Baked healthy Turkey Meatballs are a crowd pleasing appetizer and main dish favorite. Swap out fatty ground beef and try this healthy ground turkey recipe made without breadcrumbs.

Other popular ground turkey favorites include turkey meatloaf, healthy turkey burgers and how could I not mention turkey sliders.

healthy ground turkey meatballs for serving with garnish

Equipped with Costco size packs of extra lean ground turkey, I have busted the myth of dry turkey balls. These turkey meatballs are juicy on the inside, golden on the outside and have no breadcrumbs in sight.

The secret to juicy healthy turkey meatballs is adding virtually zero calorie shredded zucchini. I love using this secret ingredient for moisture in many of healthy zucchini recipes!

Instead of browning in oil and creating a mess (as well as adding extra calories), meatballs are then oven baked at the optimal time and temp without losing any moisture.

Need more dinner time inspiration? Browse 65 healthy dinner ideas!

Why Make Ground Turkey Meatballs?

  • Low calorie turkey meatballs: By using lean ground turkey and swapping breadcrumbs for zucchini these bite sized turkey balls are only 26 calories a piece!
  • Lower in saturated fat: Great for those following a heart healthy way of eating.
  • High in B vitamins: Important for energy production, as well as turkey is a great source of iron and zinc.
  • Protein powerhouse: Per 3 oz serving ground turkey can range from 21-25 grams of protein, important for those who desire to decrease calories while increasing protein intake.
  • Easy to make: Baked turkey meatballs save you time (and mess) of cooking on the stovetop.
  • Freezer friendly: Perfect for freezing leftovers to use later (and no waste!) or freeze raw turkey balls for meal prep when making meatball soup.

Making the swap from ground beef to ground turkey? You may also love this list of 45 best ground turkey recipes!

baked turkey meatballs on plate for serving with noodles and corn

Ingredients for Healthy Turkey Meatballs

  • Ground turkey: Lean or extra lean ground turkey.

Don’t be alarmed if your ground turkey package says 1 lb. 3 oz. Most are not exactly a 1 lb. weight; your baked turkey meatballs will still turn out perfect.

  • Eggs: Eggs act as a binder for turkey and veggies. Don’t skip!
  • Zucchini: Shredded zucchini adds moisture to otherwise drier ground turkey meat without extra calories. It’s genius!!!
  • Seasonings: Garlic, onion flakes/powder, dried oregano, salt and pepper.
turkey zucchini oregano egg for ground turkey meatballs

Are Turkey Meatballs More Healthy than Beef?

There is a belief that turkey is leaner than beef. It is true if you choose ground turkey made from breast meat only also known as extra lean ground turkey. If you usually cook with 85% fat ground beef, than ground turkey is a healthier choice. Otherwise, if we compare 93% lean ground beef and 93% lean ground turkey, they both have equal amount of fat with turkey winning only in saturated fat department.

We do love the taste of turkey in meatballs! If your family prefers sweet and rich taste of beef, check out this easy meatball recipe.

How to Make Turkey Meatballs

  • Prep: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Or I love using silicone baking mats, no oil necessary.
  • Make meatball mixture: Combine ground turkey, zucchini, eggs, garlic, onion flakes, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands. That is when rings come off. 🙂
  • Form 47 meatballs using a small cookie scoop: Number is approximate. It helps to dip hands while rolling balls into a bowl with cold water occasionally or just use the scoop. Lay meatballs on baking sheets.


It helps to dip hands with cold water occasionally while rolling turkey balls or just use the scoop.

  • Bake for 20 minutes: At about 15 minute mark you will see meatballs surrounded by a bit of liquid coming out from zucchini. Turn and toss meatballs with spatula (mostly to get rid off of that extra water) and bake for 5 more minutes.

How to Freeze and Bake Turkey Meatballs After

Freezing unbaked turkey balls:

  • Freeze: Freeze meatballs individually on a lined baking sheet. Takes about 5 hours or overnight.
  • Store: Pop in a gallon Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Don’t add fresh and unfrozen balls into the bag – they will all clump.
  • Thaw completely and then bake: Here you have to listen to me, thaw first, then bake otherwise your ground turkey balls will be dry.

Don’t bake frozen meatballs – they will be dry. That is just too long of a baking time.

Freeze baked turkey meatballs: Another option is to bake, cool and freeze meatballs. Then thaw completely and follow my reheating advice below.

