Turkey Meatballs (That Aren’t Dry!)

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

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



  • 1 tablespoon 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 tablespoon 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 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Optional Marinara Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin 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


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 easy 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.

How to make turkey meatballs

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 in skillet 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 tomato sauce to go with turkey meatballs make tomato sauce to serve with easy turkey meatballs

While the onions and garlic are cooking, 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

Click on the comments you'd like to print with your recipe. Grayed out comments will not print.


  • Rocky

    Love these meatballs! Flavorful and moist. It almost converted me to a turkey lover. This is a keeper!!


  • kate

    We love them! And my kids hate mushrooms but they have no idea they are in there. The flavour is amazing. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you


  • Lisa

    My family loves these meatballs! My husband has celiac disease, and this is one dish he can eat that he loves. We eat them plain with no sauce because they are that good! To save some time and labor to do other things in the kitchen, I put them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees and they turn out just as good. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • Steve

    These came out perfect – doubles the batch and froze half of them. They were tasty, moist and big hit. I would make again.


  • 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.


  • Ann

    Excellent flavor and moistness!


  • 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.


  • Jeanne Thelwell

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

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jeanne, I don’t see why they couldn’t be frozen raw or cooked. They should freeze fine!

  • 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! :-)

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Sheila, yes, you can use shredded zucchini. That works too! Use about a cup of shredded zucchini.

  • Rachel

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

    • Elise Bauer

      You could try using ground turkey in our Swedish meatball recipe. If you do, I suggest adding in some finely chopped mushrooms and a little mayo into the meatball mixture to help keep the meatballs moist. Turkey meatballs tend to dry out.

  • 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?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Emily, the mayo does two things. Mayo is basically egg and olive or vegetable oil. The egg in the mayo acts as a binder and the oil helps add a little fat to the lean turkey. So, if you don’t want to use mayo, then beat an egg, and use about half of it (a tablespoon’s worth) in the mixture. Add a teaspoon of olive oil too.

  • 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.

  • Lori Havert

    I just loved these meatballs. I added one small grated zucchini to the mushrooms while they were cooking down. Nobody would’ve ever know there was a green veggie in there unless I told them, and I did tell. I made these in advance, and then reheated them with some Archer Farms Koren Style BBQ Sauce (the very best of its kind), and served it with Jasmine rice and steamed broccoli. It was a fantastic, healthy dinner. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Becky

    These meatballs made me very happy tonight!! My 2 yr old has an egg allergy so I used vegan mayonnaise. Followed the rest exactly, and they were so delicious!! My husband piled them on a hoagie with marinara sauce for a meatball sub. I put a few in the freezer to see how they do for busy nights.


  • Carey-Ann from Australia

    Elise, thank you again for a wonderful recipe. I enjoy mince turkey and this recipe is fantastic. So much flavour and easy to make. Your website is full of great recipes I have cooked and enjoyed. :)

  • Linda from Chicago

    These were a big hit with my non-meatball-loving, non-mushroom fan family! Moist and delicious! Another hit, thanks!
    And I too live with a pacemaker – it saved my life and I am ever grateful. Give your Dad a hug! Linda


  • Sandy S

    Every since you posted this recipe, I have been going back to it for so many reasons! Both the meatballs and the sauce are so good exactly as set-down. It brings full flavor to ground turkey. I usually use soy sauce in place of salt when working with ground turkey. But, I really like this recipe for a change. The herbes de Provence has been a bit like finding a long lost relative! I have been using it for steamed Brussels sprouts, as I used to do many moons ago. It needs a gentle hand as one experiments, but it is so worth the effort (not to mention the price) to finding how much is right for you.


  • Deb Ohlsen

    I just made these and they are delicious. I love the texture, the taste and the fact that they have no bread in them! Made the sauce too and dinner was a big hit. Thanks! Hope your Dad continues to do well and gets to enjoy this dish often !


  • Janis

    Tried these recently. They are very good and solved my dry turkey burger problem. Thank you.

  • Samantha

    Amazing recipe! Did it today and added breadcrumbs and an egg to the mix, also i baked them in the oven. Delicious, thank you!


