Cranberry Orange Meatballs {paleo, Whole 30, AIP}

pile of cranberry orange meatballs next to dipping sauce
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For a simple yet flavorful meatball, try cranberry orange meatballs!

Surprisingly enough, these meatballs are egg-free, breadcrumb-free, and flour-free!

What’s the secret to getting these meatballs to hold together?

Shredded sweet potatoes!

And while most cranberry orange meatballs just use the cranberries and orange for the sauce, these meatballs actually have the flavors cooked right into the meatball!

So if you don’t want to make a sauce or glaze for the meatballs, you don’t have to!

All of the cranberry and orange flavor is already in the meatball!

And the cranberries also make the meatballs a festive red color!

This makes these meatballs a great holiday appetizer or potluck dish!

hand about to dip cranberry orange meatball in dipping sauce

How to Make Cranberry Orange Meatballs

With just a few easy steps, you can have these meatballs made in no time!

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.

Then get the cranberries and sweet potatoes ready while the oven heats.

I like to use my food processor for both of these tasks that way I only have to get one kitchen appliance dirty.

If you don’t have a food processor though, don’t worry, I will give you some other options!

Prepare the Cranberries

To help these meatballs stay together better, I like to chop the cranberries up into smaller pieces.

I have made these meatballs with whole cranberries though, so it is possible to do!

Just be warned that the larger cranberry pieces will give those bites a little more zip since cranberries are so tart!

To make it easier to process the cranberries into smaller pieces, I find that frozen cranberries work best.

Put the frozen cranberries in a food processor with the processor blade.

food processor full of frozen cranberries

Pulse them a few times and you should have cranberry pieces that look like the picture below.

fodd processor full of chopped frozen cranberries

If you have fresh cranberries, you have two options.

First, you can wash and then throw the berries in the freezer for a couple of hours to make them firmer for a food processor to chop through.

Alternatively, if you are making dinner right away and want to move forward with this recipe, grab a steak knife and cut the cranberries up with a knife.

This will obviously take a little longer, but it will help keep dinner moving!

Once you have the cranberries processed, add them to a large bowl with the ground pork.

glass bowl with chopped cranberries and ground pork

Prepare the Sweet Potatoes

To make the shredded sweet potatoes, I normally just swap the blade in the food processor for the shredding plate.

No need to wash anything up yet!

I wash and cut the sweet potatoes down into large chunks so that they will fit in the food processor opening.

food processor with chopped sweet potato next to it

Run the sweet potato through the food processor and shred it all up.

food processor full of shredded potatoes

And if you don’t have a food processor, don’t worry!

You can easily shred sweet potato by hand with a grater!

Again, this will take a little more time, but shredding one sweet potato by hand isn’t bad at all!

I can normally get about 2 cups of shredded sweet potato from one large sweet potato.

And don’t fret if you are a little under or over on the two cups.

As long as you are somewhere within a half cup of the two cups you should be fine!

Go ahead and add the sweet potato to the bowl with the cranberries and pork.

And if you end up with way too much sweet potato, make sweet potato hash to serve with the meatballs or the next morning with scrambled eggs!

Just take any leftover shredded sweet potato and fry it up in a pan with butter or avocado oil until the potatoes are soft.

glass bowl with meatball ingredients

Make the Cranberry Orange Meatball Mixture

Now that your bowl has pork, chopped cranberries, and shredded sweet potato, it’s time to finish off this meat mixture!

Add the salt and the optional coconut flour, if using.

glass bowl of meatball ingredients

The coconut flour does help soak up some of the orange juice, but it isn’t necessary to keep the meatballs together.

The starch from the sweet potatoes is more than enough to keep the meatballs together.

Now zest the orange until you have about a half Tablespoon of orange zest.

hand holding orange to zest it with a grater

Add the zest to the bowl.

Now cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice from one orange half into the meat mixture.

hand squeezing orange juice into glass bowl

Use your hands to mix everything together.

You want everything to be well incorporated!

Hand mixing cranberry orange meatball mixture

Form the Cranberry Orange Meatballs

Using a spoon or a cookie scoop, make evenly sized meatballs.

cookie scoop with cranberry orange meatball mixture

Mine are normally about a 1-inch diameter with the cookie scoop I use.

This usually results in about 28 meatballs as shown below (depending on how much over or under I was with the two cups of shredded sweet potato).

cookie sheet of raw cranberry orange meatballs

You can either scoop them straight onto the cookie sheet or you can take the time to roll them between your hands to get them perfectly round.

Either way, they will still taste great!

And some people like to line their cookie sheet with parchment paper when making meatballs.

I find that the pork and orange juice adds enough moisture that these don’t really stick.

But if you are making these for a party appetizer or family get-together and you want them to look perfect, try using parchment paper to keep them from sticking at all!

Cook the Cranberry Orange Meatballs

Once all of the meatballs are formed, cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

If desired, you can rotate the meatballs halfway through, but I’m usually too busy doing other things to worry about that!

