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.
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!
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.
For the meat, I used a blend of zesty Italian turkey sausage and lean ground turkey.
For extra moisture, I added breadcrumbs and 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!)
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.
Tools Used to Make This Recipe
- 6 quart programmable slow cooker
- Cookie scoop (the easiest way to make evenly-sized meatball shape for even cooking)
Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs
- 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
- Prepared whole wheat pasta sub-style buns, polenta, or enjoy alone as an appetizer
- 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.
- 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.
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