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turkey meatballs in tomato sauce

Last updated on June 18th, 2021 at 11:07 pm

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Turkey Meatballs Recipe [Video]

Turkey Meatballs is a lighter version of the classic Italian dinner staple! Pile several over spaghetti, use them to fill subs, enjoy with mashed or roasted potatoes, or serve as an appetizer at your next gathering. 

We love meatballs in this house! They’re so easy to make and always a hit, especially with picky eaters. Aside from drenching in marinara sauce, they’re also fantastic in this Swedish or BBQ crockpot version, or enjoy them in these cheesy zucchini boats!

How to Make Homemade Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs are a lean but equally delicious variation of the classic beef. They’re so tender and juicy, with layers of flavor from the spices, parmesan, and herbs, and Worcestershire in the mixture. If you’re craving Italian comfort food tonight, this dish fits the bill.

Because this recipe makes a lot of meatballs without much effort, it’s a great dish to make if you have to feed a crowd. And no matter who you serve this to, be ready for them to ask for seconds. Don’t forget to add more parmesan on top!

Are turkey meatballs healthier than beef?

They’re both healthy meats that are packed with protein, healthy fat, and lots of vitamins and minerals. 

However, turkey has much less saturated fat, so if you’re focusing on heart health, it can be a better choice than beef. Its fat-free variety also has the lowest calories among most meats, which makes it a good option if you want to lose weight.

How to Make Homemade Turkey Meatballs?

  1. Combine the seasonings. Mix the crumbs, cheese, and onion with herbs and spices.
  2. Make the meat mixture. To that, blend in the Worcestershire sauce, egg, and ground meat. Chill for at least an hour to make them easier to handle.
  3. Shape. Form the meat into balls with a diameter of around 1 ¼ inch.
  4. Sear. Brown the meatballs on all sides in a pan with hot oil.
  5. Cook in the marinara. In the same pan, simmer the marinara then arrange the meatballs until they’re covered in sauce. Cook for up to 20 minutes until fully done.
  6. Serve. Enjoy hot with more parmesan, chopped parsley, and a splash of olive oil on top. 

Recipe Variations:

  • Use other meats: Ground chicken, pork beef, or meat substitutes will work for this recipe, too!
  • Try other sauces: Instead of marinara, try coating the meatballs with barbecue sauce! You can also give them an Asian twist by simmering in some General Tso Sauce or Sweet and Sour Sauce. Replace the herbs with powdered garlic and ginger, or keep them plain with salt and pepper.
  • Stuff with cheese: Put a cube of mozzarella or cheddar inside the balls for a cheesy surprise! You can also shred your favorite cheese and add about 1/2 cup to the mixture. We enjoy these with some sharp cheddar cheese or Pepper Jack cheese!
  • Make them spicy: For more kick, add a tsp of cayenne or double the amount of pepper flakes.

How do you know when Turkey Meatballs are done?

Aside from turning a beautiful golden brown, check the internal temperature as well. They’re done once the temp hits 165F. You can also check by cutting them in half to see if they’re cooked all the way to the middle.

How do you keep Turkey Meatballs from falling apart?

One, chill them before shaping. This allows the balls to hold their shape until they’re in the pan. You can also dust them with a little flour before searing. 

Why are my Turkey Meatballs rubbery?

You probably overworked the meat mixture or packed them too tightly.

Handle the mixture just until everything is blended. You can also oil your hands lightly before shaping them so they don’t stick and you don’t have to knead them too much.

Can I make these in advance?

Yes, once they’re shaped, you can freeze them. Arrange them in a flat pan with small gaps in between so they don’t stick together. Once they’re frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe baggie.

When you’re ready to cook, thaw overnight. Continue the recipe from the searing step and enjoy!

How to store:

For leftovers, cool completely before transferring to air-tight storage containers or bags. Consume within 5 days or earlier.

How to freeze:

Transfer the cooled leftovers to a freezer bag or container. Freeze up to a month. 

How to reheat:

To reheat, you can microwave them until hot, or heat them in a pan with more marinara sauce.

More Turkey Recipes:

Recipe Tips:

  • Leave them in the fridge for up to 24 hours after mixing. The chilled is easier to shape and helps you avoid overmixing.
  • Sear in batches. This allows them to get a nice, brown crust instead of steaming together.
  • Try using seasoned Italian breadcrumbs for a flavor boost!

Turkey Meatballs Recipe

  • Prep Time30 MIN
  • Cook Time30 MIN
  • Servings 4 servings


  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese more for serving
  • 1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped basil
  • 4 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 1 1/2 pound ground turkey very cold from the fridge
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil more as needed
  • 3 cups marinara sauce or more


  • In a large bowl, combine the ingredients starting with the cheese and up to (including) red pepper flakes, and mix well.
  • Add turkey meat, egg Worcestershire sauce, and blend with your hands until well mixed.
  • For the perfect texture, if you have time, cover the meat mixture and chill for an hour or up to 24 hours. It's easiest to form the meatballs when they are very cold.
  • When ready to cook for the meatballs, I usually use a one to two tablespoons cookie scoop to measure the meat mixture and roll it into balls.
  • Place a large saute pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the meatballs just enough to fit in the pan without crowding them.
  • Brown the meatballs on all sides, 5 to 8 minutes, and then transfer to a plate, add more oil if needed, and cook the rest of the meatballs.
  • Once done cooking the meatballs, add the marinara sauce to the pan and bring it to a simmer. Make sure to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Taste the sauce and adjust for salt and pepper. Once hot, add the meatballs and their juices to the pan, gently toss to cover the meatballs with sauce and lower the heat. Cover the pan and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Serve hot, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Facts

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Wilma Dubil

Wilma Dubil

Can I bake in the oven rather than sauté in oil ?

Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

yes! they will turn out great!



Love meatbalss, but have never thought of making them with turkey instead. For some reason, I think turkey would not be as flavorful as beef, but I know that is not true. Thanks for the recipe and the tip about the marina sauce. I'll try turkey the next time I make meatballs. Cheers.

Anosa Malanga

Anosa Malanga

Oh my. Now I regret reading this just only now. I wish I was able to read this before the holidays so I can try and add up to out menu. But yeah, its not too late to try this out.



This sounds like a nice, hearty recipe. I would like to make a big batch of these and save the leftovers.

Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

you will love them!

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