Thanksgiving Meatballs (Turkey Stuffing Meatballs & Gravy)

These Thanksgiving Meatballs taste just like a classic turkey dinner, but in meatball form! Season ground turkey with festive sage, thyme, rosemary, & garlic, then shape into balls around classic Stovetop stuffing for next-level Thanksgiving flavor. Bake the turkey stuffing meatballs, finish them in rich turkey gravy, & serve on creamy mashed potatoes for the ultimate Thanksgiving-inspired comfort food meal!

Perfect for a small-scale Thanksgiving dinner, an untraditional Friendsgiving party, or whenever you're craving a timeless holiday flavors any other time of the year!

An overhead shot of three thanksgiving meatballs served atop mashed potatoes with gravy on a speckled ceramic plate that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. One of the turkey meatballs have been cut in half to reveal an inside core of stovetop stuffing inside. The meatballs have been drizzled with gravy and garnished with fresh chopped herbs.

Everything You Love About Thanksgiving Dinner…In Meatball Form!

There’s so much to love about a Thanksgiving spread…warm stuffing, rich gravy, creamy mashed potatoes, &, of course, a beautiful roasted turkey. These holiday flavors are iconic! But you know us, we love to mix things up here at PWWB. 😇

I’ve been playing with the idea of packing all of the flavors of a classic turkey dinner into a juicy turkey meatball for a while now, & these Thanksgiving meatballs really don’t disappoint. The meatball mixture is seasoned with holiday aromatics like fresh herbs & garlic, then it’s wrapped around stovetop stuffing for the ultimate festive touch.

Whether you’re hosting Friendsgiving or a small-scale Thanksgiving dinner, serving these turkey stuffing meatballs instead of a whole bird is a fun & simple way to stray from tradition. Each bite tastes just like your best-ever holiday dinner, all with way more ease. They’ve gotten rave reviews from everyone who’s tried them, & we know you’ll be obsessed too! 🦃

Thanksgiving Meatballs Recipe Highlights

Switch up your Thanksgiving dinner this year with turkey stuffing meatballs! You’ll love them because they’re…

CLASSIC THANKSGIVING WITH A TWIST. This recipe embraces all the holiday classics like roasted turkey, fresh herbs, stuffing, gravy, & mashed potatoes. It’s the best of Thanksgiving dinner, all in one recipe!

COMFORT FOOD HEAVEN. Juicy turkey meatballs meet warm stuffing & gravy make for a hearty, festive, & cozy dinner any time of the year. Perfect to enjoy all winter long – not just on Thanksgiving Day!

A TOTAL CROWD-PLEASER. Thanksgiving meatballs are such a fun twist for Friendsgiving, small-scale Thanksgiving, or whenever a turkey dinner craving strikes. They’re always a hit!

Close your eyes & it’s just like a real-deal turkey dinner! 🦃 ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make these Thanksgiving Meatballs, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

Key Ingredients

When it comes to making the perfect meatball, you must start with the right ingredients. These Thanksgiving meatballs are – literally and figuratively! – stuffed with simple ingredients that deliver iconic turkey dinner flavor.

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

You need…

  • Ground turkey – To ensure the meatballs stay extra-juicy, be sure to use at least 93% lean ground turkey. Feel free to ground chicken if you prefer or if that’s what’s most readily available!
  • Aromatic veggies – Namely, celery, onion, & garlic, the holy trinity of Thanksgiving!
  • Fresh herbs – Fragrant sage, thyme, & rosemary are holiday dinner staples & add tons of Thanksgiving-inspired taste to the meatballs. If you aren’t able to source fresh herbs, feel free to swap them out with a generous amount of dried poultry seasoning.
  • Boxed stuffing mix – The Thanksgiving meatballs’ stuffing filling is this recipe’s wow factor! While you could probably make your favorite homemade stuffing recipe, good ol’ store-bought Stovetop stuffing gives tons of classic flavor all while keeping things nice & easy.
  • Egg – Essential to binding all the meatball ingredients together. Without them, the Thanksgiving meatballs will crumble & fall apart!
  • Gravy – Build a quick & simple stovetop gravy with white wine, all-purpose flour, chicken stock, chicken base, garlic powder, & onion powder.

Meatball Prep Tip!

Taking the time to prepare ingredients in advance (aka mise en place) is one of our go-to ways to make cooking much easier & more enjoyable. Before making turkey stuffing meatballs, take a moment to chop the herbs, onion, garlic, & celery & measure out the ingredients for the stovetop gravy. With all of the prep work out of the way, you’ll be ready to power through the recipe once you’re ready to begin cooking!

