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Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy BBQ Cranberry Turkey Meatballs

Incredible sweet & spicy BBQ cranberry turkey meatballs made right in your slow cooker! This delicious slow cooker meatball recipe has a seasonal twist with homemade, naturally sweetened cranberry sauce to make the perfect party appetizer for the holiday season.

Course Appetizer, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Side Dish
Keyword bbq cranberry meatballs, bbq meatballs, slow cooker bbq meatballs, slow cooker meatballs
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Servings 10 servings (2 meatballs each)
Calories 202 kcal
Author Monique of AmbitiousKitchen.com


  • For the bbq cranberry sauce:
  • 1 batch homemade cranberry sauce
  • 1 ½ cups spicy bbq sauce (or bbq sauce of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • teaspoon cayenne (for a hint of spice, if desired)
  • For the meatballs:
  • 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey (or ground chicken)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground sage
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. In the bowl of a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker, add the homemade cranberry sauce, bbq sauce, apple cider vinegar, worcestershire sauce, water and cayenne (if using). Stir together until well combined.

  2. Next make the turkey meatballs: in a large bowl, add the ground turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, sage, dried thyme, cumin, allspice and salt and pepper. Use clean hands to mix and form into 20 meatballs.

  3. Place a large deep skillet over medium high heat and add in olive oil. Add meatballs and brown on all sides, using tongs or a fork to gently turn them every few minutes for about 4-5 minutes total. You may need to do this in batches depending on how many meatballs you can fit in your skillet without overcrowding them. When meatballs are done browning, transfer to the bowl of the slow cooker with the cranberry sauce
  4. Use a small spoon to gently spoon some of the bbq cranberry sauce over meatballs. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 6-7 hours. Once ready to serve, turn slow cooker to warm, and allow guests to use toothpicks to serve themselves, or simply place meatballs on a plate and set out. Makes 20 meatballs.

Recipe Notes

This recipe calls for a batch of my homemade cranberry sauce, which only takes 15 minutes, but can also easily be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you are ready to tackle these meatballs.

To make meatballs gluten free: make sure you are using a gluten free BBQ sauce. You'll also need to use gluten free breadcrumbs or chickpea breadcrumbs.

Make them ahead of time: feel free to make the cranberry sauce ahead of time, and to either shape or shape & brown the meatballs before adding them to your slow cooker the day you want to serve them!

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy BBQ Cranberry Turkey Meatballs
Amount Per Serving (2 meatballs)
Calories 202 Calories from Fat 46
% Daily Value*
Fat 5.1g8%
Saturated Fat 1.3g8%
Carbohydrates 28.9g10%
Fiber 2.4g10%
Sugar 20g22%
Protein 10.3g21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.