Tender, Tasty Herbed Turkey Meatballs (Ready in 20 Minutes!)
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These super-flavorful turkey meatballs can be baked in the oven or cooked in a skillet on the stovetop. Seasoned with cumin, paprika and packed with fresh herbs, these meatballs make a light, delicious meal served with vegetables and salad greens, or with your favorite sauce. This recipe makes a batch of meatballs for dinner in less than 30 minutes.
This is a great meatball dinner idea that really pleases everyone around the dinner table!
In this recipe, flavorful turkey meatballs are spiced-up with Middle Eastern-inspired seasonings and fresh herbs. They’re light, healthful and super-easy to make, either on the stovetop or baked in the oven.
Ideally, the best pan-fried or baked turkey meatballs are juicy little nuggets, with one bite leading to the next one (which also happens with big Italian meatballs). I mean, who doesn’t love it when meatballs are perfectly sized for popping into your mouth?
Ingredients for turkey meatballs
This turkey meatball recipe is gluten-free (does not contain bread crumbs).
- Ground turkey: You can use either lean ground turkey (turkey breast) or fattier dark (turkey thigh) ground turkey to make meatballs (not to mention the juiciest turkey meatloaf). With that in mind, I recommend using the dark meat if possible. The extra bit of fat in turkey thighs adds more flavor compared to breast meat, which adds flavor AND keeps the meatballs from becoming too dry. By the way, ground chicken thigh makes fantastic chicken meatballs. Feel free to swap out the meat if you prefer.
- Spices: Pantry spices come in handy to season these meatballs, including ground cumin and paprika (sweet or smoked will work).
- Herbs: An abundance of fresh herbs really perks up the savory flavor of these meatballs and sets them apart. I love to use a combination of fresh cilantro, mint, chopped parsley, and fresh basil. Use whatever you have on hand. Swap out with 2 teaspoons of dried herbs (such as oregano, basil or tarragon) instead.
- Sriracha: Just a small amount of this spicy condiment adds a touch of heat and tanginess. Substitute with your favorite hot sauce.
- Onion: The recipe calls for grated red onion, a technique that adds flavorful onion juice to the meatballs mixture. You can also use a white or yellow onion or finely chopped green onions.
- Garlic cloves
Note: This recipe makes about two dozen turkey meatballs.
- Because they’re not oversized, the meatballs will cook through quickly, in about 10 minutes on the stovetop. To double check for doneness, insert the tip of an instant read thermometer halfway into a meatball to check that the internal temperature is about 165 degrees.
- Cook them in one batch in a single pan on the stovetop — I use my favorite 12-inch nonstick skillet — but they’re just as easy to make in two batches in a slightly smaller pan.
- Baked turkey meatballs: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the meatballs on a baking sheet line with parchment paper (for the easiest clean-up). Bake 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through.
Tips and serving ideas for turkey meatballs
- Freezer directions: To freeze, arrange the meatballs in one layer on a tray and freeze until solid. Transfer to a ziplock bag or other airtight container and freeze 1-2 months.
- The meatballs are perfect to serve as a simple meal and also as a snack or appetizer with toothpicks on the side, along with creamy homemade hummus or whipped feta sauce for dipping.
- Make a one-dish meal with turkey meatballs: Serve them in bowl on top of your favorite healthy whole grain (brown rice, farro, quinoa, etc.) and some roasted or raw vegetables, and other condiments, such as:
- A handful of arugula, spinach or other tender greens
- Zucchini noodles
- Sliced cucumbers
- Salad sprouts
- Crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese
- A generous blob of thick, plain yogurt, sour cream or tahini sauce seasoned with lemon juice.
- My favorite Simple Green Herb Sauce goes perfectly with these meatballs!
Turkey meatballs are also really delicious in a sandwich, stuffed into warm pita bread along with some salad greens and tangy yogurt sauce drizzled over them.
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Tender, Tasty Turkey Meatballs (Ready in 20 Minutes!)
- 1 ½ pounds (675 g) ground turkey, dark thigh meat preferred
- ½ red onion, grated on a box grater
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, chopped parsley, mint or a combination, plus additional for garnish
- 1 garlic clove, grated or pressed
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) olive oil
- In a large bowl, combine turkey, onion, cilantro, garlic, egg, cumin, paprika, salt, sriracha and cayenne pepper. Mix until combined, then form into 1 1/2-inch diameter meatballs with damp hands, or a small cookie scoop.
- Stovetop directions: Heat the oil a 12-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Arrange meatballs in pan and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 total. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, about 5 more minutes. To check for doneness, insert the tip of an instant read thermometer halfway into a meatball to check that the internal temperature is about 165 degrees.
- Baking directions: Preheat the oven to 425 (220 C) degrees. Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil or line with parchment paper for easy clean up. Bake 8 minutes. Turn the meatballs over with a spatula or tongs and bake 8-10 more minutes, until cooked through.
- Sprinkle the meatballs with fresh chopped cilantro (or other fresh herbs) and serve.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Storing meatballs: Meatballs will keep in the refrigerator 3-5 days. Freeze in an airtight container up to 2 months.
- Tips: Wet your hands with a little water when forming the meatballs to make them less sticky.
- Serve the meatballs with your favorite tomato sauce, or with sliced cucumber, salad greens, feta cheese and simple green herb sauce for a light, healthful meal.
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.
This is really easy to make and really flavorful and healthy.
Amazing!!!! I feel like a chopped champion right now…just made these delicious, flavorful meatballs and the show stealing green sauce for a fresh, exciting, midweek dinner. So good!!! Definitely making these again, and that green sauce is becoming a staple. Thank you!!!!!
These meatballs sounds so devine! I love the combination of herbs and spices. This is like a new take on meatballs, and I love it!
I love this recipe and use it all the time! Thanks for sharing!
These look really yummy! And since I am suffering froma recent aversion to tomato sauce (some post-menopausal thing, I guess!) it is nice to see your lighter version.
I love making meatballs! These look great. My boys ask for them all the time! Yummy recipe!
Americans seem to love turkey in recipes. I have yet to try turkey mince, it is not as freely available here in Aussie Land. I usually make mine with a combo of beef and pork mince. Yours look great and I will have to give turkey a go.
These do sound good and I know my kids would gobble them up. We love meatballs at our house!
A very health conscious choice using grojund turkey!!! I’ll bet these were delicious!!
These look delicious! Love the combination of flavors. Meatballs are such a fun food, aren’t they? : )
Karen, Thank you for leading me to your blog! very impressive! I had fun “visiting” and enjoyed many of your posts, I will definately be back! BTY, loved your website as a personal chef!
These meatballs look great. I love the idea that kids will eat a healthier version of a traditional standby. I think i’ll try these for the big game
I have been making turkey meatballs since my kids were big enough to eat them but I bake them and they come out so good and NO mess. I think I bake them at 350 or 375 degrees for about 15-20 mins depending on the size of them. worth trying because NO mess!!!
I have never tried turkey meatballs – these are making me hungry, Karen!
I love the cilantro and cumin in the recipe! I must be a kid at heart because I want to become real friendly with the meatballs and put them in my stomach.
Cumin and paprika always make food even better!
Sounds good to me! I know what you mean. I read quite a few blogs, and it seems like everyone is making meatballs. Maybe it’s the cold weather?
I wish I was Italian, so I could call tomato sauce, gravy.
cilantro and turkey meatballs?! what a great idea, i wouldn’t have put them together. a nice dish for the superbowl weekend.