This is one of my favorite easy dinner recipes, made with Homemade Cranberry Sauce. Everything comes together for you in about 30 minutes, because you'll bake the meatballs (it's fast and easy) and then make the pan sauce while the meatballs are cooking. These baked meatballs with a cranberry orange sauce are perfectly sweet, spicy, savory, and tangy.
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Have your meatballs with a cranberry pan sauce for a flavorful use of leftovers
Today I'm sharing with you my Cranberry Meatballs, my savory recipe using cranberry sauce. Check my other blog posts to see my easy 2 ingredient Homemade Cranberry Sauce, and the Cranberry Sweet Rolls I made with it.
For this recipe, we'll be making an easy main dish. The whole thing comes together in about half an hour because I bake my meatballs – always. It's so easy to just bake them for 20 minutes, I don't even brown them. Just mix and bake!
Plus there really isn't very much other prep for this recipe. The meatballs only take a few minutes to mix together and the only chopping is an onion, some garlic and ginger, and the green onions. This only takes a few minutes.
I'm sharing my basic meatball recipe and method below so you can use that as a starting point and mix up whatever kind of meatballs you fancy by switching up the flavors.
Ingredients you need
For the meatballs, you'll need ground beef, an egg, some bread crumbs, and some seasoning. For the sauce, you'll need half of a recipe of my homemade cranberry sauce or about 1 cup of cranberry sauce. You'll also need a few other things like the zest and juice of an orange.
- Cranberry Sauce: I'm sure you could sub out the homemade for storebought if that's more your thing - my thing is homemade stuff and teaching people how easy it is to make kitchen staples yourself!
- Ground Beef: I'm sure that ground turkey would work really nicely here. You could probably use ground chicken as well.
How to make meatballs
This is my go-to recipe and method for making meatballs. This is how I make meatballs every time, just switching out flavors to match my dish.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with either a silicone mat or foil. (Foil helps deter meatballs from getting stuck and makes washing up a bit easier. The silicone mat helps prevent the meatballs from sticking).
Mix 1 pound ground meat with 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 1 egg, and ½ cup bread crumbs.
Add in your spice and flavor boosters. For this recipe, it's the Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and green onions.
Mix just until combined.
Use a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop to portion the meatballs. Place on the baking sheet.
You can leave the meatballs looking rustic or roll them by hand into rounded shapes.
Bake for 20 minutes. (Bake longer for larger meatballs).
While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce and whatever sides you're having. For example, you could boil potatoes, make rice, etc.
How to make the sauce
To make the sauce, heat a large skillet over medium heat. I use my favorite cast iron pan because I use it almost every time I cook!
Start off with frying your onions. I like them softened with a bit of color on them and that takes about 8 minutes or so. Cook them to your preference and then add the garlic and ginger. Cook while stirring for about 30 seconds or so.
Add the brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, soy sauce, Sriracha, and cranberry sauce. Stir and heat through. Turn to low and keep warm until meatballs are done. When the meatballs are done add them to the pan and stir to cover them in the sauce. Serve.
Note: For a smoother sauce, you can chop your onions smaller, or blend the sauce either in a stand blender or with an immersion blender. Just be careful, it'll be hot!
What to serve with this recipe
Tips and Tricks
- If you've never made meatballs by baking them, give it a try! Just mix and bake for 20 minutes at 400°F, it takes all the fuss out of making meatballs. Line your baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.
- Use a cookie scoop for perfectly portioned meatballs.
- Blend the sauce for a smoother sauce.
You probably could, but I haven't tried it. If you were going to try it, I'd bake the meatballs a bit first, maybe halfway to make sure they don't fall apart in the slow-cooker. Then I'd add everything to the slow-cooker and cook on low for 2-4 hours or until the meatballs are fully cooked!
The Government of Canada recommends that ground beef be cooked to an internal temperature of 71°C (160°F) for safe consumption. Be sure to use a reliable meat thermometer to check your meatballs, especially if slow cooking.
For the Meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 green onion (sliced)
For the Sauce
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½" chunk ginger (grated, about a teaspoon or two)
- 1 cup
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha Hot Sauce
- zest and juice of an orange (cara cara ½ teaspoon zest, 1 tablespoon juice)
For the Meatballs
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Line and baking sheet with a silicone mat or foil.
- Mix together all of the ingredients for the meatballs, just until combined.
- Scoop by 1 ½ tablespoon portions onto the prepared baking sheet. Leave rustic in shape or roll into smooth ball shapes with your hands.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Bake longer for larger meatballs.
For the Sauce
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. (I use my cast iron skillet).
- Add oil and onions. Cook for about 8 minutes, until softened and beginning to brown.
- Add garlic and ginger, cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Cook until heated through. Turn to low to wait for meatballs to finish cooking if needed.
- Add meatballs to the sauce and stir to coat them in the sauce. Serve.
- Makes about 24 meatballs.
- You can blend the sauce if you want it smoother. Just be careful when blending, it'll be hot.
- Try ground turkey instead of ground beef.
- Substitute any other cranberry sauce.