Hearty Turkey Meatballs

By Sally Cameron on September 24, 2013

Chicken & Turkey, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Pasta, the daniel plan

From A to almost Z (actually Afghanistan to Vietnam), cultures around the world have recipes for meatballs. Meatballs are classic comfort food no matter where you hail from.  Here I offer you my take on turkey meatballs made with herbs, onions and gluten-free breadcrumbs. Meatballs, done healthy, for fall and winter, in your local kitchen. Serve meatballs for dinner or a hearty game-day snack with toothpicks.

Turkey Meatballs | AFoodCentricLife.com

Meatballs: Classic and Economical

I have been making a lot of turkey burgers for lunch lately, so I decided to use some of the extra meat for turkey meatballs. They came out so good, I couldn’t wait to share the recipe Meatballs are a nice dinner going into cooler weather and they are economical too. This recipe uses just one pound of ground turkey and serves 4-5 people. Add onions, garlic, herbs and gluten-free breadcrumbs. You can use regular breadcrumbs if you are not gluten-free.

making meatballs

Tool Tip: The Easy Way to Portion Meatballs

One the my favorite kitchen tools is called a disher.  They look like ice cream scoops with a squeeze handle. I have them in sizes #16, #30,# 40, #60 and #100 to portion everything from muffins to salads and desserts to appetizers.

The perfect size for meatballs is the #40.  You can buy them on Amazon. If you don’t want to use a disher, use a tablespoon for a rounded, approximately 1 1/2″ meatball. Scoop a level portion of turkey mixture with the disher. Plop onto a plastic lined rimmed baking sheet. When you have all of the turkey portioned out, go back and gently roll them into balls with your hands.

To cook, brown the meatballs in a little olive oil, turning them as they cook in a non-stick saute or fry pan. When brown all over, pour the sauce over the top and simmer, covered, until turkey is no longer pink. It will take just a few minutes.


Serving Ideas

To top the meatballs, use your favorite, healthy jarred sauce or make my Roasted Tomato Marinara or 30 Minute Pasta Sauce. The rich flavors and chunky style work great.

For the base, use either a brown rice pasta, soft, creamy polenta or for lower-carb, use zucchini noodles. or baked spaghetti squash  If you are using brown rice pasta, the best brand I have found is Jovial. Try their spaghetti and other shapes as well. No one would ever know it was not regular pasta! The taste and texture are terrific.

Never made polenta? It’s easy, and another good gluten-free option. I use Bob’s Red Mill polenta. They have two types: gluten-free and organic. Both are non-GMO corn, so chose what is best for you. I cook my polenta in chicken broth for a little more flavor than water, and add garlic, onion, Parmesan and chives.

Turkey Meatballs with Polenta

For a grain-free meatballs recipe try these easy grain-free meatballs with your favorite sauce.

Turkey Meatballs in a serving bowl with Parmesan
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Turkey Meatballs

Classic comfort food, all cultures have their take on meatballs. Here is my recipe, made with ground turkey and gluten-free breadcrumbs.  I use roasted tomato marinara for sauce and serve over creamy polenta. You could also use brown rice pasta. Garnish with extra sprinkles of grated Parmesan and fresh chopped herbs if desired.
Servings 4
Calories 286kcal


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 6 tablespoons gluten-free breadcrumbs preferably homemade
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chile pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3 cloves garlic minced fine
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil plus extra for pan
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

To Serve

  • 3-3 1/2 cups roasted tomato marinara pasta sauce or your favorite jar sauce
  • Polenta, pasta, zucchini noodles or baked spaghettit squash


  • In a medium bowl with your hands, mix ground turkey, breadcrumbs, red pepper, herbs, onion, Parmesan, garlic, oil, egg, plus salt and pepper.
  • Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and portion out approximately 26 meatballs. Use a #40 disher or a tablespoon. Gently roll them into round balls. Meatballs should be about 1 1/2″ in diameter.
  • Drizzle a little extra olive oil (about 1-2 teaspoons) into a large non-stick pan. Over medium heat, cook meatballs on all sides until lightly browned, turning as needed. Pour marinara over the top and bring to a strong simmer, until bubbling hot, turn heat down to low, cover and cook until turkey is barely pink when you cut open a meatball, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Serve over polenta or pasta with the sauce and a garnish of grated Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs if desired.


Nutritional values do not include the sauce or type of pasta chosen.


Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 114mg | Sodium: 464mg | Potassium: 421mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 258IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 2mg
  1. Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon - September 25th, 2013

    What a good idea to serve over polenta. Another great dish.

  2. Sarah - September 28th, 2013

    This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it. Thank you!!

  3. Mary@SiftingFocus - September 28th, 2013

    Sally, this is truly one of my most favorite meals – meatballs over polenta. I make meatballs all the time but I am rarely wowed by their flavor. Since I prefer turkey meatballs over beef, I am going to give your recipe a try.

  4. Sally - October 2nd, 2013

    Hi Mary. Know what you mean. Turkey can be bland, so I tried to up the taste with the herbs, aromatics, and a very flavorful sauce, then Parmesan polenta. You probably have your own recipe. I will post mine soon. Easy and tasty whether you eat GF or not. Let me know what you think on the meatballs. Hope you like them.

  5. Tonya Holcomb - November 4th, 2013

    Sally, Would you please e-mail me the Polenta recipe? Since I have some Bob’s Red Mill Polenta, I would like to try this comfort food. I will have to tell my southern family it is grits, since they will not know polenta! 🙂

    all my best, Tonya

  6. Sally - January 1st, 2014

    Be happy to Tonya! You’ve reminded me I did not post it. Got to get that done!

  7. Annie - February 16th, 2014

    Hi –

    Do you have any tips on making these to freeze and use at a later time?

  8. Annie - February 26th, 2014

    Hi! Do you have any tips for making these and freezing for future use?

  9. Sally - February 28th, 2014

    Hi Annie. I do that all of the time. Cook them all of the way, place in a tight container and cover with sauce. Try the new 30 Minute Tomato Sauce I just posted. It’s great wtih the meatballs. Be sure to label and date your container.

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