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Cranberry meatballs on a white serving plate with small forks in them on a white tray with an orange and cranberries in background.

Cranberry Party Meatballs

These Cranberry Party Meatballs make a festive appetizer or meal perfect for those holiday gatherings! They come together in less than 30 minutes and are a great make-ahead option! Serve cocktail-style or along with preferred sides.  {Gluten-free & paleo}
5 from 3 votes
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Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 40 meatballs
Calories: 57kcal
Author: Elysia


For the meatballs

  • 2 lbs extra lean ground chicken can also sub in ground beef or turkey
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (can also sub in regular or gluten-free bread crumbs, if desired)
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh parsley finely minced (plus more for garnishing)

For the cranberry sauce:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1.5 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper (or more to taste)


  • Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together ground chicken, onion powder, almond flour, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and parsley in a large mixing bowl, being careful not to overwork the mixture. Form into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until meatballs are lightly browned and cooked through.
  • While the meatballs are baking, whisk together orange juice and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until the honey dissolves. Add cranberries and cook for about 10 minutes, until the berries soften, then reduce heat and add orange zest, cinnamon and chili garlic sauce, cooking for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. You may wish to mash the cranberries with the back of a wooden spoon to achieve a jam-like consistency.
  • Remove cranberry sauce from heat and season with salt and pepper as needed. Toss sauce with baked meatballs, garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!


  • Use extra lean or lean ground chicken for leaner meatballs with less saturated fat content. You can also sub in extra lean or lean ground turkey, beef or pork.
  • If you find your meatballs are a bit dry, you can add an egg to the meat mixture. I've made the meatballs both with and without an egg and both times, the recipe turned out well. That being said, I found the meatballs easier to roll without the egg, so that's why I chose to leave it out of the recipe.
  • Don't overwork the meatball mixture when combining the ingredients or the meatballs will be tough.
  • Wet your hands before rolling the meat mixture into balls to prevent mixture from sticking to your hands. You can also use a small ice cream scoop to make the meatballs if you have one on hand.
  • Don't turn up the heat too high when cooking the cranberry sauce or the cranberries may pop and splash all over you and the kitchen. Instead, keep the saucepan over medium low heat to minimize any mess (and burns) and prevent the cranberry sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Adjust amount of chili garlic sauce depending on how much heat you like. I used two tablespoons and found that it offered just the right amount of heat without being overly spicy.
  • For a thicker, less chunky cranberry sauce, mash the cranberries with the back of a spoon or fork when they're all done cooking.
  • If you like your meatballs extra saucy or plan to serve the meatballs up over rice, you may wish to double the cranberry sauce recipe. If you have sauce  leftover, you can always freeze any extra sauce.


Calories: 57kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 137mg | Potassium: 154mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 42IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg
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