Cape Cod-style meatballs with cranberries

A tasty party treat or main dish!

As a Canadian, I have often wondered why cranberries feature prominently in a number of recipes whose origins are attributed to Cape Cod. However, I recently learned that the majority of the United States’ approximately 1,100 cranberry farms are concentrated in Massachusetts (Cape Cod’s state) and Wisconsin (by comparison most Canadian commercial cranberry operations are in Quebec and British Columbia). These meatballs are based on a classic treat that’s been served up at cocktail parties decades, although I’ve taken a little liberty with the traditional recipe handed to me by a lifelong Cape Codder to reflect my preference for a less sweet and slightly spicier dish. You can serve the meatballs ‘as is’ with toothpicks for snacking, or spoon them and the sauce over rice to turn it into an easy and delicious meal.


  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) canola oil
  • 1 pound (454 g) ground turkey or chicken
  • 1/3 cup (33 g)  panko (use gluten-free dry bread crumbs if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons (7.5 g) chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) soy sauce (or tamari, for gluten-free version)
  • 2 teaspoons (3.2 g) each dehydrated onion and garlic
  • 1 cup (290 g) whole-berry cranberry sauce (see below for my recipe)
  • 1/2 cup (117 g) ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons (8.3 g) packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) hoisin sauce (look for a gluten-free version if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Sambal Oelek (or other hot sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.65 g) each powdered ginger and smoked paprika
  • Additional fresh parsley, to garnish


  • Preheat oven to 375F. Swirl canola oil into a 10 or 12 inch (25 or 30 cm) heavy duty, oven-safe skillet or baking dish.
  • Mix ground meat, bread crumbs, parsley, egg, soy sauce and dehydrated onion and garlic in a bowl until thoroughly combined (you may find it easiest to do this with your hands to ensure seasonings are evenly distributed).
  • With your hands or a small cookie scoop, shape meatballs approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in size, packing the mixture just enough to hold together. Arrange meatballs in the prepared skillet or baking dish.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until meatballs are browned, about 15 -20 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 165F.
  • While meatballs are baking, combine cranberry sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, lemon and orange juice, hoisin, Sambal Oelek, ginger and paprika in a bowl; whisk until well blended.
  • Pour the sauce over meatballs and bake until sauce is bubbling and meatballs are nicely glazed, about 20 minutes more, stirring gently once or twice during cooking to distribute sauce.
  • Transfer to a chafing dish or serving platter, or spoon over bowls of hot cooked rice. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.  

Serves 4 people as a main course or many as a snack.

Paula’s whole berry cranberry sauce


  • 4 cups (520 g) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar


  • Place cranberries and water in a large saucepan, placed over medium-high heat. Cover pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low (or a little higher, if needed, to maintain a steady boil). Cook for about 8 minutes, until berries have softened.
  • Stir in sugar and increase heat to bring the mixture back to the boil. Cook, covered, for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer to clean jars and refrigerate until needed (or process in a hot water bath for longer-term, unrefrigerated storage).

Makes 3 cups / 750 mL.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

8 thoughts

  1. Good Morning from Nova Scotia! The ingredient list includes ground poultry but the instructions say beef—-I assume either would work but wonder if you have a preference?

    1. I’ve not seen Nigellla’s recipe so cannot compare but I can say that cutting back on the sugar was definitely one of the modifications I made to the old recipe I was given. 🙂

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