Cranberry Turkey Meatballs
Cranberry Turkey Meatballs are homemade turkey meatballs with cranberry dipping sauce — the combination is reminiscent of the holiday season and is perfect for Christmas appetizers, New Years Eve appetizers, or even as a main dish!
Homemade meatballs are a delicacy in my opinion! And using turkey is a great lower fat option. My Turkey Spinach Meatballs are homemade and served on a pile of spaghetti and marinara sauce. I also have a delicious BBQ Pineapple Meatballs recipe and crockpot Grape Jelly Meatballs, if slow cooker meatball recipes are more your thing.
Why This Recipe Works
- Turkey meatballs from scratch. That’s right! These turkey cranberry meatballs are completely homemade!
- Homemade cranberry sauce. This cranberry chutney recipe is made completely from scratch! No shortcuts here — just fresh, delicious, and easily homemade sauce!
- Flavorful meatballs. These delicious cranberry turkey meatballs are made with a combination of parsley, garlic, onion, and orange zest — far from bland! Pair that with a sauce that is bursting with cranberry, orange, ginger, and shallots and you have a flavor party in your mouth!
- Serve together or separate. You can use the cranberry chutney for turkey, for these meatballs, or something else! — it’s a super versatile recipe! One of my favorite uses is to use the cranberry sauce for a holiday cheeseboard alongside crackers and a spread of cheese. It’s the perfect holiday appetizer!
- Ground Turkey: Use lean ground turkey. Ground turkey is a great low fat option instead of ground beef. You can use another ground meat if you’d like, such as ground chicken or ground beef. Just note that I’ve only tried the turkey and cranberry combination, so I’m not sure how well ground beef would pair with it.
- Fresh Parsley: Be sure to finely chop the parsley. Bigger leaves of parsley will make the meatballs harder to keep their shape. I highly recommend using fresh herbs to get a stronger flavor.
- Egg: Lightly beat the egg prior to adding to the meatball mixture. This will help bind all the ingredients together so the meatballs stay in tact.
- Breadcrumbs: I use the panko bread crumbs. The breadcrumbs not only help bind the turkey meatballs together, but they also absorb the liquid so these are moist turkey meatballs!
- Cranberries: You can use fresh cranberries or frozen cranberries. Either works. Note that when you heat cranberries, they’ll pop. Keep that in mind as you cook them!
- Light Brown Sugar: This will sweeten the cranberry dipping sauce.
- Water: Adding a bit of water will provide the liquid base for the homemade cranberry sauce.
- Orange Zest: Orange cranberry sauce is my favorite! The burst of tangy orange zest is the perfect complement to the cranberries.
- Cider Vinegar: The acid of the vinegar combines well to create a balanced flavor. Apple cider vinegar is great here!
- Make the turkey meatballs. Add 1 lb ground turkey, 2 garlic cloves (minced), 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion, 2 T fresh parsley, 1 tsp orange zest, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 egg lightly beaten and 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs to a large bowl. Mix the meat mixture until well incorporated.
- Bake the meatballs. Roll the turkey mixture into 1-inch balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350ºF for 15-18 minutes.
- Make the cranberry chutney sauce. While the turkey meatballs are baking, heat 3 tsp vegetable oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add 1 shallot (minced), 3 tsp freshly grated ginger, and 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds. Cook until shallots are soft (about 1 min).
- Add the cranberries. Add in 3 cups fresh cranberries, 1 cup light brown sugar, 3/4 cup water, and 1 T orange zest. Stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries are broken down and the mixture is a sauce consistency.
- Remove from heat and add cider vinegar. Remove the cranberry chutney mixture from the stove and add 1 T cider vinegar. Stir. Serve with Thanksgiving turkey, turkey meatballs, and more!
For a quick option, add all the ingredients for the meatballs to a food processor and pulse until combined. If using a large mixing bowl, you can stir with a large spoon or using your hands.
Make sure the Thanksgiving meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165ºF. Keep the meatballs in a single layer the baking sheet.
As cranberries cook they will “pop.” Be aware of this! I find it helpful to keep the skillet towards the back burner.
Use a small cookie scoop to portion out the meat. Once the meat is portioned out, go back and roll them into nice round balls. It saves so much time if you do it this way!
Another delicious add to this turkey meatballs with cranberry sauce recipe would be a hint of sage in the turkey meatballs!
You can serve the juicy meatballs with swimming in the cranberry sauce or served separately so people can add the sauce on their own.
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
This recipe is the perfect make-ahead appetizer! You can make the cranberry turkey meatballs ahead of time and either bake them, let them cool, then freeze in an airtight container; or you can flash freeze them raw until firm and transfer to an airtight container and freeze, then bake fully later.
Bake frozen meatballs at the same temperature but for a minute or 2 longer.
Store any leftover cranberry turkey meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Reheat in the oven or in the microwave.
Chutney is a spicy condiment or relish made with fruits (in this case, cranberries), spices, vinegar, and sugar. Rather than being pureed, chutney’s contain pieces of fruit. Chutney originated from India.
They aren’t as written, but you can swap out the regular breadcrumbs for gluten free breadcrumbs.
You need to bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce and simmer. That’s when it will thicken. Be sure to get the measurements accurate so you have the proper balance of liquid so things aren’t too liquidy. Then let the mixture simmer long enough until the mixture thickens. Don’t forget to stir!
More Cranberry Recipes
- Cranberry Apple Cider
- Orange Cranberry Cake
- Christmas Slush
- White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
- Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip
Cranberry Turkey Meatballs
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 2 garlic cloves - minced
- 1/4 cup yellow onion - finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley - finely minced
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 egg - lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 shallot - minced
- 3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup light brown sugar - packed
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl, mix until everything is evenly incorporated.
- Shape into 28-30 1-inch meatballs.* Place meatballs on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes. Serve with cranberry chutney.
- In a skillet over medium heat add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is shimmering add the shallots, ginger, and mustard seeds. Cook until the shallot has softened, about 1 minute.
- Stir in the cranberries, sugar, water, and orange zest. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, once it begins to boil reduce the heat to low and simmer. Cook until the cranberries have broken down and the mixture has thickened about 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Note, the cranberries will begin to “pop.”
- Remove from cranberry chutney from the heat and stir in the cider vinegar.
- Serve the sauce with the turkey meatballs.
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