Stuffing Meatballs 

Yes, you read that correctly. These are stuffing meatballs! They are juicy, delicious meatballs with all the flavors of Thanksgiving Day stuffing. Elsie actually said this is my best recipe of all time … so that’s a pretty good review.

First, I’m gonna talk a little bit about why meatballs over a turkey and ethical meat stuff for a minute, so if you do not care and just want the recipe, scroll down. We’re also working to update all our recipes to have print-friendly cards at the bottom of posts, so check that out and know that we are adding this all over the site this year (they didn’t move over from our last blog, so we have to recreate them and it takes time).

You might be thinking, “Hey, I thought this was a vegetarian blog.” To which you’d be partially correct. Basically, I prefer to eat mostly plant-based the majority of the time. I find this to be an overall healthier choice for both me and the planet. But I do make exceptions from time to time, especially for holidays. Since I don’t cook a whole lot of meat (because I don’t eat it often), I don’t have many recipes to share. But this one was just too good not to.

There are lots of reasons I prefer to eat mostly plant-based. But one thing that is really important to me is I try to avoid factory-farmed meat all of the time. So even if I am choosing to eat some meat, for say a holiday or something, I really prefer to know where the meat is from, that it was raised ethically (which also tends to make it a much healthier choice as well) and I prefer local if at all possible. In past Friendsgivings, when I served turkey, I usually bought it from a local turkey farm in our city. This year, because we were hosting Friendsgiving so early (since my sister would be in town), these local turkeys were simply not available. So, I started thinking on other main courses I could serve instead. About a month ago, I made some meatballs for a friend. She recently had her fourth child and all our friends did a meal-train for her which basically means every other night or so someone brings dinner to her house for her and her family as they transition since they just welcomed a new baby into their family. I really love these as I love cooking for others and also holding babies. 🙂 Anyway, she eats a mostly Paleo, Whole30, lots-of-meat kind of diet and so I wanted to make something she and her family might enjoy. And I’ve made meatballs quite a few times for family holiday dinners, so I did that. I think it’s that this meatball experience was so recent that it got me thinking, why not make meatballs for Friendsgiving? I knew I would certainly be able to buy locally and ethically-raised ground meat, as I can pretty much all year round (that’s what I used for my friends meatballs). My only thought was I wanted to create some kind of meatball recipe that showcased the flavors of Thanksgiving, which is how I landed on stuffing meatballs.

I also found that serving meatballs over a turkey was SO much easier. You can put the meatballs together the night before and then you only need about 30 minutes to cook them. I love a good Thanksgiving Day turkey and I’m sure I’ll serve more in the future, but they are way more involved with brining, roasting for a long period of time, basting, and resting before they are ready to serve. So, if you want something delicious but much easier to manage, go meatballs!

Stuffing Meatballs, makes around 26-28 palm sized meatballs

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup milk
1 egg
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (approx. 2 1/2 oz.)
1 1/2 TB chopped sage
1 TB chopped rosemary
1 TB thyme leaves
1 TB chopped parsley
1 cup Parmesan cheese (the powdery kind is best here)
salt and pepper

If your meat is frozen, be sure to thoroughly and safely thaw it first.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, garlic, celery, herbs, and Parmesan cheese, stirring until just combined. To this large bowl, add the ground meat as well as the bread crumb mixture (which by now should be quite soggy). Mix well. I actually think this is best and mostly quickly done by using your (clean) hands to mix everything together. Season well with salt and pepper.

Form the meatballs. You want meatballs that roughly fit in your palm, but large enough that you couldn’t quite close your hand completely around them. Think just a bit bigger than cookies, around 3 tablespoons each. Set the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you are making this the day before, cover well with plastic and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.

Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes. The meatballs should be at or higher than 165°F if you use an instant read thermometer (which I really like using when I cook meat as it takes away the guessing of if it’s been cooked enough to safely eat). Remove from the oven once done and allow to rest for at least 5-8 minutes. They will appear super juicy just out of the oven and some of these juices (fat) will solidify a bit more as they rest, so it’s good to let them do this before moving to a serving dish or plate.

Garnish with more fresh herbs if you’d like a pretty presentation.

I think these are awesome served all on their own but they are also really great with mashed potatoes and gravy too. Just saying. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Notes: You can use other ground meats here as long as you keep the overall weight the same (1 1/2 lbs. total). But I do think using a ratio of 2/3 a leaner meat and 1/3 a more fatty meat results in a juicer meatball.

As I mentioned above, I am not a meat-cooking expert. Although this recipe is my own, I first learned how to cook basic meatballs from The Kitchn and would highly recommend reading that too if you’ve never made meatballs before and want to know even more.

Print

Stuffing Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery approx. 2 1/2 oz.
  • 1 1/2 TB chopped sage
  • 1 TB chopped rosemary
  • 1 TB thyme leaves
  • 1 TB chopped parsley
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese the powdery kind is best here
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. If your meat is frozen, be sure to thoroughly and safely thaw it first.

  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, garlic, celery, herbs, and Parmesan cheese, stir until just combined. To this large bowl, add the ground meat as well as the bread crumb mixture (which by now should be quite soggy). Mix well. I actually think this is best and mostly quickly done by using your (clean) hands to mix everything together. Season well with salt and pepper.

  3. Form the meatballs. You want meatballs that roughly fit in your palm, but large enough that you couldn’t quite close your hand completely around them. Think just a bit bigger than cookies, around 3 tablespoons each. Set the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you are making this the day before, cover well with plastic and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.

