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This summer is all about fresh summer fruit. Seasonal eating has always kept our menu at home delicious and varied and I’m letting the fruits I crave all winter inspire a menu this year. But most often, delicious fruits, especially the berries lend themselves to desserts and baked goods. Instead I set out to create a savory berry entree, and these glazed meatballs were the delicious, oh so scrumptious result.
Raspberries are easily one of my favorite berries when it comes to sauces, they’re tart, sweet, and the color is gorgeous. They’re also super delicate, which means they break down when cooked, making them perfect for a glaze. (Learn more about raspberries in Summer Berries: A Complete Guide).
But raspberries on their own can be too sweet for a savory dish, especially since a huge component of what makes a glaze sticky and syrupy is more sugar. So the quest was to find the right balance of salt, sweet, and tang. After my usual bouts of relentless testing (my husband really is a trooper), I finally found the perfect set of ingredients.
- Raspberries – The key component obviously in raspberry glazed meatballs, fresh raspberries are ideal.
- Brown sugar – In addition to making berries delicious, as it dissolves into the liquid it makes it syrupy, and as it reduces, that syrup thickens.
- Soy sauce – Salt and umami, soy sauce was the perfect choice to bring the sugar and berries from sweet sauce to savory glaze.
- Lemon juice – Just like sugar amplifies and smooths the sweetness of berries, lemon juice helps intensify the tartness of the berries, and helps cut through the intensity of the soy sauce.
- Dijon mustard – Mustard provides that tang without the sourness of lemon.
- Sriracha – A teeny tiny bit of pepper sauce goes a long way in boosting this glaze to the next level. Peppers are complex, far beyond spicy, and compliment the natural sweetness in the sauce in a rich way. Sriracha is my ideal choice here, but you can use your favorite.
Meatballs are a discovery of my adult life. They weren’t something we ate growing up but I always wanted that iconic plate of spaghetti and meatballs, and it’s led to many experiments as an adult. What I love about them is that they actually are way more diverse than just a topping for pasta. Rice, grains, salads, and sandwiches are all beautiful vehicles for them. They can also be customized with such a diverse range of flavors, and of course sauces and glazes.
The trick is keeping a texture that isn’t too mushy, dense, or dry. There are sooo many tips and tricks out there, and plenty of them will help you achieve the meatball you’re looking for. I have my own favorite ways, and I’m happy to be sharing some of them with you now!
- Ground Turkey – Ground turkey is a healthy, blank canvas for tons of different flavor combinations and I felt that it would let the more delicate notes of raspberry shine through. I used 93% lean – 7% fat ground turkey.
- Quick Cook Oats – Maybe an unpopular opinion, but the texture breadcrumbs give meatballs has always been unpleasant to me. So instead quick cook oats help bind, but virtually disappear into the meatball without getting spongy.
- Egg – one lightly beaten egg plays the same role here as it does in your baked goods, it helps all the ingredients stick together, then retain structure when baked.
- Butter – Possibly the strangest ingredient for you, this is the ‘ace’ up my sleeve so to speak. It keeps the low-fat turkey moist, rich, and juicy. Plus when the butter is cold, it helps bind the meatballs. By the time it melts, the meatballs have baked long enough to retain their shape.
- Ground mustard – I chose seasonings here I felt would truly compliment the sauce. This helps highlight the mild tang in the glaze.
- Garlic powder – I don’t think there are many things I make that don’t have either garlic or onion, or both. It really makes the meatball, glazed or not, delicious.
- Salt – I’m gonna keep saying it and saying it, salt is essential in literally everything you make. When used appropriately, salt enhances food without making things ‘salty’.
- Pepper – I like the bite! Fresh cracked pepper is a mild spicy addition that’s delicious here.
Process – Making Glazed Meatballs
While making raspberry glazed meatballs isn’t particularly difficult, there are several different steps and stages for the both the meatballs and the glaze to go through.
Step 1 – Mix the turkey
Place the turkey in a wide bowl that lets you spread it out a bit. Then sprinkle over the salt, pepper, garlic powder, mustard powder, and oats. Beat the egg and pour that over everything. Finally grate COLD butter over the top of the meat. Spreading out the meat initially allows the butter to cover more of the surface. Mixing is easier this way and prevents most major butter clumps.
Next, very gently mix the meat together by fold and pressing your fingers through the meat. Try to keep the butter and oats evenly dispersed. When everything feels well mixed and moist with no dry spots of oats or unmixed meat, cover the bowl and refrigerate.
Step 2 – Make the Glaze
Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350°F. Then in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add all your glaze ingredients. No need to pay attention to order, just dump it all in and mix it around.
As it heats the berries will begin to break down. You can use your spoon to help them out. At first the mustard will be specked in there, but don’t worry, it will dissolve. Let the mixture come to a gentle bubble, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes, or until thickened.
