Turkey Meatballs (Oven Baked or Slow Cooker!)

These Tender Turkey Meatballs are easy to make from scratch and bake in the oven or in the Slow Cooker! Combine them with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese or serve them with brown gravy and mashed potatoes. This recipe makes a perfect freezer food for easy weekday meals!

Turkey meatballs on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Turkey Meatballs

Just when I thought that it couldn’t get any better than my baked meatball recipe (with ground beef/pork and marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese), these Turkey Meatballs walked into my life. 😁

Just like my turkey meatloaf, these meatballs are super tender, juicy, and flavorful. Even my husband said that he prefers these to beef! 😲 (I can’t believe it.)

Let’s get into everything you need to know, from making these ahead of time, what to serve them with, the Crock Pot method, and how to freeze them!

How to Make Them

Soften onions and garlic in a skillet for 5 minutes and let cool.

Add a whisked egg, half and half, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and cooled onions/garlic to a large bowl. Stir to combine.

Sauteed onions in a skillet next to a glass bowl with a panade for making Turkey Meatballs

Add ground turkey and turkey sausage. Gently mixed until just combined, don’t overwork the meat or the meatballs will be tough.

 

Combining a panade and ground turkey and sausage to make meatballs.

Roll into 1.5-inch meatballs. Due to the nature of turkey meat, the mixture may be very sticky. I like to give them a gentle roll and flash freeze them for 3-5 minutes to let them firm up. Then I gently roll again until nice and smooth.

Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 350° for 22 minutes. Remove and increase heat to 450°. Once up to temperature, bake for 5 more minutes. Remove and let them rest for 5 minutes prior to serving.

Serve with marinara sauce or mashed potatoes and gravy.

Turkey Meatballs on a baking sheet before and after baking.

How Do You Keep Turkey Meatballs From Falling Apart

Use the Right Binding Agents:

  • Breadcrumbs and milk are typical binding agents that are added to meat when making meatballs, meatloaf, and salisbury steak. The combination of the starch (breadcrumbs) and the liquid (milk), is called a panade.
  • In this case, we use half and half instead of milk. Turkey is a meat that’s prone to drying out and the additional fat content in the half and half helps keep the meatballs extra juicy.
  • An Egg is also used as a binder in this recipe along with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Roll Once, Flash Freeze, Roll Twice:

  • Turkey meat can be sticky and difficult to roll into firm balls. Give them a gentle roll and flash freeze for 3-5 minutes. They’ll be much easier to roll into smooth meatballs after that. Then bake immediately.
  • BE GENTLE! Don’t roll the meatballs too tightly or the consistency will be rubbery instead of tender.

How Long to Bake Turkey Meatballs at 350

  • 1.5 inch Turkey Meatballs can be baked at 350° for 30 minutes.
  • I prefer to bake them at 350° for 22 minutes and at 450° for the last 5 minutes to create color and texture on the outside. Let them rest for 5 minutes prior to serving.
  • 350° is an ideal baking temperature as exposing them to a higher temperature for the duration of cooking can cause them to dry out.

Crock Pot Method

  • Roll the meatballs and place them in a lightly greased Slow Cooker.
  • Top with 32 oz. of marinara sauce and 2 cups of cheese.
  • Heat on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7.

Make-Ahead Method

  • Roll these meatballs out up to 24 hours ahead of time and store them in an airtight container or on a baking sheet topped with foil. Remove when ready to bake, that’s it!

Baking them with Marinara Sauce

  • Place 32 oz. of marinara sauce in a 9 x 13 baking dish and add the meatballs. Use a spoon to cover the meatballs with sauce and tightly cover with foil.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and top with 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake for 15 more minutes, until cheese is melted.
  • If desired, broil for 1-2 minutes at the end to brown up the top.
  • Use paper towels to dab any grease from the top. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with pasta or with sub rolls.

What to Serve with Turkey Meatballs

A pile of turkey meatballs on a white plate with parsley.

