Turkey cranberry meatballs will satisfy your craving for Thanksgiving food! Instead of coating turkey meatballs in sugary cranberry bbq sauce or cranberry glaze, these tasty meatballs are filled with fresh cranberries and cooked in turkey gravy. They are slightly sweet, tart, and savory; perfect for family gatherings or a quick dinner.
These simple turkey meatballs are a great way to have a no-fuss taste of Thanksgiving any time of the year.
When I serve these tasty meatballs for dinner, I like to serve them over a pile of mashed potatoes loaded up with gravy.
Why you will love this recipe
- It's a quick and easy recipe to make!
- Turkey cranberry meatballs are made with just a few simple, healthy ingredients.
- These flavorful meatballs are versatile! They are delicious for a main dish and they are perfect appetizers for a holiday party.
Here is what you will need
This is an overview of the ingredients and steps to make this recipe; scroll down for a printable recipe card with exact measurements and detailed instructions.
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- Lean ground turkey
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh or frozen cranberries
- Maple syrup
- Olive oil
- Chicken broth
- Large mixing bowl & small bowl
- Cookie scoop (optional)
- Sharp knife or food processor
How to make turkey cranberry turkey meatballs
Prepare: Mince the garlic, onions, and herbs. Roughly chop the cranberries.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees f.
Step 1. Add ingredients to a bowl
Place the turkey, egg, onion, garlic, and herbs) into a large bowl. In a separate small bowl mix the chopped cranberries with the syrup and add it to the turkey mixture.
Step 2. Mix the ingredients together
Mix all of the ingredients together with a spoon or your hands.
Step 3. Shape the meatballs
Shape the meat mixture into meatballs, place them in a single layer into an oven-proof skillet or rimmed baking sheet. Place the meatballs in a preheated oven and bake. While the meatballs are baking mix the four and broth together, occasionally stirring until it thickens. Add the baked meatballs to the gravy, keep them on a warm setting until it's time to serve.
NOTE: If the turkey mixture is too soft and mushy, it may be difficult to form into meatballs. If that happens, place the turkey mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm the mixture up.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
The complete list of ingredients to make this recipe is above. Below are notes about some of the ingredients, along with ideas for substitutes.
Ground turkey - Look for 85 to 93% lean ground turkey to make these meatballs. Ground turkey can be substituted with lean ground chicken breast or lean ground beef.
Maple syrup - Use real maple syrup and not pancake syrup. You can also use an equal amount of honey in place of the syrup.
Chicken broth - Any broth or stock can be used to make gravy for these meatballs. Good substitutes are vegetable broth or turkey broth.
Flour - This thickens the gravy and can be replaced with gluten-free flour, corn starch, or arrowroot for a gluten-free gravy.
Fresh herbs - If you don't have fresh herbs, replace fresh sage with 1 teaspoon dried sage and fresh thyme with ⅛ teaspoon dried thyme.
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How to store leftovers
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat leftovers on top of the stove over low heat or in the microwave.
Freeze leftover meatballs before adding them to the gravy. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and pop it into the freezer. Once the meatballs are frozen place them in a freezer bag. They will last in the freezer for 3 months.
Thaw frozen meatballs in the refrigerator overnight or cook them from frozen.
What to serve with cranberry turkey meatballs
Serve these meatballs as an appetizer or for dinner with roasted Brussels sprouts, or roasted butternut squash, and baked sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes.
Turkey cranberry burgers - Turn the meatballs into bugers. Grill them or cook them in a skillet. Serve on toasted sourdough bread.
Turkey cranberry meatloaf - Shap the turkey mixture into meatloaf and bake in a 375-degree f oven for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees f. Serve turkey gravy on the side.
Apple turkey cranberry meatballs - Add a small shredded apple to the meat mixture for a sweeter flavor.
Skip the gravy - Serve the meatballs without the gravy and dip them into homemade cranberry sauce.
- Use a small cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to shape your meatballs.
- Fresh cranberries can be challenging to chop, use a sturdy knife to chop them or place them in a food processor and pulse them.
- Chill the formed meatballs for 30 minutes before baking them so they hold their shape.
The egg is what holds the meatballs together. If the mixture seems extremely wet after adding an egg, try adding up to ½ cup of breadcrumbs to the meat mixture which will help to soak up the excess moisture.
For tender texture meatballs, combine the meatball ingredients together with a wooden spoon or your hands. Once everything is mixed together, stop and don't overmix.
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- Lodge Heat Enhanced and Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, 8-Inch or rimmed baking sheet
- mini food processor optional
- Small Cookie Scoop optional
- ½ cup minced onion 1 small onion or ½ medium to large onion
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage about 2 to 3 leaves
- 1 ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- ¾ cranberries fresh or frozen
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ¾ cup organic chicken broth
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees f
- Prepare the ingredients: mince the onions, chop the garlic cranberries and sage
- Place the chopped onion, garlic, sage, thyme and turkey breast into a mixing bowl.
- Mix the chopped cranberries with 1 tablespoon syrup and add it to the meat mixture.
- Use a spoon or your hands to gently mix all of the ingredients together
- Form the meat mixture into balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet or a cast iron skillet
- Bake the meatballs for 15 to 20 minutes - until the internal temperature reaches 165
- Gluten Free Gravy - heat the broth over medium heat. Once it's heated through make a slurry of 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder to 2 teaspoons water. Remove the broth from the heat and gradually add the slurry to the broth, you may not need to use the entire slurry. Pour the gravy over the meatballs and serve.
- Add 1 tablespoon of flour into a small saucepan and gradually whisk in the broth.
- Place the pan over medium low heat and continue to whisk until the gravy thickens. You may have to adjust thickness with more or less flour. Pour it over the meatballs before serving.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used
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GUNJAN C Dudani says
Such a fantastic recipe at the right time. My brother would love this. I will try this and make it for him for Christmas since he is visiting me in December.
Rebecca Blackwell says
Disclaimer: I am not generally a fan of turkey. Usually, I find it dry and tasteless. But, I decided to try these meatballs because I LOVE cranberries and they looked pretty tasty. I am so glad I did because they are DELICIOUS! Do you think I could get away with serving these on Thanksgiving instead of the traditional roast turkey? 🙂 Thanks for a great recipe!