Italian Turkey Meatballs with Parmesan Zoodles are a healthy version of a family favorite! Turkey meatballs are easy to make, great for leftovers or for freezer cooking. Try this lower carb version of a classic Italian dinner.
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In my twenties I decided to eat only poultry and seafood. My family thought I was a CRAZY to give up yummy bacon and burgers but it was honestly pretty easy for me. I didn’t give up all my family favorites such as spaghetti and meatballs. I simply experimented with making all of my favorite meals substituting ground turkey for beef and over the years have figured out what works best to my taste. I’ve been making my favorite Italian Turkey Meatballs for years now and it seems to pass the taste test of beef lovers!
Texture is key so I make sure I add ingredients that will give the meat moisture. I also always get a 93/7 % fat ratio because the 99% lean dries out too much in my opinion. I’ve made these meatballs for so many years and really haven’t changed them much. Now I always make at least 2 pounds of these at a time but sometimes I’ll double or triple the recipe if I’m doing freezer cooking. They are great for leftovers or to freeze and have an easy meal in minutes.
How do I cook turkey meatballs?
My cooking method may be a little different from traditional Italian cooks because I bake them in the oven instead of frying in a skillet. I like baking because they are less greasy especially by using a broiler pan. If you don’t have a broiler pan you could still cook them on foil. And set them on paper towels to soak up a little fat after they are finished cooking.
After I remove the meatballs from the oven I put them in a sauce pan with the marina. I wish I had time to make my own sauce from scratch all of the time but there are lots of tasty options to choose from. I look for ones that are simple ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, spices and olive oil!
Follow my steps below to make your own baked turkey meatballs.
How do you make turkey meatballs from scratch?
I love making a big batch of turkey meatballs. I never mind having leftovers and I can even freeze them for an easy freezer meal in the future.
First start by preparing your baking pan so you can mix and shape your meatballs and line them up directly on the pan.
Then in a large mixing bowl add the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, cheese and spices. Gently work the mixture with your hands to incorporate the ingredients. Be careful to not over mix because that will result in a tough meatball.
Next begin forming meatballs with your hands. They should be about the size of a golf ball and all be uniform in size so they cook evenly.
Continue making the meatballs and lining them on the slots of the broiler pan. When finished place in preheated oven.
Are turkey Meatballs healthier than beef?
If you choose a lean ground turkey it has less saturated fat than beef while still being high in protein. I prefer a 93/7% fat ratio. Then I cook the meatballs using a boiler rack so that the fat drips of the meatball so they are not greasy. This definitely makes them a lighter option.
What is a good side to go with turkey meatballs?
If you are looking for a healthy low carb option try making zucchini noodles or “zoodles”. Zoodles are a great option because they cook quick and are a perfect accompaniment to the pasta sauce and Parmesan cheese. While they may not taste exactly like pasta, they have many great health benefits and are a good option if you are wanting eat less carbohydrates.
What is the best way to prepare zoodles?
You can buy prepackaged zucchini noodles at the store which is a little pricey or make your own with a spiralizer. It only takes a minute to make noodles out of your zucchini. I cut of the stem end and by using the larger opening on the spiralizer I twist out ribbons of zucchini noodles. Then to cook heat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the skillet is hot add the zoodles and saute for 2-3 minutes. I like to add a little garlic while they cook and then top with Parmesan cheese!
How to freeze meatballs
The ability to freeze meatballs is probably one reason why I love this recipe so much. For years I’ve made this recipe in large batches and froze them with great results. Let me explain exactly how to do this to prevent freezer burn.
First cook the meatball. You want to go through all the steps and cook them in the oven. Then after they are out of the oven do not add to marinara. Let them cool completely. Then place meatballs on a parchment lined baking dish that will fit in your freezer. Make sure that your meatballs are not touching and place in the freezer and freeze for a couple of hours. After they are partially frozen you can remove from the freezer and place them all in a plastic freezer bag. Because you partially froze the meatballs they will not be frozen in a giant clump making it easier to take out just a few meatballs at a time.
To thaw add frozen meatballs to a sauce pan with marinara and simmer until warm.
If you try this recipe for Italian Turkey Meatballs with Parmesan Zoodles, let me know what you think! Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #bluesbestlife on Instagram! Seeing your creations makes my day.
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Italian Turkey Meatballs with Parmesan Zoodles
- 2 pounds 93/7 lean ground turkey
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 3 teaspoons oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 zucchini, spiraled
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup parmesan
- 1 jar tomato and basil marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking tray with foil and place broiler pan on top of tray.
- In a large bowl gently mix all meatball ingredients, being careful not to over work.
- Roll meatballs by hand (about golf ball size) and place on the slots of the broiler pan. This allows the fat to drip through the slots for less greasy meatballs and easy clean up.
- Bake in 375 oven for 12minutes and then flip over each meatball using kitchen tongs. Cook for an additional 12 minutes. You can check with a meat thermometer (165 degrees) or just cut one with a knife to make sure it is no longer pink in the center.
- Once meatballs are cooked add to a large pan with the marinara and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Serve with whole wheat pasta, spaghetti squash or zoodles! Pair with salad and garlic bread.
- Heat skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and garlic sautéing for about a minute. Add zucchini and cook for 2-3 minutes until tender.
- Drain any water from zucchini and sprinkle with Parmesan.