Italian Stuffing Balls

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Italian Stuffing Balls.
These stuffing balls are a fun twist on the classic holiday side dish! #SausageFamily

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These Italian Stuffing Balls are a fun twist on the classic holiday side dish!I love being married to an Italian.  (Well, technically Laura is half-Italian, but that’s close enough!)  Whenever we venture down to central Pennsylvania to visit her family for the holidays, we always find a whole array of delicious food waiting on us.  There’s the standard turkey and side dishes (which I happen to love), but then there is an entire Italian feast laid out as well.  (I’m particularly fond of the ravioli and meatballs on Thanksgiving Day!)  

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 6+ years of being married, it’s don’t argue with your wife.  You aren’t going to win, so you might as well save the energy.  And on top of that, don’t argue with an Italian.  You won’t win that one, either.  If your wife happens to be Italian?  Well then you don’t stand a chance of winning that argument.  Just give it up!  Walk away while you’re still ahead.

These Italian Stuffing Balls are a fun twist on the classic holiday side dish!What in the world would cause such an argument, you wonder?  Well these Italian Stuffing Balls.  See, stuffing for me means it needs to be inside the bird.  If it’s baked separately, then it’s called dressing.  My mom makes a killer cornbread dressing recipe that I have been known to make in February…just because it’s the definition of comfort food!  But I digress.  Back to this stuffing.  Or this dressing.

These Italian Stuffing Balls are a fixture at Laura’s Thanksgiving celebrations.  That’s cool.  They are quite delicious!  (I still make a batch of my mom’s cornbread dressing, too…so we end up with a lot of dressing/stuffing around here.)  When we first made these, I made the mistake of calling them dressing balls.  I mean they are baked outside of the turkey…therefore they are dressing.  Wrong.  Laura promptly informed me that these are called Italian Stuffing Balls.  I tried to explain that they aren’t stuffed in anything, but I could see that line of reasoning going nowhere so I gave it up.  And now we make stuffing and dressing every year…and both are baked outside of the turkey.

These Italian Stuffing Balls are a fun twist on the classic holiday side dish!These Italian Stuffing Balls are definitely tasty, though.  Laura prefers to use day-old white sandwich bread rather than bread cubes.  So I just slice open the top of the pack of sandwich bread and let it sit there for a day.  By the next day, it’s nice and dry and ready to soak up all of the flavors that go into these stuffing balls.  My dressing recipe is baked in a casserole form, but these stuffing balls are kinda fun in that they are shaped into large balls before being baked.  Then each person gets a stuffing ball (or two!) for their plate.

These Italian Stuffing Balls are a fun twist on the classic holiday side dish!So what makes these stuffing balls Italian…besides the fact that my Italian wife makes them?  There’s a liberal amount of dry Italian seasonings in there, and then we also add a pound of cooked Italian sausage.  Yum!  We used Johnsonville’s Hot Italian Sausage for this batch, and I loved the extra spicy flavor.  Depending on personal preference, you could also use Mild Italian Sausage or even Sweet Italian Sausage, too.  (All 3 flavors are all natural, too!)  We’re huge fans of Johnsonville’s ground Italian Sausage, and you can almost always find at least 2 packs in our freezer: a Hot and a Mild.  That way we’re all set no matter what type of recipe we want to make for dinner!

These Italian Stuffing Balls are a fun twist on the classic holiday side dish!Truthfully, we’ve been known to make these Italian Stuffing Balls throughout the Fall and Winter.  They are always present at the holiday table, but they are just too tasty to only bring out once or twice a year!  And an added bonus here is just how easy these are to make.  Aside from making sure you’ve got day-old stale bread, this stuffing balls come together in just a few minutes.  In fact, when it comes to Thanksgiving, we often make these balls and then store them in the fridge (covered) overnight.  Then we just bake them off the next day.  It’s one less thing to do when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s also one less thing to get in the way of me watching the parade!

How do you do stuffing/dressing?  And do you ever make it outside of the holidays?

These Italian Stuffing Balls are a fun twist on the classic holiday side dish!

Italian Stuffing Balls

These Italian Stuffing Balls are a fun twist on the classic holiday side dish!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 421kcal


  • 1 loaf white sandwich bread day-old *see note
  • 16 oz. Johnsonville Italian Hot Ground Sausage
  • ¾ cup celery diced
  • ¾ cup white onion diced
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasonings


  • Spray a small baking dish with nonstick baking spray; set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place sausage in large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is browned and fully cooked. Transfer cooked sausage to a paper-towel lined plate and pat dry; set plate aside.
  • Lightly wipe excess grease out of pan. Add celery and onions. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes, or until onions have softened slightly.
  • Meanwhile, cut bread into ½” cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add cooked onions and celery to bowl along with cooked sausage, egg, chicken stock and Italian seasonings.
  • Mix together with your hands until bread is well moistened but not soggy. Shape mixture into (8) balls. (Each stuffing ball will be ~3” across.) Place stuffing balls into prepared baking dish.
  • Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until tops of stuffing balls are crispy. Serve hot.


