Turkey Meatballs Recipe with Tomato Sauce

These tender, moist turkey meatballs do not last long in our kitchen. The moment one of us turns away the other quickly sneaks a meatball and before we know it, all that’s left is an empty pan.

Turkey Meatballs with Light Tomato Sauce

The sauce is very simple with crushed canned tomatoes, a little tomato paste and fresh basil. The meatballs are filled with parmesan cheese, parsley and a little oregano. We love these served alone with a dollop of ricotta cheese, over spaghetti or with rustic bread.

Slow Cooker Chicken MeatballsYou Will Also Enjoy these Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Meatballs with lean ground chicken, parmesan cheese, and a simple garlic and basil tomato sauce. Perfect for making in advance!

Make This Tonight – Tasty Turkey Meatballs Recipe

No lengthy cooking times, no baking and no searing the meatballs. Instead, we start a very simple sauce, bring it to a simmer then focus on forming our meatballs. The moment they’re formed into balls, we drop them into the simmering sauce. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. That’s it.

It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s absolutely delicious.

Tricks to the Best Meatballs – Don’t Over Mix

We’re serious on this one. For the most tender and light meatballs (turkey or beef) you need to have a light touch when mixing and forming. To help with this, we have a couple tricks:

First, combine all the mix-ins first. You’ll see that in our recipe we mix breadcrumbs, milk, an egg and herbs together first. That way, when we add the turkey meat, all we need to do is lightly mix.

Second, these meatballs are pretty wet, so they easily stick together when forming. All you need to do is gently form into a ball. From there, just be careful when working with them. For the first 10 minutes of cooking, don’t stir the sauce and let the meatballs be. Once they’ve cooked and firmed up a bit, you can stir normally.

Turkey Meatballs with Light Tomato SauceDid you like our Turkey Meatballs with Light Tomato Sauce? If so, we bet you’ll love these:

4.7 from 12 reviews
Turkey Meatballs Recipe with Light Tomato Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
We love these meatballs. There’s no lengthy cooking times, no baking and no searing the meatballs. The sauce is very simple with crushed canned tomatoes, a little tomato paste and fresh basil. The meatballs are filled with parmesan cheese, parsley and a little oregano. We love these served alone with a dollop of ricotta cheese, over spaghetti or with rustic bread.

Make and enjoy the same day or cool to room temperature cover then keep up to 2 days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze up to 1 month.
Created By:
Yield: 4
You Will Need
FOR Tomato Basil Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 large basil sprig plus 2 tablespoons torn basil leaves
FOR Turkey Meatballs
  • 1/2 cup (30 grams) panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
  • 1 egg
1/2 cup (28 grams) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound (453 grams) ground turkey (93% lean)
  1. In a large skillet with sides, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes then cook 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste then bring to a simmer. Season with salt (we used about 1/2 teaspoon), and then add basil spring. Allow sauce to simmer gently while preparing meatballs.Turkey Meatball Recipe Step 1
  3. To make meatballs, combine panko breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl, and then let sit 5 minutes.
  4. Add egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, parsley, oregano and salt to bowl. Stir until combined.
  5. Next, add turkey then use a fork or fingers to mix everything together until barely combined. For tender meatballs, try not to over mix.
  6. Wet your hands and form mixture into 1-inch meatballs. This should make about 24 meatballs.Turkey Meatball Recipe Step 2
  7. Gently drop meatballs into tomato sauce. (It’s okay if some are not completely covered by the sauce). Cover skillet with a lid and cook 20 minutes then gently shimmy or shake the skillet to move the meatballs around a little. Cook another 5 to 10 minutes or until turkey is cooked through.
  8. Before serving, scatter about 2 tablespoons of torn basil leaves over meatballs and sauce.Turkey Meatball Recipe Step 3
  9. Serve alone, over spaghetti or with rustic bread.

Get Free Recipes by Email

Get insanely delicious FREE recipes and cooking videos in your inbox. Enter your email address below:

42 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Shanelle August 17, 2016, 7:21 pm

    I’d really like to make these but I can’t eat cheese. Any suggestions on what I could do instead or if I can just leave the cheese out?

    • Joanne August 18, 2016, 2:05 pm

      Hi Shanelle, You can leave the cheese out. Happy cooking!

  • June February 7, 2016, 10:23 pm

    I already have a go-to turkey meatballs and spaghetti recipe but I was looking for something that cut out the searing step. I was excited to try this out tonight, and I loved it! My husband and toddler also gobbled this up. Definitely easy and will be in the dinner rotation from now on. I’ve really loved every recipe I’ve tried on this website!

  • Alexandra December 21, 2015, 7:12 pm

    Does it matter if you use water instead of milk? If you have 1 1/2lbs of meat, should I add more liquid or an extra egg or leave the ingredients as is?

    • Joanne December 22, 2015, 12:43 pm

      Make the recipe as-is. The extra 1/4-pound won’t make too much of a difference.The milk helps tenderize the meat. Water (or stock) can be used in a pinch, but if you have milk, I’d go with that.

  • Kristal November 8, 2015, 8:10 pm

    These were amazing! Simple, delist, and they turned out perfect- which is saying something coming from me because I’m not a great cook, baking is more my speed.
    A couple of quick questions.
    Can I make these in a crockpot? If yes, how?
    I thought to make the sauce then put it in a preheated crockpot (you know, heat it up with water in it then dump the water out and add your food). I’m helping friends move and it seemed most practical to make and bring something than to order stuff or try and make it in the middle of unpacking.
    Thanks for this recipe!

    • Joanne December 22, 2015, 1:25 pm

      These should work really well in a crockpot. Just add everything to the slow cooker and turn on until the meatballs are cooked through.


Leave a Comment or Review

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you so much for waiting. First time commenting? Please review our Comment Policy.

If you are visiting from a mobile or tablet device, our star review system can be tricky for some devices. If you plan to leave a star review, please write the number of stars (1 to 5) in your comment and either Adam or Joanne will amend your comment with your star review. Thanks!

Did you make it? How was it?:  

Previous Post: Next Post: