Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce Meatballs

‘Tis the season for parties and where there are parties, there are meatball recipes. These Instant Pot Cranberry Meatballs are one of the quickest, easiest cocktail meatballs I’ve ever made. So good too!

cranberry meatballs in instant pot with text overlay for facebook


Why you will love this Cranberry Meatballs Recipe

Is it just me or does every holiday party seem to have at least one cocktail meatball offering? Whether it’s a work Christmas party, a family gathering or a big NYE bash, it seems that party meatballs are a must.

My Instant Pot Cranberry Meatballs takes frozen meatballs to hot, fully cooked and covered in a delicious sauce in just 8 minutes. Eight minutes! That is amazing!

The best part? There are only 4 ingredients, including the meatballs. As you can imagine, the main ingredients are cranberry sauce, sweet chili sauce and meatballs. It’s a great way to use up leftover cranberry sauce too.

But I also include one secret ingredient many may leave out – Dijon mustard. It just adds a tiny kick of flavor that I think makes these the best cocktail meatballs out there.

close up of plate of cranberry meatballs

Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs ingredients

You just can’t beat a perfect appetizer recipe with simple ingredients. And that’s just what these cranberry sauce meatballs are.

  • Frozen cocktail meatballs – These are easily found in the frozen section of your grocery store. The amount you need for this recipe is usually one large bag. I always use store-bought meatballs, but you could use your own homemade meatballs instead.
  • Jellied cranberry sauce – I know there are people that loathe a can of cranberry sauce, but I promise it works for this cranberry meatball recipe! And don’t worry, we use fresh cranberries too!
  • Sweet chili sauce – Just like those chili sauce and grape jelly meatballs, we need some chili sauce to add a little zip and flavor to these meatballs. It’s not a very spicy sauce, just flavorful.
  • Cranberries – As promised, we use real cranberries too! You can either use these fresh or frozen. Depending on the time of year that you make them, finding fresh cranberries might be a little difficult.
  • Dijon mustard – To add just a touch of tang, I like to use some dijon mustard for this perfect party appetizer.

Cranberry Meatball Recipe variations

I love these cranberry meatballs as is, but there are several ways that you can make them your own.

  • Crockpot meatballs – Don’t have an Instant Pot? No problem! You can easily make this cranberry meatballs recipe in the crockpot instead. Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or low heat for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Meat – If you aren’t into red meat, you could certainly swap these meatballs out for your favorite chicken or turkey meatballs instead.
  • Barbecue sauce – Instead of the chili sauce, you could certainly use your favorite bbq sauce instead. You still get that deliciously sweet, tangy flavor.
  • Orange juice – I love the combination of orange and cranberry, so add a splash of orange juice into the mix to take the flavor to the next level.
  • Stove top – This is an easy recipe to make on the stove as well. Combine the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the meatballs and cook until warmed through.
wooden spoon with cranberry meatballs

How to Make Cranberry Meatballs

  1. Combine ingredients. Place frozen cocktail meatballs, jellied cranberry sauce, cranberries, sweet chili sauce and Dijon mustard into the Instant Pot, stir to cover all of the meatballs as best you can. The jellied cranberry won’t mix well and that is ok.
  2. Cook. Lock lid in place and cook on manual high pressure for 8 minutes.
  3. Quick release. Use quick release method.
  4. Stir. Stir sauce and meatballs until sauces fully combine.
  5. Enjoy. Serve immediately or turn Instant Pot onto warm setting and serve out of the pot.
collage of how to make cranberry meatballs
overhead shot of skewers of meatballs

How to serve Cranberry Meatballs

Honestly, these meatballs don’t need much, they stand out on their own. Serve them with a plate of cheese and crackers, maybe some dips and finger sandwiches for a nice spread.

Storing Cranberry Sauce Meatballs

Storage: You can store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Freezing: These meatballs also freeze well. Just keep in an airtight container or freezer bag and they will keep for about three months.

Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce FAQs

What makes meatballs soggy?

Meatballs can be soggy if too much liquid and not enough binder was used when making homemade meatballs.

Why are my frozen meatballs tough?

This could be that the meatballs were overcooked, but it can also be the brand. Not all are created equal. Taste different brands until you find a flavor and consistency you enjoy.

Should I brown meatballs before adding to sauce?

Browning does add flavor, but it isn’t necessary. Especially for this recipe that is supposed to be easy with less steps (and dishes).

collage of cranberry meatballs for pinterest

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cranberry meatballs on a plate with text overlay for pinterest
overhead shot of instant pot with meatballs

Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce

4.46 from 59 votes
Cranberry Chili Meatballs are always a party appetizer favorite, especially around the holidays. Party meatballs don’t get easier than these Instant Pot meatballs made with cranberry sauce and sweet chili sauce. Yum!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Pressure Building: 5 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes
Servings: 12



  • Place frozen cocktail meatballs, jellied cranberry sauce, cranberries, sweet chili sauce and Dijon mustard into the Instant Pot, stir to cover all of the meatballs as best you can. The jellied cranberry won't mix well and that is ok.
  • Lock lid in place and cook on manual high pressure for 8 minutes.
  • Use quick release method.
  • Stir sauce and meatballs until sauces fully combine.
  • Serve immediately or turn Instant Pot onto “warm” function and serve out of the pot.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!


Calories: 293 kcal, Carbohydrates: 26 g, Protein: 12 g, Fat: 15 g, Saturated Fat: 5 g, Cholesterol: 50 mg, Sodium: 346 mg, Potassium: 209 mg, Sugar: 26 g, Vitamin A: 20 IU, Vitamin C: 1.2 mg, Calcium: 11 mg, Iron: 0.7 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 293
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cocktail meatballs, cranberry chili meatballs, instant pot meatballs
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.46 from 59 votes (44 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made these twice now with the leftover fresh cranberry sauce from thanksgiving (yes…I know it’s January) and they are so delicious. Great spin on a classic recipe! So happy to have a way use up the sauce.

  2. Your recipe calls for sweet chili sauce but the link for it takes you to Heinz chili sauce which is not sweet chili sauce. It’s just a chili based ketchup. Which one do I use?

    1. Hi Leslie! So sorry about that, sweet chili sauce, I’ll correct the link. They sometimes automatically pick up keywords by accident.

  3. 5 stars
    I’m trying this recipe for a Christmas Eve party and was wondering what I could add to make it a little spicy…or does the sweet chili sauce add a lot of heat?

  4. So glad to see this, I have been using a similar recipe (with lemon juice instead of dijon) with homemade turkey meatballs on the stovetop. I’m happy to see an instant pot version. If I am making my meatballs fresh with ground turkey, would I need a longer cooking time?

    1. Hi Martha! Sorry for the delay- I had a baby 2 days ago! I’ve done it with raw meatballs and it actually takes the same amount of time. Takes the same amount of time to thaw as it does for them to cook. The only thing that will make a significant difference is the SIZE of the meatballs. If you make then cocktail size (1-1.5 inches) this is the correct cook time, but any larger and I’d add 1-2 minutes.

  5. 5 stars
    Finally, someone has come with a brilliant way to use cranberry sauce in a recipe that people will actually enjoy. Meat balls are one of the best appetizers for holiday parties, and this one just screams holiday.

  6. 5 stars
    This looks really good. I love cranberries. I don’t have an instant pot but I have a crock pot that I could make these.

  7. Oh wow, didn’t think these could be made in IP. I would love to try making some vegetarian meatballs in my IP. Thanks for the idea.