These tender and flavorful turkey meatballs are an easy and versatile meal. You can cook the turkey meatballs in the oven or Instant Pot. I like to pack leftover turkey meatballs in my kids' lunchbox.
So simple and so flavorful, these protein-packed turkey meatballs can be the star of any meal that you're craving. Toss turkey meatballs into a bowl of pasta and red sauce, or serve them with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, or add them to a grain bowl with kale and sweet potatoes.
You might even consider eating them cold, directly out of a Tupperware container while standing in your kitchen two minutes before you race out the door to pick up your kids from school. Forget about all those sweetened date/almond butter/coconut/chia protein-energy ball type things! What a hungry parent really needs to get them through the late afternoon slump is a few meatballs.
It's true that meatballs often seem like too much work. Murphy's Law guarantees that the moment your hands are covered in raw meat, one of your children will start crying or yelling or calling you for help in the bathroom. Which is why I almost never made meatballs until this past year, when my youngest turned five.
Even now, without a toddler hanging on my leg while I make dinner, I still only make the very easiest meatball recipes. I cannot abide by meatball recipes with ten ingredients or lots of mincing and chopping. I refuse to saute onions or let the meatball mixture chill for 30 minutes before baking.
No matter what you kids ages, I'm guessing that you need an easy meatball recipes in your life too?
These turkey meatballs, and these pork meatballs that my family also loves, are my go-to meatball recipes. Simple, easy and delicious. Always moist and tender, very versatile, and a good way to fill up hungry kids (and adults).
What is the Secret Ingredient in These Turkey Meatballs?
Just like these pork meatballs, the secret ingredient that keeps these turkey meatballs moist and flavorful is ricotta. You'll see a lot of meatball recipes that add milk or parmesan cheese for this same reason - dairy adds fat and moisture. Personally, I've found that meatballs turn out better when I add ricotta instead of milk.
Many turkey meatball recipes add grated zucchini for moisture instead of dairy products. My favorite of these recipes is Ottolenghi's Turkey and Zucchini Meatballs (or mini burgers) from his Jerusalem cookbook. They're delicious and you should definitely try them too.
Do Meatballs Need Breadcrumbs?
Not necessarily. This turkey meatball recipe turns out just fine without the breadcrumbs/panko, however, I prefer breadcrumbs because they bulk up meatballs so they're rounder and bigger and hold their shape better. I also find that breadcrumbs help keep the texture of meatballs soft and smooth.
Without breadcrumbs, these meatballs will be slightly harder to roll into the balls, and they will shrink slightly in the oven instead of holding their shape. They'll come out slightly flat on the bottom too. That being said, they'll still taste good!
Tip: Meatballs without breadcrumbs tend to hold their shape better in the Instant Pot than they do in the oven.
Gluten-free? Instead of breadcrumbs, use rice crumbs (I've bought rice crumbs at Trader Joe's)
How Do You Know When Turkey Meatballs are Done?
Turkey meatballs should reach 165 F in the middle of the meatball. I always use an instant read thermometer when making meatballs to make sure they're cooked all the way through. I've found that 20 minutes is a reliably good cooking time for turkey meatballs that are about 1 ½-inch.
Can I Cook Turkey Meatballs in an Instant Pot instead of Baking the Meatballs?
Yes! These turkey meatballs taste great cooked in an Instant Pot. However, they won't have a nice browned outside and will look pale in color (but taste delicious!)
To cook turkey meatballs in an Instant Pot, pour ½ cup water into the pot and set a trivet or steamer basket over the water. Place the raw meatballs on the trivet. If the meatballs don't fit in one layer, it's okay to stack them. Press the Manual button then program the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. You can do a quick release a few minutes after the cooking time is done, or just let the pressure release naturally before opening the lid.
Easy Meal Prep
This recipe makes about 20 smallish meatballs. The meatballs will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Doubling this recipe is a great idea, so that you can freeze some meatballs for a meal later in the month. To freeze, simply place cooked, cooled meatballs in a Ziploc freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag. To thaw, put meatballs in the refrigerator overnight.
However, frozen meatballs can be reheated either frozen or thawed. Frozen meatballs will just take a little longer to reheat. To reheat, put the meatballs in the oven at 375 degrees in a covered dish until warmed through (20 minutes or so) or simmer gently in tomato sauce or gravy until warmed through. Frozen meatballs can also go directly in the Instant pot. Cook on a trivet over ½ cup water for 6 to 8 minutes on high pressure.
Recipes for Pasta Lovers
- Shrimp Linguine with Arugula Walnut Pesto
- Pesto Salmon with Gemelli Pasta
- Instant Pot Artichoke Spinach Dip Pasta
- My Favorite Vegetable Lasagna