We use a loaf of store-bought white sandwich bread and simply slice the top of the package open. Then we let it sit out on the counter for a day before making these stuffing balls.

These Italian Stuffing Balls are a fun twist on the classic holiday side dish!

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  1. I love that you can make these ahead. So perfect for the busy day. Around here, stuffed or not, we call it dressing and I could make a meal out of just that alone. So good!! I’ve never seen it prepared in ball form before and this is just a brilliant idea, David!! Everyone gets their own portion (or two, or three 😉 ) Pinned! Have a wonderful week!

    1. Yeah, these stuffing balls are downright awesome…I gotta hand it to Laura on this one. 🙂 And I’m a huge fan of anything that can be prepped the day before! Thanks so much, Dawn!

  2. Hi David! Stuffing and dressing are my favorites! I make a similar stuffing only I use good quality breakfast sausage and packaged seasoned bread cubes and I use it both as stuffing and a pan of dressing. I also make a cornbread dressing with oysters. I’m always more interested in the sides than the turkey! The one side I don’t make or eat is that old school green bean casserole…Yuck!

    1. See, I love breakfast sausage, Dorothy! Like love it! But I only allow myself to have it a couple of times a year…and coincidentally, those are during the holidays. Just a simple sausage biscuit for me, and I’m a happy camper! But I do have to admit that Laura’s Stuffing Balls are pretty darned tasty. Wait…cornbread dressing with oysters? Now that’s a new one to me! And yes to the side dishes!! I can’t wait til next Thursday! 🙂

  3. Hahaha! I couldn’t help chuckling at your sage advice of being married to an Italian – but is any argument even worth it when you have the promise of ravioli and meatballs on Turkey day!? That’s just too cool!
    Truthfully, I am not a huge fan of dressing – or stuffing – I’ve always been confused about which is which. But, dude, when sausage is involved, why that just ups the ante BIG TIME! These are such a brilliant idea – David!
    Happy Monday to y’all!

    1. You know, I think you’re right here, Shashi. There’s no point in arguing when ravioli and meatballs are involved. I should just tell myself to shut my trap…or better yet, fill it with ravioli! 🙂 Thanks so much, Shashi! Hope your week is off to an awesome start!

  4. Hello David!! I am glad you are wise enough to know all those basics of staying married. Hehehe I do love that you can make these beautiful balls ahead, that means less work on turkey day!

    1. Haha! I might be wise enough to know to avoid the arguments, but that doesn’t mean that I always do it. 🙂 I really should just shove a stuffing ball in my face instead! And yes to anything that can be made ahead of time for Turkey Day. Yum!! Thanks, Gaila!

  5. Oh my goodness, David. Stuffing, dressing…that’s so complicated. But for the record, even though I don’t like stuffing (especially inside of the bird), in my book, stuffing is everything that’s inside. Agree with this point. But I got the bottom line. We don’t argue with your wife. There’s compromise. We can call these delicious balls something like Italian Balls Stuffed with Dressing. How does this sound, David?

    1. Tell me about it, Ben! Stuffing. Dressing. Dressing. Stuffing. It’s all the same thing! I’m also not really a fan of the stuffing from inside the bird, so that’s why I call my version dressing…and dressing might be my favorite Thanksgiving side dish! 🙂 Ooo…good name there. I think you might have just found a compromise. And for that, I will send you any leftovers we might have…if there are any!

  6. I love how the same food can be called many different names. We call it stuffing here, whether or not it was cooked inside the bird. TBH, things from inside the bird kinda creep me out, so I’m okay that the “stuffing” is only stuffed into the glass dish to be baked. I really like that they can be made into ball form – I’d love about 3 of these with my holiday meal!

    1. Yeah, I totally hear ya on the things from inside the bird creeping me out. No thank you! My father-in-law actually eats the stuff in that little bag (stuff that I won’t even touch) as an appetizer while the Turkey Day feast is being prepared. I can’t even be in the same room! Laura told me one year that I wasn’t a foodie because of that…and I told her she was wrong. A foodie is anyone who loves to eat and cook. Anyways, I digress! These stuffing balls are a staple for our Thanksgiving meal…along with my Mom’s cornbread stuffing that is baked in a casserole dish. The sides really are the best part of Thanksgiving! 🙂 Thanks, Jessica!

  7. I feel the same way about stuffing David, stuffing is baked in the bird, dressing is baked separately. I like anything with sausage in it, sausage and stuffing sounds pretty darn amazing. My exboyfriend was Italian and I never won a fight. lol 🙂

    1. Yes! I found someone who agrees with me! 🙂 Dressing is one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes…in fact, I may look forward to the dressing more than the actual turkey! Just over a week until we get to curl up with some amazing comfort food. I can’t wait! Thanks, Mary!

    1. Oh gosh, I can only imagine arguments around your house, Ashley! Can we say stalemate? 🙂 What is it with you Italians and stuffing?? This is dressing, I tell ya! Haha!

    1. Yup, ravioli and meatballs on Thanksgiving is the way to go, Rach! I mean you have to have turkey and stuffing/dressing, too…just because it wouldn’t be Turkey Day without it. But save the turkey for leftover turkey sandwiches, and go with ravioli and meatballs! That’s what I do! 🙂

  8. this is the first time i’m visting your site,being 100% ITALIAN i had to laugh about don’t argue with an Italian,because its true…I love your recipes….Do u or your wife have a recipe for STUFFING thats made with Italian sausage and rice,my stepmother use to make this sometimes,i tried by guessing,close but not the same..

    1. Well, welcome, Annette! Thank you so much for stopping by my site. 🙂 I do love Italian food…in fact, I’d say it’s probably my favorite type! (Of course, having an Italian wife helps…) Anyways, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a stuffing recipe with rice in it. I love wild rice, and I bet it would be a great addition to stuffing…but I can’t say I’ve ever made anything like that. I checked one of my big Italian cookbooks, and I found this sausage + rice recipe…it sounds like it might work as a stuffing? Maybe?

  9. Ok, I am definitely trying these this year. I almost decided against dressing (yup, with you on that lingo) since it is hit and miss with my crowd. I have a few thoughts/questions for you on this. Wondering if I could make these ahead and freeze them, then since only a few of us like dressing I could just pull out a few to bake. Also, I prefer a crispy dressing, do just the tops get crispy? Maybe if I turn them part way through baking it would help crisp up the bottom?

    1. Hey Dana! Definitely give these stuffing balls a shot for Thanksgiving this year…they’re so good! 🙂 So I think you could totally make these ahead of time. They would freeze well for sure! The tops of these stuffing balls get wonderfully crispy. I love those crispy bits on stuffing, too! The bottoms don’t get as crispy, but turning them part way could help. I wonder if turning them would make the tops not as crispy though? I’d actually recommend putting these on an oven-proof baking rack inside of the pan…that would elevate them so that air could get under the stuffing balls. And I bet that would help make the bottoms crispy, too. I’ll have to try that when we make these again next week! Either way, I hope you enjoy these…they’re one of our Turkey Day staples around here! 🙂

    1. Haha…well, the wife is sometimes right. But we let her think she is already right. 🙂 I know your husband knows how that game is played, too. Hah! Anyways, these stuffing balls are fun indeed, and I couldn’t imagine Thanksgiving without them. Thanks, Manali!

    1. Ohh…what a fun idea to drop one of these bad boys into a soup! I could definitely see that working out. In fact, I might just have to try that if there are any leftovers after Thanksgiving. (Haha…leftovers…) Thanks, Kevin!

    1. You absolutely should borrow this idea and make stuffing balls for Turkey Day this year, Cheri! They’re a fun way to serve a classic. 🙂 (Plus, I like how the tops get all nice and crispy…yum!)

  10. I’ve never had these, but at my house they’d be called stuffing because I’d constantly be stuffing them in my mouth! They look delicious! I love sausage in stuffing. My yearly trick is to stuff the turkey’s neck cavity with ground sausage, let that seep its juices into the bird as it cooks, then remove it when the turkey’s done, bust it up, and mix it in with the stuffing. Mmm. I suddenly wish Thanksgiving were tomorrow.

    1. Haha! Ok, ok, I think I can get behind that terminology then, Jeff. Normally I call it dressing…but stuffing it is this year! Hey, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, man. Only one more week of drooling… 🙂

    1. Yes, these are great for Thanksgiving! In fact, I can’t imagine having a Thanksgiving meal without stuffing balls now…even though I thought they were super strange when Laura first made them. Thanks, Dawn!

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