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Recipe for hot or mild Italian turkey sausage meatballs with fennel-mustard sauce


When I was in college, every party began with sour cream dip, made with the packet of onion soup mix, and a big bowl of chips or celery sticks. Life was simple back then; we liked what we liked, and most of us didn't know much about cooking. These days, entertaining demands a bit more creativity and variety. I'm not good at making food look fancy, so my appetizers need to rely on flavor. These Italian turkey sausage meatballs, with a fennel-mustard dipping sauce, provide a one-bite burst of flavor that kicks off any dinner with style. You can cook and freeze the meatballs in advance, and mix up the sauce the morning of your party. The only thing easier is that onion soup dip from the '60s.


Hot or mild Italian turkey sausage meatballs with fennel-mustard sauce

From the pantry, you'll need: ground turkey, Greek yogurt, plain dry bread crumbs, Dijon mustard, egg, mayonnaise, fennel seed, kosher salt, black pepper.

Makes 6 dozen bite-size (one-inch) meatballs.


For the meatballs:
1-1/4 lb ground turkey (I use 93% fat-free)
1 lb hot or mild Italian turkey sausage (fresh, not pre-cooked)
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use nonfat)
3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 large egg
1-1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp fresh black pepper

For the dipping sauce:
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grainy Dijon or spicy brown mustard
Fresh black pepper, to taste

Thinly sliced cucumber, for garnish


Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with Silpats (silicone mats) or parchment paper, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients. Roll into one-inch balls, and place on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake at 425F for 18 minutes, rotating the pans midway through the cooking. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Use a mortar and pestle to crush the fennel seeds. Add them to a small bowl with the remaining dipping sauce ingredients, and whisk together to combine. Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl.

Skewer each meatball with a slice of cucumber, and arrange on a platter with the dipping sauce.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Thai red curry turkey meatballs
Greek red pepper and feta turkey meatball salad
Roasted shrimp appetizer with spicy peanut sauce
Salt cod balls with chipotle mayonnaise dip
Spicy turkey rolls

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Turkey sausage meatball noodle soup, from Soup Chick
Zaatar meatballs, from Jeanette's Healthy Living
Grilled Sriracha-sesame turkey meatballs, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Cranberry glazed turkey meatballs, from Simply Recipes
Crock Pot Italian turkey meatballs, from Skinnytaste

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Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


These are beautiful and I love that there's a veg with it :-)

CJ, I love the crunch of the cucumbers and the flavor with the fennel in the sauce, but tomatoes, red peppers, or some combination of veggies would be wonderful.

Well, when I was in college, we did eat a lot of that onion soup dip! These look really cute!

TW, I don't have much of a knack with appetizers, so when I say these are easy, they really are. And pretty darned delicious, too. I'm not sure I really want to go back to those college days!

These are sensational! I love simple-to-prepare yet beg on flavor and wow factor and these have both in spades! The dipping sauce sounds delicious, too. I want to eat at your house.

delicious and simple is a great combination! plus I love the cucumber slice - nice touch!
This is also another excellent recipe to slip ground turkey by my red-meat loving husband! thanks!

Jamie, same here. I love big flavors and not a lot of work. *And* apps that can be made before my guests arrive, or a day or more in advance! How about you come here and we can cook together? Wouldn't that be fun?

Carol, the turkey sausage packs a lot of flavor, so I doubt your hubsand would ever miss the beef.

Lydia, these meatballs sound like they just pop with flavor. Pinning these to make for my kids!

I used a Tbsp. of ground grey salt (French)--meatballs saltier than I like; maybe it was the sausage- not able to get my preferred store-made choice with low or no nitrites. Very good though.

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