Stuffing Balls

By Ann Fulton

Stuffing Balls  -  Clever, portion-controlled, and a surefire hit on a holiday table or alongside a variety of poultry and pork dishes throughout the year. They’re easy to make for any size crowd and offer prep-ahead convenience.
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Clever, portion-controlled, and a surefire hit on a holiday table or alongside poultry and pork dishes throughout the year. Stuffing balls are easy to make for any size crowd and offer prep-ahead convenience.🍗 


The term “Friendsgiving” first entered my lexicon the November after I graduated from college, when my friend Megan organized a small army of twenty-somethings for an afternoon of touch football and a seasonal feast.

Megan roasted a turkey and welcomed her guests to fill in with the remaining components of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Many of us were new to cooking, so we leaned on family members for the tried-and-true recipes behind our holiday favorites.

Then, like every good student, we shared notes! Safely stowed in my recipe box all these years later are splattered index cards with instructions for the perfect pound cake and foolproof stuffing for a crowd.

Highlighted by its crispy edges, my mom’s stuffing has long been a family favorite and is always the first serving bowl to be scraped clean on turkey day. Consequently, when I first laid eyes upon a friend’s baking sheet lined with row upon row of stuffing balls, I considered them to be a small stroke of genius.

Stuffing Balls  --  Clever, portion-controlled, and a surefire hit on a holiday table or alongside a variety of poultry and pork dishes throughout the year. They’re easy to make for any size crowd and offer prep-ahead convenience.

Stuffing balls may be prepped ahead  and baked to golden brown deliciousness just before serving.⇩ 

Stuffing Balls  --  Clever, portion-controlled, and a surefire hit on a holiday table or alongside a variety of poultry and pork dishes throughout the year. They’re easy to make for any size crowd and offer prep-ahead convenience.

The easy-to-assemble recipe stands well on its own or can be used to shore up what’s cooked in the turkey. The meatball-sized rounds ensure a good ratio of tender insides to lightly crisp exterior, and many appreciate the built-in portion control.

The basic recipe allows for customization, can easily be multiplied, and may be prepared in advance – all winning qualities that prove especially helpful amidst extensive holiday meal preparation.

Last fall one of my sons experienced his first Friendsgiving, and it was no surprise that he chose stuffing balls as his contribution. In the process, I came to appreciate the tried-and-true recipe for yet another reason.

Stuffing Balls  -  Clever, portion-controlled, and a surefire hit on a holiday table or alongside a variety of poultry and pork dishes throughout the year. They’re easy to make for any size crowd and offer prep-ahead convenience.

As he headed out the door, I noticed an unopened can of chicken broth on the counter and sunk at the realization that I forgot to include it. Thankfully, nobody knew the difference and, true to form, the stuffing balls vanished quickly.

Though I usually abide by the basic recipe, my omission, combined with a list of options below, shows that this crowd-pleasing alternative to the usual stuffing is as flexible as it is forgiving.

Stuffing Balls  -  Clever, portion-controlled, and a surefire hit on a holiday table or alongside a variety of poultry and pork dishes throughout the year. They’re easy to make for any size crowd and offer prep-ahead convenience.
  • Portion control
  • Advance prep
  • Recipe can be multiplied easily
  • Customizable
  • Forgiving

Stuffing Balls
Yield: 8-10 balls (recipe multiplies easily)
Enjoy this clever, portion-controlled side dish all season long – or form slightly smaller balls and serve as a festive appetizer with cranberry relish or another condiment of choice for dipping.
  • 5 cups (8 ounces) soft white bread, 1/2-inch dice*
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly greased foil for easy cleanup.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the celery and onion and sauté until soft.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients with the celery and onion mixture. Toss to evenly distribute the seasonings and to ensure the bread cubes are evenly coated with the wet ingredients.

Shape mixture into 8-10 balls. I use a large ice cream scoop, gently packing the bread (yet not mashing too hard) so the balls stick together.  You can also do this with your hands, dampening them with cold water to prevent sticking if necessary.

Place stuffing balls on the prepared baking sheet. (Prep ahead tip: At this point, the balls may be covered and refrigerated for several hours.)

Bake for 20 minutes, give or take a few minutes, depending on oven and precise size of the balls, or until set and lightly golden.


Bread notes:

*I think the crusts enhance the texture of the stuffing balls, so I use them. I often double the recipe, using one (16-ounce) loaf of original Pepperidge Farm white bread. A sturdy, white bread is preferred, as the texture when whole wheat bread is used can be slightly mushy. I have also mixed in odds and ends of leftover hamburger and hot dog rolls.

*My preferred gluten-free bread for this recipe has been Udi’s, but I recently tried Three Bakers with excellent results. As with regular bread, when using gluten-free bread I recommend white over multi-grain varieties.

A few more things:

A delightful accompaniment to a holiday meal, these stuffing balls also complement a variety of poultry and pork dishes quite nicely.

For an appetizer, form smaller stuffing balls, reduce the baking time accordingly, and serve with your favorite cranberry relish or another condiment of choice dipping.

