Venison Stuffing Balls are a delicious appetizer to share with friends and family during the holidays. You’ll want to make extra, because they will go fast!
This is not a sponsored or paid post. I did receive complimentary product, but the opinions are mine alone.
Three years ago I wouldn’t have been caught dead eating game meat. Now I regularly eat bison burgers at The Garage, one of my favorite restaurants in Stillwater, and I’m on my THIRD venison recipe on the blog! My first two recipes were a hit:
My friends who don’t hunt or eat game meat probably think I’m nuts. I thought I was nuts A) when I even considered it; B) when I bought vension at the store; and C) the whole time I made the first recipe. But it didn’t take long for me to become a believer. And now that I am a fan, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to incorporate venison into my meal plan. I also need to branch out even further, and create some recipes using elk meat. I’ve eaten it before, and do enjoy it. But I have yet to cook with it. Baby steps.
WHATS SO GREAT ABOUT VENISON?
Venison, and game meat in general, are very lean meats. So yes, you do have to add fat as you cook or it will be extremely dry. But a little bit of fat goes a long way. Venison is also:
- high in iron, so it may help people who are iron deficient
- lower in calories than beef or pork
- much lower in fat than beef
Yes, I know, venison can be intimidating. Really, any game meat can be, especially if you’ve never tried it. Believe me, I was in your shoes for a LONG time. As a matter of fact, the first time I cooked venison to test for my Venison Cheeseburgers I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before the first bite. But I’m so glad I took that leap.
I was never a fan of stuffing as a kid. I am a huge texture eater, and stuffing on the holiday table just never looked appetizing to me. And I was also that kid…none of my food could touch each other, or I wouldn’t eat it. As a matter of fact, I still plate my food that way, but now it’s just out of habit. I am also much better about stuffing, and enjoy it occasionally. I have yet to take on the challenge of making my own stuffing, so I rely on the stuff in the box. The problem is, when I do Thanksgiving at home I only use a little bit of the box, and am never quite sure what to do with the rest.
In the spirit of the holiday season, I wanted to create an appetizer that combined the flavors of the season, gave me a new way to prepare venison, and used stuffing mix. And that’s how Venison Stuffing Balls were born
INGREDIENTS FOR VENISON STUFFING BALLS
- Ground venison: I found ground venison in the frozen meat section at Sprouts Farmer’s Market. I also got venison from my friend’s dad, but I haven’t broken into that one yet.
- Boxed, dry stuffing mix: I use Betty Crocker Cornbread Stuffing because I really like cornbread. If you have another favorite brand, go ahead and use that
- Dried cranberries: I don’t use dried cranberries nearly enough, but I really enjoy their tart bite
- Avocado Oil: I discovered avocado oil a few months ago, and immediately fell in love. It has a higher smoke point than other oils, and a silky, buttery texture.
- Cheese: I use cheddar cheese for these Venison Stuffing Balls, and my favorite cheddar is from Cabot Cheese. Any sharp cheddar will work great
- Egg: I use Eggland’s Best eggs, because they have more nutrients than other egg brands
- Broth: once I learned to make my own vegetable broth, I haven’t looked back. If you don’t have homemade, of course you can use the boxed broth. I use vegetable broth, but chicken broth would work as well
- Celery, onion, butter, garlic powder and onion powder
These Venison Stuffing Balls are so delicious! The mild flavor of the stuffing works really well with the sharp cheddar cheese and tart cranberries. The first time I made Venison Stuffing Balls I devoured them in record time. By myself. And that’s why I avoid making them unless it’s for a crowd.
With my previous venison recipes I used bacon to add fat and flavor to the meat. I considered it for the Venison Stuffing Balls, but decided to try them without bacon. And you know what, they don’t need the bacon at all! Yikes…I can’t even believe I just said that. But the other ingredients add more than enough flavor.
Making Venison Stuffing Balls is simple, and requires just a few steps.
KEYS TO PERFECT VENISON STUFFING BALLS
- Don’t skimp on the oil! You’re really not using much oil to begin with, and it will prevent the venison from drying out
- After mixing all of the ingredients together, let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes before forming them into balls. This allows the egg and broth to better absorb, so the balls stay together better
- Use a small cookie scoop to form the Venison Stuffing Balls. I scoop the mixture out of the bowl with the cookie scoop, and then finish forming them in my hands. Again, that helps the balls to stay together.
- Use parchment paper on a cookie sheet for the best result. The parchment paper means super easy cleanup! In a pinch, you can find it at the dollar store, and it does the trick.
What I love about these Venison Stuffing Balls is that they come together quickly. You can make these from start to finish in under 30 minutes, and about half of that time they are either resting or baking. Need to prep ahead? Do all of the prep up to combining the whole mixture together; cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them.
Venison Stuffing Balls are a perfect holiday party appetizer. They are best right out of the oven and trust me, they won’t last long. You could even prep several batches on parchment paper, so you can put them into the oven as needed.
If you don’t (or won’t) eat venison, you can of course use an alternative protein. I would recommend sausage, either breakfast sausage or pork sausage. I haven’t tried this dish with Italian sausage, but I think the flavor profile might be a little too strong and compete with the other ingredients.
What’s your favorite holiday appetizer?
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- 16 ounces ground venison meat
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or canola oil)
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup aged cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 box stuffing mix
- 4 tablespoons dried cranberries, chopped
- 1 cup broth (vegetable or chicken)
- 2 large eggs, whisked
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add venison and cook until browned and cooked through. As meat cooks, break up into small pieces. Add onion, celery, onion powder, garlic powder, and oil, and cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent and celery is tender. Remove and set aside to cool
In large bowl, combine stuffing mix, cheese, and cranberries. When meat mixture is cool, add to bowl. Add broth and eggs, combine well, and allow to rest for 10 minutes
Use small cookie scoop to form mixture into balls. You may also want to transfer scoops to hands and squeeze mixture together to help keep balls together.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until breading is golden brown and mixture is cooked through. Serve immediately
YIELD: 36 stuffing balls