Turkey Meatballs Recipe – Cooking Classy

February 21, 2021


Delicious Turkey Meatballs! Ground turkey is mixed with breadcrumbs, flavorful onion, garlic, parmesan cheese and herbs, then formed into bite size rounds and oven baked.

It’s an incredibly tasty recipe inspired by my popular beef and pork based meatballs.

Close up photo of baked turkey meatballs.

Easy Ground Turkey Meatballs

These are a tender, even juicy meatball that’s brimming with flavor. And they are very easy to make and only take about 15 minutes to bake.

Since they are made of leaner ground turkey they are a healthier alternative to the fattier ground beef or pork based meatballs, yet they are still incredibly delicious!

Perfect for those days when you’re craving a comforting and cozy Italian meal!

To keep that healthier options going you can serve atop baked spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles for a tempting meal you can feel great about eating.

Ingredients used to make turkey meatballs.

Baked Turkey Meatballs Recipe Ingredients

  • Dry bread crumbs: I highly recommend using homemade if possible, they are a breeze to make. Store-bought will work too if needed.
  • Milk: I just use 2% milk. Anything but skim is preferred.
  • Parmesan cheese: Preferably use a good quality Parmigiano Reggiano. Don’t use the powdered parmesan from the shelf here the flavor isn’t anywhere near the same.
  • Yellow onion: Be sure to mince very small, the same size as minced garlic so there are no crunchy onions in the meatballs by the time they are baked through.
  • Garlic: Preferably use fresh minced garlic.
  • Fresh basil and parsley: Fresh herbs will offer the best flavor but in a pinch you could sub 2 tsp dried parsley and 1 tsp dried basil.
  • Dried oregano: You can also use 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano if you have some on hand.
  • Lean ground turkey: I use 93% lean but anywhere from 85% – 93% lean is great.
  • Egg yolk: I’ve found with turkey meatballs that the egg white can dry them out (since they are already lean). So instead, all they need is the egg yolk to help bind.
  • Salt and pepper: This can be a little tricky since you can’t really season “to taste” but I think about 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper is a happy medium, then at the end you can season the sauce if more is needed.
  • Olive oil: This is used to help keep the meatballs from drying out while baking and encourage browning especially on bottom where there’s contact with the baking sheet.
  • Marinara sauce: My personal store-bought favorite is Rao’s Tomato Basil but you can use any favorite you prefer.

Scroll down for full recipe with amounts and print option.ground
Collage of four photos showing first for steps of mixing turkey meatball ingredients.

How to Make Ground Turkey Meatballs (Oven Method)

  1. Heat oven, prepare pan: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a rimmed 18×13 inch, preferably dark non-stick coated, baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Hydrate bread crumbs: In a large mixing bowl, toss together bread crumbs with 3 Tbsp milk. Let rest a few minutes. If crumbs seem dry moisten with another 1 Tbsp milk. Toss mixture with a fork to separate clumps.
  3. Add seasonings: Add parmesan, onion, garlic, parsley, basil and oregano and toss mixture.
  4. Add in turkey, seasoning and egg yolk: Add in ground turkey. Sprinkle salt and pepper over evenly. Break egg yolk and drizzle over turkey (this will help it end up more evenly distributed).
  5. Mix by hand: Toss and blend mixture with clean hands until ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  6. Roll into meatballs: Divide meatball mixture into 16 equal portions (about 40g or a little over 2 Tbsp each). Roll into balls.
  7. Set on baking sheet and brush with oil: Align meatballs on prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly apart. Brush tops and sides with olive oil.
  8. Bake meatballs in oven until cooked through: Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Check bottoms of meatballs, if they are golden brown, turn to opposite side, if not let them continue to sit upright and brown on bottom.
  9. Cook through to 165 in center of meatballs (check temp of some in center and edges), about 5 minutes longer.
  10. Warm marinara sauce: Meanwhile, heat marinara sauce over low heat in a large saucepan, covered.
  11. Toss finished meatballs with sauce: Toss cooked meatballs with marinara sauce and serve warm, garnished with more parsley and basil (if desired) and parmesan.

Collage of six images showing shaping turkey meatballs, aligning and baking on baking sheet then cooking in marinara sauce.

