For day 6 of my “12 Days of Christmas Recipes” we are making cranberry bbq ricotta meatballs! These meatballs come together quickly and are the perfect appetizer for any party.
Any classic Christmas party I’ve been to has some sort of meatball appetizer. It feels like a staple. Now if you are the one hosting the party, you can make sure you’ve got the meatballs covered! And everyone will love these. The meatballs are soft and tender and the sauce is tangy and just the right amount of sweet.
what ingredients do i need for these meatballs?
- ground turkey (or pork or beef)
- ricotta cheese
- panko breadcrumbs
- onion powder
- salt & pepper
- cranberry sauce
- bbq sauce
- dijon mustard
- chicken broth
homemade vs. store-bought meatballs
If you have the time, it is very worth it to make these meatballs from scratch. The ricotta in them makes them so soft and tender! Plus they’re very easy to make — add everything to a bowl, mix, and bake.
But, if you want to save some time, you can use pre-made meatballs! Any kind will do. Trader Joe’s has some excellent turkey meatballs or small party sized beef meatballs. Both are in their frozen section and are delicious. If you go the store-bought route, just heat up the meatballs according to the package instructions, then continue with the sauce!
what bbq sauce to use?
You can use any kind of bbq sauce for these meatballs! With that said, bbq sauces can vary greatly, so I would recommend using a tomato based sauce (not a mustard based sauce). A few brands of bbq sauce that would work great in this recipe are Sweet Baby Ray’s, Stubb’s, Famous Dave’s. If you have another brand you love, go ahead and use that!
making the meatballs ahead of time
If you need to make these ahead of time, that’s totally fine, and there’s a few ways you can do it! The first option is to cook these in a slow cooker. Add the ingredients for the sauce to a slow cooker, then add the cooked meatballs in. Turn your slow cooker to low and the meatballs can simmer in there for a few hours! So if you are hosting a party and want to have these done before everyone comes over, then stay warm the whole time your guests are over, the slow cooker is a great option.
If you don’t want to use a slow cooker, then you can prep everything beforehand. Cook the meatballs and then keep them in the fridge. Then, when you’re ready to eat, quickly make the sauce and add the meatballs in! Prepping the meatballs beforehand can save you a good 20 minutes!
other recipes from my 12 days of christmas recipes
- whipped feta and hot honey stuffed pears
- wreath cookies
- homemade wheat rolls
- vegan cranberry brown sugar cookies
cranberry bbq ricotta meatballs
- 2 lbs ground turkey (beef or pork work too)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
cranberry bbq sauce
- 1 14 oz can cranberry sauce
- 1 1/2 cups bbq sauce (i like sweet baby ray's)
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- Preheat the oven to 400. Add the ground turkey, ricotta cheese, panko breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper to a bowl. Mix until everything is well combined.
- Using a small cookie scoop (or just your hands), scoop out the meat and roll it into a smooth ball. Transfer to a greased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining meat.
- Bake for 20 minutes, turning half way through. Make sure the meat is fully cooked (if you are using turkey, it must reach 165 degrees fahrenheit).
- While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce (*for a slow cooker method, see the paragraph above). Add cranberry sauce, bbq sauce, dijon mustard, and chicken broth to a large pan over medium low heat. Mix until well combined and smooth. Let the sauce come to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, until it starts to thicken.
- Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and cook on low for 5 minutes. Enjoy!