These ground turkey meatballs with sauce are super tender and packed with flavor. They’re easy to make and can be made ahead of time and frozen!

Ground turkey meatballs in sauce presented in a serving dish.

Why You’ll Love These Turkey Meatballs

Despite the fact that ground turkey isn’t exactly known for being super flavorful and moist, this recipe offers up a wonderful surprise with its tender texture and big flavor. Much like my popular turkey burger!

Additionally, these meatballs are EASY, and so is the sauce.

What to Serve With Turkey Meatballs

  • First, the obvious: pasta. I personally love these turkey meatballs with chewy pappardelle.
  • Because they’re so hearty, these turkey meatballs are also great on their own. Serve them with a side salad, and a fresh hunk of bread.
  • Veggies, like broccoli or green beans.
  • Finally, I’ll never turn down a meatball sub.

Quick Tips

  1. If the mixture feels sticky, don’t worry. This can happen with ground poultry. Just rub some olive oil into your hands and when you start rolling, the meatballs will form a lot more easily.
  2. Let them set in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to cooking. This will help them keep their shape.
  3. There’s no need to sear these meatballs prior to adding them to the sauce! I pre-sear meatballs in some recipes, but I find it easier to just transfer these from the fridge to the simmering sauce. They come out super tender and flavorful.
  4. If your sauce tastes too acidic even after simmering for a while, stir in 1/4 tsp of baking soda. It’s an alkaline that will help balance the acidity. Don’t add too much, and let it simmer for a bit before doing another taste test because an initial tasting will seem a bit off.

Ingredients

Display of ingredients for the turkey meatballs.

Turkey Meatballs

  • Ground turkey. Choose a blend that is 93% lean.
  • Salt and pepper. My rule of thumb when it comes to seasoning ground meat is 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. With pepper you can just wing it.
  • Onion powder. I use onion in this recipe, but the addition of onion powder adds a little extra oomph.
  • Garlic. In order to incorporate the garlic into the mixture evenly, I grate it with a microplane. If you don’t have a microplane, give it a good mincing.
  • Thyme. I use fresh thyme in this recipe, but dry will do. You could also use Italian seasoning.
  • Onion. Red, white, or yellow onion will work!
  • Worcestershire sauce. This adds umami to what’s normally a bland type of meat.
  • Breadcrumbs. I use panko here, but Italian will also work. The breadcrumbs act as a binder to keep the meatballs intact.
Display of the ingredients for the sauce.

Marinara Sauce

  • Olive oil. You only need a bit for sautéing the garlic and onions.
  • Garlic. Smash the garlic by placing the flat side of a knife over the clove and giving it a whack with the heel of your other hand. Then slice it into thin pieces. No need to mince it, but if you prefer to, you can!
  • Onion. Whatever onion you used in the meatball mixture you can use here! Any type of onion will work.
  • Crushed tomatoes. I like a bit of texture to my sauce sometimes so with this recipe, I went with crushed tomatoes. Before adding the meatballs I quickly run an immersion blender through the sauce to smooth it out a bit, but there’s still texture. If you prefer a smooth sauce, you can use puréed tomatoes instead.
  • Bay leaf. The bay leaf is the supporting actor of the herbs. He doesn’t run the show, but he helps the others shine!
  • Oregano. Fresh oregano really gives this sauce it’s Italian-y goodness. You could use dry if necessary, but try to go with fresh if you can.
  • Parmesan cheese. A bit of grated parmesan cheese finishes this sauce off wonderfully. If you save your parmesan rinds, you can pop one in the sauce as it simmers to add some richness and depth.
  • Salt. To taste!

How to Make Turkey Meatballs With Sauce

Prep a baking sheet. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.

Make the meatball mixture. Place all of the meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl and blend it until with your hands everything is evenly distributed.

Form the meatballs. Scoop about two tablespoons worth of the mixture out of the bowl and roll it into a ball, again, using your hands. Place the meatball onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until the entire mixture has been used up.

Chill. Pop the tray into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. This helps the meatballs set.

Start your sauce. Heat the oil in a deep pan until hot. Add the onions and the garlic, and sauté until softened—about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, oregano, and bay leaf. Add a parmesan rind if you have one.

Simmer. Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it go, partially covered, for about 20-30 minutes. If you want a smoother sauce, run an immersion blender through it until you get the consistency you prefer. I blend mine so that it smooths out but still has some texture. Finally, add the grated parmesan cheese.

Add the meatballs. Once the meatballs have set, carefully add them to the simmering sauce one by one. Spoon some sauce over them and partially cover again. Let the meatballs simmer on low until they’re cooked through.

Storage, Freezing, and Reheating

  • These meatballs and the sauce will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in a tightly sealed container.
  • Freeze the meatballs and the sauce separately by spooning the meatballs out with a slotted spoon (there will be some sauce on them, and that’s fine). Let the meatballs cool, then place them into a freezer-friendly bag. Press the air out and seal them in tightly. The sauce can be stored in a freezer-friendly air-tight container.
  • To reheat, simply place the meatballs and sauce in a deep pan and simmer on low, partially covered, until the meatballs are heated through.
Serving dish with turkey meatballs in it.

Have You Made This Recipe?

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More Ground Turkey Recipes to Try

Easy Ground Turkey Meatballs With Sauce

These ground turkey meatballs with sauce are super tender and packed with flavor. They're easy to make and can be made ahead of time and frozen!
5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chill: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 12 meatballs

Ingredients

TURKEY MEATBALLS

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated to a paste
  • 1 TBSP worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly chopped thyme If you don't have fresh thyme, you can use dried thyme or dry Italian herbs

MARINARA SAUCE

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes (jar, carton, or canned) Use puréed if you want a smoother sauce
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 TBSP freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped oregano You can use dry, but if using dry herbs, only use 1 tsp
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste

TO SERVE

  • Freshly chopped basil
  • Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set it aside.
  • Put all of the meatball ingredients into one large mixing bowl. With your bare hands, blend until everything is well distributed.
  • Using a spoon, scoop up about two tablespoons worth of the meat mixture and roll it into a ball. Place the meatball onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat this until the entire mixture has been used up.
  • Transfer the tray into the fridge; chill for 30 minutes. (This will let the meatballs set so that they don't fall apart.) Now, get your sauce started.
  • Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium-low. Add the onions and the garlic, and sauté until they're softened and fragrant—about 3-5 minutes. Next, stir in the tomatoes, salt, oregano, and bay leaf. (If using a Parmesan rind, add that now as well.)
  • Let the sauce come to a simmer and then simmer on low for about 20-30 minutes, partially covered. If you want a smoother sauce, run an immersion blender through it until you get the texture you desire. (I partially blend mine so it's smoother but still has some chunky tomatoes present.) After 20-30 minutes is up, stir in the grated parmesan cheese.
  • When the meatballs are ready to come out of the fridge, carefully transfer them to the simmering sauce one by one. Spoon a bit of sauce over them and partially cover the pan again, letting the meatballs simmer on low until cooked through with an internal temperature of 160-165º F.

Notes

Be sure to scroll up to the post for recipe tips, storage suggestions, and helpful photos.