Storage

  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Tips For Freezing

always freeze meatballs to make life easier and I always recommend making a double batch of meatballs if you have freezer storage space for them. Here are some tips:

  • Meatballs can be frozen before or after baking.
  • You can flash freeze them for 1 hour on a baking sheet and transfer them to a Ziploc freezer bag.
  • Let unbaked meatballs thaw in the fridge overnight and proceed with baking as outlined.
  • Frozen baked meatballs can thaw in a saucepan of warm marinara sauce to serve with pasta during a busy week.

Tools For This Recipe

(Amazon affiliate links)- Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.

  • Silicone Baking Mats– These are the ones I use for this recipe
  • Light Baking Sheets – I almost always prefer light baking sheets to dark. Dark baking sheets attract more heat and can cause the bottom of food to burn.
  • Glass Mixing Bowl
  • Silicone Spatulas- I can’t live without these
  • Kitchen Scale- To weigh the meat if needed
  • Meat Thermometer– Turkey meatballs are safe to serve when the internal temperature reaches 165°

 

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Turkey Meatballs on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Turkey Meatballs

5 from 2 votes
These Tender Turkey Meatballs are easy to make from scratch and bake in the oven or in the Slow Cooker! Combine them with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese or serve them with brown gravy and mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated from a block
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 lbs. ground turkey
  • ½ lb. turkey sausage, casings removed. See note 2
  • Fresh Parsley, to garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Set aside and let cool. (This is optional but creates a more subtle flavor and texture.)
  • Crack the egg in a large bowl and whisk. Add 1/3 cup half and half, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp oregano, ¾ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, and ½ tsp red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
  • Add1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, 2 TBS parsley, and cooled onions/garlic. Stir to combine. The consistency will resemble a wet paste, this is called a ‘panade’ and it makes the meatballs flavorful and juicy.
  • Add the meat to the bowl and use a silicone spatula to gently mix until just combined. Don’t overwork the meat or the meatballs will be tough.
  • Roll into 20 (1 ½ inch) meatballs. Due to the nature of turkey meat, the mixture may be very sticky. I like to give them a gentle roll and flash freeze them for 3-5 minutes to let them firm up. Then I gently roll again until nice and smooth.
  • Cover a light 18 x 13 baking sheet with parchment paper or with a silicone baking sheet. If you don’t have either, you can lightly spray it with nonstick spray. Note that dark baking sheets attract more heat which could burn the bottom of the meatballs.
  • Place the meatballs on the baking sheet and bake for 22 minutes.
  • Remove them from the oven and increase heat to 450. Bake for 5 more minutes once the oven is up to temperature. This creates a little bit of color and texture on the outside.
  • Let them rest for 5 minutes prior to serving. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with marinara sauce or with mashed potatoes and my easy brown gravy.

Notes

Note 1: Half and Half is preferable to milk as the additional fat content will keep the meatballs juicy, as turkey is prone to becoming dry. Milk can be used if needed or preferred.
Note 2: If you don’t have turkey sausage, you can use regular ground sausage, ground pork, or use all ground turkey.
Note 3: Freshly grated Asiago, Romano, and Parmesan are all excellent cheese choices, or use a combination of all 3.
Note 4: Turkey Meatballs are safe to serve once the internal temperature reaches 165°.

Crock Pot Method
  • Roll the meatballs and place them in a lightly greased Slow Cooker.
  • Top with 32 oz. of marinara sauce and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
  • Heat on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7.

To Bake in Marinara Sauce
  • Place 32 oz. of marinara sauce in a 9 x 13 baking dish and add the meatballs. Use a spoon to cover the meatballs with sauce and tightly cover with foil.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Remove foil and top with 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15 more minutes, until cheese is melted.
  • If desired, broil for 1-2 minutes at the end to brown up the top. Use paper towels to dab any grease from the top.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with pasta or with sub rolls.

Nutrition

Calories: 72kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 33mg, Sodium: 232mg, Potassium: 126mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 119IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 36mg, Iron: 1mg