Cranberry Glazed Meatballs

Hello everyone! I am happy to announce that #AppyHolidays is back on the blog! This is the third year I am doing this blog series where I post a holiday recipe once a week for the month of December. So this year, there will be FIVE holiday appetizer recipes for you to make and enjoy with your friends and family.

However this year is special as I am partnering with a wonderful not-for-profit organization called We Heart Local BC. We share similar philosophies of cooking with local and seasonal ingredients wherever possible. Head over to their website to check out some awesome blog posts about local farmers in British Columbia as well as lots of tasty recipes.

Retro Recipes with a Modern Twist

For my #AppyHolidays series this year, I took my inspiration from the retro holiday appetizers that my parents and grandparents used to make when I was a kid. In this case, I experienced these retro appetizer recipes growing up in the early/mid 1990s, but these recipes most likely originated between the 1960s to 1980s.

While these retro recipes may be a little outdated, I still want to keep the base of the recipe, just update it with more modern and sophisticated ingredients. Plus, these retro recipes remind me so much of my childhood and all the fun times that we shared with my parents and grandparents during the holiday season <3

The Perfect One-Bite Appetizer

The first recipe in my #AppyHolidays series is my Cranberry Glazed Meatballs. This recipe was inspired by sweet cocktail meatballs that are normally cooked in a crockpot with grape jelly. You guys of seen these right?

While I am a fan of cocktail meatballs, I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of grape jelly. So I am adopting this recipe to create my version of a cranberry barbeque sauce that glazes the meatballs perfectly. The sauce is sweet, spicy, and a bit sour from the cranberries which pairs perfectly with the rich beefy meatballs!

The Secret to getting the perfect Cocktail Meatball Texture

I made my own cocktail meatballs from scratch but of course if you don’t have time to make them you can use a good store-bought variety. However, my recipe is super quick and even taste better than store-bought! They are made in a stand mixer which really helps combine the meat so that is nice and smooth and has a consistent texture.

I also use a secret ingredient (baking soda) to make the meatball springy and give them that classic snap when you bite into it. I recommend that if you’re going to make these meatballs, make them a few days before, cook them in the oven, and freeze them. They can easily be reheated in a crockpot or in a pot on the stove with the cranberry glaze on the day of your party.

I hope that you enjoy this recipe for Cranberry Glazed Meatballs at your holiday party is this year. Let me know in the comments below what your favourite holiday retro appetizer is!

For the full recipe for my Cranberry Glazed Meatballs, scroll down below.

Get the Recipe!

Cranberry Glazed Meatballs

Move over Meatballs with Grape Jelly, and make way for my modern Cranberry Glazed Meatballs! This is a perfect one-bite appetizer for the holiday season! Not only are they delicious and festive, but they can be made in advance and frozen then reheated in a crockpot or over the stove on the day of your party!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American


For the Meatballs:

  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Cranberry Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup shallot finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 3 cups fresh BC cranberries
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Place three quarters of the ground beef into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, reserving the remaining quarter for later. Process the meat on low speed for 3 minutes or until the beef has become lighter in colour and is relatively smooth.
  • Next add the panko, eggs, salt, pepper, and baking soda to the beef along with the remaining quarter up ground beef that was reserved. Process on low for one minute or until everything is combined.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside. Use a teaspoon to scoop out each meatball and roll it between your hands until completely round and smooth. Place the meatball on the parchment lined baking tray and repeat for the remaining ground beef mixture. Space the meatballs 1 to 2cm apart so that they do not touch on the baking tray.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes to fully cook the meatballs.
  • Next make the cranberry sauce. Place a medium sized pot on the stove over medium high-heat. Add the olive oil followed by the garlic and shallots. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the shallots have become translucent.
  • Add the cranberries to the pot followed by the water, brown sugar, and maple syrup and mix to combine. Bring the sauce to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper and cinnamon and mix to combine.
  • Cook the cranberry sauce over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries have broken down and the sauce has become thick and glossy.
  • Once the meatballs have fully cooked, remove them from the oven and let them rest for 10 minutes. Add the cranberry sauce to a large mixing bowl along with the cooled meatballs and toss until all the meatballs are fully coated in the sauce.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm. Enjoy!
Keyword cocktail meatballs, cranberry glazed meatballs, cranberry recipes, holiday appetizers, meatballs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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