How to Make Turkey Stuffing Meatballs

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.


Prepare the stuffing filling. Prepare the Stove Top stuffing mix according to the box instructions – usually a quick & easy process! Form it into 16 balls of cooked stuffing to go in the center of each meatball, then place them in the freezer to set before meatball assembly. Important! ⇢ Reserve about ½ cup of the dried stuffing breadcrumbs before cooking it. Using the stuffing breadcrumbs as a binder adds a festive touch to the turkey meatball mixture!


Prepare the turkey meatball mixture. Sauté a little onion, celery, garlic & fresh herbs until fragrant. Transfer to a large bowl, then mix the softened aromatics with reserved stuffing breadcrumbs & an egg. Add the ground turkey last, mixing with your hands until just combined. Why? ⇢ Over-mixing compacts the meat, resulting in tough, chewy meatballs – the opposite of what we’re going for here! Mixing all the add-ins first & adding the meat last limits the amount you need to handle the meat.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.


Form the Thanksgiving meatballs. Divide the meatball mixture into 16 equal portions, then use your hands to gently press each one into a flat patty. If you’d like to use a cookie scoop to help create even portions, go for it! Place a ball of stuffing in the center, then wrap the edges of the patty around until it’s sealed. Why? ⇢ This gives each Thanksgiving meatball a delicious stuffing center when you slice into it!


Par-bake the meatballs. Bake the Thanksgiving meatballs on a foil or parchment paper-lined baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Why? ⇢ I love baking meatballs because the oven helps them cook evenly & stay super tender. Par-baking means we’ll partially bake them before browning on the stove.


Pan-fry on the stovetop. While the oven cooks the meatballs most of the way through, finishing them on the stovetop creates beautiful color & texture! It’s simple – just cook the Thanksgiving meatballs in butter or olive oil & rotate until each side is nicely browned. Why? ⇢ Pan-frying gives the meatballs a golden brown exterior that equals extra flavor.

Finish in Homemade Gravy

Every turkey dinner needs gravy! This easy stovetop gravy is made in the same pan that we used to brown the turkey stuffing meatballs to take advantage of all of the flavor they leave behind.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

Here’s how to make a quick pan gravy for the Thanksgiving meatballs…


Deglaze the pan with white wine, scraping up those browned bits on the bottom from the pan-fried meatballs. They’re super delicious!


Thicken the gravy with a quick slurry made by combining flour & chicken broth or stock. Add the flour slurry to the skillet, whisking quickly to prevent any lumps.


Season the gravy with simple flavor boosters like chicken base, garlic powder, & onion powder. Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning is one of our favorite secret ingredients when it comes to making a gravy without roasted drippings – it adds flavor, but it also creates a beautiful dark color that normally comes from fresh turkey drippings. A helpful shortcut!


Simmer. Cook & reduce until the gravy is thick & bubbling, then add the turkey stuffing meatballs back to the pan, coating them in the gravy & bringing the whole dish together.

Serving Suggestions

You might not have a roasted turkey in the oven but, at this point, things will be smelling & tasting just like Thanksgiving!

All that’s left to do is pair your juicy Thanksgiving meatballs with a cozy carb & enjoy! We’re forever obsessed with creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes, but rice, buttered noodles, & polenta also pair well. You just need something to soak up all that delicious gravy! (I always finish each plate off with a festive sprinkling of fresh thyme or finely chopped parsley, but that’s totally optional!)

If you want to take it to the next level with another classic Thanksgiving side dish, serve alongside your favorite cranberry sauce. Much like traditional Thanksgiving dinner, cranberries add tart acidity & sweetness that cuts through the rich, savory flavors of the meatballs beautifully.

When to Serve Thanksgiving Meatballs

These turkey stuffing meatballs are pure FUN & great for sharing. Some of the best occasions for serving them are…

  • Friendsgiving Save your classic roasted turkey dinner for Thanksgiving Day & enjoy a less traditional holiday meal with your friends. Friendsgiving is a super fun time to stray from tradition and turkey stuffing meatballs are the perfect recipe to wow a crowd!
  • Thanksgiving dinner Mix up this holiday with meatballs! This recipe is especially great if you’re serving a smaller crowd & don’t need to roast an entire turkey. Just add your other Thanksgiving sides for the perfect holiday spread.
  • All winter long! ⇢ The craving for a cozy turkey dinner can strike at any time! Turkey and stuffing meatballs are a simple way to enjoy classic comfort food without all the work that goes into preparing a traditional roasted turkey dinner.

