Savory cranberry meatballs are one of my favorite comfort food recipes. Homemade meatballs are tossed in a savory sauce made from shallots, cranberries, brown sugar, dijon mustard, garlic, and maple syrup to create a dish unlike anything you’ve tasted before.
This isn’t your traditional meatballs with cranberry sauce. It isn’t quite as sweet, which allows the tartness from the cranberries to pair perfectly with the other additions to the sauce. I find the maple syrup and rice vinegar really bring the rest of the delicate flavors together for a well rounded sauce!
You won’t need to make cranberry BBQ meatballs or cranberry chili meatballs now that you have this recipe. It is the best of both worlds, and just as easy as using store bought ingredients!
If you’re hoping to adapt this recipe to make Crock Pot meatballs with cranberry sauce, you’re in luck. Just add the ingredients to a slow cooker and adjust the cooking time accordingly. I prefer making them on the stovetop though. The whole recipe can be on your table in just 30 minutes!
I made these cranberry meatballs for my 2 year old cousin and he asked for seconds, and thirds! The whole family seriously raved about them. I like to serve them over mashed potatoes or egg noodles or rice. Don’t forget some bread to sop up all the leftover sauce!
How To Make Cranberry Sauce
This recipe starts with frying shallots in some olive oil. Once they’re translucent, add the minced garlic and crushed fennel seeds. Cook them until fragrant for a couple more minutes.
Add in the cranberries, brown sugar, rice vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, thyme, and finally the water. Don’t add the water first or you will get some serious oil burns.
After about 5 minutes, the cranberries will begin to pop. Continue cooking the sauce down for about 15 minutes. The sauce will appear light pink at first and darken as it cooks. Depending on personal preference, you might need to add a little more brown sugar.
Add in the meatballs and serve the cranberry meatballs over rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta.
What Meat Goes With Cranberry Sauce
In this cranberry meatball recipe, I like to use my easy meatball recipe, which is a mix of beef and pork. You can use whatever you’d like though!
Turkey meatballs also go great with the cranberry sauce, so it is totally up to personal preference!
I like to use my classic Italian meatball recipe for these cranberry meatballs. They are so juicy and tender, and go perfectly with this recipe.
What To Serve With Cranberry Meatballs
I love serving cranberry sauce meatballs over pasta. Rice and mashed potatoes make great bases for this recipe too.
These go great as cocktail meatballs too! If you have a party or potluck coming up, just serve them up with some toothpicks. I love serving them alongside other appies like bacon wrapped brussel sprouts and tzatziki. They will definitely be the first thing gone!
Savory Cranberry Meatballs
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 pound lean ground pork
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 package french onion soup mix
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Savory Cranberry Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup shallots, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen cranberries
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- a sprig of fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine all ingredients for the meatballs in a medium mixing bowl, being careful not to overmix it.
- Create 12 - 15 meatballs using your hands or a cookie scoop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each). Lay the meatballs at least an inch apart on the prepared baking tray.
- Bake the meatballs for 18-20 minutes or until meatballs reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
Savory Cranberry Sauce
- Meanwhile, heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the shallots and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and saute an additional 3-5 minutes or until fragrant.
- Add the cranberries, brown sugar, water, maple syrup, dijon mustard, and thyme. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until simmering and cranberries begin to pop.
- Continue cooking the savory cranberry sauce until thickened and reduced, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the thyme and add the meatballs to the saucepan, tossing to coat them.
- Serve over pasta, mashed potatoes, or rice.
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