Baked Turkey Meatballs
The best easy Baked Turkey Meatballs made with simple ingredients and ready in less than 30 minutes. These are freezer-friendly, full of flavor, and always come out tender and delicious.
Made with ingredients like lean ground turkey, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, and Italian seasoning; these Baked Turkey Meatballs are loaded with mouthwatering flavors. They’re healthier than your average meatball, making for the perfect healthy weeknight meal.
I have always been a big fan of meatballs because they’re wildly versatile in so many ways. From the type of meat you use to the flavor profile, you can use meatballs as a protein source in tons of different meals. I’ve enjoyed rice skillets with Chicken Feta Meatballs, vegetarian buddha bowls with Quinoa Spinach Meatballs, stir-fries with Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs, and spaghetti with these Baked Turkey Meatballs.
You could say I’m a bit of a meatball expert, so believe me when I tell you this recipe is an awesome one. It’s leaner than beef meatballs but with just as much amazing flavor. You can serve these healthy turkey meatballs with pasta, rice, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or alongside veggies for an even lighter meal.
If you’ve been on the hunt for healthy meal prep recipes for lunch or dinner, look no further than these Baked Turkey Meatballs. They are juicy, flavorful, and incredibly easy to make. Plus they are freezer-friendly, so make a double to triple batch of this Italian favorite and keep them in the freezer for a quick future meal. Trust me, you'll thank yourself.
Is Turkey Healthier Than Beef?
Turkey and beef are both healthy sources of protein. They are each relatively low in calories and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. However, turkey is significantly lower in saturated fat than beef, which means it’s the more heart-healthy choice. Beef is still a healthy option, but because it’s higher in saturated fat it’s better to have it in moderation. Turkey, on the other hand, is one of the leanest protein options.
Key Ingredients and Easy Swaps
The key ingredients you will need for this flavorful dish include:
- Ground turkey: I use 93% lean ground turkey for this recipe, as I’ve found that it yields more juicy flavors than the 99% lean kind. Any ground turkey will work, including ground turkey breast and dark meat turkey. Generally speaking, the higher the fat content the more flavorful and moist the meatballs are.
- Breadcrumbs: I like to use whole wheat breadcrumbs in this recipe, but you can sub this out for Panko breadcrumbs if you prefer those. Regular breadcrumbs work as well.
- Parmesan cheese: For a dairy-free version, feel free to add some nutritional yeast instead. Otherwise, it adds a ton of delicious flavors that you won’t want to miss out on.
- Fresh parsley: Fresh herbs add a ton of brightness to this dish. You can substitute this for dried parsley if you have to, but I definitely recommend sticking to fresh parsley if you can. Fresh basil is also delicious.
- Seasonings: You will need salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning for this recipe. If you don’t have an Italian seasoning blend, you can make your own.
- Egg: This acts as a binding agent to hold the rest of our ingredients together. Many people think eggs add moisture to meatballs, but they actually can dry meatballs out if you use too many. One egg is plenty in this recipe.
- Tomato paste: This is optional, but it helps to add more complex and savory flavors to the meatballs. For a different flavor option, consider swapping in sundried tomato paste, pesto, or sundried tomato pesto.
Recipe Tips and Ideas
These are my top tips to help you when making this recipe:
- If you have a difficult time forming the meatballs because they’re sticky, try wetting your hands under running water or in a touch of olive oil before rolling them.
- If you don’t have ground turkey, you can sub this out for ground chicken or lean ground beef.
- You can switch up the cheese by using pecorino romano cheese.
- If you don’t have an Italian seasoning blend at home, you can make your own with dried basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme, and garlic powder.
- For a touch of heat, try adding a dash of crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper.
- You can sub out the whole-wheat breadcrumbs for Panko breadcrumbs if you prefer. Gluten-free breadcrumbs work as well.
What's the best sauce for turkey meatballs?
While we all think of marinara or spaghetti sauce when serving meatballs, there are so many other delicious sauce options.
- Store-bought sauce: If you are pairing these with a store-bought tomato sauce, Rao's is our favorite. With minimal added sugar and a clean ingredient list, this sauce is not only good for you it has so much flavor. Other store-bought sauces we love include Victoria Marinara (from Costco), Cucina Antica Garlic Marinara, and Newman's Own.
- Alfredo or pesto: Think outside the red sauce box and try these meatballs with this Cauliflower Alfredo or some homemade Pesto.
- Meal prep sauce options: If you are making a batch of these for dinner and using the rest for meal prep with salads, wraps, and rice bowls, you may want to switch up the sauce to keep things interesting. These are delicious dipped in some Jalapeno Ranch, Green Goddess Dressing, or Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Ways to Serve Baked Turkey Meatballs
These Baked Turkey Meatballs are incredibly versatile and can be served in a wide variety of ways. You can make a big batch at the beginning of the week and serve it throughout the week with dishes like cooked vegetables, garlic bread, rice, pasta, zucchini noodles, and spaghetti squash. These are some of my favorite dishes to pair with this recipe:
- Pasta: When it comes to a classic Italian meal, it's hard to beat spaghetti and meatballs. Reach for classic pasta, whole wheat pasta, or chickpea pasta for an easy meal that everyone loves.
- Vegetables and Veggie Noodles: Keep things light by serving these turkey meatballs with Garlic Spaghetti Squash, Zucchini Noodles, or some Crispy Baked Broccoli. Almost any veggie is a great side dish for meatballs.
- Polenta, Potatoes, and Grains: Any hearty base works with meatballs, especially when covered with sauce. Consider starting your dish with a base of Creamy Spinach Polenta, Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, or brown rice.
- Sandwiches and subs: This is my favorite way to use leftover meatballs, make subs! Grab some fresh hoagie rolls or a low carb wrap. Layer in the meatballs, fresh arugula, marinara sauce, and fresh mozzarella. So good!
How to Store Leftover Meatballs
This dish is great for making in large batches because it keeps incredibly well. I love making a bunch of meatballs all at once, then keeping them for quick lunches and healthy snacks throughout the week. To store leftovers of this dish, you can keep it in an airtight bag or container in one of two ways:
- In the fridge for up to 4 days.
- In the freezer for up to 3-4 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most frequently asked questions about making turkey meatballs.
Can I freeze turkey meatballs?
Yes! Make sure to let these meatballs cool down to room temperature before transferring them to a freezer bag. Once moved to an airtight bag, you can store them in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.
What can I use instead of turkey?
If you don’t have turkey or prefer something else, you can sub it out for ground chicken, pork, turkey sausage, or beef. You can also use a combination of ground meats.
Do I have to use an egg in meatballs?
The purpose of the egg is to act as a binding agent for the meatballs. It holds together our meat, seasonings, breadcrumbs, and fresh herbs. However, if you have an egg allergy or cannot eat eggs for dietary reasons, you can leave it out and soak the breadcrumbs in milk before mixing them with the rest of the ingredients. This mixture will act as a binding agent in place of the egg.
Why are my meatballs tough?
The most common reason that meatballs turn out tough is that the meat is overmixed or overly compacted. Make sure not to press the meat together when mixing it. Using your hands to combine the ingredients is one of the best ways to ensure the meat isn't overmixed. Also don't pack the meatballs too tightly, just gently press them into a ball or use an ice cream scoop.
Should you brown the meatballs first?
Browning meatballs before cooking them in the sauce can help the meatballs stay together and also adds flavor and color to the meatballs. Meatballs can be browned in a hot skillet for a couple of minutes per side. You can also effectively brown meatballs in the oven.
Baked Turkey Meatballs
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1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
1/3 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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