My very first Thanksgiving dinner was at Carrows, off the Strip in Las Vegas. I was a penniless graduate student at the time, fresh off the boat — fresh off the Greyhound bus, in fact — and the $11.99 eat-all-you-can special sounded so enticing. So irresistibly good.

My very first turkey was, sadly, as dry as a bone and forgettable but it was the turkey stuffing that made my first Thanksgiving in America memorable.  Perfectly cubed white bread, loaded with butter, flecked with onion and celery bits, and soaked in gravy.  I went for seconds and greedily scraped off the top of the pan under the heating lamps to score the crunchiest parts.   I’ve always made the same simple stuffing for Thanksgiving year after year ever since — baked in a pan — until I met Dennis, who introduced me to stuffing balls, his childhood favorite.  He fondly remembers growing up back in Ohio making stuffing balls by hand with his mom while the turkey is roasting.

Shaping the stuffing into balls roughly the size of a kid’s clenched fist is plain genius.  It has the perfect crunch-to-moisture ratio.  It’s lightly toasted on the outside but inside it’s wonderfully moist.  It reminds me of the stuffing I had at Carrows that fateful night many years ago but infinitely better.

 

Thanksgiving Stuffing Balls Celery and Onions

 

Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing Balls Recipe, makes 15 balls

4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
4 stalks celery, finely chopped, about 1 cup
1 loaf white bread, dried and torn into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Sauté onion and celery in butter until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, and spoon over the torn pieces of white bread.  Dust with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.  Whisk an egg in the chicken stock and pour over the stuffing until it is moist enough to form balls that hold together. Form the stuffing into 3-inch balls.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

 

Thanksgiving Stuffing Balls

 

Year after year, Dennis and I make Thanksgiving the same exact way. We celebrate with roast turkey and a spread of stuffing balls, mashed potato and gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie for dessert. I hope this finds you and your family well on this delicious American holiday.

 

Sweet Potato CasseroleSweet Potato Casserole Recipe

The taste of sweet potato shines in this simple New York Times recipe for sweet potato casserole. Sweet potato is topped not with cloyingly sweet marshmallow but with butter, brown sugar, and crunchy pecans.

 

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

This is a classic Alice Waters recipe for pumpkin pie made from scratch. Waters recommends using sweet pumpkin varieties like Sugar Pie, Long Pie, or Cinderella to make the pumpkin purée. Most pumpkins are for carving, not for eating, and their flesh is too watery and flavorless to make a good purée, she writes. Butternut squash can be used for the purée as well. The recipe for pie dough is another classic taken from The Joy of Cooking.

  • http://www.moonglowgardens.wordpress.com Annapet

    After a busy afternoon, I finally checked on Twitter and the ever so far and few between Tweeter {Dennis} tweeted about my godson’s balls. Muntik na mahulog sa silya si Ninang. Different balls, whew!

    I’ve never made stuffing, would you believe? It’s about time I try, and I will follow your recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://kitchen-confidante.com Liren

    Stuffing is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. Now these? Brilliant! Leave it to the genius of a child to make these – well done, Dennis!

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you, Annapet and Liren! Wow! You’ve never made stuffing before? The balls are definitely a cool way to make it! Let me know how it goes!

  • http://www.dishcrawl.com tracy @ladyleet

    i am definitely making these!!!

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you, Tracy! Let me know how it goes!!

  • http://foodalogue.com Joan Nova

    Neat (literally and figuratively)! Crunch for everyone and more room on the plate for the other fixings!

  • http://www.kitchencorners.com Damaris @Kitchen Corners

    Stuffing balls? What a rebel. I’m so not a huge fan of stuffing but these I could give it a try.

  • http://www.thelittlefoodie.com Mariko

    I hate turkey. Like stuffing. Very clever to figure out the crunch to moisture ratio. I think I could probably just sit down with a bowl of these balls. Hmmm. I should probably revise how I say that next time.

  • http://lickmyspoon.com Steph @Lick My Spoon

    mmm what a great idea! we always fight over the crunchy bits in my house…this would be a good way to avoid fist fights at the table.

  • http://lemonsandanchovies.wordpress.com/ Jean

    Stuffing balls-what a great idea! I love the crunchy bits, too–it’s the best part. I would be happy with just these and a side of gravy. Thanks for a wonderful idea. :-)

  • http://www.skiptomalou.net/ skip to malou

    like annapet, i’ve never made stuffing or roasted my own turkey for that matter… but these stuffing balls would be perfect to include in my repertoire next week. yes im finally preparing thanksgiving dinner for the very first time!

  • http://bigfatcook.com bigFATcook

    Cute!! :) )) They look absolutely delicious!! :) )

    GReets from BFC!!!

  • http://foodwanderings.blogspot.com/ foodwanderings

    Aw Jun I love your story!! Love the photogenic stuffing balls, never made stuffing balls before but made stuffin’ muffin’ in the past:). Happy Thanksgiving! Shulie

  • Angie R.

    Hi, Jun! Thanks for posting the recipe! I just found you and love your site. My husband loves my stuffing and when I suggested stuffing balls for Thanksgiving, he yelled “no!” Although I won’t mess with the tradition of the holiday, I think I will need to make the stuffing balls another day! I hope you don’t mind but I am sharing you on my facebook!

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you, Angie for stopping by. I’m so thrilled you found my blog! I hope you come back for more delicious posts. And let me know how the stuffing balls go when you finally try them. Have a great Thanksgiving!
    Jun

  • Karly

    I love this idea! I’m going to have to make this for Thanksgiving this year!

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you Karly, let me know how the stuffing balls go. Have a great Thanksgiving!!
    Jun

  • http://www.okiedokieartichokie.me Stephanie

    These are too cute. Never thought to make stuffing “balls.” :-p Though, then again, I was never a fan of stuffing itself since most of the kind I’ve had have been soggy. But, these look uber crunchy and delicious like. I may just give it a try.

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  • Renae

    I had made stuffing balls before, just kind of throwing it together, so I’m glad to have an actual recipe now. One fun (I think!) thing I like to do is throw in some dried cranberries. :)

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Hello Renae!
    I’m so glad I found someone who makes stuffing balls, too! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!
    Jun

  • http://indonesia-eats.blogspot.com Pepy @Indonesia Eats

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jun! Hope you had the good one!

  • http://suddenlysandra.blogspot.com/ Sandra :)

    I made these tonight – they were DELICIOUS! Thanks for a great recipe – I’ll be making these again! I like Renae’s idea of adding dried cranberries – I may try that with half of the batch next time :D

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  • GRANNYOFFIVE

    We put them in a muffin pan and they came out delish!!!!!  We sprayed the muffin tins with cooking spray.

  • sally

    I am going to make these on Thanksgiving this year…I will stuff the bird, but we are
    having additional family for the meal so I want to have plenty!!! Thank you!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/tdfrane Tracey De Frane

    I saw these at Superstore and thought I would try to make them myself. Thank you for the recipe, I’m making them right now. Going to freeze them for my family to munch on when they want a snack. I’m going to add turkey and stuff them with cranberry sauce. I hope they turn out.

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  • Kathy

    The bread in the stuffing balls is it just regular sandwich bread?

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Kathy, yes. The regular white bread.

  • John Robertson

    I’m about to mix these and bake them in a muffin tin with a half slice of uncooked bacon in each cup for a bit more decadence.

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