  4. Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes. The meatballs should be at or higher than 165°F if you use an instant read thermometer (which I really like using when I cook meat as it takes away the guessing of if it’s been cooked enough to safely eat). Remove from the oven once done and allow to rest for at least 5-8 minutes. They will appear super juicy just out of the oven and some of these juices (fat) will solidify a bit more as they rest, so it’s good to let them do this before moving to a serving dish or plate.

  5. Garnish with more fresh herbs if you’d like a pretty presentation.

Recipe Notes

You can use other ground meats here as long as you keep the overall weight the same (1 1/2 lbs. total). But I do think using a ratio of 2/3 a leaner meat and 1/3 a more fatty meat results in a juicer meatball.

 

P.S. If you’d rather have a vegetarian meatballs recipe, see here. Also, here’s my foolproof turkey and gravy tips, in case you plan to keep it traditional this year.
Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Elise Randolph. Photos edited with ACS for Desktop.

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  • I love the idea of not having to cook an entire turkey just to get the turkey/stuffing flavor in my belly! Going to definitely try this recipe out!!

  • These are making me drool. Also…I can still make regular dressing AND these for the same meal, because they’re still technically different, right? 😉

    Love your dress Emma!

  • Stuffing is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast, so these meatballs are bound to get as high of praise as Elsie’s from me! Thanks for sharing, Emma! Can’t wait to try this!

  • I saw the photos of these on yesterday’s post, and I was very curious because I LOVE stuffing and only allow myself to eat it on Thanksgiving. These will for sure be on my menu this year!

  • Why do you think holidays should be a time to indulge in animal based meat?? Just curious what makes you connect the two. I know for me I see the holidays as a time to extend even more compassion and love to our animal friends whose flesh seems to be in higher demand than ever around that time. Looking forward to (hopefully) a couple plant based friendsgiving recipes too!!

    • I agree! Obviously I’m more “extreme” because I’ve been a full vegan for many years, but I still recognize that “flexitarianism” can be a great bridge toward a cruelty-free lifestyle and does make some influential differences. Nevertheless, the idea that meat is best enjoyed with family over the holidays puts out the kind of message that meat is “special,” which I think is overall negative. I also think sometimes over-explaining or over-justifying makes it look worse.

      That said, last year I believe all of the Thanksgiving selections were entirely plant-based, vegan-friendly as well! And there are some great vegan holiday classics on Oh She Glows including a vegan “stuffing” meatball! I think sometimes the best PB holiday food is something that doesn’t necessarily mimic tradition but still has a cool fall vibe. For me, anything with a squash is sure to get me stoked!

  • Do you think you could also do this with leftover Thanksgiving turkey? Like, grind up the left over light and dark meat instead of using ground beef/pork?

  • These sound great – I am thinking I might bring them to my in-laws Thanksgiving. It is a fairly large gathering though – I couldn’t find how many the recipes makes – around 2 dozen or less?
    Thanks!

  • Hi, thx for the nice recipe. I really like your blog but i want to say that the last couple of months i find the advertising really annuying. As you mention in your own course about blogging (which i loved by the way) readers don’t click trough that often. Maybe you found the proof in eating the pudding 🙂 and your readers click trough but i certainly don’t.

    Why are you giving that much prior to advertising? Is it really becoming all about the money? Are there really so many of us readers that click trough? Or are there more readers like me, who try to overcome the advertising? It really, really disturbes me. Am i all alone in this?

    I don’t mind the sponsored blog posts, those are great. But the banners in my face about products i already looked up (because the cookies remember my surf behaviour) or don’t really interest me are giving me an ugly feeling. I bought many of your products, books, courses, sponsored items, but this part of your business model i really don’t understand.

    Sorry for my complaints, i really like you guys, but i really, really want to know why this is that important?

    xx Tine

    • Hi. We are planning to try some different ad options soon. We are always looking for the best fit both for our readers (you!) and our business ($). We do make a big portion of our income from banner ads so it is necessary that we have them, but we are actively searching for new options and we do hear your feedback.

      Thanks!

      • Hi Elsie – I was glad to see your response to Tine’s comment about the banner advertising. I’m not sure if you guys will be doing a reader survey or taking feedback in another way, but I just wanted to add my two cents. I 100% understand needing the banner ads for income purposes and don’t mind them at all in the sidebar or on the bottom of posts. I’ve noticed here and on other blogs recently that more banner ads are appearing throughout the posts, and sometimes at first I think it’s just another photo in the post until I realize it’s an ad. I know that eliminating the in-post ads would make the reading experience here more enjoyable for me, so maybe others feel the same too. Just wanted to throw that out there. Congratulations on the release of your book and to your soon-to-be family of three!

  • These look amazing. I have to try these. I am a huge meatball fan. I am super picky about meat, because most meat grosses me out. Meatballs tend to be something that people can’t go wrong with. These look great and I cannot wait to make these for me and my bf.
    xo, Meghan | http://tanlinesanddaisies.com/

  • Looks so yummy! I’m curious on the second photos posted what the white sauce is. At first glance I thought it was glaze hah and was very confused until I read the post. Just wondering! Looks so yum!

  • I was wondering if the measurements for the herbs are for dried or fresh? Or are some dried and some fresh? I really hope to make these meatballs soon, the recipe looks amazing!! Thanks for sharing!

    • I am wondering the same thing! Fresh or dried herbs?? I’m planning on trying these out for Thanksgiving; they look delicious!

  • I just made these (in a big batch for Friendsgiving) and popped a few trial ones in the oven ahead of time to “taste-test” for dinner and I have to say they are wonderful! I made them with ground turkey because many of my friends don’t eat beef, and they are a wonderful stuffing-meatball hybrid. I don’t cook often either and honestly am just so delighted that these turned out so well. Wonderful recipe, I feel like I will be using again and again!