I recently used a scant scoop (of the large ice cream scoop mentioned above) and got a yield of 14 balls that were still a nice portion. In my oven, this size looked nicely golden after about 16 minutes.

Those who enjoy stuffing with a variety of add-ins may wish to incorporate fruits like diced apples, raisins or cranberries or chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans. (Aim for 3/4 cup, adjusting up or down by 1/4 cup according to preference. Note that too many extras could prevent the balls from sticking together.)

I like to keep a 4-pack of 8-ounce chicken broth boxes in my pantry, as they are ideal when recipe calls for a small amount of broth. You could also dissolve a soup base like Better Than Bouillon in warm water.

My husband suggested wrapping a piece of bacon around the sausage balls before baking (or frying or grilling). I think this would taste delicious, but I haven’t tried in order to determine the proper time and temperature to ensure crisp bacon and a properly cooked interior. If anyone is inclined to try, please report back! (Also note that you’d likely need to secure the bacon with a toothpick.)

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The Fountain Avenue Kitchen

Portion-controlled and a surefire hit on a holiday table or paired with poultry and pork throughout the year....easy to make for any size crowd with prep-ahead convenience.















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  1. Lori

    Your husband’s suggestion for bacon wrap sausage balls, pre cook bacon half way then wrap stuffing balls with bacon than proceed with recipe cooking directions

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Jannette, I have not frozen this recipe, but stuffing can typically be frozen for at least a month. I would be optimistic that these would turn out well. I’d bake them first, cool completely, and then wrap well or store in an airtight container.

  2. Sharon

    I’ll like to take these to a dinner party, but I won’t have use of the host’s oven. Would it work to keep them warm in a crockpot after baking at my house? Would they still be crispy outside?

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Sharon, The slow cooker holds moisture in, so while it would keep the stuffing balls warm, it would tend to minimize the crispness. You could try warming them with a tea towel under the lid–stretched across and held in place by the lid–so that the towel absorbs the moisture. And then you could remove the lid altogether closer to serving time. I haven’t done this, so I can’t guarantee, but I’m thinking it may be a good solution. If you try, I’d love to know how you make out!

  3. Brandon

    No bacon wrapped… Usually what I do to my turkey. It will make them easier to fall apart I’d think… Wrapping mine in sage leaves.

  4. Em

    Would you have any suggestions for making a day early- me how you’d reheat them thanksgiving day? My oven can only cook so much stuff

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Em, I’ve refrigerated these for several hours before baking, so if you can spare 20 minutes of bake time in your oven while the turkey is resting, I’d try refrigerating the uncooked balls overnight (covered) and then baking just before serving. If that doesn’t work, I’d baked them the day before, cool completely and then cover and refrigerate. The next day, let them come to room temperature and then pop them in the oven at the last minute. I’d try 350℉ on the upper rack to heat them quickly and toast them lightly. Watch carefully, it might just take 5-10 minutes if they’re not cold. One last thought would be to reheat them in a toaster oven if you have one of those. I hope something here helps and that you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Patty

    These are the stuffing balls my mom made every Thanksgiving. This year we are celebrating separately so I am very happy to have found the right recipe. Thank you!

    1. Ann Post author

      Wonderful, Patty! I hope they make this very unusual holiday feel a little more normal and special in its own small way.

  6. sandy

    My secret is out! Ann, I have been doing this for years, because EVERYBODY wants crispy edges. Hope all our friends on-line give this a try.

  7. Lisa

    Hi Ann,
    I can’t wait to try this for Christmas dinner. I normally make my mom’s recipe on Thanksgiving which is relatively like yours. However, she always added in the giblets from the turkey, which added a layer of flavor. We pat ours out into little patties, but again basically the same concept. Merry Christmas.

    1. Ann Post author

      There are some people in my family who would love that addition. Thanks for mentioning, Lisa, and Merry Christmas to you, too!

  8. Judy Post author

    I’m slow to report but I made these on Thanksgiving to supplement my regular stuffing that I cook in the turkey, and dare I say everyone liked these better! Crispy edges for all and there’s a definite fun factor. Thanks for a new addition to our holiday meal that will be repeated!

      1. Ann Post author

        I love the crispy edges, too! I’m thrilled these were a hit and will be a recurring dish on your holiday table!

  9. Elaine

    This sounds wonderful. I’m to bring stuffing for Thanksgiving and I’m thinking I would like to make these. Have you ever added sausage to this recipe? If so, how many ounces do you think? Thanks in advance.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Elaine, I think sausage would be a lovely addition. I haven’t made them that way, but I’d probably start with about 8 ounces, breaking it up into very small pieces it cooks. That way you’ll get more even flavor throughout with a relatively small amount of sausage. You could likely add a little more, but I’d rather start on the low side and to make sure the balls hold together and the flavor is balanced. If adding sausage, I think I’d reduce the salt by 1/4 teaspoon or so, since the sausage will provide added seasoning. I hope that helps, and I’d love to hear how you make out!

        1. Ann Post author

          I don’t have a recipe for it, Sandy. We talked about how good it would taste, but I haven’t actually made them that way. However, if you wrap a piece around each stuffing ball before baking, you likely won’t go wrong!