Moist flavor-packed baked turkey meatballs are quick and easy to make at home and ready in about 30 minutes. Serve them as appetizers, snacks, or the main dish! Perfect for quick weeknight dinners.
I love this recipe because it is so quick to make and gives us a break from all the beef we eat.
I use the ground turkey that has both white and dark meat because it has a higher fat content 85/15. Fat adds flavor to meatballs. The dark meat will lend a bit of extra moisture to the meatballs.
Ground turkey breast with a 97/3 or 99/1 fat content can be used in a pinch, but the meatballs will be drier. Think about an overcooked whole turkey. I know everyone has encountered at least one of those in their lives.
Ground turkey comes packaged in 1 pound to 1 1/4 pound packages. I prefer the brand that comes in 1 1/4 pound packages in my area. Either option will work and the extra 1/4 has not made a huge difference for me. I might get an extra 6 or so meatballs.
Ground turkey can be kind of bland when used in meatballs, burgers, and meatloaves. Buttermilk will not only add moisture it will add an extra layer of flavor and saltiness.
Regular milk can be used but I would bump up the salt just a tad.
Ground turkey needs plenty of seasoning, but you have to be careful not to overpower the turkey either.
Minced onion and garlic can be used as a substitute. I like more consistency in flavoring so I stick to the powdered versions.
Sometimes onions and garlic can be pretty powerful. Before baking the whole batch make sure you test fry a bit of the mixture first.
NEVER taste raw turkey!
It’s easy to test fry. Spray a small skillet with cooking spray or add a teaspoon of oil.
Heat the skillet over medium-high heat, take about a teaspoon of meat mixture and flatten it into a tiny patty and give it a quick fry on both sides.
Now you can taste your meatballs.
I use Italian-style breadcrumbs because it seems to have the best texture after they have cooked.
Italian breadcrumbs have a few added ingredients but overall won’t affect the flavor of turkey meatballs.
If all you have is on hand is plain breadcrumbs. I usually have both on hand but sometimes find myself without Italian and have used plain more than once with my turkey meatballs.
Making your own breadcrumbs is another option.
Panko breadcrumbs are a bit crunchier than regular and Italian breadcrumbs.
When using panko breadcrumbs, soak the breadcrumbs in the buttermilk for a few minutes before adding them to the meat mixture. This will ensure that there are no crispy bits left in the cooked meatballs.
Whenever I need to make any type of gluten-free meatballs I substitute ground Rice Chex for the same amount of breadcrumbs called for in a recipe. I soak the Rice Chex pieces in buttermilk for a few minutes before adding to the meat.
Gluten-free bread can be dried out in the oven and ground up fine, but I find that Rice Chex is a cheaper alternative. Have you priced out gluten-free bread in a store lately?
Forming the Meatballs
I use my cookie scoop to keep them uniform in size. I use my #60 scoop for small meatballs. It holds a tad bit more than 1 tablespoon.
This is the size used for the photos and recipe testing. A #60 will make about 48 meatballs. These will be about 1-inch.
I use a #40 scoop for larger meatballs. This one holds about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Using the larger scoop gives me about 28 to 30 meatballs.
Stepping up to a #20 will make somewhere around 16 meatballs. This one holds 3 tablespoons.
These big boys are going to need quite a bit more baking to make sure they are completely cooked in the middle.
I only make them this large when I am being lazy and plan to finish them off in a pot of spaghetti sauce.
Ground turkey needs to be cooked to 165⁰F before it is safe to eat.
I like to scoop all of my meatballs onto a prepared baking sheet all at once. Then I come back behind and roll the mixture into balls, spacing them out as evenly as possible once the meatballs are formed.
Alternatively, you can use your hands and make the balls as close to the same size as possible.
Working with raw ground turkey requires avoiding cross-contamination.
After working with raw ground turkey, thoroughly wash your hands, and make sure to get up under the fingernails.
Raw poultry has a higher risk of salmonella than other raw meats.
Cooked turkey meatballs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Raw turkey meatballs should not be stored longer than 48 hours in the refrigerator. If you are not going to bake them in that amount of time stick them in the freezer. These will be safe in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Turkey always needs to be reheated to 165⁰F. If the meatballs were cooled quick enough after baking they can be eaten cold. I don’t recommend eating them cold though, they just don’t taste the same.
Reheat the meatballs by placing them into a preheated 350⁰F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the center of a meatball tests 165⁰F.
To microwave leftover turkey meatballs, place up to 4 them a plate in a single layer and reheat for 30 to 60 seconds or until they have reached a safe temperature.
Leftover meatballs can also be simmering in a sauce until the reach 165⁰F.
See a pattern here? Whatever method you choose for reheating leftover turkey it always needs to reach a safe temperature.
- Skewered with toothpicks as an appetizer
- Simmered in red sauce topped on spaghetti
- As a meatball sub
- On top of rice or noodles with gravy
- As the main dish with mashed potatoes and green beans
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Baked Turkey Meatballs
- Cookie Scoop
- Preheat an oven to 375 Degrees F.
- In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
- Set mixture aside for 5 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to absorb some moisture.
- Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with baking spray or covered with a non-tick foil.
- Form meatball mixture into 1 inch balls.
- Place meatballs onto baking sheet.
- Place into preheated 375 Degree F oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked competely through with no pink.
- Serve as desired.