This crockpot recipe screams holiday appetizer! I made this for the first-time last year on Christmas. I had found other recipes with the same name but they used a ton of ingredients I would not imagine putting into my food. So, I decided to concoct my own cleaned up, grain-free version, that it pretty delicious!
On Christmas last year, I hosted my immediate family. Instead of doing a traditional sit-down dinner, I decided to serve various appetizers. This allowed me to enjoy the family visit, instead of being stuck in the kitchen preparing a meal. All the food was prepped ahead of time, so I could enjoy a leisurely holiday visit. The result was everyone had plenty to eat and enjoyed themselves, including myself- the hostess. In fact, my mom, my sisters and me decided hosting with various appetizers was the way to go for future Christmases, after the all so labor-intensive Thanksgiving dinner.
Some of the items I served at my appetizer Christmas aside from the Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs was bacon wrapped mini hotdogs, cheese platter with Italian cured meats, fresh olives, mini gherkin pickles (my fave!), veggies and dip, and a beautiful salad with cucumber, tomato, carrot, craisins and mandarin oranges with a drizzle of olive oil. For dessert, I set out a dessert plate of gluten free cookies (homemade by me of course – a few days before) and some fresh fruits (grapes and melon). As you can see, that was plenty of food for everyone, without the hassle of being in the kitchen cooking and doing dishes while my family was here.
Here’s a little tutorial on how to make them – or you can skip down to the recipe at the bottom.
For the Meatballs:
You need ~2.5 lbs of ground beef
1 small onion minced
1 tbsp dried parsley
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs with your hands. On two ungreased baking sheets, begin rolling meatballs using about 1 Tbsp of meat per meatball. I just eyeball this- trying to make them all the same size.
Place the meatballs one inch apart on the baking sheet (VERY IMPORTANT – do not overcrowd or they will not brown!).
Place one baking sheet at a time into the oven. TIME THE MEATBALLS FOR 12 MINUTES. When the timer goes off, remove the meatballs from the oven and turn them.
When you take the meatballs out of the oven to turn them, they will look a little yucky as the fats start to come out of them. Do not be alarmed, this is normal because you have no grains in them. Turning them will allow them to brown nicely.
Once you turn them, place them back in the oven and TIME THEM FOR ANOTHER 8 MINUTES. After the timer goes off for the 8 minutes, remove them from the oven and let them rest a few minutes before putting them into your crockpot. (Cook all your meatballs this way – one sheet at a time. I end up with 2 sheets of meatballs)
Once your meatballs are cooked and in the crockpot – it’s time to make the sauce.
For the SAUCE:
1 can organic jellied cranberry sauce
1-15 oz can organic tomato sauce
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 tsp white vinegar
½ cup craisins
In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients for the sauce (cut up the cranberry sauce into small pieces). Pour the sauce over the meatballs in the crockpot. Turn your crockpot on to low-heat and cook for 4 hours. After 4 hours, enjoy your cranberry meatballs!