Admittedly antsy (though I prefer the terms “bustling” or “active”) extrovert that I am, I usually grow restless if we spend too many nights at home in a row. Maybe it’s my age, the fact that I haven’t seen double digits on our thermometer since December, or the ridiculously soft and comfy sweatshirt Ben surprised me with for Christmas, but over the weekend, I was more content than I have ever been to hibernate at home with a glass of wine and a big plate of Whole30 Meatballs and marinara.
Although I’m not doing Whole30 (hence the glass of wine that went along with the Whole30 Italian meatballs), I have a deep appreciation for any recipe that offers me the same wrap-you-up coziness of classic comfort foods but in a lighter, healthier way.
These Whole30 turkey meatballs hit the healthy-meets-heartwarming sweet spot!
Freezer-friendly, crowd-pleasing, and adaptable to serving out of a crockpot, meatballs are one of my favorite dishes to serve guests, as well as to have on hand for quick weeknight dinners.
These classic Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs have been my go-to meatball recipe for the last few years, and while they are wonderful for company (they make a GIANT batch), when it’s just Ben and me and I’m not looking to stock the freezer, they can be a bit much.
Adapting My Go-To Meatballs into Whole30 Meatballs
Also, now that I have several friends with gluten allergies, I’ve been looking for alternative flours that are more allergy friendly.
Determined to come up with a meatball recipe that would be just as satisfying as my favorite Italian turkey meatballs, I put the breadcrumbs away, pulled out my almond flour, and set to work.
Even Ben, who is highly skeptical of anything that comes with a special diet-related tag (these turkey meatballs are both Whole30 and Paleo approved), went back for seconds.
The key to giving these lighter turkey meatballs mega flavor without added fat is a heavy hand with spices, as well as fresh parsley. Don’t skimp here!
If you do not need these Whole30 meatballs with almond flour to be Paleo or Whole30 compliant, you can use any marinara sauce you like. Some brands of tomato sauce are Paleo/Whole30 approved, but in case you can’t find them or are not sure, I included a quick and easy recipe for a homemade Whole30 sauce as well.
Since pasta is off limits for Whole30 and Paleo, I served the meatballs with zucchini noodles. Again, if you aren’t worried about the Whole30 aspect, you can use any pasta you like. Personally, I love the zoodles. Their mild flavor tangles beautifully with the Whole30 meatballs and sauce, and they give me an extra serving of veg without my having to think twice about it.
Not sure? Try doing a 50/50 blend of zucchini noodles with regular whole wheat spaghetti noodles.
Loving these Whole30 Meatballs? This Whole30 Salmon is another winner! Be sure to also check out my Lentil Meatballs (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian approved), these crowd-pleasing Cranberry Turkey Meatballs, these tasty-looking honey garlic turkey meatballs, and the aforementioned Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs.
Recommended Tools to Make Whole30 Meatballs
- All-purpose baking sheet
- While the meatballs are oven baked, if you’d like, you can transfer the Whole30 meatballs and sauce to a crockpot to keep them warm while serving.
Whole30 Meatballs and Sauce
FOR THE MEATBALLS:
- 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes — reduce to 1/4 teaspoon if sensitive to spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 pounds 93% lean ground turkey
- 1 large egg — lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley — plus additional for serving
- 24 ounces jarred prepared tomato-based pasta sauce* — or homemade pasta sauce, see below
- For serving: Zucchini noodles — shredded spaghetti squash, or sweet potato noodles
IF YOU’D LIKE TO MAKE HOMEMADE WHOLE30 MARINARA SAUCE (see notes for store-bought options):
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic — minced
- 1 small onion — finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 can crushed tomatoes — (28 ounces)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (I like to use fire roasted for extra flavor) — (14 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Place two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly coat them with nonstick spray, or line them with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (If you are making vegetable noodles to serve with the meatballs, I recommend prepping them now so that they are ready to serve when the meatballs finish cooking. If you are making homemade sauce, I like to start this simmering before the meatballs go in the oven so that it is ready as well.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the almond flour, garlic, oregano, onion powder, fennel, salt, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg until the ingredients are evenly combined.
Add the turkey to a large bowl. Sprinkle the almond flour mix over the top. Add the beaten egg and parsley. With a fork or your hands, gently combine the ingredients until everything is evenly distributed. Be careful not to overwork or compact the meat, or the meatballs will be tough.
With a small scoop or spoon, scoop the meat and shape into 1 1/2-inch balls, again being careful not to compact the meat. Arrange on the baking sheets. You will have about 34 meatballs total. If using store-bought sauce, warm it up while the meatballs cook.
Bake for 10 minutes, and then remove the baking sheet from the oven. Using tongs, gently turn the meatballs and return them to the oven, switching the position of the sheet pans on the upper and lower racks. Continue baking until cooked through, about 5 additional minutes. Serve hot with vegetable noodles, sauce, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
For Homemade Whole30 Tomato Pasta Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high. Add the garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, basil, and oregano. Bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 14 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper as desired.
- *If purchasing pasta sauce, to keep the recipe Whole30 compliant, ensure there are no added sugars or dairy in your sauce. Suggested brands I found online include Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce, Mario Batali Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce, most Thrive Market sauces (aside from the vodka sauce, which has cream), and Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Spaghetti Sauce (this is what I used). Be sure to double check the list of ingredients. You can also make the basic homemade spaghetti sauce I suggest above.
- To freeze: Freeze with or without sauce for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then reheat on the stove (with sauce to keep them from drying out).
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (4 meatballs) — Calories: 185, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Sodium: 236mg, Carbohydrates: 3g, Fiber: 1g, Protein: 26g
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