I can’t wait for you to try these Thanksgiving Meatballs! They deliver all the flavor of a classic Thanksgiving dinner with far less effort than roasting a turkey. (Plus, you’ll have extra room for sides – the best part!)

If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

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A close up and side angle shot of three thanksgiving meatballs served atop mashed potatoes with gravy on a speckled ceramic plate that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. One of the turkey meatballs have been cut in half to reveal an inside core of stovetop stuffing inside. The meatballs are garnished with fresh chopped herbs and pepper.

Thanksgiving Meatballs (Turkey Stuffing Meatballs & Gravy)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: serves 6
  • Category: Main Dishes, Thanksgiving Recipes
  • Method: Baked, Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


These Thanksgiving meatballs are everything you love about a classic turkey dinner…in meatball form: herbed turkey meatballs wrapped around a filling of stovetop stuffing, baked until juicy & tender, then finished on the stovetop in a quick & simple homemade gravy. 

For meltingly tender turkey meatballs, it’s crucial to use the right mix of ingredients & handle them well. This recipe has done the first part for you – the ingredients list is carefully crafted with flavor & texture in mind. Be sure to avoid overworking the turkey meatball mixture, as this leads to dry, tough meatballs. Instead, mix until the elements are just combined, then divide into equal portions & wrap around the stuffing filling. It’s helpful to mix all the flavor-boosters & binders before mixing in the meat, which you’ll notice in Step 4 below. 

As far as serving goes, I don’t think you can go wrong with your favorite creamy mashed potatoes, but feel free to complete your Thanksgiving-inspired spread with green bean casserole, roasted veggies, sweet potato casserole, or a festive salad. ♡ Happy Thanksgiving! 


  • one 6-ounce box stuffing mix, divided
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground 85% lean ground turkey or chicken
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • ½ small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (approx. 6 leaves or substitute with 1 teaspoon dried sage)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme (approx. 1216 sprigs or substitute with a heaping ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (approx. 2 sprigs or substitute with a heaping ½ teaspoon dried rosemary)
  • 1 large egg
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

for the gravy: 

  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • optional: ½ teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning (see Recipe Notes)
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season


  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, ensuring a rack is positioned in the upper third the oven. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment for easy clean up as desired, then lightly spritz with nonstick cooking spray. Gather & prep all ingredients according to the Ingredients List, above – chop the veggies & herbs, etc.Thanksgiving meatballs ingredients arranged on a creamy white textured surface: box stuffing mix, ground turkey, celery, yellow onion, garlic, fresh sage, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, egg, white wine, all-purpose flour, chicken stock or broth, garlic powder, onion powder, Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning. kosher salt, and ground black pepper.
  2. Prepare the stuffing: Measure ½ cup of the stuffing breadcrumbs, transfer to a small bowl, & set aside to reserve for later. Prepare the stuffing mix according to box instructions. Set it aside to cool completely. Once cooled, use a tablespoon measure to portion & form 16 stuffing balls, roughly 1 tablespoon in size. Use your hands to roll each portion into a nice ball. Arrange on a small plate or baking sheet, then transfer to the freezer. (There will be some extra stuffing leftover, which you can save for serving alongside your Thanksgiving meatballs, if desired.)
  3. Cook the aromatics for the meatballs: Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a medium skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the celery & onion, seasoning with a pinch of kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened & fragrant, 5-6 minutes. Add in the garlic & fresh herbs, then cook 1-2 minutes longer, until fragrant. Transfer softened aromatics to a bowl & set aside. Remove the skillet from the heat.Celery, onion, garlic, and fresh herbs cook inside of a large black cast iron skillet. The skillet sits atop a creamy white textured surface. A wooden spoon rests inside of the skillet for stirring.
  4. Mix the meatballs: Use your hands to crush the reserved stuffing breadcrumbs into fine pieces, then transfer to a large mixing bowl with the cooked aromatics from Step 3 & the egg. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Use your hands to mix well. Once the breadcrumb mixture is combined, add in the ground turkey. Using your hands, mix just until combined – take care to avoid over-mixing.
  5. Form & stuff the turkey meatballs: Remove the prepared stuffing balls from Step 2 from the freezer & set aside for meatball assembly. Divide the meatball mixture into 16 equal portions. Working one portion at a time, press the meatball mixture into a flat patty about 2-3 inches wide. Place a stuffing ball in the center, wrap the edges of the patty around the stuffing, forming a meatball with a stuffing ball encased in the center. Be sure to seal the edges tightly, then gently roll into a ball. Place the meatball on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining meatball mixture.
  6. Par-bake the Thanksgiving meatballs: Transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Bake 10-12 minutes, then remove from the oven.16 stuffing meatballs are arranged atop a parchment lined baking sheet that sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  7. Brown the Thanksgiving meatballs: Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter to a medium skillet over medium heat. Once melted, carefully transfer the par-baked meatballs to the skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate & set aside.16 browned thanksgiving meatballs fill a large gray cast iron skillet that sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  8. Prepare the gravy: Deglaze the skillet with white wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. While the wine simmers, create a slurry by whisking the flour into the chicken stock or broth – be sure to whisk very well to eliminate any lumps or bumps. Whisk the flour slurry into the skillet, along with the chicken base, garlic powder, onion powder, & Kitchen Bouquet (if using). Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the browned meatballs to the skillet. Coat the meatballs in the gravy & simmer 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are nicely coated. Remove from the heat.16 thanksgiving meatballs tossed in a homemade gravy fill a large gray Staub cast iron skillet that sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  9. Serve: Allow to cool slightly, then serve the Thanksgiving meatballs over mashed potatoes or your starchy side of choice. Serve alongside your favorite Thanksgiving dishes & enjoy!An overhead shot of three thanksgiving meatballs served atop mashed potatoes with gravy on a speckled ceramic plate that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. One of the turkey meatballs have been cut in half to reveal an inside core of stovetop stuffing inside. The meatballs have been drizzled with gravy and garnished with fresh chopped herbs. Gold silverware, fresh sprigs of herbs, a wine glass, and a burnt orange linen napkin surround the plate at center.


