Q&A: Turkey Meatballs 3 Ways

SimplySmartDinnerPlans subscriber, Kirsten, asks:

Chef Perry,

Help! I subscribe to your free SimplySmartDinnerPlans meal plans, and I love them, but I was just gifted a giant bag of frozen turkey meatballs. I love ground turkey (I’m kind of a health nut) so I’m looking for really good, easy recipes, and I knew you’d have some great new options!



Kirsten, first of all, thank you for the nice words, I’ll try to live up to your expectations, lol!

I love ground turkey too, healthy, affordable, and versatile, but before I suggest some of my favorite recipes, I’d like to challenge you to try making and freezing your own turkey meatballs.

It’s easy to do, much cheaper that the pre-made stuff, and most importantly…you know what’s going into your meatballs!

Here’s how I make them:

Simple Baked Turkey Meatballs
Yield: 4 servings
Active Time: 15 min.
Total Time: 35 min.

Ground Turkey Meatballs1 lb Butterball ground turkey
1 egg
½ cup finely grated sweet potato
2 Tbs oatmeal
2 Tbs Italian or flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp each sea salt & black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Heat oven to 350F and lightly spray a large baking tray with oil, and combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Ground Turkey MeatballsDivide the meat mixture into 20 portions, rolling lightly between your hands and placing onto the tray.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until firm and lightly brown.

Allow to cool completely, then place the tray in the freezer overnight. In the morning, place the frozen meatballs, a half-dozen per, in a vacuum bag and seal.

Label, date, and return to freezer. Use within 4 months.

Curry Turkey MeatballsCurry Meatballs & Broccoli
Yield: 2 servings
Active Time: 10 min.
Total Time: 30 min.

1/2 lb. Butterball ground turkey
3 tbsp. Panko breadcrumbs
2 green onions, minced
1 small egg
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp. garam masala spice
15 sprigs fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & black pepper
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine turkey, onions, panko, egg, and garam masala,
plus 3/4 of the cilantro in a large bowl and mix until just combined. Moisten hands,and gently form mixture into 1” meatballs and place on one side of a baking sheet*

In a large bowl, combine the broccoli florets, garlic, olive oil and salt & pepper (to taste). Toss the broccoli to coat evenly. Place the seasoned broccoli on the other side of the baking sheet.

Bake in the oven until the meatballs are no longer pink and are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the remaining cilantro, the lemon juice and yogurt, and season with salt, as desired. Serve  with the yogurt sauce.

*Meatballs can be made through this step up to 24 hours ahead and stored covered in the refrigerator; let them come to room temperature 10 minutes before baking.

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Italian turkey meatballsPolpette Di Carne (Italian Meatballs)
2 servings
Active Time: 45 min
Total Time: 45 min

1 clove garlic, diced olive oil
¾ lb Butterball ground turkey
a little milk
1 slice white bread, cubed (1 cup )
1 large egg
¼ cup grated Parm-Reggiano
Salt & pepper
1 tsp finely chopped fresh herbs*
½ cup of pasta sauce

Cook the garlic in a little olive oil over medium-low heat until it’s translucent but not colored. Using the back of a fork, reduce the meat to a rough paste, and place it in a large bowl.

Soften the bread in a little milk for a few minutes, then squeeze out most of the liquid and add the bread to the meat, along with the garlic, cheese, parsley, other herbs, eggs, and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Form the seasoned meat into four polpettes (meatballs).

Brown polpettes in oil over medium heat, turning, until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add the pasta sauce, and simmer to lightly reduce the liquid, turning the polpette again. Add salt and pepper to taste, plate, and spoon a little sauce over each.

Notes: *Herbs – When you need a small amount of several herbs, check the produce section for small packets of premixed fresh herbs. For this recipe, you’ll want an Italian Blend.

And finally, my favorite, absolute numero-uno ground turkey meal (which is also great with ground pork…)

Ground Turkey Larb

…and yes, I know that this isn’t technically a “meatball” recipe, but if you’re making your own, you make this just as easily…

Thai Turkey Larb
1-2 Servings
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes

5 sprigs sliced cilantro
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 sliced green onion
1/4 Tbs ground dried chili pepper
1/2 lbs ground pork
1-2 limes
1/4 thinly sliced shallots
3 sprigs spearmint
1 tablespoon toasted rice

2 Tbs. toasted peanuts

Fresh cilantro chopped

Toast the rice in a dry pan until just starting to brown, set aside. In the same pan add coarsely chopped peanuts and toast. Set these aside as well.

Juice the lime, and combine 1/2 of the juice with the ground turkey. Mix well and let sit at least 5 minutes, until ready to cook.

Heat a large pan on high (you want it hot!) Add a couple of tablespoons of water, coconut oil, and immediately add the ground turkey and stir. The meat will stick at first, but will loosen from the bottom when cooked. Keep stirring until the turkey is well done.

Add the cooked meat to a large mixing bowl with fish sauce, onion, shallot, cilantro, remaining lime juice, ground chili pepper and most of the toasted rice (save a little toasted rice for garnish). Mix well and taste, adding chili pepper, lime juice, and/or fish sauce to taste.

Add all to a large serving bowl, and top with spearmint and the rest of the toasted rice and peanuts.

Serve with butter lettuce “cups” and Thai basil, cilantro, and cold mung bean sprouts.

Some warm fish sauce or garlic chili sauce makes an nice accompaniment.

Do you have a favorite ground turkey recipe? Please share it in the comments section, below!


Chef Perry

PS – I happened to luck out and score some Butterball Turkey coupons at last month’s International Food Blogger’s Conference, which I haven’t used yet, but  I’m thinking there’s a big plate of Thai Turkey Larb in my near future!

CookbookAppHere are some online coupons that might come in handy for you, as well.

Also, if you’re a smartphone/tablet junkie (like me) check out Butterball’s “cookbook plus” app, here!