These Cranberry Orange Chicken Meatballs are an excellent party and holiday appetizer. The sweet citrus flavor pairs perfectly with tart cranberries and bold rosemary making a chicken meatball everyone will enjoy!
I love meatballs. Who doesn’t love meatballs? Classic Italian meatballs and Swedish meatballs were my favorite until I took one bite of these cranberry orange chicken meatballs. Imagine everything you love about cranberry sauce rolled into a sweet, tangy and savory ground chicken meatball.
With so few ingredients, it’s hard to believe ground chicken meatballs can have so much flavor, but these are DELICIOUS. Orange zest, cranberries and fresh rosemary infuse bright, tart and cozy aromatic flavor. Serve them during special occasions as a gluten-free appetizer or with a couple of wholesome sides as a keto and Whole30 entree.
These simple instructions will show you how to bake cranberry orange chicken meatballs in the oven and how to make them in the air fryer. Ready to make meatballs? Let’s do it.
💗 Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- They’re juicy and loaded with festive cranberry sauce flavor.
- Baking meatballs is SO much easier than cooking them in a pan.
- The ingredients are simple and inherently keto, paleo and Whole30 compliant.
- They’re the perfect appetizer, party snack and main course.
- Ground Chicken – Ground chicken has a bad rep for being bland. That may be true, but with the right spices and seasonings it’s delicious. It absorbs flavor and is a great source of lean protein.
- Egg – binds the meatball mixture and keeps the meatballs moist.
- Almond Flour – is an awesome gluten-free breadcrumb substitution. It absorbs the chicken juices as the meatballs cook, so all of that flavor and moisture gets locked into the meatballs.
- Orange Zest – adds a sweet and citrusy zing.
- Dried Cranberries – add bursts of sweet and tart flavor. If you’re looking for sugar-free and Whole30 compliant dried cranberries, check these out these Honestly Unsweeteened Dried Cranberries.
- Fresh Rosemary – adds woodsy, peppery flavor. There’s something about this aromatic herb that’s cozy and comforting.
- Seasonings – You can use a premade poultry seasoning, or a little bit of garlic powder, salt, and pepper is all you need for this one.
📖 How To Make Cranberry Orange Chicken Meatballs
1️⃣ Preheat oven and prep baking sheet.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Set aside.
2️⃣ Combine ingredients.
In a large bowl, add the ground chicken, egg, almond flour, orange zest, dried cranberries, rosemary, and seasonings. Using your hands, combine the ingredients thoroughly without overworking the mixture.
3️⃣ Roll meatballs.
Using your hands, roll the mixture into 1/2″ meatballs. Place the meatballs onto the baking sheet.
4️⃣ Bake and serve.
Transfer the meatballs to your preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve warm with toothpicks.
👩🏻🍳 Chef’s Tip
- If you have the time, rehydrating your cranberries will prevent them from absorbing the moisture we want locked into the chicken. Soaking them in water for 2 hours will plump them back up.
- Ground chicken varies in how moist it is, so you may need to adjust the almond flour if the mixture is too sticky. Add in a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is workable.
- Another way you can make the mixture easier to work with is by chilling it in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10.
- There’s nothing worse than a dry meatball, so do your best not to overcook them.
- To check for doneness, cut into one and make sure the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear -or use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees.
♨️ Air Fryer Instructions
Cranberry orange chicken meatballs can also be made in the air fryer. This is especially convenient when cooking a large holiday meal, and you need the oven available for the main course. To air fry:
1️⃣ Make the meatballs according to the oven directions. While prepping the meatballs, preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees.
2️⃣ Carefully place the meatballs in the air fryer basket in a single – layer and air fry until cooked through (about 12 to 15 minutes). Flip each meatball halfway through.
Cranberry meatballs are super flexible and easy to customize. Check out some of my favorite variations below:
Using a different ground meat: Feel free to use ground turkey or ground beef. If you use beef, bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees and then let the meatballs rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before serving.
Fresh herbs: Any woodsy aromatic herb adds cozy, festive flavor. Thyme, tarragon and sage are great options.
Dried fruit: Dried cranberries are the star of these meatballs. You can enhance them by adding additional dried fruit like raisins, dates and apricots.
Chopped nuts: Stir finely chopped walnuts or pecans into the meatball mixture for crunch and fiber.
🍽️ Make Orange Cranberry Meatballs a Meal
With a couple of hearty sides, these meatballs are a fantastic meal. They go great with:
♻️ Storing & Freezing
Storing – Store your meatballs in a shallow airtight container or bag in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days.
Freezing – To freeze, spread cooled meatballs on a baking sheet and set in the freezer until frozen solid. Then put the meatballs in a freezer-safe airtight bag and freeze for 2 to 3 months.
Sure! You can shape the meatballs and store them covered in the fridge up to a day in advance.
Chicken meatballs and beef meatballs are great for low carb diets. Beef generally has more calories and fat than chicken, so it truly depends on your dietary lifestyle.
To make moist meatballs, look for ground chicken with the highest fat to lean meat ratio
More Appetizer Recipes
Cranberry Orange Chicken Meatballs
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup almond flour fine
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ½ cup dried cranberries chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the ground chicken, egg, almond flour, orange zest, dried cranberries, rosemary, and seasonings. Using your hands, combine the ingredients thoroughly without overworking the mixture.
- Using your hands, roll the mixture into 1/2" meatballs. Place the meatballs on to the baking sheet.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the meatballs are fully cooked through. Serve warm with toothpicks.