How to Cook Turkey Meatballs On the Stovetop

Another option to cook the meatballs is to use the stovetop. To do so:

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add meatballs, spacing evenly apart.
  3. Let cook, turning occasionally, until browned on the exterior and cooked through in the interior to 165 degrees. Reduce burner temperature slightly if needed while cooking.
  4. Alternatively you can brown meatballs on the exterior, then add to marinara sauce, cover and simmer in sauce until meatballs are 165 in center.

Turkey meatballs in marinara sauce in a saucepan.

Helpful Tips

  • I like to use Jenni-O brand turkey here because it’s not as wet as other brands of turkey and is easier to work with.
  • Start with cold ingredients for less sticky meatball mixture.
  • If it does happen to be a little sticky, dip hands in water before rolling. If that still doesn’t do the trick, toss a few extra tablespoons of breadcrumbs into the mixture.
  • Work to maintain an even size of meatballs so they bake even and finish at the same time.
  • I highly recommend an instant read food thermometer here to taste for doneness. Judging by color isn’t always accurate and they may end up over-baked.
  • Test several meatballs on different areas of the baking sheet for doneness. Sometimes those on the outer edges can cook hotter than those in the center.
  • Careful not to over-cook meatballs much beyond 165 – 170 degrees in center or they can start to dry since this lean turkey.

Variations

  • Substitute ground chicken in place of ground turkey.
  • You can also use Panko in place of standard bread crumbs. Use a scant 1/2 cup.
  • Make smaller or larger depending on desired size preferred, just keep even and cook through to center.
  • Use Pecorino Romano cheese in place of parmesan cheese.
  • Try with all parsley and skip the basil (use 4 tbsp).

Turkey meatballs and marinara sauce shown over spaghetti pasta.

What to Serve with Turkey Meatballs

Close up photo of baked turkey meatballs.

Turkey Meatballs

Flavorful, tender and juicy meatballs! Lean ground turkey is mixed with breadcrumbs, flavorful onion, garlic, parmesan cheese and herbs, then formed into bite size rounds and oven baked. Makes about 4 meatballs per person.

Servings: 4

Prep20 minutes

Cook15 minutes

Ready in: 35 minutes

  • 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs, homemade or store-bought
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup (1.2 oz) finely shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for serving if desired
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey, very cold, I recommend Jennie-O since it’s less wet and sticky
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (24 oz) jar marinara sauce (I recommend Rao’s Tomato Basil)
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a rimmed 18 by -13-inch, preferably dark non-stick coated, baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

  • In a large mixing bowl toss together bread crumbs with 3 Tbsp milk. Let rest a few minutes. If crumbs seem dry moisten with another 1 Tbsp milk. Toss mixture with a fork to separate clumps.

  • Add parmesan, onion, garlic, parsley, basil and oregano and toss mixture.

  • Add in ground turkey. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over. Break egg yolk and drizzle over turkey (this will help it end up more evenly distributed).

  • Toss mixture with clean hands until ingredients are evenly incorporated.

  • Divide meatball mixture into 16 equal portions (about 40g or a little over 2 Tbsp each).

  • Roll into balls (if mixture is a little sticky dipping hands in water before rolling can be helpful).

  • Align meatballs on prepared baking sheet spacing evenly apart. Brush tops and sides with olive oil.

  • Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes. Check bottoms of meatballs, if they are golden brown turn to opposite side, if not let them continue to sit upright and brown on bottom. Bake through to 165 in center of meatballs (check temp of some in center and edges), about 5 minutes longer.

  • Meanwhile heat marinara sauce over low heat in a large saucepan, covered.

  • Toss cooked meatballs with marinara sauce and serve warm garnished with more parsley, basil (optional), and parmesan.

Nutrition Facts

Turkey Meatballs

Amount Per Serving

Calories 338
Calories from Fat 153

% Daily Value*

Fat 17g26%

Saturated Fat 5g31%

Trans Fat 1g

Cholesterol 136mg45%

Sodium 1615mg70%

Potassium 915mg26%

Carbohydrates 19g6%

Fiber 4g17%

Sugar 9g10%

Protein 29g58%

Vitamin A 1644IU33%

Vitamin C 24mg29%

Calcium 193mg19%

Iron 4mg22%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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