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

  • Fresh herbs: Parsley is common to use, but feel free to use basil, thyme or rosemary for Italian turkey meatballs or even cilantro for more of Tex Mex vibe.
  • Dried seasonings: In addition or place of try basil or Italian seasoning, taco seasoning or your favorite spice blend.
  • Spicy: For some extra heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or use ground red pepper.
  • Worcestershire: A little sauce mixed in the meatballs, may give it a more ‘beefy’ taste.
  • Fry meatballs: While I opt to always bake this healthy meatballs recipe, you can fry them in a skillet with a little oil. Cook on both sides 5-7 minutes.
  • Out of zucchini? Try it’s cousin yellow summer squash. 🙂 Some readers have even used riced cauliflower.
  • Parmesan: A small amount of fresh grated parmesan mixed in with the turkey ball mixture would be delicious.
  • Breadcrumbs: If you can’t stand the though of making these without breadcrumbs, a small amount (1/3 cup or less) could be added. Although, I would also add a splash of balsamic vinegar or red wine, to add in add some liquid so your baked turkey meatballs turn out just as moist!
  • Egg yolk free: Use 1/4 cup egg whites for 1 egg. I have not tried how to make a flax egg or chia seed egg for egg free, but if you do, let us know in the comments.

Tips for Best Results

  • Only bake until done: To prevent over baking (and dry meatballs!) bake only until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center reads 165 degrees. Your ground turkey meatballs should be white in the center when cut in half. 
  • Cookie scoop: Will really help keep these uniform in size (for even baking!), plus it comes in handy when making healthy cookie recipes. My cookie scoop is about 1.5 inches. 
  • Rimmed baking sheet: Keeps these meatballs from rolling around while baking!
  • Parchment paper or silicone mat: Prevents turkey meatballs from sticking on the pan. Use unless you have a brand new non-stick baking sheet, although I would still use a liner in that case, too! 
  • Oven temps vary: If you find that your turkey balls aren’t browning on the outside, increase temp of oven by 25 degrees.

FAQs

Can you mix ground turkey and ground beef for meatballs?

Yes, you can mix the ground meats and may find that option a good solution if you are not used to eating ground turkey.

How do you keep meatballs from falling apart?

If you follow this recipe as is, your turkey meatballs should not fall apart while baking. If they are ensure you did not add to much zucchini (it needs to be only 1 cup – squeezed after shredding then measured). Did you omit the eggs or add any other moisture adding ingredient? If that is the case, you may need to add another ‘binding’ ingredient such as flour or breadcrumbs.

What ground turkey do I use for this recipe?

I prefer to use extra lean ground turkey as it is leaner and lower in calories. You can use any variety of ground turkey including 93/7, 85/15 or 99% fat free.

Why are my ground turkey meatballs rubbery?

Usually this is the result of the mixture being overworked. Mix gently using your hands.

Why are my healthy meatballs mushy?

Commercially ground turkey has a finer texture than it’s other ground meat counterparts (beef or pork) and just swapping ground turkey for beef in a recipe can often lead to disappointing mushy results. Use a recipe (such as this) that has been created specifically for ground turkey and you will have the best turkey meatballs!

Can I use ground chicken for this healthy meatballs recipe?

You could try, but it may end up in dry results. Instead make Instant Pot meatballs with any ground meat. The steam from the pressure cooker will keep them moist.

looking at a plate of baked turkey meatballs recipe with noodles and corn with parsley

How to Serve Healthy Meatballs Recipe?

Turkey meatballs are extremely versatile as they can be dinner or an appetizer.

How to Store Turkey Balls?

Storing: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Warm up in a microwave or steam in a covered pan with a splash of water. I would not bake them in the oven to avoid drying out.

Reheating: Warm up in a microwave or steam in a covered pan with a splash of water. I would not bake them in the oven to avoid drying out.

Freeze cooked meatballs: Bake, cool and freeze meatballs. Then thaw completely and follow my reheating advice.

Freeze raw meatballs: Freeze on baking sheet until frozen, transfer to freezer safe storage bag up to 3 months. Thaw first, then bake as directed. Don’t bake frozen meatballs – they will be dry. That is just too long of a baking time.

I hope you enjoy this turkey meatball recipe as much as other readers do!

