Homemade Cranberry Meatballs
This cranberry meatballs recipe is super simple to make. Homemade meatballs are made from scratch to achieve the best possible flavor and baked in the oven. Quick and easy recipe! Completely homemade, and bursting with savory-sweet flavor! Not only do they taste delicious but these meatballs also look spectacular - I mean look at that colour! All thanks to that vibrant and delicious cranberry sauce. I like to use my homemade cranberry sauce in this recipe because it’s just so good and it just so happens to make the amount you need for these meatballs! The sweet and spicy sauce will definitely awaken those tastebuds ! It’s got everything. Some sweetness from the cranberries and brown sugar, a little tang and some heat. They are the perfect appetizer and always a crowd pleaser.
Homemade Cranberry meatballs Ingredients:
Alright let’s talk about the ingredients you will need to make this easy baked meatball recipe. (Full amounts included in the recipe below!)
- Breadcrumbs: I like to use regular bread crumbs seasoned or unseasoned or panko.
- Ground Meat: I like to use ground Turkey but feel free to make these with ground beef or pork or a combination of both
- Fresh garlic: Minced, pressed or grated.
- Egg: Which will help to bind all of our meatball ingredients together.
- Parmesan: As always, I highly recommend using freshly-grated Parmesan (instead of the pre-grated stuff) for maximum flavor and freshness.
- Fresh herbs: I always love the taste and extra color that fresh herbs add to a batch of meatballs. So I used parsley here. It’s optional but adds nice flavour - feel free to use thyme or any of your favourite herbs in its place if you wish
- Shallot: I like to use shallots in these but feel free to use a small yellow onion or half of one. Either mince the shallot fine or grate it. The key is for the pieces to be super small - no one likes to bite into meatballs with thick slices of onion in them no matter how much you love onions. You could use a box grater (or the grating attachment on a food processor) to grate the shallot into smaller pieces before adding it to the mix.
- Worcestershire sauce: Adds such great flavor!
- Dry seasonings: I usually go simple with just salt and pepper for these meatballs but feel free to add a little oregano and crushed chili flakes for extra flavour and heat.
- Cranberry sauce: You can feel free to use store bought if you’d like, but the best option out there will always be my homemade recipe found right here on the blog which also makes just enough for this recipe and is also so easy to make.
- Ketchup: A little sweet, a little tang, some acidity, trust me just a dollop will do. You could also use your favourite bbq sauce in its place
- Sugar: We’re using brown sugar today to give us a bit of a complex syrupy feel.
- Chili Sauce: this adds some more heat and flavour to the sauce. I used sambal oelek but you could also use Sriracha. I would start with one tablespoon first to test for how much heat you would like in your sauce then add more according to taste. If you don’t have chili sauce feel free use use chili flakes instead to taste.
- Lemon juice: fresh squeezed is always best. Balances out the sweetness.
How to make this Cranberry Meatball recipe:
- Start by mixing the meatball ingredients together then use a tablespoon to scoop the meat. Roll the meat into balls then place on prepared Sheetpan and and bake.
- Make the cranberry sauce while the meatballs bake. All you have to do is put the ingredients into a skillet or medium pot, stir and simmer for a few minutes until reduced.
- When the meatballs are cooked (about 20-25 min) then put them into skillet/ pot with the cranberry sauce or your slow cooker and pour the cranberry sauce over the top. They’ll need about 2-3 hours in a crockpot but are much faster in a pot. Or they just need to simmer until heated though in the skillet or pot. Serve warm and enjoy!
Make Ahead Directions:
- Meatball Mixture can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container until you’re ready to roll the meatballs.
- Make the meatballs in advance, cover, and store in the refrigerator up to 24 hours before baking
- Make and bake the meatballs and refrigerate or freeze for later use. Freeze unbaked ones on sheets until firm, about 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag and freeze up to 1-2 months. Allow to thaw over night or to cook meatballs from frozen, preheat oven to 500°F. Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Transfer desired amount of frozen meatballs to prepared sheet and roast, turning once halfway through, until lightly browned and cooked through, 10–12 minutes.
- Combine the sauce ingredients and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This can be made 1-2 days prior.
- Combine the cooked meatballs and the sauce the day before and simply reheat the day you plan on serving them.
Tips for making great cranberry meatballs:
- Avoid Overworking the Meat — mix the meat with the binder and other ingredients just until they’re combined for tender meatballs.
- Form meatballs evenly sized balls so they cook evenly. A kitchen scale is helpful (covered with plastic wrap or wax paper to keep things clean), or a greased cookie scoop. Shape with greased hands. This way the meatballs don’t stick.
- For a lazy girl or guy version of these cranberry meatballs feel free to use canned cranberry sauce (the whole cranberry kind) & use frozen prepackaged meatballs. Bake according to package directions and then simmer in the sauce as noted in the recipe below. There is no shame in shortcuts especially if you are short on time.
What to serve with cranberry sauce meatballs:
These meatballs pair perfectly with your favorite finger foods and are ideal as a part of a larger appetizer buffet. They are great in sandwiches and wraps or even over rice.
If you liked this recipe you will love these:
For the meatballs
- 1 pound ground Turkey (or any ground meat)
- 1 small shallot, peeled and minced
- 1 clove of garlic peeled and grated
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons ketchup or tomato paste
- A dash of Worcestershire sauce
For the cranberry sauce
- 2 cups cranberry sauce (I used my homemade one but store bought works too)
- ½ cup ketchup or your favourite bbq sauce
- 3 tablespoons Thai chili sauce (I used Sambal Oelek or you could use Sriracha)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
For the meatballs
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients. Mix well, then roll into 1-1½ inch meatballs and place in rows on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until fully cooked through. (an internal thermometer should read 165°F for 15 seconds).
For the sauce
- In a medium saucepan or skillet combine ingredients for sauce. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced, just a few minutes.
- Add meatballs to the saucepan and stir to coat. Cook until heated through. **You can also transfer the mixture to a slow cooker on low heat if desired or keep warm setting until ready to serve.
- Serve warm and with a sprinkle of chopped parsley
- Storing leftover meatballs: Store leftover meatballs, either on their own or in a sauce, in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave.
- Please note that the cooking time may vary due to the size of meatballs, on your oven as well as the altitude you live in. For this reason, always make sure to keep an eye on them to avoid over-cooking/under-cooking them.
- How to keep meatballs warm?Transfer them all together with cranberry sauce in a slow cooker and keep them warm using either the KEEP WARM or LOW setting (I prefer the first option).
- Can I make these meatballs in the slow cooker? Yes you can! Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl - no need to simmer. Bake meatballs for 8 min. Then remove from oven and line the bottom of your slow cooker with meatballs, then a layer Cranberry Sauce, then the remaining meatballs followed by the remaining Sauce. Cover and cook on low heat for 2-4 hours (depending on size of meatballs) or until cooked through. Gently stir meatballs an hour after cooking. Keep warm until serving.