Venison Cranberry Sauerkraut Meatballs with Apple Sage Orzo

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5 from 3 reviews

Cranberry sauerkraut meatballs are a delicious and unique twist on classic venison meatballs. These succulent venison meatballs baked in the oven are perfectly tender and flavorful. The deep flavors of the venison sauerkraut and cranberry meatballs pair perfectly with creamy apple sage orzo for a mouthwatering meal.


Venison meatballs

  • 2 oz fresh crusty french or Italian bread, diced into tiny pieces
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 28 ounces ground venison
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup honey-fermented cranberries or cranberry sauce or jam
  • ½ cup sauerkraut, drained and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Apple Sage Orzo

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 cup dry hard apple cider
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh kale chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • freshly cracked black pepper


  1. For the meatballs, preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking pan with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Place the diced bread in a large mixing bowl and pour the warm water over top. Let soak for about 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the butter. Once melted, add the minced shallot and garlic. Cook for a minute or so until softened. Stir in the cayenne. Turn off the heat.
  4. Add the ground venison, sage, parsley, salt, cranberry, sauerkraut and butter-shallot mixture to the bowl of bread. Mix until incorporated.
  5. Using your hands, shape the meat mix into approximately 18 (2 oz) meatballs.
  6. Place them onto the parchment paper lined pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake on the top rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through.
  7. For the orzo, place a medium shallow pot over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt and start to simmer.
  8. Add the sage leaves. Let them crisp as the butter begins to brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sage to a paper towel lined plate.
  9. Add the shallots to the butter and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 2 minutes
  10. Stir in the dry orzo pasta, coating it in the shallot butter.
  11. Pour in the hard apple cider and add the sprig of rosemary.
  12. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  13. Stir in the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer again, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 6-8 more minutes, stirring often.
  14. Add in the heavy cream, kale, and parmesan. Let the cream simmer while the kale wilts and parmesan melts, stirring continuously. Season with salt to taste. Remove the rosemary sprig.
  15. Serve the venison meatballs over the orzo. Garnish with the butter fried sage, freshly cracked black pepper, and more parmesan.