More Healthy Meatballs Recipes

turkey balls with spaghetti noodles and corn on a plate for serving healthy dinner
ground turkey meatballs

Turkey Meatballs

Baked healthy Turkey Meatballs are a crowd pleasing appetizer and main dish favorite. Swap out fatty ground beef and try this healthy ground turkey recipe made without breadcrumbs.
4.95 from 36 votes
Servings 47 meatballs
Calories 26
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini liquid squeezed out (measured before squeezing)
  • 2 eggs large
  • 4 large garlic cloves grated
  • 2 tbsp onion flakes or powder
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Or I love using silicone baking mats, no oil necessary. In a large bowl, add ground turkey, zucchini, eggs, garlic, onion flakes, oregano, salt and pepper; mix well with your hands.
  • Using small cookie scoop form 47 meatballs (it helps to dip hands in a bowl with cold water occasionally) and lay on baking sheets.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, turn and toss with spatula (mostly to get rid off of that ground turkey residue) and bake for 5 more minutes. Serve hot.
  • Serve hot as an appetizer or main dish.

Video

Notes

  • Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Warm up in a microwave or steam in a covered pan with a splash of water. I would not bake them in the oven to avoid drying out.
  • Freeze cooked meatballs: Bake, cool and freeze meatballs. Then thaw completely and follow my reheating advice.
  • Freeze raw meatballs: Freeze on baking sheet until frozen, transfer to freezer safe storage bag up to 3 months. Thaw first, then bake as directed.
  • Only bake until done: To prevent over baking (and dry meatballs!) bake only until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center reads 165 degrees. Your ground turkey meatballs should be white in the center when cut in half. 
  • Rimmed baking sheet: Keeps these meatballs from rolling around while baking!
  • Parchment paper or silicone mat: Prevents turkey meatballs from sticking on the pan. 
  • Oven temps vary: If you find that turkey balls aren’t browning on the outside, increase temp of oven by 25 degrees.
  • Out of zucchini? Try yellow summer squash, some readers have even used riced cauliflower.
  • Egg yolk free: Use 1/4 cup egg whites for 1 egg. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 26kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 62mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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Comments

    1. I have not but you could try 400 degrees for 4-5 minutes flip and do another 4-5 minutes. You will want to be sure they are in single layer.

  1. 5 stars
    Made these for supper tonight. Only had 1 lb ground chicken and one lb meatloaf mix (beef, veal, pork) so it wasn’t a true-to-the-recipe recipe, but everything else was as it should be and they were delicious! I added sauce, shredded mozzarella, into buns and under the broiler they went. Everyone loved them! Next time I’ll make sure I have the ground turkey needed.

  2. Has anyone made these and used them in the “grape jelly/Heinz chili sauce” slow cooker recipe? I am wondering how they would hold up, stay together and taste? Would love any feedback as I was considering trying this for the game this weekend!

  3. 5 stars
    I am going to make these meatballs for our Christmas eve celebration and serve with different dipping sauces. Years ago, I made meatloaf and meatballs often. To prevent the meatloaf and meatballs from falling apart after cooking: mix all ingredients, form meat into a large ball, pick up and throw into the bowl; repeat two more times. This method eliminates the air from the meat and keeps the finished meat from crumbling.

  4. 5 stars
    These are delicious- the recipe is easy to follow and modify, if needed. I had an apple on hand and used that instead of zucchini. Also, I don’t eat garlic or onions so I used cinnamon and cranberries with sage, thyme, and rosemary. it tastes like a whole Thanksgiving dinner- except for the pumpkin pie!
    I make these often and love them every time.
    Thank you for sharing!

  5. Did these take way longer to cook than in the recipe for anyone else or just me? I wasn’t sure how to tell of they were done so I checked the temp and it took them twice almost 3 times as long to cook to temp? Did I mess up?

    1. What size were the meatballs? We use a small cookie scoop – just a tad larger than a tablespoon.

  6. 5 stars
    I made these before, & they came out, Awesome, & Looked Wonderful, & Tasted Grrreat, when I let them cool after coming out of the over, I’m going to make them again today, make the 🌽 salad to. I want to say thank you too whomever, inspired you to give your recipes, too all of us, that need too eat better for whatever reason.

    1. Awe, you are so welcome! We all need to eat better haha. So happy to hear you are enjoying my recipes! Please don’t be shy to leave me a comment with a star review once you make any recipe. Have a great week!

  7. 5 stars
    I don’t review recipes. Ever. But I just had to on this one because I was totally surprised by how great it is! In general: ground turkey- meh, zucchini- meh, lol, but this combo was totally awesome and I’ve shared it with a few friends already bc I have not had much luck in the past with ground turkey making me want to come back for seconds! Success!! Well done 🙂

    bonus – 1 g carbs! Wow…

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