New dinner motto: if it’s good, ball it. Moroccan Meatballs are the edible evidence that these are words upon which great meals are made.

Healthy Moroccan Turkey Meatballs with Whole Wheat Couscous

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Spicy ginger and warm cinnamon are two of my favorite spices, and while they appear most commonly in baked goods here in the United States, they are more frequently used in savory dishes in Moroccan cooking.

When combined with other traditional Moroccan ingredients, such as cumin, parsley, and lemon, these warm spices make for recipes bursting with flavor—and today’s turkey Moroccan meatballs are no exception.

Sorry Italy—you might be the first country named in a meatball word association game (thanks to classics like Meatball Casserole), but meatballs are a dish loved around the world, and today Moroccan flavors are taking center stage.

the best turkey meatballs with Morrocan spices

5 Star Review

“This recipe was easy to make and was full of flavor.”

— Breanna —

How to Make Moroccan Meatballs

Moroccan meatballs are 1,000% comforting, a requirement for any self-respecting meatball recipe (ahem, Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs). Whether served alone with a warm Moroccan-spiced tomato sauce as an appetizer or served over a bed of fluffy couscous, these easy turkey meatballs will become a fast family favorite.


The Ingredients

  • Ground Turkey. This lean meat may be healthy, but ground turkey often needs help in the flavor department. Not so with Moroccan turkey meatballs (or my Baked Turkey Meatballs)—these little hunks of love are vibrant, richly aromatic, and super juicy too.
  • Moroccan Spices. While ginger, cinnamon, and cumin might not be the first spices out of the cabinet in most meatball recipes, their oomph is absolutely perfect with ground turkey (and this Crock Pot Moroccan Chicken).
  • Egg. Acts as edible glue to bind the meatballs together (like these Cranberry Turkey Meatballs) so they don’t fall apart while baking.
  • Breadcrumbs. Absorb the turkey juices as the meatballs bake to lock in moisture and prevent the meatballs from becoming dry.
  • Garlic. For a little zip and bite.
  • Parsley. For color and freshness.
  • Couscous. Traditional Italian meatballs may call for pasta, but these Moroccan meatballs were calling for fluffy whole wheat couscous (or Moroccan Couscous) to sop up the precious meatball juices and flavorful tomato sauce.

Moroccan Meatball Sauce

Let’s talk about the sauce, boss. For the BEST spicy-sweet Moroccan meatball sauce you’ll just need a few ingredients:

  • Canned Tomatoes. Make whipping up this sauce quick and easy.
  • Lemon. Another key ingredient in Moroccan cooking that adds brightness and zing to the sauce.
  • Red Pepper. Lend these meatballs just the right about of heat.
  • Cinnamon. For additional warmth and spice.
  • Raisins. Plump golden raisins bring the sweetness.
The juiciest turkey meatballs with Morrocan spices

The Directions

a saucepan full of moroccan spiced tomato sauce for meatbals
  1. Prepare the sauce and let it simmer.
a bowl of ground turkey and moroccan spices and herbs with a spoon
  1. Combine the meatball ingredients together in a bowl and gently mix.
unbaked moroccan meatballs on a baking rack and sheet pan
  1. Roll the meatballs into 1-inch balls.
baked moroccan turkey meatballs on a sheet pan with baking rack
  1. Arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and bake until cooked through.
simmering turkey meatballs in sauce with moroccan spices
  1. Transfer to the sauce and serve warm with prepared couscous. ENJOY!
Moroccan Turkey Meatballs—warm Moroccan spices are the perfect flavor for these juicy homemade turkey meatballs

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Leftover Moroccan meatballs may be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in a covered container.
  • To Freeze. Meatballs may be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.
  • To Reheat. Meatballs may be warmed in the microwave or on your stovetop until heated through.
Moroccan Turkey Meatballs—juicy turkey meatballs with the warm spices and flavors of Moraoco

In the meantime, I’ll take a bite of North Africa right in my kitchen, courtesy of Moroccan turkey meatballs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Meatballs Without Eggs or Breadcrumbs?

Eggs and breadcrumbs are essential for meatballs since they help bind the mixture together and add moisture. Therefore, I can’t recommend omitting them completely, however you may experiment with substitutions like ground oats for a gluten free meatball option.

Could I Make Moroccan Meatballs with Ground Lamb?

Excellent Idea! These Moroccan meatballs would be phenomenal with lamb rather than ground turkey. I have not done this swap personally, however, so if you experiment with it, I’d love to hear about your results.

Can I Bake These Without a Baking Rack?

Yes. I like to bake meatballs on a baking rack because it helps the meatballs hold their shape and drain excess fat away from the meatballs as they cook. However, you can also bake these healthy turkey meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet instead. Note that one side of the meatballs may flatten, however.

