Baked Turkey Meatball Recipe

Meatballs are a classic and super comforting dinner option: Deliciously seasoned beef is rolled into balls before being cooked and then traditionally served in a tomato sauce. But for those who prefer to reduce their red meat consumption, or who are looking for a healthier alternative to this great dish, why not try this baked turkey meatball recipe instead? Packed full of flavor and baked instead of fried, this turkey meatball recipe is a great alternative option, and once you try it you won't look back.

White meat is known for its potential to be quite dry when cooked, and turkey meat has a bad reputation for being less flavorful than other meats. It's all about the preparation and seasoning though; turkey just needs a little extra helping hand. To give these turkey meatballs the wow factor, recipe developer Jennine Rye uses a panade — a mixture of seasoned bread, milk, and mayonnaise — to inject both flavor and moisture, making them deliciously juicy and moreish. The meatballs are then finished off in a rich tomato sauce with melted mozzarella. This is a family-friendly recipe you'll come back to time and time again.

Gather the ingredients for baked turkey meatballs

To make this baked turkey meatball recipe, first you will need to gather the ingredients. For the meatballs, you will require white bread, milk, mayonnaise, onion powder, garlic powder, Dijon mustard, oregano, basil, and, of course, turkey mince or ground turkey. For the tomato sauce you will also want olive oil, an onion, garlic, chili flakes, a can of tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper, mozzarella, and fresh basil.

Turkey mince is a simple swap to make for a different, and healthier, meal option. Turkey meat is packed full of protein and lower in saturated fats than other meats, making it a worthwhile substitute to try.

Create the panade

Nobody wants dry, tasteless meatballs. The best way to give the dish a big hit of flavor, as well as make super juicy meatballs, is to use a panade. This also acts as a binding agent to keep the meatballs together when cooked. A panade, which literally means "bread mash," is simply a mixture containing bread that is left to soak in milk before being added to the meat. To create a panade for these meatballs, simply add the bread, milk, mayonnaise, onion powder, garlic powder, Dijon mustard, oregano, and basil to a bowl, mix it all together, and then set it aside for 10 minutes to allow the milk to do all the hard work for you.

Form the meatballs

Once the panade is ready, add this to a large mixing bowl along with the turkey mince. Then, using a large wooden spoon, mix everything together until the panade and the meat are thoroughly combined. Scoop out heaped tablespoons of the turkey mixture and gently roll them between your hands to form meatballs, before placing them on a baking paper lined tray. Once the meatballs are formed, place them into the oven to bake for 20 minutes until they are cooked through and just beginning to color.

Create the sauce

No meatball dish is truly complete without a sauce, and this recipe is no exception. To make the tomato sauce, while the meatballs bake, fry onions in a heavy-bottomed pan for a few minutes, before adding garlic and chili flakes. Then, add a can of chopped tomatoes to the pan, along with sugar, salt, and pepper, and allow everything to stew together for 10 or so minutes until the sauce has thickened. At this point, you can choose to blend the sauce if you prefer a more smooth finish or keep it as it is for a more rustic, chunky sauce.

Then, add the baked meatballs back to the pan and cover them with slices of fresh mozzarella, before returning the pan to the oven for a few minutes. When the mozzarella is melted and turning a light golden color, remove the meatballs from the oven and scatter them with fresh basil before serving. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and should be used within 3 days.

Baked Turkey Meatball Recipe
5 from 21 ratings
Instead of classic beef meatballs, try these ones made out of turkey meat with homemade sauce.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Turkey meatballs on spaghetti
Total time: 55 minutes
  • 1 cup white bread, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 pound minced turkey thigh
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • 1 can (14 ounce) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, to serve
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, torn, to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Make the panade by placing the cubed white bread, milk, mayonnaise, onion powder, garlic powder, Dijon mustard, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper into a small bowl. Mix everything together and then allow the panade to soak for 10 minutes to allow the bread to become fully saturated. It will be ready when it is mushy and paste-like.
  2. Mix the minced turkey into the prepared panade, and then form the mixture into meatballs by scooping out a heaped tablespoon of the mixture and rolling it into a rough ball shape. Place the meatballs onto a baking paper-lined oven tray.
  3. Bake the turkey meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes, until they are cooked through and lightly colored on top.
  4. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Start by heating a large, oven-proof pan to a medium heat. Add the olive oil and the diced onion, and then fry for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and a pinch of garlic flakes, before cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add the can of chopped tomatoes to the pan along with the sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Allow everything to stew for 10 minutes or so until it has thickened.
  6. Add the baked turkey meatballs to the pan with the tomato sauce. Add the torn mozzarella on top of the meatballs and then place the pan into the oven for 5 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted and coloring on top. Remove the pan from the oven and top with the chopped fresh basil. Serve straight away.
Calories per Serving 368
Total Fat 21.0 g
Saturated Fat 7.4 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 104.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 13.5 g
Dietary Fiber 3.1 g
Total Sugars 5.3 g
Sodium 671.5 mg
Protein 31.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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