It’s All About the Cranberry Sauce Meatballs

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | March 9th, 2021 | Appetizers, Recipes, Tapas Monday
turkey meatballs in cranberry tomato sauce

This is a very new to my collection recipe, but it’s one that I adore. The reason is simple: I love cranberries and try to work them into as many recipes as I can. So, although it’s only been around for a few months, I think it’s worth sharing again during spherically shaped snack week.

From the wayback time machine

To learn more about this recipe, originally published in November 2020, keep reading.

Meatballs play a recurring role in my Tapas Monday menus. Why? Because I can change the meats (or veggies) that are the base of the meatballs and switch the spices used to season them and end up with very different dishes.

With Thanksgiving drawing near and cranberries available in the produce department (YAY!), I decided that it was time to make a meatball that could be served with cranberries at our weekly dinner for two.

turkey meatballs in cranberry tomato sauce

While I could have taken the easy route and simply placed meatballs in cranberry sauce, I wanted the dish to have more depth. The sweet and tart of cranberry sauce wasn’t enough. Thus, there were the additions of tomato paste, chili powder, and hot sauce, which made a sauce that was rich and a bit spicy.

Be awed by the meatball and the scenery

I served the first test batch of these meatballs on an early October Tapas Monday in our new home of Gulf Breeze, Florida. While it was in the upper 70s and humid as we dined on our patio, the meatballs provided the flavors of fall.

turkey meatballs in cranberry tomato sauce

These meatballs made a fabulous part of a candlelit dinner for two, but they also could work quite nicely as an appetizer. Whether you’re seeking a way to get rid of leftover cranberry sauce or want a different snack for football watching, this meatball recipe is a great choice.

Once you’ve tried it you’ll soon discover that the cranberry sauce is the star of this recipe. Not that the meatballs aren’t tasty in their own right, but the sauce is key. In fact, you may want to double the amount of sauce, so that you can double coat each meatball.

turkey meatballs in cranberry tomato sauce

It’s All About the Cranberry Sauce Meatballs

Michele Pesula Kuegler

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins

Course Appetizer

Servings 20 meatballs



  • 1-1/2 cups cranberries*
  • 1/2 cup water*
  • 1/4 cup sugar*
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Hot sauce optional
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper



  • To make the sauce:
  • Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat.
  • Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add cranberries; stirring until it returns to boiling.
  • Reduce heat to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally until cranberries begin to burst, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat to cool.
  • Using an immersion blender, purée until the sauce is mainly smooth.
  • Add tomato paste, chili powder, and salt, stirring to combine over low heat.
  • If desired, add hot sauce for extra heat.
  • Remove from heat while waiting for meatballs.
  • To make the meatballs:
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Combine turkey, bread crumbs, egg, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  • Stir or mix with your hands until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  • Shape mixture into walnut-sized balls, and place on a greased, rimmed baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Add cooked meatballs to sauce, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.


*You can replace the homemade cranberry sauce with 1 cup prepared cranberry sauce.

Keyword cranberry sauce, meatballs
  1. Doris Cote says:

    Today, I am experimenting! I made the sauce and will add it to cooked ground chicken, (cooked with red onion and garlic) and will mix sauce into the meat. Then, I plan to stuff peppers with this meat mixture and bake. We will try this for dinner tonight. 🙂

  2. Michele Pesula Kuegler says:

    That sounds like an interesting spin on this recipe. Let me know how it turns out!

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