Moroccan meatballs on a bed of couscous

Moroccan Meatballs

5 from 8 votes
These healthy Moroccan meatballs with ground turkey are flavored with ginger, cinnamon, and cumin, baked, and served in a spicy-sweet sauce.

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 1 hr 10 mins

Servings: 4 servings (approx. 28 meatballs)

Ingredients
  

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes (14-ounce cans)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for drizzling
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • Prepared whole wheat couscous for serving
  • Cooking spray

Instructions
 

  • Begin by preparing the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion and cook until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock, canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, red pepper, and cinnamon. Let simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in the golden raisins.
  • Next, place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil, then set a baking rack on top. Lightly coat with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, lightly combine the turkey, parsley, breadcrumbs, ginger, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the olive oil and eggs, mixing lightly with a fork and being careful not to compact the meat.
  • Roll the meatballs into 1-inch balls (about 28 balls total), then arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Drizzle lightly with olive oil (or coat with additional cooking spray), and bake until cooked through; about 15 to 18 minutes.
  • Transfer to the skillet with the sauce, then use a spoon to coat the meatballs. Serve warm with prepared couscous.

Notes

  • TO STORE. Leftover Moroccan meatballs may be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in a covered container.
  • TO FREEZE. Meatballs may be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before warming.
  • TO REHEAT. Meatballs may be warmed in the microwave or on your stovetop until heated through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4) without couscousCalories: 491kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 37gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 146mgPotassium: 1372mgFiber: 7gSugar: 23gVitamin A: 1912IUVitamin C: 57mgCalcium: 169mgIron: 7mg

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Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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29 Comments

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  1. Looks gorgeous… could you do it without the breadcrumbs and egg somehow? Or would the balls not ball properly?

    1. Great question, but I am afraid that the meatballs would not bind together without these items. I wish I could give you the answer you’re looking for, but I want the recipe to turn out for you if you try it. Sorry!

      1. Hi Erin, I hope you don’t mind but I went ahead and made the recipe without the breadcrumbs and egg, because of my diet. I substituted some oats instead. The turkey was a bit finer ground than normal so I think that helped keep the balls together. It came out really well! It was delicious! Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s fantastic! x5 stars

        1. What a fantastic idea to use oats! Thanks so much for trying the recipe and letting me know about this adaptation. I’m so glad that it worked out and that you enjoyed them!

          1. :) I’m just blogging about the recipe now, it’s mainly just directly people to this page. I hope that’s alright with you!

    1. I am so happy to hear you all enjoyed these meatballs! Thanks so much for trying the recipe and letting me know how it turned out. I truly appreciate it :)

    1. Hi Nancy! I am so excited to hear that you enjoyed these. We love them spicy too, so I keep extra red pepper flakes on the table when serving. Thanks for taking time to comment, and have a great day!

    1. I am so happy to hear that Jennifer! Thanks so much for trying the recipe and leaving your review. It’s great feedback for me and truly helpful for others looking at the recipe too.

  2. I bought the ingredients to make these before reading all the instructions — oops! I don’t have a baking rack, unless you mean a cooling rack (which I still can’t use, because the coating can’t go in the oven). Do you have any suggestions for cooking these? Thanks!

    1. Hi Angela, I think it would be okay to bake the meatballs directly on the foil-lined sheet if you don’t have a cooling rack that will work. They may get a flatter side from resting on the baking sheet but should still taste the same! I hope you love the recipe!

  3. This recipe was easy to make and was full of flavor. I cut the amount of red pepper, because I can’t eat spicy foods, but other than that I stayed true to the recipe. Definitely a keeper and I will make it again. Everyone raved over it!5 stars

  4. Hello — this is a throwback, but I’m thinking of making these with your moroccan couscous recipe from this week (in 2020!). Have you ever tried making these lamb meatballs to go with the moroccan theme? Just wondering if it would be a simple ground-meat swap or not so easy…

    Our family is grateful for your recipes. Have been following for about a year now and we cook multiple of your recipes (now family favorites) each week! God bless :)

    1. Hi Ricky! That’s a GREAT idea! I haven’t tried using another type of meat in this recipe, but you could experiment with it. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

    1. Hi Brian! The eggs act as a binding agent in the recipe and help hold the meatballs together. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  5. We really enjoyed this! The flavours were great and overall much cheaper to make then the Moroccan lamb meatball recipe I usually use. The only thing I found was that the meat mixture was really wet so next time I’d only use 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Served it with lemon spinach couscous and green beans. Delicious!5 stars

  6. I have made the Moroccan Meatballs a few times – so has my daughter – they are delicious!! I have also shared the recipe.5 stars

  7. Absolutely delicious! I didn’t have fresh parsley so I used 1/2 cup dried parsley. Also, I used crushed tomatoes with basil because that’s what I had. This dish was so good. It was my first time using ground turkey for meatballs. Can’t wait to make again for the grandkids. Thanks for such a tasty unique recipe!5 stars