Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs

Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs
Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs

These meatballs have a great holiday flavor and are perfect for the cooler seasons when cranberries are widely available in stores. The semi-sweet and semi-spicy meatballs are hard to stop eating! If you are looking for the perfect fall appetizer or side dish for your next get together, look no further your guests will love these Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs! 

How Spicy are these Meatballs?

We love using serrano chile peppers because of their predictable heat level. They are generally hotter than jalapeño peppers, but their range of heat is much more consistent. This takes out the guesswork when trying to achieve the perfect amount of spiciness. They come in at 10,000-23,000 units on the Scoville scale.

Even using the whole serrano pepper in the sauce like we do here, seeds and all, doesn’t make it super-spicy or unbearable. Don’t worry, these meatballs aren’t just for the chile-heads out there! There is enough heat in these to warm you up without being overpowering.

The ancho chile powder is quite mild but has a tremendously pleasing aroma and flavor that works both in the meatballs and in the sauce. This doesn’t add heat or spiciness to the dish, but adds a ton of flavor.

Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs
Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs

Can I make these spicy cranberry meatballs less spicy?

If you prefer a milder spice level, just remove the pith and seeds of the serrano peppers. You will get enough of the serrano flavor in these without the heat level, since the seeds and pith are always going to hold more heat.


Fresh cranberries can be tricky to use because of their extreme tartness. We didn’t want this to be too sweet, so just a little sugar was used to take the edge off the cranberries, allowing their nice flavor to be added to both the meatballs and the sauce.

The leftover cranberry sauce base can be used as you wish. Try making ice cubes out of them and using them in either frozen drinks, a mimosa, or as ice cubes in cocktails to boost the flavor without watering the drink down!

Our Go-To Cookware

Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs
Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs

Because we are working with a somewhat sticky glaze, we depend on our Calphalon Premier™ Hard-Anodized Nonstick Cookware. The superior nonstick layers make cleanup so much easier, and you won’t have to worry about your glaze and meatballs sticking to the pan. Also, we use the Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware to bake the meatballs in the oven. Everything is dishwasher safe, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the party rather than being stuck in the kitchen doing dishes!

If you are in the market for some new cookware, use our code ‘COOKWITHWINE25’ for 25% off site-wide at

Baking the Meatballs

For this recipe we opt to bake the meatballs on a sheet tray at 350°F. For the amount of meatballs this recipe makes, we prefer this method for ease and to reduce the amount of active effort involved.

The spicy cranberry glaze can be made in advance and reheated gently on low while the meatballs are baking as well, saving you some time in the kitchen.


We hope that you enjoy this recipe for Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs! If you give it a try, click the heart at the top of the recipe, leave us a comment and 5-star rating below, or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs
Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs

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Cranberry Serrano Glazed Meatballs

Course: AppetizersCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • For the Cranberry Base
  • 2 cups 2 whole cranberries

  • 2 cups 2 water

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 sugar

  • For the Sauce
  • 2 2 Serrano peppers*

  • 1 cup 1 Cranberry Base (above)

  • ½ cup beef stock

  • 2 Tbsp 2 orange juice

  • 3 Tbsp 3 brown sugar

  • 1 tsp 1 ancho chile powder

  • 1 tsp 1 kosher salt

  • ½ tsp black pepper

  • For the Meatballs
  • 1 lb 1 ground beef

  • 1 lb 1 ground pork

  • 18 g 18 (1 Tbsp) kosher salt

  • 2 tsp 2 black pepper

  • 1 tsp 1 coriander

  • 2 tsp 2 ancho chile powder

  • 2 cloves 2 garlic, minced

  • 2 2 serrano peppers, seeded, minced

  • ½ small onion, minced

  • 1 1 egg

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 panko breadcrumbs


  • Prepare the Cranberry Base
  • Add the cranberries, water, and sugar in a saucepan. Over medium heat, cook until the cranberries have popped, and the mixture has broken down – about 10 minutes. Blend the mixture with an immersion blender or in a countertop blender. Continue to cook for another 15 minutes. The base should be somewhat thickened. Remove from the heat to let cool.
  • Prepare the Sauce
  • First, remove the stems from the serrano peppers and roughly chop (remove the seeds and pith if you prefer a less spicy sauce). Add them to a sauté pan along with all the other ingredients. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture to ensure the peppers have been pureed. On low heat, cook the sauce until it becomes thick and almost glaze-like. Set aside until the meatballs are done.
  • Prepare the Meatballs
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, add all the meatball ingredients. Using gloved hands, mix the meatball mixture until thoroughly combined. Roll meatballs to about 1 ¼” size and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet tray. This will take a while, but this lets the meatballs rest and allows for the breadcrumbs to absorb moisture and help bind the meatballs. In any case, let the meatballs rest on the counter for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes before baking them. Bake for 18 minutes and then cut a meatball open to test doneness. The exact size of the meatballs and the exact temperature of your oven will dictate cooking time, but 20 minutes should be very close.
  • Coat the meatballs with the glaze and serve immediately.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week and reheat on low in a saucepan with a lid when ready to enjoy.

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