Perfectly moist, cheese-y Turkey Cranberry Meatballs are studded with dried cranberries and topped with a tangy cranberry, orange and maple glaze. The perfect appetizer or main dish for entertaining!
These Turkey Cranberry Meatballs with Cranberry, Orange and Maple Glaze are going to be your new favorite thing. Pinky promise. They’re perfectly sweet and tart at the same time, yet laced with savory herbs and cheese…and did I mention they’re drenched in the most fabulous, winter fruit-y glaze? C’monnnnn…You know you want to make these for your next holiday get-together!
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time now, you’ll know that I love anything that can pass for an hors d’oeuvres OR a full-fledged dinner. Take, for example, these Asiago Chipotle Shrimp Toasts or these Crab Zucchini Stuffing Cakes with Lemon-Basil Aioli. I mean, if you’re going to nail a recipe, you might as well nail one that can multitask, am I right?
These Turkey Cranberry Meatballs with Cranberry, Orange and Maple Glaze most definitely fit the multitasking bill. I mean, I wouldn’t even be made if these showed up on the table for brunch. They do, after all, have a hefty serving of antioxidant-packed fruit AND protein. Can we get a heck ya?
A little BTS look at the development of what has become one of my go-to, most tasty recipes of the season: I actually had to practice these meatballs (and the accompanying sauce) a couple of times to really nail down the recipe. For the first go-around, the meatballs came out just a bit too dry and the sauce was just wayyyy too spicy yet tart at the same time. Even with a trip to Quebec City looming ahead of me, I just couldn’t bring myself to post the recipe as it was. I take this food blogging job very seriously and would hate to lead you astray with something I wasn’t completely happy with!
But then, oh but then. Round two of Turkey Cranberry Meatballs recipe testing began and the finished product was just showstopping! Hence, why I’m so very excited to share it with you today.
So, because I thought the meatballs were too dry the first time I tried this recipe, I decided to add some whole-milk ricotta in addition to the milk, Parmesan and egg. It gave these balls the perfect, even cheesier touch. I was a little worried that they would fall flat in the oven, but no sir-ee! They turned out just perfect.
For the glaze, I decided to tone down the orange juice and red pepper flakes and use maple syrup instead of sugar to add some extra dimension to the sweetener. These were the perfect adjustments! The glaze turned out perfectly sweet with just a hint of savory spice from the addition of some chicken broth and the pepper flakes.
The other great thing about these Turkey Cranberry Meatballs with Cranberry, Orange and Maple Glaze is that they are sooo easy to prepare. All of the ingredients for the meatballs come together in one bowl, and the glaze can be made while the meatballs complete their first round in the oven.
We douse the meatballs in the glaze before the second round of baking, which results in them being perfectly moist and marinated. Once they’re done cooking through, the meatballs are ready to be served!
The hubs and I enjoyed these over some whole wheat pasta, but you could also serve them (as I mentioned) with toothpicks as an appetizer, or even over mashed potatoes or some sort of grain. I’m also thinking some Turkey Cranberry Meatballs with Cranberry, Orange and Maple Glaze might be over-the-top delicious sandwiched in a hoagie roll or hot dog bun? Danggggg….I think I need to go make myself another batch now….
Turkey Cranberry Meatballs with Cranberry, Orange and Maple Glaze
For the meatballs:
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 cup panko (or breadcrumbs)
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
- 1 teaspoon fennel pollen
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
For the glaze:
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup water
- Zest of one orange
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Place dried cranberries in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, until cranberries become plump. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the olive oil to a small saute pan over medium heat. Once olive oil is heated, add the shallot and garlic, and saute for about 3 minutes, or until mixture becomes fragrant. Remove from heat.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, milk, egg, Parmesan, panko, ricotta, thyme, fennel pollen, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Drain the cranberries from their water and add them as well, stirring the whole mixture until all ingredients are well combined.
- Coat a large baking dish (I used one that was 8 ½” x 12”) with nonstick cooking spray. Take approximately 1/3 cups’ worth of the meatball mixture at a time and mold it into a ball. Place in baking dish and repeat with rest of mixture. It’s okay if you have to pack them in tight to fit them all.
- Bake meatballs in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- In the meantime, start making your glaze. Combine all glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and cook until cranberries break down and a loose glaze forms.
- When time is up for the meatballs, remove them from the oven and turn it down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. If the glaze isn’t quite ready yet, just leave the meatballs out until it is (it shouldn’t be too long.)
- When the glaze is ready, pour it over the meatballs and return them to the now 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve warm.