Set your crock pot for these homemade healthy cranberry meatballs! These make a great fall dinner or the perfect Thanksgiving appetizer. This version is healthier and gluten free so everyone can enjoy them!
How to make cranberry meatballs:
Let's dive right into make these yummy cranberry meatballs! Start by mixing your meatball mixture. Use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix together the spices with the eggs and tapioca flour (the binders!). Next, roll them into balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes to brown on all sides.
Add the browned meatballs to the crock pot with the sauce ingredients and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4-5 hours.
Do meatballs have gluten?
Typically meatballs do contain gluten to act as a binder. The traditional binders are either bread crumbs or flour. This healthy cranberry meatballs recipe calls for tapioca flour to bind it all so it's gluten free and grain free!
Are breadcrumbs necessary for meatballs?
Although breadcrumbs add a nice texture and flavor to meatballs, it isn't the only binder you can use to keep your meatballs together. Eggs and tapioca flour make a great combination for this recipe.
Should I brown meatballs before putting them in the slow cooker?
Yes, you should brown your meatballs before fully cooking them in the crockpot. It creates a crust to seal the juices inside and it also helps them hold their shape when they're stacked in the crock pot.
How long do you heat meatballs in the slow cooker?
Cook these meatballs in the crock pot on high for 2 hours or on low for 4-5 hours. You can cook them earlier and leave them on the warm setting or even make them days in advance and heat them back up in the slow cooker.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, don't forget to follow me on Instagram and tag me with @what_mollymade so I can see it and feature you.
More healthy Thanksgiving apps:
- Candied pecans
- Sweet potato puffs
- Rosemary spiced nuts
- Baked brie with cranberries
Healthy Slow Cooker Cranberry Meatballs
For the meatballs:
- 1 ½ pound ground beef or chicken
- ⅔ cup tapioca flour
- 2 large egg
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the sauce:
- 2 cups fresh cranberry sauce homemade for paleo version
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- ¼ cup sugar free ketchup (I like primal palate)
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 5 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper- optional
- Fresh chopped parsley, orange zest or herbs to garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, tapioca flour, egg, garlic powder, onion powder, green onions, salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Using a spoon or your hands, roll the meatball mixture into 1 ¼-to-1 ½-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs. Mixture will be sticky. Add some extra tapioca flour to your hands to help from sticking.
- Place meatballs onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 4-5 minutes, or until all sides are browned.
- While the meatballs are browning, make the sauce. Add all the sauce ingredients to the crock pot and stir. Place meatballs into a slow cooker. Add prepared buffalo sauce and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.
Can sugar substitute be used for the coconut sugar? It’s really expensive & I’m just getting into this stuff. You use a LOT of unusual ingredients & it’s breaking the bank. Would be really nice if you could list subs. Thanks ?
Hey Theresa! You can definitely use try a sugar sub! My favorite ingredients can usually be found at any grocery store and because so many of my recipes include those healthy staples we get a ton of use out of them. If you buy almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, coconut sugar and maple syrup you're set for so many recipes!