John Wayne's Tin Star Turkey Meatball Recipe

Posted by Topix Media Lab on

John Wayne with wife Pilar and children at Christmas


John Wayne believed sitting down for a homemade holiday feast with family meant more than just sharing food. It was a chance to share stories, laughs and memories, and to strengthen the bonds of love and tradition. That's why we've collected these authentic, delicious recipes for you and you loved ones to make for your holiday festivities, or any occasion. 

Below, find the recipe for John Wayne's Turkey Meatballs, a fun twist on classic meatballs. Looking for more Duke-approved recipes? Check out the John Wayne Family Traditions issue for dozens of dishes your family will love.


John Wayne's Turkey Meatballs

Beef may be the standard choice for this dish, but the holidays are the right occasion to serve up something special.



  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1 1/4 lb ground turkey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (12-oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup orange sauce
  • 3 Tbsp sugar



Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Combine the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes, parsley and 1/2 cup chicken stock in a large mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the turkey and mix with hands until thoroughly combined. Shape into 2-inch balls (about 2 Tbsp each). Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high and sauté the meatballs until browned all over, about 6 minutes.

Place browned meatballs on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Add the cranberries to the skillet the meatballs were browned in, along with the remaining cup of chicken stock, orange sauce and sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until the cranberries pop and the sauce is reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Add the meatballs to the gravy and serve.


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