When the timer goes off, stick a thermometer in one of the middle meatballs to make sure it reads 165 degrees.

cookie sheet of baked cranberry orange meatballs

Enjoy hot with dipping sauce or glaze if desired (see below for some options)!

cranberry orange meatballs on white plate with bowl of cranberry sauce

What Other Meat Can Be Used To Make Cranberry Orange Meatballs

If you can’t find plain ground pork at the store (anyone else still seeing empty shelves during the pandemic?), don’t worry!

An easy substitution would be to use a sausage meat.

While these normally come with some seasoning already in them, Italian seasoning would pair well with the flavors in this dish!

But say your family doesn’t even like pork!

Pretty much any ground meat will work for this recipe.

Feel free to use ground turkey.

This would give the meatballs a wonderful Thanksgiving-ish taste.

Kind of like having turkey with an orange cranberry sauce.

Or you can also use ground beef!

There’s a reason why orange beef recipes are popular – those flavors go well together!

And for someone feeling really adventurous, try ground bison!

Like I said, any ground meat will work!

hand reaching for cranberry orange meatball with metal tongs

What Dipping Sauce or Glaze Can I Use With These Meatballs?

My favorite dipping sauce to serve with these meatballs is my cranberry orange sauce!

The bright red color looks so good next to a pile of meatballs!

The cranberry orange sauce is also thick and slightly sticky which helps it stick to the meatballs, making it a good dipping sauce.

Other good dipping sauces could be a classic BBQ sauce, a honey mustard sauce, or just plain honey!

If you want to serve these in a warmer or crockpot as a party dish, it would work better to have a glaze to keep the meatballs moist.

An easy option would tossing them in butter (from my keto roots haha!).

But for an actual glaze, you could mix together the juice from the other half of the orange, along with 2 Tablespoons of a sweetener of your choice (can be a granular sweetener like Lakanto sugar or a liquid sweetener like honey), 2 Tablespoons of coconut aminos (or soy sauce), 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and a teaspoon of almond or cassava flour. Stir together all of the glaze ingredients over low heat on the stove and then top the meatballs with the sauce.

And remember – these meatballs are great even without a dipping sauce or glaze since they are already baked with delicious flavors in them!

hand dipping cranberry orange meatball into cranberry sauce

What to Serve With Cranberry Orange Meatballs

You might be wondering how to serve these meatballs since they are such a unique flavor!

First of all, they are great as an appetizer for a party, with or without a dipping sauce!

But if you are going to eat this for a dinner, these taste great with cooked cauli-rice and a splash of coconut aminos.

And to add color to your plate, use with a vegetable side.

Potential vegetable sides include:

Alternatively, instead of the cauli-rice, you could make a fried cabbage to serve with these meatballs.

You could also serve them with a mashed cauliflower or mashed potato side.

Another great option is my fluffy cornbread for a side!

Keep in mind the meatballs already have sweet potato in them which is why I focus more on serving them with vegetable sides.

plate of cranberry orange meatballs with cranberry sauce

 

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Cranberry Orange Meatballs {paleo, Whole 30, AIP}


  • Author: Monster Cookie
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

For a simple yet flavorful meatball, try cranberry orange meatballs! These meatballs are egg-free, breadcrumb-free, and flour-free!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries (see above for directions for fresh cranberries)
  • 2 cups shredded sweet potatoes (about 1 large sweet potato)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 2 Tablespoons coconut flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put the frozen cranberries in a food processor with the processor blade (see above for directions if you don’t have a food processor). Pulse them a few times so they are small pieces. Add them to a large bowl with the ground pork.
  3. Swap the blade in the food processor for the shredding plate. Cut the sweet potato into large chunks that will fit in your food processor and shred the sweet potato. Add the sweet potato to the bowl with the cranberries and pork. Add the salt and the optional coconut flour, if using.
  4. Now zest the orange until you have about a half Tablespoon of orange zest. Add the zest to the bowl with the other meatball ingredients. Now cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice from one orange half into the meat mixture.
  5. Mix the meatball ingredients together so that everything is well incorporated.
  6. Using a spoon or a cookie scoop, make evenly sized meatballs. You can either scoop them straight onto a cookie sheet, or you can take the time to roll them between your hands to get them perfectly round.
  7. Once all of the meatballs are formed, bake for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, stick a thermometer in one of the middle meatballs to make sure it reads 165 degrees.
  8. Enjoy hot with dipping sauce or glaze if desired (see above for some options)!

Notes

Storage: Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Freezing: Meatballs are also GREAT for storing in the freezer. Store in an airtight storage container or freezer safe bag (I love my silicone bags!) for up to 6 months for best freshness. The meatballs are safe to eat indefinitely, but will taste best if consumed within the 6 month guideline.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4 meatballs
  • Calories: 197
  • Sugar: 3.6
  • Fat: 10.9
  • Carbohydrates: 9.2
  • Fiber: 1.9
  • Protein: 14.1

cranberry orange meatballs long pin

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