These turkey & veggie smashballs are the latest food craze – super tender, packed with flavor and mouth-wateringly delicious! Whip up some today!
“What’s a Smashball Lori? A ‘what ball’???”. I even have some questions that well, I can’t post here as they weren’t kid friendly but made my inner 14-year old kid snicker. No they aren’t sadistic or painful. They are super soft and tender meatball-esque shaped balls. So what’s the difference you ask? It’s the smashability aspect as well as texture. Traditional meatballs are firmer and don’t really smash. Oh sure you can smash it but it doesn’t quite meld down but rather it would break into smaller pieces. Plus they aren’t as tender as these. Yes I know your Nonna makes the most tender meatballs but trust me, these are softer. *I* make a killer meatball that rivals Nonnas and these are softer.
Did I invent this food trend? Maybe (though like most food trends there is the possibility that someone else in the world did this too). It’s kind of like the debate over who made the first bowl of chicken soup. Honestly it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you absolutely MUST try this recipe. If I not only got Mr. Fantabulous to try it AND fall in love with them, then you all are going to love it!
But before I tell you about the whole Mr. Fantabulous story, let me talk about how these smashballs came to life.
The birth of Smashballs
Simply put…I was cleaning out fridge and had a bunch of leftovers that needed to use up. No for real. This recipe was born out of repurposing leftovers. It was a Saturday early afternoon and I to make room in the fridge for the new food that I created earlier that morning for new recipes. I had opened up the fridge and stood there, hand on left hip, biting my lower lip and frantically scanning the insides of my overstocked fridge for some trace of real estate space. There was none to be had. I mean I had stuff stacked on top of stuff, stuff that was shoved in and lying on an angle. It wasn’t pretty. So I took a deep breath and dove in.
And that’s when I decided to make a meatball. However, after tasting them and immediately noticing the smashable texture, I scratched the idea of them being a meatball and thus dubbed them Smashballs!
So what sets these apart as I was saying earlier is the texture (and taste if you will though today anything can be made into a meatball). From the outside they look like a meatball but from the first touch you can tell they aren’t. Because they are baked they have a ‘crust’ if you will that is firm but if you push (even lightly) it has give. And, as shown below, if you squeeze gently they smash. The contrast of the crust to the super, almost creamy/melty center is a foodie’s dream! Food is all about texture and this certainly has it! It’s almost soft and billowy inside.
- Do I have to use turkey? What about chicken?- No you don’t have to use turkey. You can use chicken. Be lazy even and grab
- I’m a vegetarian – do I have to use meat? Is this vegan?” – No it’s not vegan. No you don’t have to use meat or any animal products. If you look in the notes I put some comments about how to veganize it but I’m NOT a vegan so I’m looking to my vegan family to give some pointers on it.
- What if I need to add more bread crumbs as mine are super soft, is there a limit?– Yes. You aren’t making a meatloaf. You want to add the ingredient amount first, form a smashball and if it holds its shape then you’re fine. But if it won’t form because it may be just too wet (different veggies used, potato is watery or whatever – it can happen), add only a few TBL at most. The mixture is very soft and wet/sticky but it should NOT be soupy.
- Can I fry these or grill them? – I would advise to NOT do that as they are super, super soft. You could try but I would recommend freezing them first then trying. But again I personally wouldn’t.
- Why can’t I just take them straight off of the pan when they are done? – They are still soft on the inside so you risk the potential of pre-smashing them. Let them cool/firm up a bit and then remove them.
That sauce tho…
Now you can totally go with pretty much any sauce that want to accompany these but due to the spices in it I found that the Sriracha Honey Butter glaze is PERFECT for it. Plus to me, Sriracha is the bacon of the condiment world. It’s legit! To make it, seriously if you can dump into a pot, heat and whisk then you can make it. Or worst case, nuke it and have at it. As for the heat/sweet level feel free to add as little or a lot of the honey/sriracha. And also what I like to do is make the sauce and let it just cool slightly. The reason being is it will thicken up a bit and sort of glaze all over the smashballs.
