Instant Pot Cranberry Meatballs

Use up that leftover cranberry sauce and make these Instant Pot Cranberry Meatballs as a festive appetizer or a cozy meal.

Cranberry has a flavor that surprisingly compliments these savory meatballs perfectly. However, if you’re wanting to use cranberry in a sweet recipe, try Cranberry Apple Crisp or Mini Cranberry Orange Cheesecakes.

A skewer inside a cranberry meatball

Post-Thanksgiving Appetizer

Tis the season for holiday parties! Whether it’s a work party, a family get together, or potluck, these tasty cranberry meatballs are going to be the star of the show! 

We made these meatballs after Thanksgiving when we had a bunch of leftover cranberry sauce in our fridge. I grabbed some chili sauce at the store and used a few ingredients we had on hand to make the meatballs from scratch.

Since we wanted them for dinner we made them larger, but they make perfect appetizers when formed into smaller portions.

The filling for the Instant Pot cranberry meatball recipe

Ingredient Tips

A few tips to keep in mind when it comes to the ingredients for this recipe…

  • Breadcrumbs: You can use Panko or regular breadcrumbs.
  • Milk: Any kind of milk will work.
  • Meat: We used ground beef, but you can use leaner meat! Chicken and turkey only need to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, so they don’t take as long to cook. I recommend taking 2 minutes off the cook time to prevent them from drying out.
  • Oil: Vegetable, canola, olive, or avocado are all fine to use.

Using premade frozen meatballs? You can use frozen cocktail meatballs and use the same cook time, it will just take longer for the instant pot to come to pressure.

From scratch meatballs, rolled and ready to go in the Instant Pot.

Making Cranberry Meatballs in the Instant Pot

MEATBALLS. To make the meatballs, combine the breadcrumbs in a bowl with milk and an egg. Let the breadcrumbs absorb the moisture. They will help hold the meatballs together and create a soft interior. Add the seasonings and the meat, mix with your hands until combined.

FORM. If you plan on making these for a meal, you can use a standard size cookie scoop to portion the meatballs out. This makes it relatively quick. If you plan on making these as appetizers, you will want to use 2 teaspoons per meatball.

SAUCE. While the meatballs are browning on SAUTE mode in the Instant Pot, whisk together the sauce.

For the sauce you’ll need four ingredients:

  1. Jellied cranberry sauce
  2. Chili sauce
  3. Brown sugar
  4. Water or orange juice

PRESSURE COOK. Pour the sauce over the browned meatballs and pressure cook on MANUAL for 12 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. Then remove the lid and stir.

You can serve the meatballs right away or you can place the lid back on and leave the Instant Pot on KEEP WARM for up to 3 hours. 

3 Ingredient tangy sauce for the Instant Pot cranberry meatballs.


Switch it up by adding any of these to the recipe:

  • Add in a ½ cup of orange marmalade to make these cranberry orange meatballs
  • Top with orange zest
  • Use our recipe for cranberry orange sauce
  • Add spice: You can use a hot chili sauce instead of a sweet one. You could add a dash of hot sauce or some red pepper flakes.

If you don’t have an instant pot, you can also try making them in a crockpot. Simply brown your meatballs on the stove before putting them in the crockpot. Then, pour the sauce over top and let it cook on high for 2-3 hours.

Cranberry sauce meatballs in the instant pot

Serving and Storing

If you’re serving the meatballs as an entree, serve them with mashed potatoes and roasted veggies! Or, if you’re serving them as  an appetizer, use toothpicks or tiny forks!

Keep the meatballs STORED in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheat either in the microwave or in the crockpot. You can also freeze these in an airtight bag or container for 3-4 months. Let them thaw and then reheat on the stove or put them frozen into the crockpot.

A pile of Instant Pot cranberry meatballs.

Our entire family loved these Instant Pot cranberry meatballs. They definitely going to become a holiday tradition! Easy, delicious, and perfect for feeding a crowd!



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Instant Pot cranberry meatballs.

Instant Pot Cranberry Meatballs Recipe

Use up that leftover cranberry sauce and make these Instant Pot Cranberry Meatballs as a festive appetizer or a cozy meal.
5 from 9 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Servings: 24
Calories: 94kcal
Author: Andrea
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For the meatballs:

  • 1/3 c. breadcrumbs - panko or regular
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp. minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 tbsp. oil - olive, canola, vegetable, avocado

For the sauce:

  • 7 oz. jellied cranberry sauce
  • 6 oz. Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. water or orange juice


  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, milk, and egg. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes or until the crumbs have softened. Add the onion, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper, mix in. Using your hands, gently mix in the ground beef until well combined.
  • For dinner size meatballs, use a standard size cookie scoop to form meatballs. For appetizer size meatballs, use two teaspoons.
  • Turn Instant Pot on SAUTE mode. Once hot, add the oil. Cook meatballs until browned on all sides, working in two batches if necessary.
  • In a medium bowl or a 2 cup glass measuring cup, whisk together the cranberry sauce, Heinz sauce, brown sugar, and water. Pour over the meatballs.
  • Place lid on and lock. Turn on MANUAL mode with high pressure selected for 12 minutes. Once cooked, allow for the pressure to release naturally, this usually takes 7-10 minutes. Remove the lid and stir. Serve immediate or KEEP WARM for up to 3 hours.


-This recipe can be easily doubled. The meatballs could be made smaller too.


Calories: 94kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 158mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 66IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg

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Hi I'm Andrea!

Hotelier turned Food Blogger to help make your life simple, one recipe at a time.

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  1. 5 stars
    We make these every year after Thanksgiving! We always have leftover cranberry sauce & my kids think these are the tastiest meatballs!