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Cranberry BBQ Turkey Meatballs

This recipe stems from my mothers own quintessential holiday recipe. I remember as a kid, that she’d always cook up these sweet and sour meatballs and bring them along to the company holiday, picnic, gathering, etc. I don’t really know what it’s called, but she’d bring along a large rectangular electric wok-like pan. She’d fill it with her saucy meatballs and plug it in. She’d then plunk down a bunch of thick wooden toothpicks and wait for the meaty little orbs to heat back up!

I remember sitting next to the pan, bored and dreading the holiday company gathering, and I’d quietly eat all the meatballs, while no one was looking. To this day, I don’t really know what she did, but they were juicy and sweet! I’m assuming they were meatballs floating in a mixture of ketchup and grape jelly, but I cannot recall. Whatever they were, they were delicious!

My own version of this recipe tries to achieve a similar thing, a sweet and tart sauce, but rather than using a can of grape jelly, I’ve gone a slight step further, creating something like a sweet and smoky Cranberry BBQ Sauce. These, were also delicious!

The moment after I took these photos, I set the meatballs on the counter and quietly ate them all, while no one was looking.

I might suggest making a double batch, when you DO make these. Half for you and half for the party people.

Happy Holidays!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 210.33666666667kcal
Author: DJ Foodie


Turkey Meatballs

  • 2 tbsp fresh whole butter softened
  • 1 small onion peeled and finely diced
  • 4 each garlic clove minced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage chopped
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Cranberry BBQ Sauce

  • 1 each orange
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage chopped
  • 1/2 cup reduced sugar ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sugar free maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat oven to 425 F.
  • For the meatballs ...
  • Sauté the onions and garlic, in butter, over medium-high heat. Add a little salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes. A little brown color is fine. Once this is done, set aside.
  • Mix together the turkey, egg, fresh sage, salt, pepper and onion mixture. Combine well with your hands.
  • Roll small meatballs with your hands. 1/2 to 3/4 oz. per ball (about 15 to 20 grams).
  • Set your meatballs on a greased tray and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • For the sauce ...
  • Use a zester or the fine side of a cheese grater to zest the outside of the orange (just remove the orange part, not the white part). Place the grated orange skin (zest) into a wide sauté pan.
  • Juice the orange, removing the seeds, and add the juice to the pan.
  • Add remaining ingredients and simmer until the cranberries begin to break down and the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.
  • Add your meatballs to the sauce and season with salt and pepper, to adjust seasoning.
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve!


Serving: 6g | Calories: 210.33666666667kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.008333333333g | Protein: 14.436666666667g | Fat: 10.706666666667g | Fiber: 3.305g