Savory Meatballs with Cranberry Glaze

Looking for a crowd-pleasing appetizer for your next gathering? These vegan, plant-forward skewers featuring meatballs and orange slices are sure to do the trick. Present them on a platter with a tangy glaze for spooning or dipping.

Note that this recipe calls for cooked brown rice, so be sure to have that ready to go.

By Shelli McConnell,



  • 2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram or summer savory, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 15-oz. can no-salt-added garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained (reserve liquid) and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice, cooled
  • ½ cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 5 orange slices, quartered


  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard


  • To make Cranberry Glaze, in a saucepan combine all Cranberry Glaze ingredients and ¼ cup water. Cook over medium about 10 minutes or until berries burst, stirring occasionally. Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor. Cover and pulse until nearly smooth. If needed, thin with additional orange juice. Transfer to a serving dish.
  • Preheat broiler. In a large nonstick skillet cook mushrooms, onion, and garlic over medium 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally and adding water, 1 to 2 Tbsp. at a time, as needed to prevent sticking. Stir in marjoram, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  • In a food processor combine mushroom mixture, chickpeas, rice, and panko. Pulse until very finely ground but not smooth. Add 1 to 2 Tbsp. reserved chickpea liquid (aquafaba) if needed to moisten mixture. Let mixture stand 10 minutes. Form mixture into forty 1-inch balls. Arrange balls on a large baking sheet.
  • Broil meatballs 4 to 6 inches from the heat about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and set, turning once.
  • Thread 2 meatballs and an orange piece on each of 20 short skewers or long toothpicks. Place on a platter with Cranberry Glaze on the side. To transport, cover platter and place in an insulated carrier with a hot pack.

Comments (19)

(5 from 3 votes)

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Hello- anyone have any thoughts or experience with this being served at room temperature? Attendees at event will come and go. Thanks!

Karen Agriesti

Made these for dinner tonight. Excellent! I don't think they'd hold up in a crockpot, but made the way the recipe calls for, with the cranberry glaze, was delish! Wondering if the nutritional content can be posted, please?


In addition to Thanksgiving, this would also be good for a Super Bown party! Looking forward to trying this; and I've got some gluten-free panko that needs to be used up, so I found this page at just the right time :-)


Wow, these look and sound delicious! Can't wait to try them!!


Never mind I see some suggestions! thanks!


Mushrooms BLAH!! What's a good substitute?? thanks!

Barna Solomon

Why does the intro say it has oats? I don’t see them in the recipe


I’m allergic to mushrooms - what would be a good substitute?


Try subbing ground walnuts for mushrooms.

Bonnie Jean

Can you make them ahead and freeze? Would that affect the texture?


Wby brown sugar? Thought FOK was SOS????

Forks Over Knives

Hi Jackie, In some cases we recommend using a small amount of brown sugar. While this ingredient is processed, we think that the payoff in taste and texture is worth using it sparingly because a little really does go a long way. If you want to omit the brown sugar in this recipe, you could replace it with coconut sugar or date sugar. Let us know how it goes!

Ingalill Birgitta Norheim Josefsen

Don't have panko bread crumbs, and anyway need glutenfree... Any suggestions for substitute?


GF oats.


These are fantastic. My tween loved them too. Great holiday appetizer!


Can’t do mushrooms. What would be a good substitute?

Milan Sandhu

Haven’t tried it but jackfruit may work


Firm tofu marinated in soy sauce.


Is there any nutritional information as far as calories for this meal that can be sent to me for tracking purposes?

About the Author

Headshot of Shelli McConnell

About the Author

Shelli McConnell

Shelli McConnell graduated with a bachelor of science in consumer food science and a minor in journalism from Iowa State University. She began her career as a home economist in the Better Homes & Gardens test kitchen before moving into an editorial position within DotDash Meredith. She has since freelanced for 25 years and has served as an editorial project manager for many books and magazines, including three editions of the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. She has also developed thousands of recipes for publications including Forks Over Knives magazine; Eat This, Not That!; Diabetic Living; Better Homes & Gardens; The Magnolia Journal; and more. McConnell loves to entertain and inspire, so when she’s not in her office, she’s usually in her kitchen. Find her on LinkedIn.
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