These tender and flavorful turkey meatballs glazed with a sweet savory sauce will be a winner at your next holiday gathering.
Through the years, I’ve tried a lot of different meatball recipes. Some used beef, some used turkey, some used pork, and some used a combination. I keep coming back to these turkey meatballs because I think that they are the absolute best!
Years ago, I went to a cocktail party where the guests were given recipes to make and to bring. My recipe was for cocktail meatballs with a grape jelly/chili sauce glaze. I was absolutely horrified when I saw the recipe. How can this possibly be good? I put my feelings aside and made the recipe according to the directions. Boy was I surprised at how good the glaze was! Over the years, I’ve experimented with using different glazes for the meatballs. I keep coming back to the grape jelly/chili sauce glaze. So what you have here, is a tried and true combination that produces perfect results every time. As an added bonus, you can make this ahead of time, and reheat it in time for your party!
I adapted the meatball recipe from Julia Child’s Bifteck Haché à la Lyonnaise (Ground Beef with Onions and Herbs) on page 301 in Volume 1 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In my adaptation, I used ground turkey in place of ground beef, added some bread crumbs, and used a food processor to mix everything together.
If you’d prefer to use ground beef, you could easily adapt Ikea’s Iconic Swedish Meatballs to this recipe!
I used the following ingredients for the turkey meatballs: Onion, unsalted butter, ground turkey, salt, pepper, thyme, egg, plain bread crumbs, and all-purpose flour. For the glaze I used a mixture of grape jelly and chili sauce.
Making the Turkey Meatballs
For the first step, I cooked the minced onion slowly in 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter for about 15 minutes. Per the Julia’s recipe, I wanted to produce very tender cooked onions that were not browned.
Once the onions were cooked, I transferred them to a bowl to cool. I then added the cooled onions, turkey, some additional unsalted butter, seasonings, bread crumbs, and egg to a food processor. I processed the mixture for about 20 seconds, scraped down the sides, and processed an additional 10 seconds until everything was thoroughly blended.
Next, I shaped the turkey mixture into 1-inch meatballs. I lightly dusted each meatball with some all-purpose flour.
Then, I browned the meatballs in a mixture of butter and oil over medium high heat. I didn’t want to crowd them, so I cooked about 15 at a time for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I drained the meatballs on paper towels. At this point, they were only partially cooked.
Then, I put the meatballs on a large baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil, and baked them for 20 minutes at 350° F to make sure that they were fully cooked.
Making the Glaze
While the meatballs were baking, I combined the grape jelly and chili sauce in a medium saucepan. I heated it over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the jelly was fully melted.
When the meatballs were fully cooked, I added them to the grape jelly/chili sauce glaze, and carefully stirred to fully coat. I let them heat over medium heat for about 10 minutes to ensure that the meatballs were thoroughly heated.
I ended up with around 4 dozen perfectly delicious Holiday Glazed Turkey Meatballs. They were tender and flavorful, and glazed with an incredible sweet savory sauce. Yum!
If you’re looking for some more great appetizers for your next holiday party try my Pigs in a Blanket Wreath, Marinated Cheese, Easy Cheesy Sausage Balls, or Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms.
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Holiday Glazed Turkey Meatballs
- ¾ cup finely minced yellow onion (1 medium onion)
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 1 ¼ pounds extra lean 93% ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 egg
- ½ cup plain bread crumbs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil for frying the meatballs
- 12 ounce jar grape jelly
- 12 ounce bottle chili sauce
- Melt 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium low to medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 15 minutes until very tender, but not browned. Remove from heat and allow to to cool.
- Add the cooked and cooled onions, ground turkey, 2 Tablespoons softened unsalted butter, seasonings, bread crumbs, and egg to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 20 seconds; scrape down the sides and process for an additional 10 second, or until the mixture is well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Place ½ cup of all purpose flour on a large plate. Roll the turkey mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Just before browning, roll the meatballs lightly in the flour; shake off the excess flour.
- Place 1 Tablespoon each of butter and vegetable oil in a large skillet and set over medium high heat. When the butter foam begins to subside, add the meatballs, taking care not to crowd them. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
- Place the browned meatballs on a large baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Bake at 350º F for 20 minutes, or until meatballs are fully cooked.
- Meanwhile, add grape jelly and chili sauce to a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until jelly is fully melted. Add cooked meatballs. Stir carefully with wooden spoon to thoroughly coat meatballs. Cook for 10 minutes, or until meatballs are thoroughly heated. (Note: Can be refrigerated at this point, and served later. This glaze is also excellent with little smokies.)
- Yield: 48 meatballs; 10 to 12 servings.
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