This is one of the base recipes as seen in our Whole Life Meal Plan. Substituting turkey for beef helps cut saturated fat and still provides quality protein. This simple turkey meatballs base recipe provides plenty of flavor and moisture to satisfy your meatball cravings!
Three Must-Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for the Best Turkey Meatballs
If you have picky eaters, dice the onions finely so that they don’t notice them.
When mixing the ingredients, don’t overwork the meat. Otherwise, the meatballs will turn out tough.
A portion scoop makes forming the meatballs fast and easy and keeps your hands from getting messy.
Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Cook turkey meatballs to 165ºF for food safety.
Cook the meatballs directly on the pan. Don’t use parchment paper; it hinders browning.
- Ground Turkey: substitute ground chicken, ground salmon, or a mixture of ground beef and mushrooms. We don’t recommend fully substituting red meat as it is higher in saturated fat and might require recipe modifications.
- Shallot or Onion: use white, yellow, red, or green onions.
- Panko Bread Crumbs: substitute plain, whole wheat, or seasoned bread crumbs, but cut back on the added salt if you do. Panko is typically very low in sodium. If you want turkey meatballs without breadcrumbs, leave them out!
- Herbs: use any variety, such as Italian parsley, cilantro, dill, basil, etc. If you plan to use pesto, don’t add additional herbs (unless, of course, you want to!).
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: substitute canola oil or avocado oil. If using pesto, don’t add oil, as it already contains it.
- Oil for the Pan: use cooking spray.
Base Recipe Variations
Remember that this is a base recipe, so the goal is for you to customize it to your taste!
Change up these meatballs by changing the meat. Make chicken meatballs with ground chicken or use ground salmon or a mixture of grass-fed ground beef and mushrooms for other unique variations. If using salmon or 100% beef, don’t add the olive oil to the mix.
Choose optional mix-ins that will pair well together. It is often helpful to have a cuisine or flavor profile in mind when choosing ingredients. Mexican, Italian, Moroccan, Indian, or Mediterranean ingredients are just some options that would be delicious with this recipe!
We love buying our spices from The Spice House. Click on the picture below to view & try out hundreds of flavorful spices and herbs!
Need some turkey meatballs recipe inspiration?
Try out these favorite variations, then have fun exploring other flavors and ingredients!
Use these kitchen tools for recipe success:
- Cutting Board
- Chef’s Knife
- Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Portion Scoop
- Baking Sheet
- Pastry Brush
- Cookie Spatula
Is this turkey meatballs recipe healthy?
Not all meatballs are healthy on their own, but they can definitely be included in a well-balanced diet. These turkey meatballs are a much healthier choice than their greasy counterparts; they are full of nutritious ingredients, including lean turkey, fresh herbs, and extra virgin olive oil.
Turkey is a lean source of protein. It is also rich in B vitamins and minerals, such as iron.
Not only do fresh herbs add a pop of freshness and flavor to a dish, but they add nutrition too! Herbs are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that promote health and help fight diseases.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean Diet. It contains high amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols which may reduce inflammation. (1, 2) In this recipe, it replaces the saturated fat typically found in 100% beef meatballs.
For more information about best ingredients to use, check out our ingredient guide!
Serve these meatballs as an appetizer with a dipping sauce or build a meatball sub, salad, or wrap. Depending on the flavor combinations you choose, serve turkey meatballs in sauce with pasta or turkey meatballs with gravy over brown rice.
These meatballs are an easy finger food for kids. Pair with roasted vegetables and a salad for a balanced meal that the whole family will be sure to love!
How to Store and Reheat Turkey Meatballs
Cool leftover meatballs completely, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Leftover meatballs can also be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, place on a baking sheet and freeze. Once the meatballs are partially frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before heating.
To reheat, place meatballs on a pan and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven to heat to 350ºF. Once the oven hits 350° F, your meatballs should be warmed and ready!
Want more healthy and simple dinner recipes?
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Healthy Beef Tacos with Mushrooms
Simple Turkey Meatballs Base Recipe
- 1 pound ground turkey, 93% lean or more
- ¼ cup finely diced shallot or onion
- ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large egg
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- Dash pepper
- 1 Tablespoon canola or avocado oil
- ¼ cup pesto (replace oil and herbs)
- ¼ cup diced fresh or sun-dried tomatoes
- ¼ cup grated or crumbled cheese
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder)
- 2 teaspoons spices and/or dried herbs
- 1 teaspoon citrus zest
- Preheat oven to 425ºF.
- Place turkey in a large bowl. Add shallot, bread crumbs, oil, egg, salt, pepper, and any optional mix-ins. Mix until just combined.
- Brush a baking sheet with the oil. Create golf ball-sized meatballs with your hands or a portion scoop and place on the pan, spaced ~1” apart.
- Cook meatballs 12-14 minutes or until cooked through to 165° F. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Enjoy!