These easy to make crock pot meatballs are packed with flavor that everyone will love!

For more Frank’s Kraut recipe inspiration, follow along on pinterest, instagram, twitter, and facebook.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs

Homemade meatballs in a saucy sweet and spicy cranberry sauce. Serve these meatballs as a main dish with rice, steamed vegetables, or pasta.  Share this slow cooker recipe as an appetizer for a party.
5 from 7 votes
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Course: Appetizer
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 46 meatballs


For the Meatballs

  • 2.5 pounds sirloin or ground beef
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Frank's Kraut, liquid drained, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

For the Sauce

  • 2 (14) ounce cans whole cranberry sauce or jelly
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon light or dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 tablespoon cold water


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
    To make the meatballs start by mixing the dry ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside.
    Drain the liquid from Frank's Kraut then place 1 cup in a food processor and blend until it's minced. Repeat with garlic and onion; set aside.
    In a large bowl, combine ground beef with dry ingredients. Add in sauerkraut, onion and garlic. Add in 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Mix everything well.
    Heat a large skillet set over low heat ( about a 2-3 heat level ). Add in 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut or canola oil. Use a cookie scoop to make the meatballs. I used a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop for each ball. Carefully brown meatballs in batches, turning once.
    Place meatballs on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
    In a slow cooker, combine sauce ingredients. Make a slurry with the cornstarch and cold water. Add it to the slow cooker. Heat on low and whisk ingredients together.
    Once meatballs are done cooking, carefully add them to the slow cooker and toss together. Cook until meatballs are saucy, about 20 minutes on low. 


*To make this recipe easier, you may use 1/2 jar store bought chili sauce in place of the homemade sauce.  Use two cans cranberry sauce with the chili sauce.


  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Dominique | Perchance to Cook
    12/14/2017 at 12:34 pm

    This is SUCH a good use of cranberries this time of year. So creative and so yummmmy! This would be perfect for a holiday party! Nom nom nom

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    12/14/2017 at 6:18 pm

    5 stars
    Oh. My. Yum! These look delicious and perfect for party food!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    12/15/2017 at 10:45 am

    5 stars
    I never thought of adding sauerkraut to the meatballs. This is so unique and unusual and I am sure it’s totally delicious. Love this idea. And the cranberries are just perfect for this dish!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    12/16/2017 at 8:33 am

    5 stars
    Your pictures are gorgeous, love the details of your meatballs! You got me craving this now. I bet cranberry lends the meatballs a lovely acidic note.

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    12/16/2017 at 9:38 am

    5 stars
    I absolutely love cranberries. They remind me of Lingonberries. I never thought to add them to meatballs, I bet this is delicious!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    prasanna hede
    12/17/2017 at 8:59 am

    How gorgeous are the pics and saw your pin all over interest! wonderful recipe.

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
    12/17/2017 at 10:50 am

    5 stars
    Beautiful photos and what a tasty looking dish!! I bet that it doesn’t last long once you put it out. But I have to admit, I haven’t heard of meatballs with sauerkraut. Very interesting!!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Saima Zaidi
    12/17/2017 at 1:07 pm

    5 stars
    Absolutely beautiful pictures of the meatballs! And very unusual ingredients too – cranberries and sauerkrat …. hmm. The sweet and sour flaovur will be tops I’m guessing. Will have to try it for sure!!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Citra Kale
    12/17/2017 at 1:30 pm

    wonderful pictures! And the meatball seems absolutely fingerlicking. Do you have any suggestion for replace the fermented cabbage if İ couldn’t find any?

    • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
      Jessica Knott
      12/17/2017 at 6:37 pm

      Hi Citra, the fermented cabbage comes both canned and fresh in the refrigerated section. If you can not find it, just leave it out but it adds wonderful flavor and blends well with the seasoning of the meatballs. Hope that helps.

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    12/17/2017 at 7:59 pm

    These sound so delicious! And perfect for the holidays. Love that they can be made in the slow cooker!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    12/17/2017 at 10:44 pm

    5 stars
    These look so good! I could probably eat a whole bowl for dinner instead of serving them as an appetizer! I love the addition of cranberries, tart and sweet flavor!

  • Avatar for Swankyrecipes
    Amanda @ Cookie Named Desire
    12/18/2017 at 9:50 pm

    Oh, these would be the perfect appetizer! I love Frank’s Kraut and know it must make the recipe amazing. I bet it would also be so tasty using ground turkey too!

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