Vegan Cranberry Meatballs (Sweet & Tangy)

By Jessica Hylton - - Updated

 These Vegan Cranberry Meatballs have the perfect texture & are great for the holiday season! Solid veggie meatballs in a sweet and tangy cranberry sauce, with tips on how to make them perfect. Great for appetisers too!

A wooden spoon stirring vegan meatballs in a pot.

Let’s get right into it. There are so many reasons I love these Vegan Cranberry Meatballs. Let’s start at the base. It satisfies Gav’s need for a meaty-texture, flavour and consistency. I mean, man I’m proud of these vegan meatballs. The texture is spot on, you can customise the flavour any way you want, and the ingredients are easy to get. Plus, they freeze SO well, and can be made in bulk. It also satisfies my veggie-heavy self because they’re made of the most unexpected ingredients: cauliflower & quinoa. If you’ve been here before, you know this is my go to veggie meatball base. Cauliflower and quinoa bind together SO well with the other ingredients, giving you everything you want in one (or 10) vegan meatballs.

Close up of vegan meatballs in a pot, being stirred by a spoon.

Sweet & Tangy Cranberry Sauce

Then of course, there’s the sauce. I had wanted to create a vegan meatball flavour that was very, Thanksgiving meatball like. Something that screamed holiday, appetiser platter, or served on top of mashed potatoes with a sauce. That’s when it hit – SAUCE?! CRANBERRY SAUCE! I whipped up my favourite cranberry sauce, and made a quick sweet and tangy sauce with it. I threw in the meatballs – and the result? The most holiday-tasting sauce I’ve made.

These Vegan Cranberry Meatballs as a result are perfect for an appetiser at your cocktail parties, or a main dish at your Thanksgiving dinner or other holiday parties. Since I know you’re going to want to whip them up, let me share my GO-TO tips for making these meatballs perfect. I recently got feedback from a reader who made them and said following my method, they came out perfect.

a close up of vegan meatballs covered in a cranberry sauce.

Vegan Meatballs Falling Apart? Troubleshooting Tips

Okay my favourite part has arrived! I did a whole mini series on my Instagram stories, but I want to share the #1 tip why you’re vegan meatballs are falling apart if you’re making my recipe. Simply: you’re not grinding them enough. You want like one cohesive dough, not it falling apart and you can still see quinoa bits. That’s not a solid mixture and it will fall apart; guaranteed. Also, if you decide to substitute any ingredients – like say, pre-bought riced cauliflower instead of making it yourself, be sure that you get any of that excess liquid out before adding it in. Extra liquid will make the balls fall apart. I also like to squeeze each meatball together properly before adding in the pan, like I would do with regular meatballs. So these tips should help!! 

Can I Prep Cranberry Meatballs in Advance?

Yes you can! In fact, you can make the meatballs up to three days in advance, then add them into the sauce. 

P.S. you can of course just buy your veggie meatballs and put them in this sauce, especially if you’re making a lot of dishes for your holiday parties.

Enjoy friends!!

Vegan cranberry meatballs being stirred by a spoon.

Vegan Cranberry Meatballs (Sweet & Tangy)

These Vegan Cranberry Meatballs are perfect for the holiday season! Solid veggie meatballs in a sweet and tangy cranberry sauce, with tips on how to make them perfect. Great for appetisers too!
by: Jessica in the Kitchen
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 18 servings
Course Appetizers, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American

Tangy & Sweet Cranberry Sauce

  • 14 ounces cranberry sauce canned, fresh or frozen works
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Vegan Meatballs Base

  • 1 cup roasted cauliflower (instructions below) (226g)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (137g)
  • 2 Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacers OR flax eggs if flax eggs, less one tablespoon of liquid per flax egg
  • ½ cup red onion, finely diced (114g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs gluten free if needed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or thyme or both
  • 1 ½ tablespoons oil any oil works, such as coconut or olive oil


Tangy & Sweet Cranberry Sauce

  • Mix all the ingredients together, bring to a boil, then to a medium low heat in a sauce pan until completely incorporated, about 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Set aside until ready to use.

