We love these juicy, Italian turkey meatballs in homemade tomato sauce. Serve them over your favorite pasta, pizza or sandwich!
Italian Turkey Meatballs
I buy a package of ground turkey every week with no plan on how I am going to use them. Some days I make tacos, turkey meatloaf or ground turkey skillet. But most days I turn them into meatballs. And my family loves them, so that’s a big win! I have SO many turkey meatball recipes in the archives, some highlights are Instant Pot Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs, Cheesy Turkey Meatball Skillet, and Asian Turkey Meatballs.
My Italian husband loves his mom’s beef meatballs, so making them with ground turkey without him complaining was not easy. Don’t get me wrong – we love meatballs made with ground beef, but I also love these ground turkey meatballs as a lighter alternative. Tommy gives these 2 thumbs up!
How To Make Italian Turkey Meatballs
Here’s the ingredients used. Simply combine, roll and bake or add to the sauce.
- Turkey: I use 99% lean ground turkey, but you can also use 93% or lean ground chicken.
- Breadcrumbs: If you can’t find whole-wheat seasoned crumbs, regular will work. Sub gluten-free breadcrumbs for gluten-free meatballs.
- Cheese: I used grated Parmigiano Reggiano, but you can substitute regular parmesan or Pecorino Romano.
- Herbs: Sub fresh basil or dried parsley for fresh parsley.
- Egg: The egg binds the meat and other ingredients together.
- Seasoning: Salt, pepper, and garlic give these Italian meatballs more flavor. Add crushed red pepper if you prefer them spicy.
Helpful Tips to make Turkey Meatballs
These meatballs are great for meal prep. Here are a few more tips to save even more time:
- Skip Browning: You don’t have to brown these meatballs first. Just put them in the sauce and cook on medium for 20 minutes. I found that they taste just as good without browning, and it saves calories by skipping the olive oil. If you prefer them browned, you can place them on a sheet pan and broil until the tops are golden, then add to the sauce.
- Sauce: If you don’t want to make the tomato sauce from scratch, you can use jarred marinara.
- Prep ahead by storing the uncooked meatballs in the fridge for a day. When it’s time to get dinner ready, pull them out and start cooking immediately.
- Oven: If you don’t want to cook the turkey meatballs in sauce, bake them in the oven 400F about 18 to 20 minutes.
- Slow Cooker: For even more hands-off cooking, cook the meatballs in the slow cooker on low for four to six hours or on high for two to three hours.
What to Serve with Turkey Meatballs
- Pasta: Serve over your favorite type of pasta or gnocchi.
- Low-Carb: Choose zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice for fewer carbs.
- Sandwich: Make a meatball hero with whole wheat Italian bread and mozzarella cheese.
- Sides: Eat the meatballs by themselves and pair with roasted green beans, wilted spinach, cacio e pepe brussels sprouts, or arugula salad.
More Meatball Recipes You’ll Love:
- Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs
- Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
- Swedish Meatballs
- Chicken Romano Meatballs
- Moroccan Meatballs
Italian Turkey Meatballs
For the marinara sauce:
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes, I swear by Tuttorosso
- 1/2 small onion, cut in half but don't chop
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
- salt and fresh pepper to taste
- In a medium size pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden, being careful not to burn. Add crushed tomatoes, onion, salt, pepper, oregano, basil and bay leaf. Stir and reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer on low 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic and cheese. Using wet hands, mix all the ingredients well until everything is combined. Form small meatballs, about the size of a ping ping ball (1/8th cup each).
- If you wish, you can brown the meatballs in a skillet, or brown them in the broiler on a sheet pan until the tops are golden, 7 to 8 minutes. OR you can gently plop them right into the sauce.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and onion and serve over pasta or whole wheat Italian bread.