  • Ingredient Notes:
    • Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning adds rich flavor & color to gravy, which is especially nice when preparing a gravy or sauce without pan drippings. If you prefer not to use an additional product, feel free to omit – your gravy will still be delicious – its color will just be a little pale.
    • Recipe variation: Thanksgiving meatballs without stuffing filling: While we love how festive these turkey stuffing meatballs are for a Thanksgiving celebration, you can certainly omit the stuffing filling if you prefer not to use stuffing mix. Replace the stuffing “breadcrumbs” with ½ cup panko breadcrumbs. Roll the meatball mixture into 16 meatballs. Bake & brown as directed in the Recipe Directions, adjusting bake time as needed to avoid overcooking the meatballs.
  • Storage & Reheating: Transfer cooled Thanksgiving meatballs & gravy to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through, adding a splash of water or chicken stock as needed to loosen up the gravy.
  • Freezer Instructions: If you have any leftover meatballs, they also freeze pretty well. Transfer the cooled meatballs & gravy to a freezer container. Freeze up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen meatballs in the refrigerator overnight, or submerge the freezer container in a large bowl of warm water for a quicker thaw. Reheat on the stovetop, adding a little more butter or chicken stock as needed to loosen up the gravy. 

Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


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  1. 2.7.24
    Kathryn R said:

    Very tasty… I could have Thanksgiving dinner every week! Turkey, gravy and stuffing is a heavenly combination.

    • 2.8.24
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Kathryn, we couldn’t agree more, we love the flavors of Thanksgiving any time! Glad you enjoyed these meatballs! 🙂

  2. 1.5.24
    Stacie said:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I had some stuffing made up that I didn’t bake with my recent turkey. I used some of it along with some eggs as binding in ground turkey. I’m not leaving a rating because I didn’t really follow what you did, but my spin-off was delicious! I did not do the stuffing centers, just mixed throughout. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • 1.8.24
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Stacie, so happy to hear that our recipe inspired you to try something similar!! Such a fun twist on Thanksgiving flavors! 🙂

  3. 1.29.23
    Jessica R said:

    These are phenomenal and such an easy way to eat Thanksgiving-ish meals without an entire turkey. So delicious!

    • 1.31.23
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Yay!! That was totally the goal, Jessica! We are so glad you enjoyed the recipe!!

  4. 12.2.22
    Regina said:

    How long do I leave stuffing meatballs in freezer?

    • 12.2.22

      Hi Regina – 10-15 minutes at the very least, they should be chilled & firm but not frozen. You can let them chill while you prep Steps 3-4 of the Recipe Directions & they should be plenty firm by the time you form the meatballs in Step 5. Does this help?