Recipes > Lunch/Dinner > Turkey Pesto Meatballs

Turkey Pesto Meatballs

Looking for a healthier meatball, but don’t want to sacrifice flavor? These turkey pesto meatballs are healthy, easy and delicious!
turkey pesto meatballs

This is a variation of our simple turkey meatballs base recipe. Looking for a healthier meatball, but don’t want to sacrifice flavor? Look no further! Substituting turkey for beef helps cut saturated fat while still providing quality protein and essential vitamins and minerals. These turkey pesto meatballs are healthy, easy and delicious! 

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.

Cook the meatballs directly on the pan. Don’t use parchment paper; it prevents browning.

Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Cook turkey meatballs to 165ºF for food safety.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Oil for the Pan: substitute cooking spray.
  • Ground Turkey: substitute ground chicken, ground salmon, or a mixture of ground beef and mushrooms or beanas. 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.
  • Pesto: make your own or use your favorite store-bought variety.
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes: use rehydrated from dried, sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, or substitute diced fresh tomatoes.

Turkey Pesto Meatball Variations

You can change up these pesto meatballs by changing the meat. Make chicken pesto meatballs with ground chicken or use ground salmon or a mixture of grass-fed ground beef and mushrooms for other unique variations.

You can also vary the recipe by changing up the pesto. Check out our pesto base recipe to learn how to create endless variations!

Want some turkey meatball flavor inspiration?

Use our turkey meatballs base recipe as a guide, or try out these other tasty variations!

Equipment Recommendations

Use these kitchen tools for recipe success:

Find all of our favorite kitchen tools here!

Are meatballs healthy?

Not all meatballs are healthy on their own, but they can be included in a well-balanced diet. These turkey pesto meatballs are a much healthier choice than their greasy counterparts; they are full of nutritious ingredients, including lean turkey, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes. 


Turkey is a lean source of protein and is rich in B vitamins, and minerals such as iron. 


Pesto typically features dark leafy greens and extra virgin olive oil. Leafy green vegetables are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that promote health and help fight diseases. 

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. In this recipe, it replaces the saturated fat typically found in 100% beef meatballs.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a phytochemical that helps protect against heart disease and prostate cancer.

Learn more about health benefits of different foods in our book, To Your Taste!

Serving Suggestions for Turkey Meatballs with Pesto

Serve these turkey meatballs as an appetizer with a dipping sauce or build a pesto meatball sub or wrap. Turkey pesto meatballs pair well with pesto pasta or on a green salad.

These meatballs are an easy finger food for kids. Pair with roasted vegetables and a side salad to make a beautiful Whole Life Plate

How to Store and Reheat Pesto 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 completely 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 oven to heat to 350ºF. Once it hits 350° F, your meatballs should be ready!

Looking for More Recipes that Feature Pesto?

Try out these tried and true favorites!

Bean Burgers Base Recipe

Burrito Bowls Base Recipe

Baked Tostadas Base Recipe

Whole Grain Pasta Base Recipe

Easy Coconut Curry Base Recipe

turkey pesto meatballs

Turkey Pesto Meatballs

This is a variation of our simple turkey meatballs base recipe. Looking for a healthier meatball, but don’t want to sacrifice flavor? Look no further! These turkey pesto meatballs are healthy, easy and delicious!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 20 meatballs


  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or cooking spray
  • 1 pound ground turkey, 93% lean or more
  • ¼ cup finely diced shallot or onion
  • ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup pesto
  • ¼ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Dash pepper


  • Preheat oven to 425ºF. Brush a baking sheet with the oil.
  • Place turkey in a large bowl. Add shallot, bread crumbs, pesto, tomatoes, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix until just combined.
  • 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!


When mixing the ingredients, don’t overwork the meat. Otherwise, the meatballs will turn out tough.
Keyword Turkey Pesto Meatballs

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