These are the easiest and most delicious holiday (or anytime) appetizer you will ever make! I used to love the grape jelly/chili sauce crock pot meatballs my mom would make for holiday gatherings when I was little. These have all of the same flavors without all of the gluten/sugar/additives. And the best part- you literally dump everything into the crock pot and peace out while it cooks!

There are a couple different ways you can make these – it all depends on how much time you have and what your dietary restrictions are. For these, I took the easy way out and got some store-bought gluten free meatballs (found at Wegmans in the freezer aisle). These had soy in them which is not my preference, but again…too many things on my plate to worry about making homemade meatballs on this particular day. HOWEVER – you can absolutely make some paleo friendly meatballs to use with this sauce – I include directions for both below!

You can use any BBQ sauce you want, but I prefer Tessemae’s or The New Primal! – Both are Whole30 compliant and only sweetened with dates. And the flavors are amazing! You can find Tessemaes at Whole Foods, and The New Primal at Whole Foods or Thrive Market. Get 25% off your first order using this link!

Cranberry BBQ Meatballs

A healthier take on the classic jelly/chili sauce appetizer meatballs you used to love as a kid!
5 from 1 vote
Leave a Review »


  • 2 bags frozen gluten free meatballs (Each bag of the brand I got had ~ 44 small meatballs)
  • 2 jars Tessemae's Matty's BBQ Sauce (or any BBQ sauce of choice)
  • 1 12 oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup honey or coconut sugar (less or more to taste - depends on how you like your cranberry sauce!)

If making homemade paleo meatballs instead of store-bought:


For frozen meatball version:

  • Start with the cranberry sauce. Heat cranberries and 1/4 cup of water over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until cranberries begin to pop and soften. Add either honey or coconut sugar (I used honey and it came out great!). Use a wooden spoon to crush the cranberries against the side of the pan. Reduce heat to low and let it sit for a few minutes to thicken.
  • Add meatballs to crock pot. Pour in both bottles of BBQ sauce. Add cranberry sauce and stir everything to combine. Set the crock pot on low and cook for 8-10 hours. Turn to the "warm" setting.

For homemade meatballs:

  • Preheat oven to 375. Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well using your hands. Roll meatballs into small (1 inch-ish) meatballs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 15 minutes or until mostly cooked through. Add meatballs to crock pot along with BBQ sauce and cranberry sauce as noted above. Cook on low for 5-6 hours on low and then keep on "warm" for the remaining time.


**If making your own meatballs, you can do this ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze them before using to make life easier on the day of your event!


Calories: 331kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 64mg, Sodium: 619mg, Potassium: 311mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 22IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 31mg, Iron: 2mg