My go to version of a tomato/marinara sauce that’ll convince you never to buy store…
Whether you’re just looking for a lean Italian dinner or you just love meatballs, making these is a must. This is my unique, go-to meatball recipe that I always have on hand and never disappoints!
This is a big one, guys (and gals)! The Italian girl finally shares her turkey meatball recipe that absolutely cannot disappoint.
“OMG, that’s not a meatball! That has no beef and pork! She doesn’t know what she’s talking about! I’m not eating that! I don’t even think she knows what she’s doing!” …Wait for it to happen… I’ve heard it for years and I’m still rolling with it.
I already know by posting this recipe I am going to get some slack from my critical Italian friends and family. Let me just say, before the judgment happens, I can also confirm a handful of those critics have tried and approved this unique spin on an Italian classic. Turkey meatballs get such a bad rap. They tend to be dry and flavorless because they lack a strong source of fat. Not only that, turkey meatballs are a dieters food vs. an all Italian staple.
This recipe has been my pride and joy of mastering for almost eight years of my life. I make them at least every six weeks so I always have a fan favorite on hand if some unexpected dinner guests stop by. Paired with my homemade red wine marinara, I have yet to hear someone complain after trying these (and they really shouldn’t because I’m feeding them and most likely I didn’t plan on their arrival.)
Confession time – I never understood the love around a meatball. I don’t care for spaghetti and somehow these balls are always sitting on top of a pile of poorly dressed noodles, so I would pass on them ten times out of ten. I guess I never really had one that wasn’t overly salted and dry on its own. I figured I would like it more if I could remake it with preferred seasoning and lean meat. I know there really isn’t much to hate about it, so I knew I was probably missing out on something special. Plus, they’re versatile and full of protein…I needed to learn to love them.
I wanted to make a meatball that was leaner but juicy and full of authentic Italian flavors. This meant I needed to rethink any bread crumb or milk soaked bread method. One day while making instant oats for breakfast I knew that was the only grain in my pantry and I really wanted to make meatballs for dinner. I recognized, however, that instant oats are made to absorb any liquid and moisture they can during the heating process (obviously!). This was a simple solution, as well as the healthy alternative I was looking for in my meatballs.
Don’t knock the secret ingredient until you’ve learned how perfect it is for these meatballs. First, it absorbs all the juices and fats that turkey meatballs tend to lose during their baking process. It holds in that moisture and flavor so well. Second, oats are flavorless so it gives you more control on how you want your meatballs to taste. Third, oats soften and expand as they heat and absorb liquid, meaning, you’re not at risk for a mealy meatball! Last but definitely not least, oats offer an array of health benefits as well as fiber to make you feel great about your meatball consumption.
Traditional? No. Healthier, juicy and tasty? Absolutely. This is one of my signature recipes. I stand by it, even in all its oddities.
Serve with my Red Wine Marinara Sauce… and if you’re feeling really adventurous, stuff each meatball with a small piece of mozzarella cheese or a little ball of cream cheese!
- 1 pound ground turkey (93/7 lean)
- 1 pound ground turkey sausage spicy Italian
- 1¼ cup instant oats plain
- ¾ cup white onion diced or finely chopped
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced or crushed
- 1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning herb blend salt-free (basil, thyme, oregano, marjoram, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon parsley fresh, chopped
- ½ teaspoon oregano dried
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½-2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon basil dried
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Add oats to a food processor. Pulse for 10-15 seconds until oats become fine, but not powder form. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
- Add onions to the food processor until finely chopped and then add to the same large mixing bowl. (If you choose to dice onions by hand, saute in a frying pan on medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes until translucent. Set aside and allow them to cool for 2-3 minutes before adding them to the mixing bowl).
- Add all ingredients including turkey, cheese, eggs, garlic, parsley, seasonings and salt into the large mixing bowl with the onions and oats. Mix with clean hands or spoon until all ingredients are well combined. Refrain from overmixing. Once everything is incorporated evenly, assume that the mixture is complete.
- To test: Remove a sample piece from the meat mixture and sear the mixture in a frying pan until cooked through. Allow to cool and then taste to insure that seasonings are to your liking. Adjust if needed.
- Use a mini muffin tin to hold meatballs. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray (a baking sheet will also work.) Use a 1/4 measuring cup to measure out each meatball. Roll into a ball and place gently on a muffin tin. Do not press the ball into the tin, just use this as a holding method.
- Bake meatballs for 18-20 minutes until browned. Remove from oven and let set for 15 minutes.
- ***Allow these to continue to simmer in a large slow cooker filled with tomato sauce and set on high for 3-4 hours before serving***