Best Ever Turkey Meatballs

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My father stopped by today to say hello. I offered him lunch which he declined but he did take me up on the offer to try one of these turkey meatballs. One bite and two wide eyes later, “Wow, why didn’t you tell me they were good?” Lunch served.

I love ground turkey, but it can be dry. So for meatballs we do things to compensate, like adding moistened breadcrumbs or egg. Grated zucchini is an option too.

Turkey Meatballs

For this recipe, we are getting extra moisture from the addition of lots of minced mushrooms, and a little mayonnaise. The mushrooms give the meatballs a meaty flavor. The mayonnaise, which is just an emulsion of oil, egg, and vinegar, not only adds some needed fat, but a bit of egg to help as a binder.

Serve the meatballs with or without sauce. They’re great both ways.

Best Ever Turkey Meatballs Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 16 to 24 meatballs, depending on size.

This turkey meatball recipe is wonderfully flexible. Form small meatballs for appetizer bites, larger ones for a main course meal. Flatten them to make turkey burgers. Serve them with or without a tomato marinara sauce.

If you want a more pronounced mushroom flavor, add a few more minced shiitake mushrooms to the mix.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 6 ounces of mushrooms (a mix of shiitake and cremini), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat (we prefer thigh meat)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (plus more to sprinkle over when you serve)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (optional, if you have it use it)
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Optional Marinara Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced (2 teaspoons)
  • 1-28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1 Sauté shallots in butter, add garlic, mushrooms, herbs: Melt the butter in a small frying pan on medium heat. Add the minced shallots and cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes until softened.

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Stir in the minced garlic and the mushrooms. Continue to cook on medium heat until the mushrooms are cooked through and have given up some, but not all, of their moisture.

Stir in the herbes de Provence. Remove from heat. Place in a bowl and quickly chill to cool.

2 Mix ground turkey with parsley, mustard, vinegar, zest, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, cooled mushroom mixture: In a large mixing bowl, place the ground turkey, parsley, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, lemon zest if using, mayonnaise, salt, black pepper, and the cooled mushroom shallot mixture. Using your clean hands gently mix the turkey and other ingredients together until well combined. Don't over mix.

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3 Form meatballs: Form meatballs, 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide, depending on your preference. Smaller meatballs with be easier to serve as a one-bite appetizer, larger meatballs for a main dish. Place meatballs on a tray.

4 Brown the meatballs: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium low to medium heat. Once the oil is hot, place the meatballs in the pan, allowing for space around each meatball.

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Do not crowd the pan; if your pan isn't big enough, cook the meatballs in batches. Gently cook the meatballs, turning them frequently so that they get lightly browned on all sides. If meatballs are not browning, increase the burner heat a little.

5 Optional sauce. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add the minced onions and cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.

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Pulse the canned tomatoes in their juices in a blender or food processor until chopped, but not completely smooth. Add the tomatoes to the onion garlic mixture. Cook for ten minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add meatballs to the sauce. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley to serve.

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Turkey Meatballs

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Showing 4 of 79 Comments

  • Rachel

    Hi Elise,
    I am looking for a easy receipe for swedish meatballs using ground turkey. Any suggestions?

  • Emily

    Is there something you could substitute for the mayo, or is it better to just leave it out if you don’t want to use it?

  • Stephanie Bullock

    Your turkey meatballs were wonderful. I served the meatballs with your rich sauce and sprinkled parmesan cheese on top. To compliment the meatballs I served a pear salad with a poppyseed dressing along with a crusty sour dough roll. My husband loved the dinner and I plan to make it again. Thank you!

  • Lindsay

    Delicious – repeat recipe. It is a treasure to have such a recipe that is gluten-free for many in our family who have celiac. They love these meatballs, which tends to be a food item they typically avoid because most include wheat. Thank you for this – and many other recipes.

  • SusanT

    I’ve made these wonderful meatballs several times. It is now my go-to recipe. The lemon zest absolutely completes them. Love the flavor and moist texture. The sauce is also delicious, but I add a little Pinot noir to the sauce in addition to the balsamic. I serve them with roasted spaghetti squash for me and lemon pappardelle noddles for my husband. We’re both in heaven. I also love your stuffed zucchini recipe. Thanks for such simple tasty recipes. Love your site so much.

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