This baked turkey meatballs recipe is a healthier alternative to your standard meatball but has just as much flavor so you won't notice the difference.
I'll admit though, I never had turkey meatballs before I met my wife. 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 my wife ever made for me!
Knowing that she 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. While you can eat this with whatever you want, what really makes this meatball recipe great is the homemade marinara 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 turkey meatball 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. W
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.
- Olive oil - adds flavor and moisture.
- Sweet onion, garlic, Italian parsley - additional flavors for the meatballs.
- Crushed red pepper flakes - adds a touch of heat.
- Ground turkey - calls turkey meatballs for a reason.
- Eggs - helps bind everything together.
- Parmesan cheese - freshly grated is the only way to go.
- Italian breadcrumbs - can also use panko breadcrumbs.
- Whole milk - need some moisture to keep the meatballs moist.
- Kosher salt - enhances the flavor.
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat and add onion. Cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper and cook until fragrant. Remove from heat and cool.
- Combine the turkey, egg, cheese, breadcrumbs, milk and parsley in a large bowl. Squish the mixture with your hands until mixed. Add the onion mixture and salt and continue mixing with hands. The mixture should be fairly wet.
- Use wet hands or an ice cream scoop to shape the meatballs to the size you like, usually golf ball size. Place meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes at 425°F or until meatballs start to brown on top. If using right away, add to a simmering marinara sauce for the last 30 minutes. If not using, you can freeze.
What to Serve with Meatballs
The great thing about meatballs is it can be used in a variety of ways.
- Pasta - the most obvious is spaghetti with marinara sauce but you can use any type of pasta you like.
- Zucchini Noodles - if you want a healthier alternative, you can never go wrong with zoodles.
- Hoagie Bun - I mean what is better than a meatball sub?
- Pizza - my go-to way of using these turkey meatballs is adding them to pizza.
Yes you can replace the ground turkey with the same amount of ground chicken.
If you don't have Italian breadcrumbs on hand, you can always use panko or even make your own if you have some leftover bread. Just throw in a food processor and you have breadcrumbs. vCrushed crackers can work in a pinch too for these oven baked meatballs.
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.
You know the meatballs are done when inserting an instant read thermometer and it reads 165°F. I usually just cut one in half and see if there is any pink left. Just throw back in oven for another 3-5 minutes if they aren't done.
Yes you can. Let them cool enough to handle and scrape any fat off that might release. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze then transfer to a freezer bag so they don't stick. To reheat, place the frozen or thawed meatballs in your sauce and cook until heated through.
Pro Tips/Recipe Notes
- Don’t over-mix! Over-mixing the meatballs will make them tough.
- Use an ice cream scoop to make the meatballs equal in size so they all cook the same.
- Use cold ingredients to keep the fat from melting before transferring to the oven.
- Use freshly grated Parmesan. Never buy pre-shredded Parmesan cheese as it contains wood pulp. Blocks of Parmesan cheese are also cheaper.
- You can replace the milk with water if needed.
If you’ve tried these baked turkey meatballs recipe or any other recipe on Chisel & Fork, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube to see more tasty meals and anything else I'm up to.
Baked Turkey Meatballs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup sweet onion, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 lbs ground turkey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 425°F. 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 crushed red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, egg, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, milk and parsley. Squish the mixture with your hands until mixed. Add the onion mixture and kosher salt and continue mixing with hands. The mixture should be fairly wet.
- Use wet hands or an ice cream scoop to 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 15 to 20 minutes or until meatballs start to brown on top. If using right away, add to a simmering marinara sauce for the last 30 minutes. If not using, you can freeze.