Healthier Turkey Meatballs

December 1, 2011

First off, WOW! I’m trilled that so many of you entered the giveaway. Reading what everyone was thankful for was amazing and really pushed me to think more about what I’m thankful for. The winner of the giveaway is Star Van Gelder. Star, please e-mail me ( and I’ll work out the details to get you your knife!

One of Joey’s all-time favorite meals is spaghetti and meatballs. And although I don’t have even an ounce of Italian in me, I do think I make a pretty mean version. Growing up, my favorite meal was when my mom would make what we called porcupine meatballs. They were large meatballs filled with rice and baked in the oven. We actually ate our meatballs with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies instead of atop pasta and it was amazingly delicious.

For the past couple years I’ve been making meatballs simmered in marinara sauce for optimal flavor and to maintain moisture, which is especially important when you are cooking with something leaner such as ground turkey.

Healthier Turkey Meatballs
*2 slices whole wheat bread
*1/3 cup skim or low-fat milk
*1 large egg, lightly beaten
*1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
*1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 lb. ground turkey
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 (28-ounce) jar tomato-basil marinara sauce or other preferred marinara sauce
*4 to 6 servings whole wheat angel hair pasta, prepared according to package instructions (optional)

*In a large bowl, soak the whole wheat bread in the milk. Crumble up the bread with your fingers into small pieces. Add in the egg, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add in the turkey and work mixture together with your hands until evenly combined.
*Form turkey mixture into meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Set aside.
*In a very large skillet (that has a lid) heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs to the oil in the pan. Cook about 3 or 4 minutes, flip, and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes on the second side. Meatballs should have a crisp golden crust on both sides. Add the marinara sauce to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through and no pink remains.
*Serve atop the whole wheat angel hair pasta. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Happy Cooking!



  • Reply Blog is the New Black December 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I only make meatballs with turkey now! My fiance certainly doesn’t notice and I love it!

  • Reply Lauren at Keep It Sweet December 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I’ve only made meatballs once but my husband also loves them. Great looking recipe!

  • Reply Gr8lksken December 3, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    My wife is going to try these for us this week minus the the whole wheat bread. I have a whole bag of sourdough bread crumbs that I use in all my Polish cooking. I will let you know how they turn out. Speaking of Porcupine Meatballs, my mom would always shred fresh cabbage over them with a bit of green pepper as well if she had it on hand before simmering. Still make them that way myself. Might even make them this week since you brought them up and put them on my blog, Ken

  • Reply beckiswholelife December 3, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I remember porcupine meatballs – comfort food at it’s best! This sounds like a great version of spaghetti and meatballs. I like that you healthied it up – you can have them more often with this version – love it!

  • Reply natalie (thesweetslife) December 6, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I made veggie balls (you would prob love them actually!) a few months ago but i’ve been meaning to make actual meatballs…these sound amazing!

    ps. guess where I’m headed this weekend–Bethel! My first trip–watching the bro play bball!

  • Reply Sara @my less serious life January 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    i made these this past weekend. it was my first time making meatballs ever. they were so super simple and they turned out great!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry January 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      Sara, that makes me so happy to hear! 🙂

  • Reply Anonymous February 25, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Do you have your mom's recipe to share? It sounds interesting and I'd love to try it. Thanks.

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