1 December 2017

Cranberry pork cocktail meatballs... and what makes a perfect holiday appetizer

Louisa @Living_Lou

Louisa Clements

Louisa Clements is a professional recipe developer, writer, photographer and food enthusiast behind the Canadian food blog Living Lou. She is passionate about leading a healthy lifestyle and creates simple, fresh and flavourful recipes to inspire others.

Living Lou was chosen as Hill & Knowlton's top ten food blogs to follow as well as Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Blog of the month. Louisa has appeared on national television and written for multiple media outlets including Chatelaine.com, Cityline.ca, TheKit.ca, and The College Prepster and creates recipe for a number of Canadian brands.

Holiday appetizers are always a challenge, especially when it comes to a cocktail party.  These appetizers need to tick quite a few boxes.

  • They need to be bite-sized
  • They should not require a knife and fork
  • They shouldn’t be messy
  • In an ideal world, they can be made ahead of time

Plus, let’s not forget the fact that around the holiday season, they should at least have some kind of holiday theme! Well, these pork meatballs tick all of the boxes. They can be prepped ahead of time, and are served on a toothpick or with a cocktail fork. You can even keep them warm in your slow cooker and let guests help themselves as you flit in and out of conversations at a holiday party.


 These meatballs get a holiday update from two secret ingredients, goat cheese and cranberry sauce. The goat cheese adds a savoury bite to the meatballs (it replaces Parmesan) and the cranberry sauce replaces the liquid (milk would be used in more traditional meatballs), while also adding a hint of sweetness to the pork. You know the way applesauce and pork is a perfect pairing? That’s the way I like to think of the cranberry sauce in this recipe.

One of the things I like to focus on during the holiday season as much as possible is supporting all things local.   That can be from the gifts I buy for my friends and family or the ingredients I use in cooking and baking. Sometimes it can be confusing to know where everything is coming from, but if you see the checkmark label on your pork products, you know that they come from local farmers across on Ontario. 


Watch the video

Yield: 70 1" Meatballs
Preparation Time: 25 Minutes
Cooking Time: 25 Minutes



  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 348ml can whole berry cranberry sauce, divided
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp chili flakes

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, position racks in top and bottom thirds of oven. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix pork with goat cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, ¼ cup cranberry sauce (reserve remaining for serving), egg, salt and chili flakes.
  3. Roll mixture into 1” sized balls, and arrange on two baking sheets. Roast in the top and bottom thirds oven for 25-30 minutes, switching sheets halfway through, until meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165F.
  4. If serving immediately, carefully toss warm meatballs with remaining cranberry sauce and serve.

Make-ahead tip: If prepping ahead of time, save the last step (tossing in cranberry sauce) until ready to serve.

Slow-cooker tip: Serve in slow cooker with heat setting turned to ‘warm’


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