These Cranberry BBQ Meatballs are a hit every time I serve them. The mini meatballs are baked in the oven then, smothered in Cranberry BBQ Sauce and baked again until tender and delicious. You may want to make an extra batch of this Meatball Recipe for today’s party or tomorrow’s dinner ideas.
I have been one of my “go to” recipes years. My kids LOVED them. Put a meatball on it—they would eat it! The kids are all grown up now but, they still love any recipe with meatballs in it.
This Cranberry BBQ Meatballs Recipe is no exception, they disappear like a magic act when everyone gets together.
The meatballs make a great Super Bowl Recipe, Party Appetizer or easy dinner idea. I make sure we have plenty so there are leftovers for other dishes.
How to Make Cranberry BBQ Meatballs-
Here’s how to make the homemade mini meatballs.
TIP:Be sure to make extra meatballs for other dishes during the week or freeze the extras
(directions at end of post).
When I make homemade meatballs, I like to go ahead and make extra batches. I use them in other dishes during the week and I freeze a batch or two for busy weekdays. The extra meatballs come in handy when making other family favorite like Mexican Meatball Soup (also called Albondigas Soup) and Meatball Subs which are great anytime.
I am always asked if you can use frozen meatballs in this recipe…
Yes! You can use frozen meatballs in the Cranberry BBQ Meatball Recipe! And yes! they are very good in this recipe.
Homemade Cranberry BBQ Meatballs with Ground Beef and Sausage:
For this Cranberry BBQ Meatballs recipe, I use one pound of ground beef and one pound of sweet Italian sausage. The “sweet Italian sausage” is not really sweet, it is just called “sweet” because it is not as spicy as the “spicy” Italian sausage. I sometimes use spicy Italian sausage or Mexican chorizo when I make Mexican Meatball Soup or a meatball recipe that will have a spicy sauce like Meatball Subs.
- Use quick cooking oats or seasoned bread crumbs.
- Mince or finely dice the onion for better texture to the meatball, the meatballs will hold together better without large chunks of chopped onion.
- Add one egg to help hold the meatballs together..
- Use whole milk or evaporated milk.
- Mix your seasonings together in a small bowl or cup and sprinkle evenly over the meatballs.
- REMEMBER: Do not taste the raw meatballs until they are cooked to test for seasoning. If you are making a new recipe, add 2/3 of the seasonings then, cook a small, quarter sized patty of meatball mixture in a frying pan so you can test the seasonings. You can add the full amount of seasonings after tasting it but, you can’t remove it if the seasoning is too strong.
- Shape the meatball mixture into small 1 1/2 inch or golfball sized meatballs.
- Place meatballs on a lightly greased sheet pan or cover the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean up.
- Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned and cooked through for this recipe.
Meatball Appetizer Sauce – Cranberry BBQ Meatballs Sauce:
- Combine the cranberry sauce, chili sauce and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan.
- Cook over medium heat until the sauce begins to simmer.
- TIP-Do not turn the heat to high, the sugar in the sauce will burn easily.
- When the sauce simmers, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid.
- Simmer the Cranberry BBQ Sauce on low for 10 minutes, stir often.
Baking Meatballs in the Oven-
- After mixing the ground beef and sausage mixture for the meatballs, form them into small balls that are slightly smaller than a golfball.
- Place meatballs on a sheet pan lined with parchment or tin foil or spray the baking sheet with non-stick spray.
- Bake the meatballs at 350 degrees for 15-20 or until browned and cooked through.
- Remove from oven and transfer meatballs to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with tin foil without falling apart.
- Pour Cranberry BBQ Sauce over the meatballs and toss until they are completely covered with sauce.
- Return Cranberry BBQ Meatballs to the oven and bake at 350 degrees for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
How to Freeze Homemade Meatballs-
Ok, you have gone ahead and made extra meatballs… now what?
Freezing homemade meatballs is actually a little tricky.
If you take the newly formed balls and toss them in a zip bag to freeze, you will wind up with a giant brick of stuck together and smooshed ground beef. Keeping the shape of the meatballs just takes a little extra thought before hand.
- Mix the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Shape the mixture into the desired size of meatballs ( 1 inch for meatball soup, 1 1/2 inch for meatball appetizers, 2 inches for meatball subs or pasta dishes).
- Set the meatball on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or tin foil and spray with non-stick spray. Be sure to use a sheet pan that will fit in your freezer.
- If your sheet pan does not fit, use a 9 x 13 pans, pie plates or even a piece of cardboard that has been wrapped in foil or plastic wrap.
- Set the meatballs on the sheet pan so that they are close together but, they don’t actually touch each other.
- Cover meatballs with plastic wrap and set in the freezer until they are frozen hard.
- Put the frozen meatballs into FREEZER quality zip top bags or freezer containers of your choice.
- Mark the containers With the date you put the meatballs in the freezer along with the name of the recipe (ie: sausage and ground beef meatballs).
- If your freezer is small (like mine) and only one or two pans of meatballs fits at one time, freeze the meatballs in batches.
- KEEP MEATBALL MIXTURE REFRIGERATED while freezing batches of meatballs.
I hope you love this recipe!
Please leave a comment on this post and let me know what your family and friends think of it, I’d love to hear from you.
You can also contact me with any questions or comments here on the blog or on Everyday Southwest’s Facebook Page.
I hope to hear from you soon!
Other recipes you might like-
Cranberry BBQ Meatballs
- 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 10 ounce can low sodium black beans
- 1 10 ounce can red enchilada sauce
- 1 14 ounce can green chiles
- 1 small onion- chopped
- 3 garlic cloves- minced
- 1 12 ounce bag of frozen sweet corn
- 32 ounces low sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 lime
- For tortilla strips:
- 4 corn tortillas
- 1/2 lime - zested and juiced
- 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Salt optional
- Garnishes: Lime Avocado, cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, cilantro
- Spray the bottom of the slow cooker, place the chicken breasts in the bottom.
- Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir it until the spices are more evenly distributed.
- Set your slow cooker to cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
- About 30 minutes before serving, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Return chicken to the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker to warm and allow the meat to rest in the soup for 30 minutes. Squeeze half of the lime into the soup and stir before serving.
- Serve with tortilla strips piled on top with your choice of additional garnishes.
- Directions for the Cilantro Lime Tortilla Strips:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Use a pizza cutter to slice the corn tortillas into little strips.
- Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the tortilla strips out evenly.
- Spray with cooking spray again. Squeeze the juice from half a lime over the strips and sprinkle the lime zest and cilantro over the strips. If desired, add a sprinkle of salt.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes or just until golden brown.
This recipe is very forgiving to many changes. Feel free to change the type of beans, or adjust the spices to your liking.
To make this soup extra spicy, add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper or chipotle in adobo.