Cranberry Glazed Turkey Meatballs

Can there be such a thing as having too many recipes from which to choose?  Well yes, when you have an indecisive personality,  it can be torture.  Take a very simple request to “bring an appetizer” to a holiday party.  I tend to get that deer-in-the-headlights initial response.  Really?  Just one appetizer?  I have hundreds of great appetizer recipes and you’re asking me to choose just one?

Seriously, if I went to a party every day for the rest of my life, I could probably bring an appetizer every time and never repeat a recipe.  Ever.  It’s exhausting being me sometimes.

Lucky for me this past week as I waivered between making a spinach pesto dip and salmon roulade for a Saturday evening get together…the food gods smiled down on me and presented this lovely looking recipe on my Facebook page.  It was fun and holiday-like. Easy to make ahead and transport.  Decision made.  Whew.

Our party was joyous with an ample supply of great food, including a killer cheesy hot Reuben dip, melt-in-your-mouth bracciole, hearty mostaccioli, desserts too numerous to write down and of course a seemingly endless supply of wine.  And the turkey meatballs?  Vanished before my very eyes.

I also got my santa pants back last night.  Don’t ask 🙂

Cranberry Glazed Turkey Meatballs

Cranberry Glaze

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen (no need to defrost)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, to taste


  • 2 large slices white bread, crusts removed, bread torn into small pieces (approximately one cup, packed, or 2 ounces of bread, can sub 1/2 cup of plain breadcrumbs)
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • A generous 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3/4  teaspoon fennel seeds, slightly crushed
  • Flour for dusting (optional)
  • Vegetable oil

1 Make the cranberry glaze by mixing all the glaze ingredients except the cayenne in a small pot. Mix well and simmer until most of the berries have burst, about 15 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing the cranberry mush against the strainer with the side of a rubber spatula. (Be sure to scrape the outside of the sieve with the spatula.) Add cayenne to taste. Can be made a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

2 While the cranberries are cooking, prepare the meatballs. In a small bowl, put the torn bread and sprinkle it with the milk. Use a fork to pulverize the bread a bit. In a large bowl, use the same fork to whisk together the ricotta and the egg until smooth. Add the ground turkey, salt, thyme, fennel seeds and milk-sprinkled bread. Gently mix with your (clean) hands until the ingredients are all incorporated.  Don’t overwork the meatball mixture or the meatballs will become too dense.

3 Gently roll out small meatballs about an 1 inch wide with the palms of your hands and set them on a parchment-lined baking sheet or large plate.  If the mixture starts sticking, just moisten your hands with a few drops of water.  Meatballs can be made up to one day ahead.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

4 Heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil in a wide sauté pan on medium heat.  Dust the meatballs with some flour, rolling them around to lightly coat evenly.  Working in batches, add the meatballs to the pan, taking care not to crowd the pan, and brown all over. Use a fork to gentle nudge the meatballs, turning them.  Add more oil to the pan as needed.

5 Once the meatballs are browned and the glaze has been strained, add the glaze to the pan with the meatballs. Let simmer, uncovered, until the glaze reduces a bit and the meatballs cook through, about 5 minutes. Remove the meatballs to a serving dish. Pour over remaining cranberry glaze. If the glaze during this process is too thick, add a little water. If too thin, let simmer a little longer.

Yields – about 20-30 meatballs depending on size.

So happy to have these back!


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