Cranberries: The Little Berry that Could—Plus a Cranberry-Glazed Chipotle Meatball Recipe

Looking for a simple fix to make your holidays a little healthier? Eat more cranberries! These little guys are filled with disease-preventing antioxidants called polyphenols. They also deliver immune-boosting vitamin C and digestion-friendly fiber. While cranberries may be best known for their ability to fend off urinary tract infections, they’re capable of way more. They’re so powerful that a growing body of research reveals they may also help protect against illnesses like heart disease, stomach ulcers, and gum disease.

Of course, you could pop open a can of cranberry sauce to get your fill. But naturally-tart cranberries are often processed with a lot of sugar (5 ½ teaspoons per tiny quarter-cup of cranberry sauce). The good news is cranberries are a breeze to prepare from scratch. Just simmer them with some water and spices, and they’ll practically cook themselves. You’ll still need a little sugar to offset their tang, but nothing close to the amount in ready-made cranberry products. 

So don’t save cranberries just for the bird! Here, we simmer them with clementines for natural sweetness. The result? A zesty glaze that’s magic over our chipotle-infused turkey meatballs. Try them as a festive holiday appetizer or over wild rice and a healthy serving of veggies for a nourishing meal.


 For the cranberry glaze:

1 cup water

6 tablespoons brown sugar

12 oz fresh cranberries

6 clementines, peeled and sectioned

¼ teaspoon five spice powder

¼ tsp kosher salt

For the meatballs:

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 large pinch freshly ground black pepper

1 pound ground turkey (we like a 93% lean blend)

1 large egg, lightly scrambled

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons adobo sauce


Make the cranberry glaze:

In a medium saucepan, bring water and brown sugar to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, clementines, five spice powder, and salt. Reduce heat to low. Stir to combine. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries lose their shape. Remove from heat. Cool briefly and puree in a blender (or with an immersion blender) until smooth. Set aside.

Make the turkey meatballs:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine panko, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add turkey, egg, olive oil, soy sauce, and adobo sauce. Mix well with your hands until all ingredients are combined. Roll mixture into 20 small meatballs and place them on the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully place meatballs on a serving platter, drizzle with cranberry glaze, and serve. 

Makes 10 servings.


Calories: 156 

Protein: 12 g

Total fat: 6 g

Saturated fat: 1 g

Cholesterol: 39 mg

Carbs: 19 g

Fiber: 2 g

Total sugars: 11 g

Added sugars: 5 g

Sodium: 211 mg

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