Slow Cooker Bourbon Cranberry Glazed Meatballs

Monday, December 30, 2019
Slow Cooker Bourbon Cranberry Spiced Glazed Meatballs are the perfect little appetizer anytime.

I love making these during a game day event or holiday because you can get these ready and they stay great all day long on warm for any time so you can enjoy the day!

This is an appetizer that's so easy to throw together in a slow cooker.

I must warn you to make a double batch as they are very addicting, taste better even the next day with leftovers and a big hit no matter where I bring them to any party!

The cranberries bring the perfect compliment of flavors in this delicious sauce smothering the meatballs in a tangy glaze.

These meatballs are baked first then the barbecue sweet flavored sauce adds just a little spicy kick to them.

Keep them on warm in the slow cooker for an all-day appetizer perfect for the office, party planning appetizers to just set it and forget it!

These can be made ahead of time for the hurried cooks!

If you would like to use sausages instead or mini hotdogs that's another great addition!

Scroll down and print off this recipe!

these are mini meatballs cooked in a slow cooker with a bourbon barbecue sauce

these are mini meatballs with a glaze of boubon barbecue sauce on top made in a slow cooker. The appetizers are in a red crock style bowl with a sprig of rosemary on a tray. The white slow cooker in in the background.

Fun Appetizers

I am a big appetizer fan and could make a meal just off of them.

Honestly, I would rather have a slider burger or stuffed mushroom than a whole meal.

There are times I order just appetizers out instead of my dinner.

They're such a fun way to feed a large crowd with assortments of different foods especially on special events or even an office party.

These mini meatballs are such a delicious addition to any party foods for sure!

these are mini meatballs appetizers on a plastic tray with toothpicks in them for a party platter. These are soaked in a cranberry bourbon barbecue sauce done in a slow cooker

Suggestions and Tips:

  • Use slow cooker liners for easy cleanup
  • Bake meatballs on parchment paper or disposable pans or use store-bought meatballs Italian flavored
  • Substitute apple or orange juice for bourbon in the sauce
  • Place toothpick off to the side of the slow cooker for easy pick up when serving
  • Make a double batch, these go quickly
  • Use sausages, mini hotdogs for assortments of meat
  • You can use ground turkey, ground venison or even ground lamb instead of ground beef for your meatballs

these are air fried mini meatballs

Cooking Methods for Meatballs

I always bake my meatballs on a baking sheet, however, you can fry, air fry or bake them.

Whatever you find time to do is fine, I find it easier to bake them on parchment paper.

I place them in a dish until I am ready to dump them in the slow cooker!

I have air-fried the meatballs also and they come out just fine as shown above.

Make them as little or large as you like, but small enough to be pick up with toothpicks is my rule of thumb.

This recipe makes around 30, 1- inch small meatballs or 20 medium-sized meatballs.

There is really nothing to this recipe and if you really want to take a shortcut, buy the mini meatballs that are in the frozen sections of your supermarket and use them instead.

Any slow cooker, instant pot or crockpot can be used for the sauce, just make sure you have a warm setting once they are done cooking.

The cooking is just for the meatballs to absorb this fabulous bourbon barbecue cranberry sauce.

these are a large frying pan of meatballs cooking

Ingredients You Will Need To Make Slow Cooker Cranberry Spiced Glazed Meatballs

for exact measurements scroll down to the recipe card

  • lean ground beef, turkey, chicken or venison
  • soft bread crust removed
  • Italian seasoning
  • Parmesan grated cheese
  • eggs
  • granulated garlic
  • dried parsley flakes
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • cranberry sauce jelly
  • barbecue sauce
  • cayenne pepper
  • bourbon or (apple juice if for kids)
  • brown sugar
  • granulated garlic
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg

this is a meatballs mixture of breadcrumbs and eggs to make mini meatballs for a bourbon cranberry glazed meatball recipe in a slow cooker

Instant Pot Lovers

These can be done in your instant pot on the slow cooking method with no problem.

I have the Crockpot express and use that in the slow cooker mode.

Once they are completed just place on warm and they will stay delicious all day long.

They also can be sauteed in your instant pot first until browned then just dump in all the sauce ingredients and set to low for an hour and a half.

these are glazed bourbon mini meatballs in a slow cooker cooking

More Slow Cooker Recipes

Slow Cooker Asian Chicken and Broccoli

Slow Cooker Best Ever Boston Butt

Slow Cooker Cranberry Glazed Meatballs

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pin for later photo of mini meatballs in a bourbon barbecue glaze sauce

Easy Party Foods

If you love easy party foods that everyone loves, you can't go wrong with these slow cooker bourbon cranberry meatballs, they are the biggest hit anywhere I take them.

Remember you can substitute apple juice or orange juice if there are kids that will be eating them, or make two batches one for the kids and one for adults.

Either way, they are both easy and delicious finger foods and everyone will ask you for this recipe!

It's the perfect New Year's Eve party recipe!

Slow Cooker Cranberry Spiced Glazed Meatballs

Slow Cooker Cranberry Spiced Glazed Meatballs

Yield: 30
prep time: 10 Mcook time: 44 Mtotal time: 54 M
This appetizer is famous all over the internet. I love the sweetness with cranberry sauce and the bourbon rich barbecue sauce flavors. This can be done with any ground meats like ground beef, turkey or venison or even lamb.


  • 4 pounds of lean ground beef, turkey, chicken or venison
  • 4 slices soft bread crust removed
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • cayenne pepper to taste


How to cook Slow Cooker Cranberry Spiced Glazed Meatballs

  1. Place the bread into a food processor and pulse until fine.
  2. Mix everything together in a bowl with the crumbs.
  3. Form into 1 inch balls and bake on a foil-lined greased pan in a 350-degree hot oven, until they are cooked for around 35 minutes or until crispy on the outside. Alternative: fry or air fry them.
  4. In the meantime make the Cranberry Bourbon Sauce.
  5. 2 cans cranberry sauce jelly
  6. 3 cups barbecue sauce
  7. dash of cayenne pepper
  8. 1/2 cup bourbon or  (substitute  apple or orange juice for non-alcohol or if for kids)
  9. 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  10. 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  11. pinch of cinnamon
  12. pinch of nutmeg
  13. Add all ingredients into the slow cooker or lightly spray the inside with cooking oil.
  14. Note: I use a liner so they don't stick. 
  15. Add the baked meatballs to the slow cooker, place the slow cooker on high for around 1 1/2 hours. 
  16. They can be placed on warm all day and be great and ready for any party all day long!
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this is a pin for later mini slow cooker meatballs recipe

Try Some of My Other Favorite Appetizer Recipes

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