Katie Stew

A rich, simmering blend of my favorite things

Turkey Meatballs


Now, when I first heard the words “turkey meatballs”, I wasn’t very excited. Meatballs are supposed to be something… well, meatier. Beef or pork or something. But, I remembered that I do like turkey tacos and turkey burgers and it had just been awhile since I used turkey for my beef substitute.

Picture of Mini Turkey Meatballs Recipe

I was watching Giada De Laurentiis on Food Network and saw her make these. I’m generally not a big fan of her show, but this looked so good, I went out and made it the same week. Since then, I’ve made these meatballs 4 or 5 times. They are light and meaty and incredibly simple to make. I’ve also used ground chicken, which works just as well and is very good.

When I make them now, I generally just eyeball the ingredients and add as much cheese and herbs as I feel like. But, the basic proportions of meat to breadcrumbs to egg are important. The biggest tip that I learned from watching Giada make these is that it is important to add all the ingredients together in the bowl before you add the meat. Create the crumb/egg/seasoning mixture first and then work the meat in with your hands until just combined. This makes the meatballs lighter and not as dense, which was a problem I’ve had previously with making meatballs. It is a great trick.

Turkey Meatballs

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Handful of chopped basil if you have it.
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano (or a combination of whatever Italian cheeses you have on hand) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat (I think the light and dark combo is the best)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Also you’ll need sauce. you can either use store bought or make your own. If you are making your own basic sauce you will need:

1 large can of crushed tomatoes

2 more cloves of garlic

1/4 cup chopped herbs, such as parsley and basil

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper


Add the all the ingredients except the turkey and olive oil in a large bowl and blend. Mix in the turkey with your hands until just combined. Heat oil in large skillet. Shape the turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs and drop in skillet.  

Saute until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Pour off any excess oil. If using store bought sauce, add it over the meatballs now. 

If you are making the sauce, push the meatballs to the side and toss in the garlic and crushed red pepper. Once the garlic has started to soften, add the can of crushed tomatoes and the herbs.  Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, 15 to 20 minutes. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

And enjoy! You’ve just made your own meatballs. I also recommend making these in large, doubled batches and freezing half of them for a super fast weeknight meal. You never have to buy frozen meatballs again.


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