Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs

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Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs are moist, flavorful, and cooked in your favorite marinara sauce for mouth-watering results. Serve them as a delicious appetizer or pair them with pasta and garlic bread for the ultimate dinner.

320 CALORIES12g CARBS17g FAT31g PROTEIN
3 Comments

Meatballs are one of the easiest ways to get everyone in the family excited for dinnertime. Even in a household with varying taste buds, meatballs are one of the dishes we can all agree on. These Turkey Meatballs are moist, flavorful, and super easy to make.

I’ve tried everything from Mediterranean-inspired meatballs like these Chicken Feta Meatballs to my flavorful Mexican Chipotle Meatballs, and even vegetarian meatballs like these Quinoa Meatballs. So, you could say we’re fans of the dish (and all of its many variations) in this house.

The trick to making perfectly moist turkey meatballs every time is adding ingredients like eggs and bread crumbs that help to make them light and fluffy. However, it’s equally as important to make sure your meatballs are super flavorful. Cooking them in your favorite marinara sauce is fantastic for infusing tons of delicious flavor into your meatballs, so make sure to use a brand you really love.

My Crockpot Turkey Meatballs are juicy, flavorful, and perfectly seasoned. I feel pretty confident that these are some of the best meatballs I’ve made yet, and my family would agree! You can serve these turkey meatballs as a healthy appetizer, pair them with spaghetti for an iconic pairing, or use them as the base for your next meatball subs.

Turkey meatballs made in the slow cooker with marinara sauce and served with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

Key Ingredients

To make these slow cooker meatballs, you will need the following key ingredients:

  • Lean ground turkey: The base for this dish! I like to use 93% lean turkey to keep the meatballs on the leaner side, yet still super flavorful. You can also use ground chicken or ground beef as alternatives. For even more flavor, swap in a pound of turkey sausage for one pound of the turkey.
  • Panko bread crumbs: Personally, I love using seasoned bread crumbs to add some extra flavor. However, regular Panko bread crumbs would work fine too.
  • Egg: A key component of any good meatball recipe, eggs are essential for binding everything together and helping to ensure moist, airy results.
  • Cheese: Much like the egg, grated cheese like parmesan helps to bind the meatballs together and keep them soft and light, rather than dense.
  • Marinara sauce: You can use a great store-bought sauce like Rao’s or make your own from scratch using my marinara sauce recipe.
  • Herbs and spices: You will need salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic powder from the spice cabinet. Additionally, I like to add fresh chopped parsley for tons of fresh flavor.

Make the Best Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs

Here are a few tips to help you get the best results from this healthy slow cooker recipe:

  • Don’t overwork the mixture. This is one of the main reasons why some people end up with dry and tough meatballs. The more you work the mixture, the less airy the insides of your meatballs will be. Use a light hand for mixing and stop when it’s just combined. This ensures a delicious and tender meatball.
  • Bigger vs smaller. This depends on how you’re planning to serve them. Smaller meatballs tend to dry out faster but are great if you’re serving them in meatball soup or as an appetizer. If served in a pasta or meatball sub, you might want to make them larger in size.
  • Use a scoop. One of the best time-saving hacks that I’ve come across is using an ice-cream scoop for getting perfectly uniform meatballs. Just remember to use the smaller ones, or get a small meat scoop.
  • Gluten-free options. If you’re looking for a gluten-free meatball recipe, try swapping out the Panko bread crumbs for gluten-free bread crumbs. Some people also find good results using almond flour, so let me know how these turn out if you try them this way!

Ground turkey meatballs in a bowl and spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese, and basil.

Side Dish Ideas 

These slow cooker meatballs are so much more than just an amazing spaghetti topping! Here are some of my favorite ways to serve meatballs:

  • Spaghetti. A classic Italian pairing; few meals are as popular as spaghetti and meatballs. Sprinkle some grated cheese and chopped parsley for a delicious supper. Swap in any pasta you have on hand. You can try out my zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for low-carb options.
  • Soup. Homemade meatball soup with some boiled veggies is a great meal any time of the year! The veggies are a great way to sneak in some fiber, making this a well-balanced meal. This Sausage, White Bean, and Spinach Soup is a must-try – just substitute the sausage for meatballs and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
  • Subs and sandwiches. One of the best ways to quickly use up any leftover meatballs! I use whole-wheat buns and add some toppings like onions and melted provolone cheese. These meatballs also make a really tasty pizza topping. 
  • Rice. The savory goodness of these meatballs pairs perfectly with a simple base like brown rice. Add in a side of roasted broccoli and you have a healthy, delicious meal that comes together in minutes.

