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slow cooker gluten free meatballs with cranberry sauce on a serving dish topped with extra cranberries

Slow Cooker Gluten Free Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce

  • Author: Lindsay Cotter
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 5 minutes
  • Yield: 20 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


The perfect combination of sweet and spicy, these Slow Cooker Gluten Free Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce are a festive and kid-friendly recipe perfect for holiday parties, game days, and more!


Units Scale
  • 1 pound ground meat or sausage, pork, chicken, turkey, or chorizo
  • 1/3 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan (or nutritional yeast, see notes for substitutes)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 small garlic cloves or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion salt (or 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1/4 teaspoon onion powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon honey (optional), adjust to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons diced jalapeno

Mix together and form into balls/patties (broil 5 minutes)

For the Sauce: 

  • 1 cup fresh or previously frozen cranberries + extra for pot/slow cooker

  • 1 1/4 cup BBQ sauce (gluten free) *

  • 1 Tablespoon + diced chipotle in adobo sauce. *(Don’t have chipotle? See notes for substitutes)

  • 1 Tablespoon honey

  • Salt to taste

  • Pepper to taste

In the Slow Cooker:

  • 1 handful of fresh cranberries

  • Chipotle cranberry sauce (above)

  • Meatballs (above)


  1. Preheat the broiler, and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

  2. Place the ground meat, almond flour, parmesan, egg, garlic, spices, oregano, and jalapeño in a bowl. Mix the ingredients until they are well-combined. Add the optional honey, and mix again.

  3. Shape the meat into 1 inch meatballs, and place them on the prepared baking sheet.

  4. Broil the meatballs for 5-6 minutes or until they are browned but not cooked all the way through. Set them aside. 

  5. To make the cranberry sauce combine the fresh cranberries, BBQ sauce, chipotle, honey, and spices in a food processor or high speed blender.  Pulse the ingredients until they are smooth and a sauce is formed. Add salt and pepper to taste, and adjust as needed.  

  6. Place the prepared meatballs in the slow cooker, and pour the cranberry sauce evenly on top of the meatballs. 

  7. Place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on LOW for 2-3 hours or HIGH for 60-90 minutes, making sure to stir twice. Check for doneness after 45 minutes. The cranberry sauce will thicken during the cooking process. 


Replace the BBQ with honey sweetened ketchup if desired. Just note that the taste will not be as smokey.

Replace the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce with ¼-½ teaspoon smoked paprika + 2 Tablespoons of diced tomato.

Air Fryer Option: Air fry the meatballs (minus the sauce) at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. Then, add them to the prepared cranberry sauce in a large sauce pot on medium-low heat, and toss to coat.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 meatball
  • Calories: 93
  • Sugar: 3.8 g
  • Sodium: 189.6 mg
  • Fat: 2.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.5 g
  • Fiber: 1.1 g
  • Protein: 6.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 29.3 mg

Keywords: gluten free, slow cooker, meatballs, cranberry, appetizer