These cranberry meatballs are the perfect combination of savory and sweet, a healthy holiday appetizer or dinner that will feed and impress a crowd.
Good morning friends! So, last year, I had some feedback that there weren’t enough holiday appetizers here at HH. I also realized that when my MIL and I went breezing through Costco buying all the unhealthy frozen appetizers.
We looked in the cart, looked at each other, and kind of went “whoops, oh well!” The menu was already planned, we forgot about the appetizers, time to move on! So this year I aimed to change that for my HH readers and my house!
At some point, I dreamed up this recipe and then went to search for it on Pinterest. I’ve mentioned this before, but my goal is to make sure I’m not putting up the same recipe as someone else, so that’s why I search.
What I kept seeing were these recipes for cranberry meatballs that had a whole jar of cranberry sauce, barbecue sauce, and a boatload of sugar. I knew I could do better than that, so I got to work!
I debated between using fresh cranberries or cranberry sauce as a base for this recipe, but ultimately I decided convenience would have to win out. My goal here at HH is to share healthy recipes that aren’t SUPER complicated.
It’s true sometimes I do put more complicated recipes up, like my almond flour cinnamon rolls. But, I think it’s safe to say it’s okay to put a little work in to have a cinnamon roll that’s healthier and taste bomb right?
Meatballs on the other hand, not something I want to work too hard at ya know? So the jar of cranberry sauce won out as the starter, I used one from Sprouts that just had cranberries, water, and sugar in it.
Then, I added a bunch of the main ingredients for barbecue sauce and bam the sauce was done before the meatballs were even done baking! That’s what I call efficient, because who has time to spend hours making appetizers from scratch ya know?
Now I did find the time to add little cranberries to the decorative toothpicks for garnish, but that’s because making food look pretty is my job.
My suggestion? If you have any kids around, put them to work for the garnish job! Unfortunately, my nephew who is two isn’t quite up to the task, so my MIL helped me get these meatballs perfectly styled.
Speaking of my nephew, we weren’t sure how he would feel about these meatballs but he LOVED them, and everyone else did too! I definitely think it would be a fun addition to a holiday party spread or the next football party! Alright, I’m off to tackle the to-do list, because tomorrow is FRIYAY! See you tomorrow for FriYAY favorites!
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- ¾ cup shredded carrots*
- 2 tablespoons whole cranberry sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 1.75 lbs 93% lean ground pork or ground turkey
- ½ cup almond flour or meal
- ½ cup whole cranberry sauce
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce gluten-free
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar
- Optional garnish: 50 fresh cranberries and 2 tablespoons fresh or dried parsley
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line it with aluminum foil and grease or use cooking spray.
- Combine all meatball ingredients and use a cookie scoop to make 24 meatballs. (Yes, it may be a good idea to have a dishwasher-safe cookie scoop or two versions.)
- Place meatballs one inch apart on cookie sheet. Once you put the cookie sheet in the oven you can start making the sauce.
- Add all ingredients in a medium saucepan (big enough to add your meatballs to later on) and heat over low. Heat until bubbling then remove the pan from the heat, you don’t want to burn the sugar in it!
- Make sure the meatballs are firm to touch and reach an internal temperature of 165F. Once they are done, remove meatballs from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Add meatballs to the pan with sauce. Stir to coat and you are done!
- Optional: Garnish by adding two fresh cranberries to each decorative toothpick and place in meatballs. Arrange on a plate or cookie sheet as desired. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Looking for appetizers? Check out the recipe index or one of these recipes:
Gluten Free Buffalo Chicken Meatballs