Turkey Meatballs with Tomatoes and Basil

Ground turkey meatballs are moist and flavorful, made with herbs and sour cream and tossed with fresh tomatoes and basil. Serve as a main dish or an appetizer.

Turkey Meatballs with Tomatoes and Basil in a white bowl

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

We used to have a cat named Jack. Jack was a sly, slow-moving, long-haired Persian that would rarely come when called, but if you put out a small bowl of vanilla ice cream, out of nowhere he would magically appear.

This is sort of how my dad is with meatballs.

All I have to do is say, "Dad, I'm making meatballs," and he's halfway out the door on the way over. He loves these turkey meatballs.

It's hard to go wrong with meatballs. You just need to make sure you don't over-mix them, and you brown them slowly enough, and in enough fat, so that flavor develops and the meatballs cook through.

Turkey Meatballs with Tomatoes and Basil in a white bowl

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

How to Make Moist Turkey Meatballs

That said, meatballs made with ground turkey can tend to be on the dry side.

To counter that for our turkey meatballs we add some sour cream to the mix, in addition to breadcrumbs. It works!

We also use ground turkey thigh meat, which we are able to get at our local butcher. If you can get ground thighs, I recommend it. Not only will they be more moist because thigh meat is fattier than breast meat, but also more flavorful.

Turkey meatballs with tomato and basil served with pasta and cheese in a bowl

Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

Turkey Meatballs with Tomatoes and Basil

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings
Yield 18 to 22 meatballs


For the meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (thigh meat if available)

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1/3 cup flour, for dredging

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the sauce

  • 1/2 jalapeño chile, seeded, minced

  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 tablespoons white wine or chicken stock

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (can substitute a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes)

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

  • Freshly grated mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Make the turkey meatball mix:

    In a large bowl, add the turkey, breadcrumbs, sour cream, egg, minced basil, salt, rosemary, oregano, thyme, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes. Gently mix together using your (clean) hands.

  2. Form the meatballs and dredge them in flour:

    Place the flour in a shallow bowl or plate. Use the palms of your hands to form 1 1/2 to 2-inch wide meatballs.

    Elise Bauer

    Roll the meatballs in the dredging flour and set them on a plate or tray. You should have about 18 to 22 meatballs.

  3. Brown the turkey meatballs in olive oil:

    Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large, shallow sauté pan. Gently place the meatballs in the pan. You may need to work in batches as to not crowd the pan.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    Once the meatballs are sizzling, reduce the heat to medium-low and gently cook them on at least 3 sides, so that they get browned pretty much all over and cooked through.

    Use a fork to nudge the meatballs in the pan. Cooking the meatballs should take about 10 minutes per batch. A gentle heat will ensure that the browned meatballs get cooked through.

    Use a slotted spoon to remove the meatballs from the pan to a bowl and set aside.

  4. Make the sauce base:

    Add the jalapeño and garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine or chicken stock. Increase the heat to high and boil down the liquid to the point where a wooden spoon leaves a trail through the pan as you scrape it along the bottom of the pan.

    Elise Bauer
  5. Return meatballs to the pan, add tomatoes:

    Return the meatballs to the pan and coat all over with the pan sauce.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    Add the fresh tomatoes and toss to coat. Cook until the tomatoes just begin to break down, about 4 minutes. Do not overcook the tomatoes.

    Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the fresh basil.

  6. Serve with freshly grated cheese:

    Serve with fresh mozzarella or Parmesan cheese. Serve alone or with pasta, rice, or in a sandwich roll.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
525 Calories
34g Fat
32g Carbs
23g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 525
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 43%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 109mg 36%
Sodium 834mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 21mg 107%
Calcium 265mg 20%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 576mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.