Turkey Meatballs (That Aren’t Dry!)

Low CarbGround TurkeyMeatballs

Best turkey meatballs ever! Made with ground turkey, mushrooms, onions, and a touch of mayo, they are tender, flavorful, and not at ALL dry!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Turkey Meatballs You’ll Love

My father stopped by the other day 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.

How to Make Turkey Meatballs that aren’t dry

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

Turkey Meatballs served with and without sauce on platters

For these turkey meatballs, we skip breadcrumbs and instead get extra moisture from the addition of lots of minced mushrooms, and a little mayonnaise.

The mushrooms give the turkey 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.

So the meatballs are tender, have more flavor, and on top of that are gluten-free!

Serve these easy turkey meatballs with or without sauce. They’re great both ways.

A Flexible Meatball Recipe

This turkey meatball recipe is wonderfully flexible. You can form small meatballs for appetizer bites, or larger ones for a main course meal. You could even flatten them to make turkey burgers.

How to Freeze Meatballs for Later

You can freeze both the cooked or uncooked meatballs. If cooked, let the meatballs cool completely before freezing.

For either, space them out on a parchment-lined sheet pan so the meatballs aren’t touching. Freeze until solid, then transfer to a freezer container or plastic bag with as much air pressed out as possible. Freeze for up to three months.

Thaw the meatballs overnight in the fridge. Cook uncooked meatballs following the directions in the recipe. Cooked meatballs can be gently rewarmed in the tomato sauce over medium heat.

Looking for More Meatball Recipes?

Updated March 25, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the original recipe.

Turkey Meatballs (That Aren’t Dry!) Recipe

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

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 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 Cook the shallots and mushrooms: 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.

saute shallots for turkey meatballs saute mushrooms for turkey meatballs

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 Make the meatball 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.

make turkey meatball mixture

Using your clean hands gently mix the turkey and other ingredients together until well combined. Don't over mix.

3 Shape the 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.

put formed turkey 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.

brown the turkey meatballs brown the turkey meatballs on all sides

Do not crowd the pan; if your pan isn't big enough, cook the meatballs in batches. Gently cook the meatballs until cooked through, 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.

saute onions for turkey meatball tomato sauce make tomato sauce for turkey meatballs

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. Simmer for a minute to warm the meatballs through. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley to serve.

Add turkey meatballs to tomato sauce

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Turkey Meatballs in marinara sauce and on platter

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

62 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Ken

    I love this recipe but I’d really like to know the nutritional values. We are following the KETO diet and those values are important. Is there a nutrition calculator somewhere? Thanks for the recipe.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  2. Ann

    Excellent flavor and moistness!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Claudia

    I made these last night. I wish I had doubled the recipe. The mushrooms made them light and moist. I also added red pepper flakes. Great recipe.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Jeanne Thelwell

    Is there any reason why these couldn’t be frozen (raw or cooked)?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Sheila

    These look so yummy! ….Is there anyway I can substitute the mushrooms for something else? I do not eat mushrooms. I have all my ingredients,but again I want to leave out the mushrooms. Your reply will be appreciated. Thank You! :-)

    Show Replies (1)
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Turkey MeatballsTurkey Meatballs (That Aren’t Dry!)