Perhaps I watched Lady and the Tramp too many times as a kid, but in the food lexicon of emotions, I will forever think of “meatballs” as synonymous with “love.” You take one end of the spaghetti noodle, I’ll take the other, and may the best (wo)man be the first to reach the Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs.

slow cooker of classic crock pot turkey meatballs with a wooden spoon in them for serving

When viewed objectively, crock pot turkey meatballs are not particularly romantic. They are messy. They are saucy. They are rarely pretty, and they certainly are not to be eaten in white pants.

Yet, there is something about slow cooked turkey meatballs that will always remind me of love.

Perhaps it is because each meatball is formed individually with care.

Perhaps it is because the best, most tender meatballs require the gentlest touch to scoop and shape. As with my crock pot turkey meatballs, just look at the gorgeous, perfect form of Sommer’s Greek Lemon Meatballs and Brianne’s French Onion Soup Stuffed Meatballs.

Perhaps it is because, every time I eat a turkey meatball, I fall freshly head-over-heels for a dish that I’ve been eating my whole life, yet continually forget how much I adore. Even Ben’s reaction was, “Why don’t we eat turkey meatballs all the time?”

Crock pot turkey meatballs, I neglected you for too long. Let’s cue the Italian violinist, shine up our forks, and make up for lost time!

crock pot turkey meatballs simmering in red sauce in a slow cooker

Simple Tips for Juicy Turkey Meatballs

The greatest crime and loudest complaint surrounding turkey meatballs is that they are dry. There are two simple keys to guaranteeing your turkey meatballs turn out tender and juicy:

  • Select your meat carefully.
  • Supplement the ground turkey with other moistening ingredients.

I found my ingredients at Pick ‘n Save, the local Wisconsin grocery store for whom I create monthly recipes (including this one.) For the meat, I used a blend of zesty Italian turkey sausage and lean Simple Truth Ground Turkey. For extra moisture, I added breadcrumbs and Simple Truth Organic Non-Fat Milk. Simple Truth is a new product line that’s available at any Roundy’s affiliated grocery store. The products are made with honest ingredients and designed to make everyday healthy shopping both easy and affordable. In the past few years, I’ve become increasingly conscious of what’s really inside the foods I purchase, so it’s comforting to know that, when I see the Simple Truth label, I can trust it.

Simple Truth organic ground turkey and fat free milk

The crock pot is another critical factor to ensuring maximum meatball juiciness. Its signature low and slow method locks in moisture, and it also offers maximum ease and flexibility. Easy, simple, and delicious recipes… the simple reasons for making so many slow cooker recipes.

Once the turkey meatballs were mixed, I baked them in the oven for a few minutes to give them a golden exterior and set their shape, then transferred them to the slow cooker with a heaping helping of spaghetti sauce. The longer the meatballs simmer, the more juicy and aromatic they become. (No time for the slow cooker? Check out these Baked Turkey Meatballs!)

healthy turkey meatballs, perfectly uniform in size, ready for baking in the oven

Love-Worthy Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs

This crock pot turkey meatball recipe yields a great big batch, and while I considered halving it, I’m glad I didn’t. They freeze beautifully and have already managed to disappear. We enjoyed some turkey meatballs over pasta, some as meatball subs, and I even brought a few to a friend’s as an appetizer.

Juicy. Saucy. Zesty. Cheesy. This, my friends, is amore.

How to Freeze Turkey Meatballs

  • To Freeze AFTER Cooking. Freeze with sauce for up to two months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • To Freeze BEFORE Cooking. Complete the broiling portion, then bake the meatballs at 350 degrees F until cooked through. Freeze separately from the sauce. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then place in the slow cooker, top with sauce, and cook as directed.

healthy Italian Meatballs made with ground turkey being stirred in a slow cooker

Tools Used to Make This Recipe

Classic Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs

Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs

5 from 13 votes
Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs. The slow cooker makes these the most tender, juicy Italian turkey meatballs you will ever try. Healthy and freezer friendly!

