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turkey meatballs with sage, caramelized onion & cranberry glaze

Nov 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Turkey day is almost upon us. I don’t know about you, but for me, that meant scouring Pinterest for hours on end perusing and pinning interesting Thanksgiving appetizers and Thanksgiving recipes…despite the fact that I’m not even entertaining this year. I’m so excited to be spending this Thanksgiving with Neal’s family, so I thought I’d try a test run of some fancy Turkey, Sage & Cranberry meatballs and perhaps bring them to dinner on Thursday. I was inspired by a mix of recipes, so what you’re about to see is an adaptation of a bit of this recipe and a little of that recipe and then my own mad cooking science. What really made this recipe was the caramelized onions and gruyere (aka food crack), which were my own additions. A word to the wise though, this recipe will not feed an army- so if you have a big family, be sure to double it! 

Some of the stars of the show: plenty of onions, sage, dried cranberries and tangerine zest

Brown butter & sage together before mixing in with the ground turkey to heighten the sage flavors

Start your Cranberry Sauce, mix cranberries with 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar 

Fry ’em up a bit before you pop them in the oven!

After meatballs are completely cooked through, dunk them in the pot with the sauce and let them simmer before plating

You can eat them plain, or pop them on some ciabatta rolls for some insanely delicious sliders

Are you hungry yet?

Here’s the full recipe: 

Turkey Meatballs:

  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon squeezed orange or tangerine juice (or just regular orange juice)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoon chopped sage, chiffonade 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Generous hand full of shredded gruyere cheese
  • 2.5 medium sized yellow onions or 2 large ones
  • Butter (obviously, the more the better)

Cranberry Sauce: 

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup suger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp tangerine zest
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs minced ginger (I actually didn’t have any ginger, so I used a bit of my TJ’s ginger dipping sauce and it worked great)


  • Chop your onions & sage, sauté in butter with tangerine zest on low until caramelized (the longer you let these sit on low heat, the better)  
  • Once they’re pretty caramel-like, throw in your cranberries and cook on low for another 5 minutes or so
  • Assemble the remaining meatball ingredients in a bowl, add the onion mix when it’s done cooking
  • While you’re forming your meatballs, get the cranberry sauce going in a separate pan 
  • When you’ve assembled your meatball mixture, fry up a bit in the pan to taste and ensure you’ve gotten the seasoning right. I cannot stress this enough– I did this three times before I was happy with the seasoning! 
  • Form the meatballs, remembering to make them small and pop-able! 
  • Brown them in a pan for a few minutes
  • Transfer meatballs to a baking sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes until cooked thoroughly 

Serving options: 

  • Option 1: Dunk them in the cranberry glaze at this point, or serve the cranberry sauce on the side for dipping. Either way is pure deliciousness! 
  • Option 2:  Serve them as sliders with mayo and melted gruyere cheese. I chose this route because I’m never happy unless carbs are somehow incorporated into my food, but I’m really glad I did. These were some of the best sliders I’ve ever had. 


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