Step 3 – Form and Bake Meatballs
Once your sauce is simmering, go ahead and pull the meatballs from the fridge. In a casserole dish or other shallow, rimmed baking dish. Using my cookie scoop to ensure consistent size, I scooped meat into my hand, formed a ball and placed them in three rows of five in my 8 x 12 casserole dish. One pound of turkey yielded 15 meatballs.
Pop those in the oven and let them cook for 15 minutes on their own. While these cook, return to your sauce, it should be finishing up soon. When the sauce has thickened it’s ready to strain. I know it’s ready by the sound of the bubbling and the way it clings and drips from the spoon.
The bubbles will sound wet and heavy, and the sauce will coat the spoon and stick, dripping off slowly like a thick syrup. Keep in mind that the thickness of the sauce is really up to you. I cook it about 20 minutes after it starts bubbling, leaving me with a loose enough sauce to yield extra when I spoon the meatballs over my grain or salad, but if you want a thick sauce that clings only to the meatball, cook it longer.
Either way, when it’s ready, use a fine mesh sieve, placed over a heat proof bowl, to strain the raspberry seeds from the sauce. Without this step you’ll have a very seedy sauce that’s unpleasant to chew on. I get 1 1/4 cup of sauce after straining.
When the meatballs have cooked for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and pour the glaze slowly over the top.
Don’t worry about the sauce running off or pooling at the bottom of the dish, the sauce will thicken a little more in the oven. Return the meatballs to the oven for 10-15 more minutes or until the meatballs register 170°F. They will finish cooking for a few minutes once removed from the oven.
Remove them from the oven, and carefully spoon the hot glaze from the bottom of the dish over the top of any meatballs that don’t look coated enough to you.
Serve & Enjoy Raspberry Glazed Meatballs
That’s it! Now it’s up to you how to eat them. My personal favorites are to spoon the glazed meatballs and any extra sauce over a chewy whole grain like farro or barley, or on top of a salad of dark greens. Toppings like nuts, roasted beets, and extra raspberries make delicious additions to meatball salads. Plus, the extra glaze almost makes dressing the greens unnecessary. I do however usually toss them in a light lemon juice olive oil mixture.
These would also be delicious served as a party appetizer as well. To make the portions more party friendly, make small meatballs, half the size of the usual ones, and double the recipe. That would yield 60 smaller meatballs, and a quick toothpick makes them an easily snackable appetizer.
Tips & Troubleshooting
- Can I use frozen raspberries? Yes, but I found them to be lacking the sweetness and punchy flavor of fresh ones. The sauce was also thinner with frozen raspberries unless cooked for much longer. I recommend reducing the soy sauce by 1 tablespoon, and tasting it before adding another. Also use a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp of cool water to thicken if needed.
- Can I use ground beef or ground pork? Absolutely. Beef, pork, even chicken would be interesting but equally delicious options. Be wary of the fat content in the beef and pork, anything fattier than the 7% fat of turkey may not require butter or it will be oily.
- I don’t have quick cook oats…I also love cooked rice. But of course breadcrumbs will work too, just be sure to use unseasoned ones.
- Can I make these ahead of time? I don’t recommend cooking and glazing them ahead of time. The longer the glaze sits on the meatballs the more the color and sheen dissipate. Instead, cook the meatballs entirely and keep the glaze separate. Reheat with the glaze in a saucepan until coated and hot.
- What about freezing? Cook the meatballs entirely, freeze on a baking sheet until solid. Make the glaze and freeze separately. (I like using ice cube trays to freeze sauces). When ready to cook, allow the meatballs to thaw overnight, then heat in saucepan with sauce until thickened and coated.
I sincerely hope you enjoy this savory take on raspberries. Glazed meatballs are a delicious, sweet but savory meal that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. I’d love to hear what you think, and don’t forget to pin or save the recipe for later! Have a question I didn’t answer? Ask! If not, until next time, happy eating!
- 1 lb ground turkey 93% lean
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup quick cook oats
- 1 tsp salt kosher
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 2 Tbs cold butter, unsalted
- 12 ounces fresh raspberries*
- 3 Tbs soy sauce
- 4 Tbs brown sugar
- 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp sriracha
- Place ground turkey in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dry mustard, and oats. Pour over beaten egg and grate cold butter over the top.
- Carefully mix the meatballs. Use your fingers to mix and fold to keep oats and butter evenly dispersed. Cover and place in fridge.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Add all the glaze ingredients into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and let cook 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Use the back of your spoon to ensure berries are broken down.
- While glaze is cooking, portion 15 meatballs into a medium casserole dish. The meatballs should be touching or close together. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- While meatballs are baking, return to the glaze. When it's cooked down and thickened to a syrup that coats the spoon thickly, strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Should yield between 1 to 1 1/4 cups.
- After 20 minutes, remove meatballs from oven and pour over strained glaze. Return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through to 170°F (will continue to cook for a few minutes out of the oven).
- Remove from oven and carefully spoon sauce from bottom of pan over the top of meatballs. Serve immediately.