Turkey Party Meatballs with Habanero Apricot Jelly Glaze

December 19, 2017(updated on August 30, 2021)

This recipe for turkey meatballs features the Habanero Apricot Jelly from Ball® Canning. This sweet and spicy jelly is the perfect condiment for all manner of holiday cheese boards, relish trays, and buffets.

Sweet and spicy glazed meatballs are a classic component of a holiday party spread. They’re reliable, easy to prepare, and are generally a crowd favorite. They’re also an excellent recipe to keep in mind if you’re a home canner. A half pint of pepper jelly, a couple tablespoons of butter, and a little lime juice is all you need to make a killer meatball glaze.

I often bring homemade party meatballs to gatherings when I’m asked to bring a dish. I know that they’ll typically be well-received and they satisfy one of my mother’s essential rules of potlucking*. That rule states that you should always bring a dish that can serve as the backbone of your own meal, just in case everyone else defaulted to bread, wine, and dessert. On more than one occasion, I have made a very pleasant meal out of these meatballs.

In general meatballs aren’t hard to make, but they do take a bit of time. I sometimes make a double batch on a weekend afternoon, bake them off, and freeze some for the busy holiday season. With a jar of homemade sauce and a big salad, they also make a terrific meal for new parents and neighbors who need a little extra care.

Now, for an equipment plug. If you make meatballs in any kind of quantity, get yourself a one tablespoon meatball scoop. I’ve had this one for the last decade (Amazon tells me I ordered it in 2007) and it is still going strong. It has scooped many thousands of meatballs with it and I believe it will continue to do so for many more years to come.

One thing that all meatballs need is a good sauce or glaze. It can be a simple dish of ketchup set alongside your platter or slow cooker, a jar of smoky tomato jam, a tasty oven-roasted tomato sauce, or a sweet, spicy, and sticky homemade glaze.

Lately, one of my favorite glaze builders has been the Habanero-Apricot Jelly from Ball® Canning. It’s a sweet, tangy, spicy jelly that is made with dried apricots, so it can be made any time of year (it’s also a good one for holiday gift baskets for just that reason).

I first encountered this jelly last summer while in Fishers, Indiana for the Ball® Can-It Forward festivities (you can see me making it here). In that demo, we shared how the jelly can be transformed into a glaze for wings, but I’ve kept it in the back of my head for meatball dressing ever since.

Whatever else you’re making for holiday gatherings, I bet these turkey party meatballs with the habanero-apricot glaze will charm your guests!

*My mother’s other potlucking rules are that you should always bring a serving utensil and your dish should be able to stand at room temperature for at least an hour without food safety concerns.

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Turkey Party Meatballs with Habanero-Apricot Jelly Glaze


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves minced or pressed
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup apricot habanero jelly
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice


  • Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet set over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onions, and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the onions are tender, brown, and fragrant (add a splash of water if the onions are cooking too quickly). In the last minute of cooking, add the parsley, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta, bread crumbs, and ground turkey. Use your hands to knead the ingredients together. Add the onion and parsley mixture and work it into the meat.
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Portion the meat mixture out into 1 tablespoon balls and set on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes, until the meatballs have an internal temperature of at least 170F.
  • Remove meatballs from the oven.
  • To make the glaze, melt the jelly, butter, and lime juice together in a skillet. Once the glaze is simmering, add the meatballs in batches to glaze and place them on a plate to serve. Or, heap the meatballs in a slow cooker and pour the glaze over top.

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