…well this one was a surprise to me!
Back to Mr. Fantabulous and these deliciously amazing Smashballs. This man, while I love him more than pigs and bacon (fyi – that’s a whole lot!), is a creature of habit. Pasta must always be red sauce. Pizza should be plain. Banana splits are only ever vanilla ice cream with pineapple, chocolate and strawberry – and in that order. And meatballs should only ever be well, Italian and like my traditional Nonna-style ones. He’ll try everything I make and will give me honest feedback. He’s not big on the veggie burgers, veggie meatballs, neatloaf or the veggie pasta. You would have thought I was trying to poison him the night I made black rice pasta! The man literally called his mother on me! LOL
When I was making these I already knew his reaction would be “I don’t like it. Why can’t you just leave well enough alone? I LOVE your meatballs and you just went and ruined them!” after he took the first bite. Like I said, he’ll try everything but I think when he doesn’t like something it’s because it’s breaking tradition.
But the test – would he like it? Once I explained how to eat it (pulling the sides up and squeezing/smashing he took a bite. He didn’t say anything after the first bite and went straight to the 2nd one. Once he finished it he said “Are there any more? That was amazing! What are they again and what’s in them?” I just fell out of my chair when he said that because I fully expected Mr. PickyPants to hate it. I said “Ahhh, yeah. Um you do know this has like vegetables in it as well as meat, right? It’s not a meatball and not Italian, right???”. He said “Yeah, I know. You went off and made something crazy… CRAZY GOOD!” I just smiled… maybe there is hope for him yet and loving veggie-based things!
- 1 cup chopped cooked turkey (tenderloin) (omit if going vegetarian) *Note
- 1 cup plain mashed sweet potato, warmed *can use mashed cauliflower for keto)
- 1/2 cup minced carrots
- 1 medium shallot, minced (can use 2 Tbl minced red onion)
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers (chop small)
- 1/2 cup spinach (fresh), rough chopped
- 2–3 tsp Sriracha
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp pepper
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 1 XL egg, slightly beaten
- 1/3 cup panko (regular will work)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Sriracha Honey Butter Glaze
- 5 Tbl butter, unsalted
- 2–3 Tbl honey (go with a keto substitute for this)
- 1–2 Tbl Sriracha
- 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp parsley
- Preheat oven to 375F, rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking pan with foil and liberally spray with olive oil. Set aside.
- In a large bowl add all of the smashball ball ingredients and mix to combine. Wet your hands (trust me on this!). Using a medium-large (go with your preference for size) ice cream scoop, scoop out the mixture into your hands. Gently form into a ball. The mixture will be wet and soft but hold a shape. If it will not hold a shape, add a few Tbl more panko. Don’t add too much more as you’re not making a meatloaf. You just want them to be able to hold the ball shape. Place on the prepared pan and repeat.
- Drizzle/mist olive oil over top each ball and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the smashballs have formed a ‘crust’ and are firm to the touch but have give if pushed. Remove from the pan from the oven and allow to cool on the pan. If you try to remove them immediately they will fall apart. These are super tender but will firm up once they start to cool. Cool for 15-20 minutes.
- Use a thin spatula or blade to remove the smashballs from the pan and plate.
- To make the sauce, add the butter, honey, Sriracha and red pepper flakes to a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until the butter melts. Remove from the heat, add in the salt and parsley. Taste for sweetness/heat. I prefer 3 Tbl honey with 1 1/2 Tbl Sriracha.
- Serve on a grilled street taco, add shredded lettuce/cabbage/carrots/zucchini, place a smashball, drizzle with glaze and pull up the sides of the street taco gently “smashing” the ball.
1. If you want you could use cooked chicken if you didn’t have turkey.
2. Want to make them vegetarian? Omit the turkey and replace with chopped zucchini/squash/broccoli/cauliflower/beans – white beans are AMAZING in this!
3. Vegan? – Omit the cheese/egg/meat and go with tofu/egg substitute, nutritional yeast.