Hearty meatballs speckled with wild rice and dried cranberries and glazed with a cranberry BBQ sauce. It’s the perfect appetizer for any holiday gathering!
Fun fact of the day: Wild rice is the state grain of Minnesota. I grew up eating wild rice nearly every week. I remember many a dinners in which wild rice was the side dish. My mom always served it plain, and I can’t believe I absolutely loved it, given the ways I love to eat it nowadays. I guess the nutty flavor and chewy texture was enough to make me fall in love.
Its hearty texture and unique flavor is exactly what makes it such a wonderful addition to casseroles (“hotdish” for us Minnesotans), soups, or salads.
I bet you’ve never thought to stuff wild rice into meatballs though! While the combination may seem a little out there, hear me out! These tender turkey meatballs are seasoned with garlic, onion, and rosemary and packed with wild rice and dried cranberries. Then, they’re slathered in a mixture of cranberry sauce and BBQ sauce for the most festive, sweet-and-savory flavored cocktail meatball!
At a work potluck years ago, someone brought a cranberry-less version of these to share. After one bite, I totally staked out my spot right by the crock pot, sneaking meatball after meatball when no one was looking.
I knew I had to recreate them one day, but I decided to add dried cranberries for a unique seasonal twist. Similar to this cranberry chicken curry, the dried cranberries add a pleasant pop of tangy sweetness to these hearty meatballs.
The sauce for these cranberry wild rice meatballs is simply a mixture of BBQ sauce and cranberry sauce. I’ve used both regular canned sauce and homemade sauce for these meatballs, but I highly recommend homemade. Typically, homemade recipes contain orange zest and added spices and it makes for one dynamite cranberry BBQ sauce.
Once you’ve formed the meatballs, pop them in the oven to bake until golden brown and cooked through. Add them to a slow cooker (a small, 2-quart slow cooker will do. I found mine at Target), pour in the sauce and gently toss to coat the meatballs. Then, simply let the meatballs hang out in the slow cooker until your guests arrive.
The standard potluck slow cooker meatballs have gotten a major upgrade! Just look at all the flavor and texture in this perfect little meatball. You must make these for your next holiday gathering. It will definitely be a hit!
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