Vegan Meatballs Base

  • Preheat oven to 450°F/230°C. Cut the cauliflower's stem off, and cut into even-sized florets. Drizzle the cauliflower with maybe a teaspoon of oil. Roast the cauliflower for 15-20 minutes in the oven. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • In a food processor, add the cauliflower and pulse it until it's completely riced. Remove from the food processor. You only need 1 cup of this for this recipe and 8 ounces should make about 1 cup.
  • Add the 1 cup of riced cauliflower and all the other meatball ingredients (cooked quinoa, eff replacer, red onion, ground black pepper, sea salt, garlic, breadcrumbs, dried oregano, light soy sauce and dried rosemary) EXCEPT the oil.
  • You can pulse them or mix them together until they form into a tight ball, combining everything. You want to ensure they are so mixed together that you're not seeing individual cauliflower or quinoa florets, it's all one big mixture. That's how you'll ensure the meatballs will hold together!
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. While it's heating, use a tablespoon measurer to form one raw meatball and shape into a ball with your fingers. You can place them on a plate while the oil heats.
  • Add one meatball to test the oil. Cook on one side for about 1-2 minutes, turning on all sides onto fully cooked inside and out, about 4 minutes. You can add as many meatballs as can fit in the pan without overcrowding it, cooking them all for about 4-5 minutes turning on each side, to cook them through.
  • Lower/turn the heat off. Prep the sauce either in this cooled down pan, or in a separate pan then add the meatballs to it as in the sauce directions. You can enjoy these vegan meatballs alone, in a nice hoagie or with cauliflower rice or quinoa on the side, you know, for a double down. You could even have them on toothpicks as an appetiser at your parties! Enjoy!


You can also use pre-packaged cauliflower rice! Just squeeze out any and all excess liquid and toast it in your frying pan for a few minutes first to remove any leftover liquid. For freezing, freeze these meatballs without the sauce on. Them allow them to thaw, crisp them up again in the pan, and then coat in the sauce. These meatballs will last in your fridge for up to a week (assuming your cauliflower/base ingredients are fresh, of course!).
If you’re soy free, you can use coconut aminos or vegan Worcestershire sauce!


Calories: 123kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 334mg | Potassium: 150mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 36IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
by Jessica

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Recipe Rating


  1. Noemi says:

    Hi! I really want to make this for friendsgiving this weekend! For the 14 ounces of cranberry sauce, is this canned? At my local Publix market they make a delicious cranberry orange sauce that is refrigerated and wondered if that would be a good idea haha
    I am super excited to make this!

    • Jessica says:

      Hey Noemi!!

      I did test this with fresh (I weighed it out) and a 14 ounce can of canned cranberry sauce and yes the canned one works perfectly!! You can definitely use that. Happy Friendsgiving when it comes and ENJOY!!!

      • Noemi says:

        Hi, thank you for responding!
        How did it turn out with the fresh cranberry sauce? The fresh one at my local market is this delicious sweet and citrusy blend that might work well!
        And thank you! It’s this weekend!

        • Jessica says:

          Hi Noemi!!

          The fresh turned out fantastic too!! I hope that helps and you’re so welcome! Enjoy!!

  2. Noemi says:

    Thank you for responding!!
    How did it turn out with the fresh cranberry sauce?

  3. Noemi says:

    Oh my gosh! I’m sorry! I just realized your recipe is with fresh sauce! -face palm- plesse ignore my last comment! I will come back and let you know how it turned out! 🙂

    • Jessica says:

      Haha it’s totally fine!! Okay great :). Message me on IG if you have any questions when you’re making it for a quicker response!

  4. Noemi says:

    5 stars
    Made this for Friendsgiving and it turned out wonderful!! I ended up using fresh cranberry sauce from my local Publix (their cranberry-orange sauce is awesome).
    Tangy and sweet and delicious!

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      We’re so happy that our recipe worked for your friendsgiving Noemi! Thank you so much for reading!

  5. T-Rae says:

    I only made the sauce, since I had some leftover bean balls from the other night. I had no idea what to do with the extra can of cranberry my husband bought for Thanksgiving, I’m so glad I found this recipe. Came together super fast and tasted great with the green beans and grits served up.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Hi T-RAe we’re happy that at least some part of the recipe was useful to you. Thank you so much for reading!

  6. Deborah Wilson says:

    5 stars
    First of all, out of my four siblings, I am the only one that loves cranberry sauce. How could I not try this simple and quick recipe. I love the sweet and tangy cranberry sauce over the quinoa and cauliflower unmeatballs. I would make this dish throughout the year and I bet I can get my siblings to love this dish and will definitely make it for Thanksgiving. Thanks Jessica, another delicious dish!!😊

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Oh wow! We’re so happy that you enjoyed this recipe Deborah! Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a nice comment!

  7. Ellen says:

    5 stars
    BEST VEGAN MEATBALL RECIPE ON THE INTERNET. That’s really all I’ve got to say about it. I used a small cookie scoop
    To shape them, and next time I might try cooking them in the air fryer.
    These do not disappoint!!!

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      OH wow this is such high praise! Thank you so much Ellen!

  8. anna says:

    5 stars
    Both the meatballs and the sauce have such amazing flavor! My whole non-vegetarian family loved them for Thanksgiving. I’ll definitely make them again for future holidays!

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Awesome we’re so happy you enjoyed it anna! Thanks so much for reading!

  9. Keller says:

    Hi I am wondering if anyone has cooked these in a slow-cooker or even just used a slow cooked keep them warm? Thinking about it for a potluck! THANKS!

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