Let's get back to the classics with this Italian baked turkey meatball recipe. These meatballs are juicy, flavorful, and perfect for meal prep. You won't even need sauce with this recipe, trust me, these meatballs are that good.
Meatballs are typically made in colder months when the oven is bearable, but I like making them as a meal prep all year round for dinner, lunch, and yield incredibly leftovers.
I've made a few of them myself, such as my chicken meatballs and french onion version, but there's just something about a classic Italian meatball that brings me home, especially when they're baked. This version of Italian baked meatballs is actually made with turkey, and you'll never know it's not beef!
What are the ingredients for these meatballs?
This recipe calls for pretty standard meatballs (or even meatloaf) ingredients that you likely have already sitting in your kitchen!
- Ground Turkey: If you can get combination turkey meat, that's great! If not, no worries, choose the ground turkey you can find, but remember to season, season, season!
- Breadcrumbs: This will help bind the meat together. If you want to make this gluten free, swap with GF breadcrumbs!
- Parmesan Cheese: Gives a little bit more moisture and flavor
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Salt: You can find this amazing allium seasoning at Trader Joe's!
- Dried Oregano
- Dried Basil
See the recipe card below for specific information about quantities.
How do I make these meatballs?
There are two different ways you can make them: you can bake them (like I did) or you can pan fry. Read on to find out the differences:
- Baked: Meatballs when baked tend to have a juicier interior, in my opinion. It also alleviates any splattering of oil on the stove and in the kitchen and to be honest I hate cleaning my stove so if I can avoid this, I will at all costs.
- Pan-fry: Pan-frying meatballs gives them a crusty, crisp exterior and also a very tasty interior. You can quickly pan-fry meatballs and throw them in a pot of sauce to finish cooking, which is what I typically do. Also, pan-frying meatballs will not take as much time as baking.
It really comes down to your preference, your time, and what your looking for in terms of sauce versus no sauce, etc. No matter what, meatballs are amazing any which way! Here's how we make this recipe with baked meatballs:
Preheat the oven to 375º and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.In a large mixing bowl, add in the ground turkey meat, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and seasonings. Using your fingers, rake the ingredients together until the egg and seasonings are full incorporated. Let the meat mixture sit for 5 minutes to rest.
Form the meatballs by scooping 2-3 tablespoon of the meat mixture and rolling into a ball with your hands. Place on the baking sheet and repeat until all the meat has been used.Place the meatballs in the oven and bake for 28 minutes. Serve with rice, orzo, potatoes, or simple roasted vegetables.
Hint: Season the meat mixture a little more than you normally would. I found this to be the trick between having juicy and tender meatballs versus dry and chewy.
Recipe Swaps and Substitutions
If you know how to make the recipe fit a certain diet, let the reader know here. Don't fake it - only provide guidance on topics you have actual experience with.
- Parmesan Cheese - It's not mandatory to use parmesan cheese, you can just use breadcrumbs, so if you're dairy free or if you don't like having parmesan in the meatballs, leave it out!
- Breadcrumbs - use gluten free crumbs instead to make this gluten free
I LOVE meal prep friendly recipes, so here's some ways you can make this recipe accessible to planning meals ahead of time:
- Meatballs and pasta or rice - make the meatballs and pasta (or rice) ahead of time, divvy among a few containers and store in the fridge.
- Meatballs and roasted veggies - make all of the ingredients then place in tupperware, then when you are ready, add to individual containers for lunches or use as a buffet for dinner.
- Meatballs and sweet potatoes - we LOVE adding meatballs to roasted sweet potatoes. Dice two large sweet potatoes and season with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 375º for 20 minutes. Add both the meatballs and the sweet potatoes to individual tupperware for grab and go meals.
This recipe does not require the use of a sauce for the meatballs, but here are some variations you can use when serving this dish:
- Sauce - I would suggest using a crushed tomato sauce with basil, or a simple can of tomato puree with salt, pepper, garlic powder. Let it simmer on low for at least an hour or two to marry the ingredients and the seasoning of the meatballs.
- Spicy - add red pepper flakes to the mixture to give the meat a little kick.
- Meatloaf - form the meat mixture into a loaf on a baking sheet lined with aluminum then bake for 40-45 minutes.
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
Making meatballs does not require a bunch of different pieces of kitchen equipment. All you really need is:
- One large mixing bowl
- Measuring spoons - if you don't trust yourself when eyeballing seasonings when you add to a recipe.
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
How do I store this recipe? Can I freeze it?
These meatballs will do really well in the freezer for up to two months in a air-tight, ziptop plastic bag. Otherwise, place the leftover meatballs in a tightly sealed container for up to a week (6-7 days).
Be sure not to overmix the meat mixture as it will become incredibly chewy and tasteless.
Hungry for more?
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Italian Baked Turkey Meatball Recipe
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 1 baking sheet
- parchment paper
- 1.25 lb ground turkey combination turkey (dark and light meat) if possible
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1-2 tablespoon dried basil
- 1-2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1-2 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion salt
- Preheat the oven to 375º and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- In a large mixing bowl, add in the ground turkey meat, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and seasonings.
- Using your fingers, rake the ingredients together until the egg and seasonings are full incorporated. Let the meat mixture sit for 5 minutes to rest.
- Form the meatballs by scooping 2-3 tablespoon of the meat mixture and rolling into a ball with your hands.
- Place on the baking sheet and repeat until all the meat has been used.
- Place the meatballs in the oven and bake for 28 minutes. Serve with rice, orzo, potatoes, or simple roasted vegetables.