There are nights when I want to feel adventurous in the kitchen, and then there are nights when I want my dinner to come up, give me a hug, and tell me that, yes, I am doing a good job. Those are the nights I make Baked Turkey Meatballs.
Fork-tender, filling, and layered with Italian spices and herbs, these healthy turkey meatballs want to be your mealtime cheerleader.
- They are easy to make and won’t make you hunt through the grocery store for ingredients.
- Once you have your ground turkey and Parmesan in the fridge, you’re likely to already have everything else in your pantry to make this simple turkey meatballs recipe.
The end result is so intrinsically satisfying, you’ll feel like a true dinner hero.
- The recipe yields about 20 meatballs, so it covers a few dinners for our leftover-loving household of two, or it feeds a small dinner group.
The Best Juicy Turkey Meatballs
Burned by bland (or, gasp!, dry) turkey meatballs in the past?
That’s why I made sure we’d be adding plenty of other great flavors to make these turkey meatballs juicy and tasty.
Add the fact that turkey meatballs are healthy since turkey is a lean source of protein and that they cook in the oven hands-free, and you have a true dinner staple.
- Ground Turkey. While traditional meatball recipes usually call for a mix of different meats (sometimes up to 3!), this turkey meatball recipe keeps it straightforward with ground turkey only. Turkey is lean and mild.
- Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs. Along with an egg, you need bread crumbs in meatballs to bind the meat and to keep the meatballs moist. I like Italian seasoned ones because they build in extra flavor without any extra effort.
- Lazy Girl Basic Spices. Garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, red pepper flakes. Because sometimes I am hungry and I want to eat meatballs…without having to grate an onion or mince garlic cloves for them.
- Parmesan. Because meatballs are better with cheese. It’s true. Parmesan also helps to ensure the meatballs are moist.
Annnnnd that’s pretty much it.
This is basic at its very best, no apologies necessary.
Easy Meatball Cooking Method
Whereas most meatball recipes require that the meatballs be browned in a pan on the stove—undoubtedly delicious but also messy and a bit of a pain—this streamlined version skips the stove altogether.
- Instead of browning the meatballs in oil on the stove, arrange them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (or parchment paper if you prefer) for easy cleanup.
- Brushing with olive oil ensures the meatballs become nicely golden on the outside and juicy on the inside, no messy frying required.
Save the stovetop method for when you’re looking to prepare a meatball recipe for a slow evening or special occasion (as with this Mozzarella Meatball Casserole).
For fast, less-fuss weeknights, baked meatballs are the move.
How to Make Juicy Turkey Meatballs in the Oven
Be careful not to overwork the meat and don’t skip the egg and breadcrumbs, and you’ll have tender, juicy turkey meatballs every time.
- In a large bowl, combine the spices, Parmesan, and ground turkey.
- Add the egg and stir very gently to combine.
- Shape into meatballs and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Brush the meatballs with olive oil.
- Bake turkey meatballs at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes for a 1 1/2-inch meatball, or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer. When you cut into a meatball, it should be cooked through.
Your meatballs can still be a little pink inside and be cooked safely. The best way to know if they are done without drying them out is to use a meat thermometer.
How to Serve Meatballs
While the turkey meatballs bake, you can prep anything you’d like to serve with them.
- Sauce. Good-quality store bought marinara sauce is one of my more adored pantry staples. You can warm the sauce in a small pot on the stove, then spoon it over the cooked meatballs, or take our favorite approach: warm the sauce in a large skillet, then simmer the meatballs at the end to heat them through.
- Pasta. Whole wheat dry pasta is perfect for healthy dinners. You can use your favorite pasta shape, though when we’re feeling ultra traditional, I like to do the baked turkey Meatballs and spaghetti.
- Zucchini Noodles. A low carb and more keto-friendly option that sneaks in extra veggies. Try a blend of zoodles and spaghetti for a happy balance. Or add meatballs to Zucchini Pasta.
- Hoagie Bun. Perfect for a meatball sub!
- Appetizer Style. Place the meatballs on a plate with toothpicks and enjoy as an appetizer with a side of sauce for dipping.
- Fresh Basil. No matter how you are serving meatballs, if you have fresh basil or other herbs on hand, it makes a nice addition.
Turkey meatballs can be frozen cooked or raw.
Make a double batch of this easy turkey meatballs recipe and store the second in the freezer. Future you says, thank you!
- To Freeze Baked or Unbaked Meatballs. Shape as directed and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, then transfer to an airtight container or ziptop bag.
- To Cook Frozen Meatballs. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Brush with oil and bake as directed (for uncooked meatballs); for cooked meatballs, reheat gently on the stove or in the oven or microwave.
These baked turkey meatballs are my keeper for when I’m craving simple comfort food that won’t lock me to my stove.
I hope you love them too! As always, if you try this recipe, please leave a comment below. It means so much to hear from you.
Recommended Tools to Make Baked Turkey Meatballs
- Scoop. For easy, uniform portioning. I use mine for cookie dough too!
- Instant-read thermometer. The easiest, best way to see if the meatballs are cooked all the way through.
- Rimmed baking sheet. I use these for everything, from meatballs to veggies to sheet pan suppers.
Frequently Asked Questions
If your turkey meatballs are hard or rubbery, you likely overworked the meat or compacted them too tightly. Use a light touch and mix gently for the most tender meatballs.
If your meatballs fall apart, they need a better binding agent. This recipe uses both breadcrumbs and an egg, so you can rest assured your meatballs will hold together.
Those looking for turkey meatballs without breadcrumbs can check out my Whole30 Meatballs, which use almond flour instead. <—this meatball recipe is Paleo as well.
Certainly! Swap the Italian breadcrumbs in this recipe for your favorite Italian gluten free breadcrumbs. You also could experiment with making the meatballs with oats that are lightly ground in the food processor (add additional seasoning to the oats, such as salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning).
Baked Turkey Meatballs
For the Baked Turkey Meatballs:
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
- 1/3 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs whole wheat if possible
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs basil, parsley, or chives a combo, plus additional for serving
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey keep in your refrigerator until the last possible second
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more as needed
- Prepared pasta sauce
- Cooked whole wheat pasta or zucchini noodles
- Creamy Polenta
- Split and toasted hoagie buns
- Prepared brown rice
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the cheese, bread crumbs, herbs, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, pepper, and red pepper flakes and stir well to combine. Add the turkey.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg, then add it to the meat mixture. With a fork or your fingers, mix just until combined, being careful not to compact the meat.
- With a scoop or spoon, scoop the meat and shape into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet. You will have about 20 meatballs total.
- Brush the tops of the meatballs with the olive oil.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. As an alternate way to check, a meatball in the center of the baking sheet should be fully cooked through when cut in half.
- While the meatballs cook, warm the sauce and any other items you’d like to serve them with (pasta, hoagie buns, rice, etc.). Serve the meatballs hot, topped with the sauce, cheese, herbs, and any other additions.
- Adapted from my Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (either with or separately from the sauce). Rewarm gently with the sauce on the stove.
- Cooked meatballs can be frozen baked or unbaked for up to 3 months. See detailed notes in the post above for a step-by-step.
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