Cranberry-Stuffed Chicken Meatballs

Lean chicken meatballs get a tasty upgrade with a tangy cranberry filling. This healthy appetizer is a recipe you’ll reach for again and again, especially in fall, when antioxidant-rich cranberries are in season.

Cranberry Chicken Meatballs
Photo by Perry Santanachote

Yields 22 meatballs

Prep time: 15 minutes (plus 2 hours chill time)
Cook time: 30 minutes



1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1 pound ground chicken
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs, soaked in 2 tablespoons skim milk
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup packed spinach, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground marjoram
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 ounces fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon orange zest


  1. In a food processor, pulse the pine nuts until just crumbly.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients from pine nuts through black pepper, being careful not to over mix. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  3. In the meantime, make the cranberry sauce. In a small saucepan, bring the cranberries, sugar, orange juice and rosemary to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the zest. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature while the meat marinates.
  4. Heat oven to 400°F and grease two rimmed baking sheets.
  5. Scoop a tablespoon of meat into your hand, drop a cranberry from the sauce into its center and scoop another tablespoon of meat on top; roll into a ball. Place meatballs on the baking sheet 1/2 inch apart and bake until cooked through and lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Serve warm with the rest of the cranberry sauce.

Pro Tip

Make the meatballs and cranberry sauce up to 48 hours in advance. Store them covered in the fridge. Reheat meatballs at 250°F for 20 minutes and bring cranberry sauce to room temperature before serving.

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