This baked turkey meatballs recipe is a healthier alternative to your standard meatball but has just as much flavor so you might not notice the difference.
I’ll admit, I never had turkey meatballs before I met Lauren. I guess it was just something that never occurred to our family. If we had meatballs, we had beef meatballs. However, using turkey as an alternative to beef was something I was introduced to pretty early in our relationship. Now it wasn’t a meatball, but a burger. It was actually the first dinner Lauren ever made for me!
Knowing that Lauren liked turkey burgers, I made it a point to find a great baked turkey meatballs recipe. After messing around a few times, I think I’ve created the perfect one! If I didn’t tell you they were turkey, you might not even know the difference. What really makes this meatball recipe great is the sauce – big surprise I know. It’s a pretty simple sauce that gets a lot of its flavor from the diced pancetta. It’s actually my go-to marinara sauce recipe, even if I’m not making meatballs.
This recipe makes about 25-35 meatballs, depending on the size you make them. So if you are cooking for more than two people, you will have plenty of leftovers. What makes this great, is you can easily freeze the meatballs and the sauce as well to use at a later date. Out of all my meals to date, this baked turkey meatballs recipe is near the top for me. And while the recipe for the marinara sauce is below, I also have a post dedicated to it here. So give these a try.
What Ingredients are in this Baked Turkey Meatball Recipe?
- Olive oil
- Produce – sweet onions, garlic, Italian parsley
- Tomato puree
- Spices – oregano, basil, thyme, salt, crushed red pepper flakes
- Ground turkey
- Parmesan cheese
- Italian breadcrumbs
Do I Have to Make My Own Sauce?
No. I’ll admit there are sometimes I’m feeling lazy and I’ll just buy some Prego. But if you have the time, I suggest making the homemade marinara sauce that goes with these meatballs.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 lb diced pancetta
- 2 large sweet onions, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 (29 oz) cans tomato puree (Use puree as it has less salt than tomato sauce)
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/3 cup water
- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes Add onion and cook for about 7 minutes or until translucent, stirring frequently. Toss in garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the canned tomato puree.
- Season generously with salt and taste. Tomatoes need a lot of salt but you need to taste periodically to see if it's how you want. Add oregano, basil and thyme. Cover and reduce to low and cook for 2 to 3 hours. Taste throughout to see if you need to add more salt or herbs. If using meatballs, add for the last 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Coat a large sauce pan with olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 7 minutes or until translucent, stirring frequently. Add garlic and pinch of crushed red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, eggs, parmesan cheese, Italian parsley and breadcrumbs. Squish the mixture with your hands until mixed. Add the onion mixture and kosher salt and continue mixing with hands. Add the water and mix. The mixture should be fairly wet.
- Shape the meatballs to desired size, usually golf ball size. Put some parchment paper on a baking sheet and place meatballs in single layer. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until meatballs start to brown on top. If using right away, add to the marinara sauce for the last 30 minutes. If not using, you can freeze.