These Cranberry Meatballs are one of my most requested appetizers! Orange juice and orange zest give them another wonderful depth of flavor! They are tart, sweet and very fruity! Also, they are gluten and lactose / dairy free!
It used to be exceedingly difficult to find ingredients that were GF and DF.
Fortunately, in recent years gluten and dairy free ingredients are much more readily available than they have been in the past.
I would strongly encourage if you are feeding someone who is severely allergic to Lactose, CAREFULLY check the label!
The following is a partial list of potential culprits from the FDA website;
- evaporated milk
- condensed milk
- dried milk
- powdered milk
- milk solids
I will add…
- sodium caseinate
- buttermilk anything
Even things you wouldn’t think would have any Lactose in them, such as hot dogs and sausages, have fillers that contain Lactose!
Finding gluten free ingredients is even easier now. Items with gluten are pretty easily identified. Wheat, barley, rye, bulgur wheat, wheat starch, triticale, malt, brewer’s yeast all contain gluten.
A product to make double sure that are certified gluten free is oats, mainly because they are processed in factories that process products containing gluten.
But when in doubt, a few simple substitutions will work wonders for your recipes too.
These Cranberry Orange Meatballs are always a huge hit! Zero left by the end of a party!
Mincing the garlic and onion directly over the bowl adds lots of flavor and keeps your meatballs moist.
What you need
- ground beef
- dairy free milk
- gluten free binder (I use corn chex)
How to make them
- Whisk egg
- Grind up cereal in food processor.
- Get the cereal ground finely.
- Add meat, milk, spices, egg, cereal to a medium bowl.
- Grate garlic directly over the bowl.
- Grate onion directly over the bowl.
- Once everything is added to bowl, mix well.
- Mixed up meatball mixture.
- Use a cookie scoop to portion out meatballs.
- Roll between the palms of your hands. Place on cookie sheet.
- Bake at 375°F / 190°C for 25-35 minutes until browned and internal reaches 165°F / 75°C. You can also air fry your meatballs.
Ingredients for sauce
- jellied cranberry sauce
- soy sauce (be sure to buy tamari or GF soy sauce)
- brown sugar
How to make the sauce
- Add cranberry, sherry, soy and brown sugar to a small saucepan.
- Grate ginger directly over pan.
- Zest orange directly over pan.
- Squeeze orange juice
- Add to pan. Cook down over medium low heat, stirring often, until thickened.
You can use a variety of substitutions for bread crumbs. In this case I used corn chex that I ground up with my food processor. You can also use rice chex, corn flakes or cornmeal. There are also commercial gluten free bread crumbs available now. I have even used leftover cooked rice for the bread crumbs.
Pro tips for your success
- Use a cookie scoop to portion meat out so that your meatballs are approximately the same size.
- Bake, air fry meatballs or fry in a cast iron pan.
- Grating the onion and garlic results in juicy meatballs with tons of flavor and meatballs don’t have large chunks in them.
- You may want to try these meatballs with less orange zest. If you use the zest from a whole large orange they are very fruity. Most people love that. A few like them better when I use only half of the zest.
Everyone that has tried these cranberry orange meatballs raves about them! They are extra moist and tender, and very, very fruity! Try these!
Other delicious appetizers
Tools I use for these Cranberry orange meatballs
Don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter, so that you don’t miss any new recipes! Only 1 email per week, on Fridays. Sign up form is below!
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!
For all of my favorite tools for cooking and gift ideas, see my New Amazon Store
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for stopping by today!
Enjoy! And have fun cooking!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click the link and purchase something. This helps us to bring you more great free recipes! Thank you! See FTC Disclosure, here.
Cranberry Orange Mini Meatballs
For the Sauce
- 1 can jellied cranberry sauce (14 oz.)
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce Make sure you use GF soy sauce or tamari
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- Juice and zest from one orange preferably a juice orange NOTE: Using all of the zest from the orange gives the sauce a strong orange flavor. 90% of taste tasters loved it. The other 10% preferred the sauce when I only used about 2 tsp. of Zest!
- 2 Tbsp sherry
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger grated
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Place the beef in a medium mixing bowl.
- Grate the onion and garlic directly into the same bowl to collect the juice too.
- Add egg.
- Pulse the chex in a food processor until fine; Soak chex in the milk for a few minutes. Add to meat.
- Add sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly but gently. Don’t over work.
- Shape with a tablespoon so the meatballs are all approximately the same size.
- Place meatballs on a baking sheet.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden and cooked through, 165°F.
For the Sauce
- While meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce
- Place all ingredients In a small saucepan over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Sauce will thicken up nicely and should be ready about the same time as the meatballs are cooked through.
Originally Published 7/6/16 updated 4/28/21