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Italian Turkey Meatballs

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We love these juicy, Italian turkey meatballs in homemade tomato sauce. Serve them over your favorite pasta, pizza or sandwich!

talian Turkey Meatballs
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.

talian Turkey Meatballs over pasta

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

talian Turkey Meatballs

More Meatball Recipes You’ll Love:


Italian Turkey Meatballs

4.95 from 38 votes
We love these juicy, Italian ground turkey meatballs in homemade tomato sauce. Serve them over your favorite pasta, pizza or sandwich!
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Italian Turkey Meatballs
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 35 mins
Yield: 6 servings
Serving Size: 4 meatballs with sauce


  • 20 oz 1.3 lb ground turkey breast 93% lean
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs, or gluten-free crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt + fresh pepper

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.
    easy marinara sauce recipe
  • 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).
    Ground turkey meatballs
  • 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.

Last Step:

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You can make them with 99% lean turkey although they will be more dry, if you do.


Serving: 4 meatballs with sauce, Calories: 280 kcal, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Protein: 25.5 g, Fat: 11.5 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 104 mg, Sodium: 997 mg, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 10.5 g


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235 comments on “Italian Turkey Meatballs”

  1. Could not stop eating them!!! I used 1 lb. beef 1 lb. turkey, spices from me garden, Cauli-crunch “bread crumbs”, no cheese & sautéed the balls in the garlic (3 cloves per balls & sauce) then added back after sauce came together. Needed 2 cans & I only had 1.
    Great instructions!!! Easy to follow. Took me 2 hours from start through cleanup.

  2. This recipe was easy and delicious! We ate the meatballs with zoodles for a nice low carb dinner. We’re definitely putting this recipe in our rotation. Thank you! 

  3. This recipe is phenomenal! My whole family enjoys this and we make it at least once a week! 
    Thanks so much for putting this together! Definitely a keeper!

    1. Avatar photo
      Kathy LaBranch

      Just a heads up…this recipe for the meatballs only is calculating at 4 ww blue points based on it being 6 servings. I didn’t even calculate the sauce.

    2. Later in the directions, she indicates you remove the onion.  Personally, I really like that.  Hate sauce with any size piece of onion in it.  This is so much better!
      I make the meatballs using all GF ingredients, and everyone in the family loves them (and the sauce is excellent).  Our teen grandsons asked me to teach them how “to cook healthy” and they’ve mastered several recipes.  This is one of their favorites.  

  4. These make the best ww friendly meatball subs for a satisfying dinner! I’ve made these so many times. Gina, yiur recipes are a life saver!

  5. Why are these 6 points (green) and the crockpot meatballs using 93% ground turkey only 4 points for same amount? 

  6. The meatballs were great! I used Italian seasoned panko gluten free bread crumbs. Baked them for a few mins and then added them to 1.5 jars of my fave marinara sauce. Served over spaghetti squash. Thank you!

  7. These sound great!  I’m wanting to make them as just meatballs without sauce- but I’m sure cooking them in the sauce keeps them moist and adds flavor- any ideas on how to make these without sauce and not sacrifice the above??!  I love your recipes and meal plans!  Thank you for being a key component to my family eating healthier!

  8. hi gina – this is one of my old faves, but now that turkey tends to come in 1lb containers (not 1.3lbs) would this work the same with just 1lb, or would i need to modify the recipe? 

    1. I still use the 1lb and keep all the other ingredients the same. Only thing I add is about a half of a grated zucchini to make up for the missing .3 lbs. Keeps them moist and adds more veggies! 

  9. Avatar photo
    Candace lauterman

    I love this recipe. I have been looking for a good weight watcher recipe. This recipe is to make and low in point if your on the blue plan. 

  10. These are so delicious! However, when I put this into the recipe builder for the green program, it came out to three points for 4 meatballs and sauce. Am I doing something wrong here?

  11. Delicious and satisfying. I love this recipe. It makes a lot so there’s always leftovers. Also great to have some in the freezer. 

  12. Can I make this the day before and store I. The refrigerator or will they fall apart? I’ve made he before and loved it thanks!

  13. Avatar photo
    Susan Weitzenfeld

    Hi Gina, Thank you for sharing, I also couldn’t find 99% turkey, mine is also 97/3, I’m new to WW and freestyle dining, but I calculated the points and it came out (with the sauce ) to be 7 points a serving, the crushed tomatoes really drove up the points. Did I calculate wrong? I did notice in the comments that a lot of people have trouble finding 99% fat free. What do you think? I’m making tomorrow. Thank You Susan W

    1. Hi Susan! Did you use the recipe builder? The only accurate way to determine any recipe’s SmartPoints® value is to plug the ingredients into the recipe builder on the Weight Watchers website (Click on “My Foods,” select “Recipe,” and click “Create a recipe.”) which does not count fruits and vegetables in recipes in the calculations as they are now 0 points.

      The SmartPoints® calculator isn’t meant for recipes and will often give you the wrong points (usually higher) because it’s counting the fruits and vegetables. So if you see a recipe with a SmartPoints® value that’s different from what the calculator tells you, now you know why.