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 4 hrs 6 mins
Total: 4 hrs 36 mins

Servings: 38 1 1/2-inch meatballs

Ingredients
  

  • 1/3 cup non-fat milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 20 ounces 93% lean ground turkey (1.3 pounds)
  • 12 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan pecorino, or asiago cheese, plus additional for serving
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 jars prepared tomato pasta sauce (24 ounce jars) (choose something with good flavor that you love) or homemade

For serving:

  • Prepared whole wheat pasta sub-style buns, polenta, or enjoy alone as an appetizer

Instructions
 

  • Place two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs until evenly combined. Add the ground turkey, turkey sausage, breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Lightly mix with a fork or your fingers, just until combined, being careful not to compact the meat. With a scoop or spoon, scoop the meat, then shape into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets. (You will have about 38 meatballs total).
  • Bake the meatballs for 3 minutes, remove the pans from the oven and flip the meatballs, then return the pans to the oven, switching each pan from bottom to top. Bake 3 additional minutes, then remove from the oven. The exterior of the meatballs should be lightly browned, but they will not be cooked through.
  • Lightly coat a 5-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Arrange a layer of meatballs over the bottom, pour on half the sauce, then stack any remaining meatballs on top. Pour on the remaining sauce. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours, until the meatballs are cooked through and reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Serve warm with pasta, on buns, over polenta, or enjoy alone as an appetizer.

Notes

  • To freeze AFTER the meatballs have been cooked: Freeze with sauce for up to two months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • To freeze BEFORE the meatballs have been cooked: Complete the broiling portion, then bake the meatballs at 350 degrees F until cooked through. Freeze separately from the sauce. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then place in the slow cooker, top with sauce, and cook as directed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1meatball (with 1.25 ounces sauce)Calories: 65kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 6gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 234mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2g

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I am sharing this post in partnership with Pick ‘n Save. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue sharing quality content with you!

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Erin Clarke

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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47 Comments

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  1. I made these for dinner tonight. They are currently in the crock pot on warm, but I had to steal one before dinner. They are amazing and so moist! The flavor is great.5 stars

    1. Hi Bridget, I have not tried these in the Instant Pot myself, but if you decide to experiment, I’d recommend following the cooking time guidelines for a similar Instant Pot meatball recipe when you get to step 4.

  2. My family loves these meatballs! And I love that I get to change up our protein source from the usual chicken and beef. We pair it with spaghetti squash to cut some of the carbs and mm mmm yummy!! Thank you!5 stars

  3. I have made this recipe several times in the last few month and my family absolutely LOVES it!!! It’s nice to get the majority of the dinner work done early in the day so that there’s not much to do during the “witching hour” before dinner with my kids. ;)5 stars

  4. My boyfriend LOVED these meatballs. We weren’t in a rush, so I cooked them on low for 4 hours. They were very flavorful and moist. We froze the leftovers to eat at a later date and they reheated very well! Paired this with zucchini noodles and garlic bread. Simply amazing.5 stars

  5. I haven’t actually tried cooking these yet but I was wondering if you had any suggestions for lowering the sodium? 234mg per meatball can really stack up!

    1. Hi Andrew! Sodium content can vary so much based on the brands of ingredients used. I recommend using an online calculator like MyFitnessPal, which you can customize based on the ingredients you have to get a more accurate number. For this recipe, you could try experimenting by cutting out the salt to lower the amount of sodium. I hope this helps!

  6. I love this recipe so much! My whole family will eat it, it’s healthy, and it makes enough that we can still enjoy leftovers the next day! Plus, I can get it all ready during the day while my family is at work and school. I usually just serve with pasta and a salad.5 stars

  7. Erin I am sorry that I have never commented or left a rating before now because I make your recipes multiple times a week and love almost all of them, however I need a new word to describe how wonderful these meatballs are!! I used a pound of ground turkey and a pound of pork sausage because that’s what I could find but followed everything else exactly.  I also only browned one tray at a time in the oven since mine were only getting crispy on the bottom rack.  They were so tender and flavorful that my husband was still raving about them later that night!  Thank you for all of your wonderful healthy recipes, I am a huge fan and can’t wait for your cookbook to come out!5 stars

    1. This makes my day, Kristin! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review! I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe!

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