These vegan cranberry meatballs have the perfect meaty texture without any store-bought substitutes! Real food ingredients and a sweet-and-tangy cranberry sauce make them a crowd-pleaser for holiday get-togethers. 

Overhead view of vegan cranberry meatballs in pan with wooden spoon

You know those sweet and sour crockpot meatballs that always seem to pop up at parties around the holidays? Consider these vegan cranberry meatballs the plant-based version!

While it would be easy to grab a bag of frozen vegan meatballs at the grocery store, I made them from scratch with cauliflower and 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 vegan meatballs.

Then of course, there’s the sauce. I started with my favourite cranberry sauce, then added some additional ingredients to make it sweet, tangy, and umami. The result is vegan cranberry meatballs that are perfect for an appetizer at your cocktail parties or a main dish for the holidays. 

Overhead view of vegan cranberry meatballs in pan

Why You’ll Love This Vegan Cranberry Meatball Recipe

  • Sweet and tangy. One of the best flavour combinations! You’ll love the balance of sweet and tart from the cranberry sauce and tanginess from the added apple cider vinegar.
  • Perfect for holidays. These meatballs will make a great addition to your holiday menu, especially with their festive sauce. They’re also great for appetizers any time of year!
  • Healthy ingredients. These meatballs are made with cauliflower and quinoa, which provide a wholesome base for this dish. You won’t even miss the meat!
Overhead view of ingredients for cranberry vegan meatballs

Notes on Ingredients

Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.

For the Cranberry Sauce:

  • Cranberry sauce – I use my Cranberry Orange Sauce, but any cranberry sauce you like will work.
  • Light soy sauce – If you’re soy-free, you can use coconut aminos or vegan Worcestershire sauce!
  • Tomato paste – Tomato paste doesn’t just add tomato flavour, it also gives the sauce a note of umami.
  • Brown sugar – Either dark or light will work.
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Apple cider vinegar – For the tangy flavour in the sauce.

For the Vegan Meatballs:

  • Roasted cauliflower – Roasting the cauliflower gives it a nutty flavour that makes it amazing in these vegan cranberry meatballs.
  • Cooked quinoa – Here’s how to cook quinoa.
  • Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacers – Or use flax eggs.
  • Red onion
  • Ground black pepper and sea salt
  • Garlic – Mince this well so no one gets a big bite of garlic in their meatball!
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Dried oregano
  • Light soy sauce – Or use liquid aminos.
  • Dried rosemary or thyme – You can use some of both if you’d like.
  • Oil – Any oil you like to cook with.

How to Make Vegan Cranberry Meatballs

  • Make the sauce. Stir together the sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat. Cook until the mixture is smooth, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Roast the cauliflower. Break the cauliflower into florets and drizzle them with olive oil on a sheet pan. Roast in a 450ºF oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
  • Pulse the cauliflower. Add the cauliflower to a food processor and pulse it until it’s completely riced. Measure 1 cup.
  • Make the meatball mixture. Return the 1 cup of cauliflower to the food processor, then add the remaining meatball ingredients except the oil. Pulse until a tight ball of “dough” forms.
  • Prepare. Heat the oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat and form the meatballs using a heaping tablespoon of the meatball mixture.
  • Cook. Once the oil is hot, add as many meatballs as will fit in the pan and cook on each side for 1 to 2 minutes, or about 4 minutes total.
  • Finish. Lower the heat and add the sauce to the meatballs. Stir to coat, then serve the vegan cranberry meatballs as desired.
Overhead view of vegan cranberry meatballs in Dutch oven

Tips for Success

  • Pulse the meatball “dough” until it’s smooth. You want a cohesive dough for these vegan cranberry meatballs—you should not be able to see grains of quinoa or cauliflower florets. Everything should be fully combined.
  • Measure the meatball mixture. Use a tablespoon or a cookie dough scoop to form evenly-sized meatballs. If you’re serving them as an appetiser, they’ll look better this way!
  • Squeeze the meatballs together. Use a good amount of pressure to squeeze the meatballs as you form and roll them. This will help them stay together.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan. Leave some space between them so they can cook evenly on all sides and so they get a nice sear, rather than steaming.


  • Swap the roasted cauliflower with store-bought frozen cauliflower rice. Let the rice thaw, then place it in a cheesecloth or kitchen towel and squeeze all of the excess moisture out. Cook the cauliflower rice in a skillet, then proceed with the recipe as written.
  • Add some chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, for added texture and flavor in your vegan cranberry meatballs.
  • For a spicy kick, add some red pepper flakes to either the meatball mixture or the sauce.
  • Use store-bought vegan meatballs; sear them in a skillet and then add the sauce. 

Serving Suggestions

Skillet of vegan cranberry meatballs with wooden spoon lifting meatball from pan

Can I Prep Cranberry Meatballs in Advance?

Yes you can! In fact, you can make the meatballs up to 3 days in advance, then add them to the sauce. 

How to Store Leftovers

If you have leftover vegan cranberry meatballs, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. To reheat, simply microwave or place them in a pan over medium heat and cook until heated through. 

Can I Freeze This Recipe?

Yes, you can freeze these vegan cranberry meatballs! Just make sure to freeze them without the sauce. When ready to eat, thaw them and then reheat in a skillet before adding the sauce. 

More Vegan Meatball Recipes

Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan cranberry meatballs, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!

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Overhead view of vegan cranberry meatballs in pan

Vegan Cranberry Meatballs

Real food ingredients and an irresistible sweet-and-tangy sauce make these vegan cranberry meatballs a crowd-pleaser for holiday parties!
5 (from 22 ratings)


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.
If you’re soy free, you can use coconut aminos or vegan Worcestershire sauce!
To store: If you have leftover vegan cranberry meatballs, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. To reheat, simply microwave or place them in a pan over medium heat and cook until heated through.
To freeze: You can freeze these vegan cranberry meatballs! Just make sure to freeze them without the sauce. When ready to eat, thaw them and then reheat in a skillet before adding the 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

Disclaimer: Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.