Have you ever had cranberry meatballs? This super easy holiday recipe is the best savory cranberry meatballs appetizer you may have never heard of, right? Kinda like Swedish meatballs, but with a zesty kick!
We love to serve this Swedish meatball style recipe at special events (including Christmas Eve) with other appies like Wonton Crisps, Hot Artichoke Dip, lamb popsicles, Mini Pigs In a Blanket, and Homemade Jalapeno Poppers.
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Cranberry Sauce With Meatballs
If you are looking for a seasonal type of cocktail meatballs with cranberry sauce recipe, then look no further!
In other words, this recipe is sweet and savory and hearty and perfect as a finger food! For lighter fare, turkey cranberry meatballs or even a veggie meat substitute still make a great version of sweet and sour meatballs with cranberry sauce.
It’s also a perfect dish for using up cranberries leftover from the fall, so we make these all year round!
Whether you use ground beef, chicken, (why not make turkey cranberry meatballs and use up that leftover turkey?) or even sausage meatballs, cranberry sauce always makes for the perfect glaze! You can also buy pre-packaged Japanese Orange sauce for a super citrus-y, tangy variation!
Cranberry sauce meatballs appetizer hold perfectly in a crockpot and are the easiest appetizer for a potluck, a party, or a workplace buffet! Keep this cranberry meatballs recipe close by for use all year round, and especially from Thanksgiving to New Years!
How to Make Cranberry Meatballs
- Heat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a sheet pan.
- Mix together all of the ingredients for the meatballs.
- Make sure they are uniformly sized so they bake and the same rate. Using a small cookie scoop will take the guesswork out of making sure each meatball is the same size!
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes and use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. The internal temperature should read 160F minimum.
- While meatballs are baking, make the cranberry glaze.
How to Make Cranberry Glaze for Meatballs
- Saute shallots in oil, then add garlic and fennel seeds. Saute until fragrant.
- Add remaining ingredients to the pot and simmer until the cranberries begin to pop.
- Remove the sprig of thyme and add baked meatballs to the sauce. Transfer to a crockpot (optional) and serve warm as an appetizer, or serve over pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes for an entrée.
What to Serve with Cranberry Meatballs
If you are serving cranberry meatballs as an appetizer, add a side of celery or carrot sticks to soak up that delicious sauce! Small rounds of garlic rubbed crostini or slices of No Knead Bread are a good choice for dipping too!
If cranberry meatballs are served as the main protein in an entrée, then a crunchy Red Leaf Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette or an Italian Dressing and a side of steamed, mixed veggies really round out this meal!
- ½ pound lean ground beef
- ½ pound lean ground pork
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup dry bread crumbs
- 2 ounces French onion soup mix (one package)
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup shallots minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds crushed
- 1 ½ pounds cranberries fresh or frozen
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine all meatball ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Do not overmix.
- Measure about 1 ½ Tablespoons for each meatball using a cookie scoop to make about 12 - 15 meatballs. Roll in into balls and place on prepared baking tray, leaving space between each one.
- Bake meatballs for 18-20 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and fennel seeds and cook 3-5 minutes or until fragrant.
- Add cranberries, brown sugar, water, maple syrup, dijon mustard, and thyme sprig. Cook 5-6 minutes or until simmering and cranberries begin to pop.
- Continue cooking until thickened and reduced, about 10 minutes.
- Remove thyme and add the meatballs to the saucepan, tossing to coat.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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