Best Cranberry Meatballs Recipe

Let's get real: What's not to love about meatballs? These tasty treats are super versatile, and there are plenty of ways to serve them. You can enjoy meatballs as a main course, side dish, or appetizer, but people most commonly serve them atop a big bowl of pasta. And while spaghetti and meatballs may be a very popular dish, there are dozens of other ways to fix up meatballs in terms of filling, spices, and sauces.

These cranberry meatballs would be a solid holiday dinner party appetizer, and they would also be fun bites to enjoy at home on football Sunday. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to this meaty treat, and we have recipe developer Catherine Brookes to thank for that. "I love how this festive twist pairs so well with fresh homemade meatballs," Brookes raves. "With cranberries both mixed into the meatballs themselves and as the base of the sticky glaze, this dish is packed with flavor!" Speaking of flavor, Brookes has a great description for that as well: "The flavor is a great mix of savory, sweet, and sharp. You get the richness of the meat and the fruitiness of the cranberry." Keep reading to find out how to make this incredible dish!

Gather the ingredients for cranberry meatballs

The first thing you need to do is list all the ingredients necessary to put this recipe together. Start with a little over 17 ounces of minced beef, and add a large egg, and milk to your list. You will also need to get spices like onion powder, garlic powder, and dried parsley. Like most other recipes, this one also requires salt and pepper to taste.

Then, be sure to add dried cranberries, breadcrumbs (Brookes notes you can also use gluten-free breadcrumbs.), and olive oil to your shopping cart. Next, you will need a little cranberry sauce, orange juice, and brown sugar. To round out the list, add cayenne pepper and fresh chopped parsley. Then, you're ready to get cooking!

Preheat the oven, and grease a baking sheet

Now that you have all of the ingredients in front of you, it's time to get down to business. Start by turning on the oven and setting your temperature to 400 F. That way, it has a lot of time to get nice and hot while you do the rest of the prep work.

Then, take out a baking sheet, and add some oil. This is a great thing to do so your meatballs won't stick to the bottom of the pan, and it also makes cleaning up the pan a whole lot easier when you're done.

Mix the ingredients

Now, get out your mixing hands, because it's about to go down. Go ahead and add in all of the ingredients for the meatballs. This includes the minced beef, breadcrumbs, egg, and milk. At this time, you can also throw in the spices, including onion powder, garlic powder, and dried parsley. Toss in the dried cranberries, too. Then, add a little bit of salt and pepper to taste.

Using your hands, mix everything together until it's well combined. You can use your bare hands or gloves, whichever you'd prefer. If you do use your bare hands, make sure to wash them well after working with the meat.

Roll the meatballs into balls

Now, take handfuls of the mixture, and roll them into balls. This recipe makes 14 meatballs, so you can split it up evenly ahead of time if you'd prefer. Place each ball on the baking sheet you greased with oil, and repeat until you are all out of the meatball mix.

Then, drizzle olive oil over the top of the meatballs. "It helps to get them nice and brown all over," Brookes shares of the olive oil. Then, pop the meatballs in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, and bake until browned and fully cooked through.

Make the glaze, and add it to the meatballs

Now, take out a medium saucepan, and add the ingredients to make the glaze that goes on top of the meatballs. This includes cranberry sauce, orange juice, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper. Turn the heat up to medium, and cook until it starts to boil. Be sure to stir frequently as you go so nothing burns or sticks to the bottom of the saucepan. "It shouldn't take long, no more than five minutes," Brookes shares. "You really just want to mix together all the ingredients, then warm it up." 

Once you take the meatballs out of the oven, place them in a serving dish, and pour the cranberry glaze on top. Your meatballs are almost ready to enjoy!

Add parsley, and serve

The last thing that you need to add to the meatballs is a little bit of parsley, aka the perfect garnish. If you are not a fan of parsley, you could always leave it out. 

Brookes provided a few great serving suggestions to pair with these flavorful meatballs. "Mashed potatoes, pasta, rice, or salad would all be great," she says. "And leftovers can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days."

Best Cranberry Meatballs Recipe
5 from 59 ratings
These cranberry meatballs would be a solid holiday dinner party appetizer, and they would also be fun bites to enjoy at home on football Sunday.
Prep Time
Cook Time
bowl of cranberry meatballs
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 17.6 ounces minced beef
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10.5 ounces cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Optional Ingredients
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Grease a baking sheet with a bit of oil.
  3. Add the minced beef, egg, milk, breadcrumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, dried parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and dried cranberries to a large mixing bowl. Mix everything together using your hands until well combined.
  4. Take handfuls of the mixture, and roll it into balls. Place these onto the baking sheet. You should end up with approximately 14 meatballs.
  5. Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the top of the meatballs.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and fully cooked through.
  7. To make the glaze, add the cranberry sauce, orange juice, brown sugar, and optional cayenne pepper to a medium-sized saucepan.
  8. Heat over medium until boiling, stirring frequently.
  9. Put the meatballs in a serving dish, and pour the cranberry glaze all over them.
  10. Garnish with the chopped parsley, if using.
Calories per Serving 149
Total Fat 5.4 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 36.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 17.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.8 g
Total Sugars 14.1 g
Sodium 188.0 mg
Protein 8.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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