How to Store Leftover Meatballs

Meatballs are the perfect dish for when you want to prep ahead of time. I love making a big batch when I’m free on Sunday afternoons. All they need is a simple reheat and they’re ready to be eaten anytime. Very low maintenance, and super delish!

Freeze them in a large Ziploc bag or in an airtight container, then just take them out whenever you need them. You can store this dish in one of two ways:

  • In the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
  • In the freezer for up to 2-3 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about these slow cooker meatballs:

Getting these meatballs to stick together is really easy, as long as you have good binders in the mix. I use a combination of egg, grated parmesan, and bread crumbs as my binders.

Turkey meatballs tend to get rubbery and dense when you overwork them. When you overmix the mixture, you expel out all the air that gives the meatballs an airy and spongy texture. This also makes it hard for you to shape it evenly. Instead, use a light hand while mixing and stop when it’s just combined.

The bread crumbs help ensure that the meatballs stick together while keeping them moist. However, if you’re in need of a gluten-free option, you can swap them out for oats, gluten-free bread crumbs, or almond flour.

These meatballs out great in the oven. Form the meatballs and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Then add the sauce. If you have time, simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 20-30 meatballs so that can soak up some of the tomato sauce flavor as well.

Bowl of turkey meatballs with spaghetti sauce served with pasta and Parmesan cheese on the side.
The Recipe
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Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs

PREP TIME: 15 Min
COOK TIME: 4 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 4 Hours, 15 Min
3 Comments
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    Ingredients

    USMETRICS
    • 2.5 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1/2 onion, grated
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 cup seasoned Panko breadcrumbs (or regular)
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
    • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp dried basil
    • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 28 oz marinara sauce (store-bought like Rao’s or homemade)

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    Instructions

    (Hide Photos)
    1

    Add all the ingredients (except marinara sauce and olive oil) to a large bowl. Use your hands or a fork to mix until just combined, making sure not to overmix.

    Ingredients for turkey meatballs in a bowl including breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and parsley.
    2

    Use a rounded tablespoon to form the turkey mixture into meatballs.

    Tow hands forming a turkey meatball.
    3

    Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Lightly brown the meatballs for 1-2 minutes per side. You may need to work in batches depending on the size of the pan.

    Turkey meatballs being seared in a hot pan.
    4

    Add a thin layer of marinara sauce to the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the meatballs.

    Turkey meatballs cooking in a slow cooker with tomato sauce.
    5

    Cover with remaining sauce and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

    Turkey meatballs being served with marinara sauce in a bowl.
    Nutritional Facts
    Serving Size: 4-5 meatballs
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 320
    Calories from Fat 150
    % Daily Value *
    Total Fat 17g
    25%
    Saturated Fat 4g
    21%
    Monounsaturated Fat 0g
    0%
    Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
    0%
    Cholesterol 133mg
    44%
    Sodium 1028mg
    45%
    Total Carbohydrate 12g
    4%
    Dietary Fiber 2g
    9%
    Sugars 6g
    Protein 31g

    * 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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    About the authorMeet Kristen McCaffrey
    Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
    3 Comments
    On Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs
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    Natalia R
    April 29, 2022 - 12:11
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    5
    You know? I'm not really a fan of turkey. But I know it's better than red meat and my Dr recommended I try alternatives. I can't lie these meatballs turned out great. The parsley did it for me! (Big fan!) I will try these recipe with Chicken next. Thanks!
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    Stacey
    April 12, 2022 - 07:37
    Have you ever experimented with the 99% lean turkey for this specific recipe? I wonder if due to the way they are cooked it would keep them from getting too tough? Thoughts?
    user image
    April 12, 2022 - 13:39
    I haven't since I like the flavor of the lean turkey in meatballs. With that said, the grated onion adds a lot of moisture so it could work just fine with 99% lean turkey.
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