  • Char

    Loved these meatballs. But didn’t like them with marinara on them–thought it hid the flavor of the meatballs which is great. Have liked the flavor so much have made this recipe 2 other ways: (i) as is turkey hamburgers per meatball recipe (great) and (ii) as a pasta sauce. When I converted the recipe to a pasta sauce sauteed the ground turkey with sliced mushrooms (8 oz. could have used more), 2 tsp. of each of the balsamic, zest and mustard & 1 1/2 tsp of the herbs. Added 1/2 cup chicken broth. Was good. Thought it needed something else, so threw in a can of diced fire roasted tomatoes with juices (what I had on hand). Can of diced tomatoes wasn’t as thick as marinara so didn’t mask the flavor the way the marinara did. Made a great pasta sauce. Sort of a turkey Bolognese Sauce that was easier/quicker than the meatballs. Thanks for the basic recipe. Will continue to make it as meatballs, hamburgers and pasta sauce.

    • Elise Bauer

      So glad you were able to morph the recipe into dishes you like!

  • Michelle

    So sorry to hear about your dad; he’s made so many appearances here and made us smile with his comments. Glad he’s doing okay! Thanks for your meatball recipe- I’ve never made meatballs before, but this was pretty easy and kind of fun too. I made them for Valentine’s day and my husband loved them! I don’t like parsley, so I skipped it, but it still tasted good. I was running out of time and don’t like getting my hands dirty with meat, so I used a cookie dough baller/scoop and it worked pretty well! I’ll be saving this one.

  • Courtney Lofton

    I made these last night and they were amazing!! Amazing. I did skip the mayo because we both hate it but my fiancé and I both loved them. Thanks so much!

  • Evie Lieb

    It’s such a relief to know that your dear dad is doing well now. Along with you he offered so much encouragement when I was planning my blog. Your turkey meatballs would surely beat any version of prepared ones on the market. Trying them flattened as burgers is an awesome idea!

    • Elise Bauer

      Thanks Evie! Hopefully he’ll stick around for a while. Your blog is great! I’m so glad you’re having fun with it and sharing your amazing expertise.

  • JoAnn

    I’m so glad to hear your Dad is doing well – it’s amazing that they can do such awesome things with technology these days. Our area has so many great medical groups, we are truly blessed! I’m making your meatballs right this minute – I had planned to make my standard turkey meatballs with carrots and breadcrumbs, which I wasn’t thrilled about since we’ve been trying to reduce our wheat intake, but didn’t have any other ideas – your website, as usual, is just the ticket. We love mushrooms and always have them in our fridge. The house smells amazing and I can hardly wait for them to be done! Thanks, Elise, for another great meal idea!

  • Paula Cournoyer

    Glad your Dad is on the mend.
    The turkey mushroom meatballs are delicious!! What a wonderful recipe. Had two left over for lunch the next day and they were just as good. Can’t to have them again. Thank you for sharing, Elise.


  • Leslie

    These sound really good. What % fat ground turkey do you suggest? Can lemon juice be substituted for the lemon zest?
    PS-glad you Dad is OK

    • Elise Bauer

      You can buy ground turkey with a specified fat%? I usually just use ground thigh meat, because it has more flavor, and it has a more fat to keep the turkey meat from drying out when cooking. I would not substitute lemon juice for the lemon zest. It takes a lot more lemon juice to get the equivalent lemon flavor from lemon zest. Just skip the zest if you don’t have it.

  • Em

    We made this tonight for dinner and served it with a white sauce over brown rice. The meatballs were delicious, but some of them fell apart while browning. Any idea what I should have done differently? I’ve had the same problem with other meatballs before. For this it worked okay as I just used the three that fell apart as part of the base for the sauce, but I’d like them to turn out as intended.

    PS Best wishes for your family. Glad your dad is doing better.

    • Elise Bauer

      I would just make the meatballs smaller, that should help keeping them from falling apart while browning.

    • Alici

      Same thing happened to me- many of them fell apart while browning in the pan. I was disappointed considering the rave reviews. Worked well with sauce though and over a grain like wild rice.

  • Lisa

    Just tried this tonight in the form of patty melts and they were a huge hit! Thanks for the recipe, I will be trying them in meatball form since we are all such fans of mushrooms. And I love the idea of the mayo; never would have thought of that! Very happy your Dad is doing so well; ER visits are never fun! (nor short!)

  • suz

    I had a similar cooking experience with my family this week making Greek style burgers with ground turkey. Yes, it makes it all worthwhile. And thanks for sharing the good news about your Dad. Your parents are an integral part of Simply Recipes.

  • Janice

    I have been making your turkey meatballs with tomatoes and basil and people rave about it! In that recipe, the addition of sour cream makes them very tasty. Have to say that that one is going to be hard to beat. But, this recipe with the mushrooms and mayo sounds very intriguing. I am going to have to give it a try.

  • Elise Bauer

    Thank you Beverly! Regarding salt, from what I understand as we age our taste buds don’t work as well. Elderly people sometimes need a lot more seasoning to taste well. I’ve haven’t seen this yet in my parents, but I have with the parents of friends.

  • SandyN

    Thank you for the great recipes! This recipe has given me ideas for a whole week’s menu – with changes of veggies and rice, potatoes, pasta, bread rolls etc. Magnifique! :-) Best wishes for your dad!

  • Naureen

    What a wonderful addition (the mushrooms)! Must try! Any suggestions if I wanted to bake them instead?

    • Elise Bauer

      You might want to look up some baked meatball recipes on Google and compare methods. One commenter earlier mentioned baking them on a rack on high heat, and finishing under a broiler.

  • Ramona

    I have a huge jar of dried mixed mushrooms. Could I use those in place of the fresh? If so, how many? Would I still need to add some fresh?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Ramona, take several of the dried mushrooms, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them sit for an hour. Then remove the mushrooms and chop them up. Use them in place of the shiitakes. You’ll still want to include fresh cremini mushrooms. Then sauté the chopped reconstituted dry mushrooms with the chopped fresh mushrooms. As to the exact amount of dry mushrooms? Your guess is as good as mine. Good luck!

  • Susan

    Sorry about your dad – good news about the pacemaker for sure!! I’m wondering: could the meatballs be baked in a 350 oven to further save some additional fat? Thanks much and best of luck to you and yours.

    • Elise Bauer

      There’s not a lot of fat in these meatballs to begin with, but sure, you could easily bake them.

  • Angela

    These look yummy; I’m going to try them, but I think I’ll do stroganoodle :)

  • KenB

    Sounds really good. On my list. I like browning meatballs like these in the oven.

  • Katie A

    Good cardiologists in SacTown! Glad your dad is on the mend – good blood flow/oxygen is a VERY good thing.

    These turkey meatballs are a terrific idea. I’m always looking for ways to add easy, done-ahead lean protein dishes to the mix. I suspect these will freeze & reheat beautifully. Thanks Elise (again) for another wonderful recipe.

    • Elise Bauer

      We were out at Mercy San Juan. Great team of doctors and nurses. The care couldn’t have been better.

      If you make them and freeze them, please let me know how they turn out! I rarely freeze food as I give most of it away to friends and family, so never know what to say when people ask me, “how well does it freeze?”

  • Maria

    Hope your dad continues to improve! I made your Turkey Meatballs with Tomato and Basil just this weekend for a potluck, and they were a huge hit! Look forward to trying these.

  • [email protected]

    What a great idea. The mayo and mushrooms will bring moisture (and some flavor) to the turkey meatballs. Glad things worked out well for your dad. That can be so scary.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Angela, both the mushrooms and the mayo are kinda cool tricks. You can use mayo with any turkey meatball or turkey burger to help keep it from drying out.

  • Cathy O'Connell

    So sorry to hear about your Dad. Pacemakers are a good thing!

    This recipe sounds great … can one have too many meatball recipes? I will definitely be trying it very soon. I love the addition of the mushrooms for added moisture. I’ve done that with Turkey Burgers and meatloaf, but haven’t made Turkey Meatballs in a long time and never with the addition of mushrooms – great idea! Can’t wait to try it. I love meatballs cooked in oil on the stove, but I have been baking meatballs for a long time now – high heat on a rack with a quick broil at the end for a couple of minutes, not bad, but I still love my Mom’s fried ones better! I notice very little oil in your pan and I think your technique sounds great, so I will try these your way!

    Take care and enjoy your Dad … there is nothing like family.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Cathy, I think if you’re making a lot of meatballs, then cooking them in the oven can really save some time. Thank you for the suggestion on the method of high heat on a rack, ending with a broil!

  • Vanessa

    Elise, as usual, you take ordinary ingredients and make them into something so special and delicious! I’m also very relieved to hear your dad is ok. After all your writings involving him and your mother, I feel as though I know them both and that they’ve become friends too. :) As far as the marinara sauce goes, I added some red wine because red wine makes everything better. Again, thank God your dad is ok and blessings on you and your family……and your food!

    • Elise Bauer

      Thanks Vanessa! And I love the suggestion of a little red wine added to the marinara sauce.