Easy Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Basil Sauce

How to make tender turkey meatballs cooked in a quick and easy tomato and basil sauce. You will love this easy recipe. This recipe has no long cook times, no baking, and no searing. Simply! Skip to Tomato Basil Turkey Meatballs recipe.

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Easy recipe video for turkey meatballs

How to make the best ground turkey meatballs

These tender turkey meatballs don’t last long in our kitchen. The moment one of us turns away, the other quickly steals a meatball, and before we know it, we’re left with an empty pan.

You will love this easy recipe. There are no long cooking times and no prior baking or searing of the meatballs. Instead, we’ll make a quick tomato and basil sauce — similar to our marinara sauce. After bringing it to a simmer, we carefully drop the meatballs straight into the sauce. For baked or seared meatballs, take a look at this easy meatball recipe.

Ground turkey meatballs in tomato sauce

To make the sauce, chopped garlic and crushed red pepper flakes in olive oil, then add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and basil. Bring to a simmer and let reduce while you prepare the meatballs.

For the meatballswe combine lean ground turkey with breadcrumbs, milk, egg, cheese and herbs. After shaping them into balls, we carefully drop them into the boiling sauce. Simply.

For the most tender, lightest meatballs (turkey, chicken, or beef), use a light touch when mixing and forming. To help with this, we have two tricks:

  • First, mix all the ingredients before adding the ground beef. You will see that in our recipe we first mix breadcrumbs, milk, an egg and herbs. So when we add the turkey meat, all we have to do is mix gently. We do this when preparing chicken meatballs, turkey burgers, and even meatloaf.
  • Second, these meatballs are quite wet so the mixture will be a bit sticky when forming the balls. Be careful when forming meatballs and don’t move them after placing them in the sauce for the first 10 minutes of cooking. Once they’ve cooked a bit and set, you can stir them as usual.
Ground turkey meatballs in tomato sauce

Make tips ahead

Meatballs are the perfect make-ahead meal. Here are our tips for preparing ahead of time:

Make-Ahead Sauce: The tomato and basil sauce can be made ahead of time and should last up to 3 days in your fridge and about 3 months in your freezer. We recommend using freezer safe glass containers or double layer freezer bags to store sauces. To thaw, simply leave in the fridge overnight.

Make-Ahead Meatballs: Arrange formed and uncooked meatballs in a bowl or on a baking sheet without touching them. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 1 day.

To freeze uncooked meatballs: Prepare the recipe through the shaping step. Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet and freeze until set. Place the frozen meatballs in a freezer container or bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw meatballs overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.

Freezing Cooked Meatballs: Allow the cooked meatballs to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer container or food-safe bag. Freeze up to 1 month. Frozen meatballs can be thawed overnight or reheated straight from the freezer. Reheat them in a simmering sauce for 10 to 15 minutes or in a warm oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

More Meatball Recipes

Recipe updated, originally posted January 2013. Since posting in 2013 we have tweaked the recipe to make it clearer. – Adam and Joanne

Easy Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Basil Sauce

  • PREPARATION
  • A COOK
  • TOTAL

We love these easy turkey meatballs cooked in a simple tomato and basil sauce. This recipe has no long cook times, no baking, and no searing. Instead, we cook the meatballs in a simple tomato and basil sauce.

Use a light touch as you mix and shape the meatballs. Also, when you add them to the sauce, make sure not to stir them for about 10 minutes to allow the meatballs to set. Once they’ve cooked a bit and set, you can stir them normally. Serve these with a dollop of ricotta cheese, over spaghetti, or with rustic bread.

Makes 4 servings

Watch us make the recipe

you will need

Tomato Basil Sauce

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 (28-ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes

1 large sprig of basil plus a handful of torn basil leaves

Salt

Turkey Meatballs

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, regular breadcrumbs, or homemade breadcrumbs

1/2 cup milk, we use reduced fat

1 large egg

1 ½ ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, coarsely grated (generously 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound ground turkey (93% lean)

directions

  • make sauce
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with sides and lid over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute.

    Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the color changes from bright red to orange, about 2 minutes.

    Add the crushed tomatoes and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Add the basil sprig, then taste for seasoning. Adjust with additional salt if needed. Continue to simmer while you prepare the meatballs.

      In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, milk, egg, cheese, parsley, oregano, and salt. Stir until everything is well mixed.

      Add the ground turkey and use a fork or fingers to mix everything until combined. For the most tender meatballs, try not to over-mix.

      Wet your hands, then shape the mixture into 1-inch balls. You should get around 22 to 24 meatballs.

      Gently drop the meatballs into tomato sauce. It’s okay if the sauce doesn’t completely cover the tops.

      Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the meatballs will have set, so you can gently rock the pan to stir the meatballs in the sauce.

      Cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Scatter torn basil leaves over the meatballs and gravy just before serving.

Advice from Adam and Joanne

  • Storing Leftover Meatballs: Store leftover meatballs in a food-safe container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave.
  • Make-Ahead Sauce: The tomato and basil sauce can be made ahead of time and should last up to 3 days in your refrigerator and about three months in your freezer. We recommend using freezer safe glass containers or double layer freezer bags to store sauces. Leave in the fridge overnight to thaw.
  • Prepared Meatballs: Arrange formed and uncooked meatballs in a bowl or on a baking sheet, without touching them. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 1 day.
  • To Freeze Uncooked Meatballs: Prep the recipe through the shaping step. Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet and freeze until set. Place the frozen meatballs in a freezer container or bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw meatballs overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.
  • To Freeze Cooked Meatballs: Allow the cooked meatballs to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer container or food-safe bag. Freeze up to 1 month. Frozen meatballs can be thawed overnight or reheated straight from the freezer. Reheat them in a simmering sauce for 10 to 15 minutes or in a warm oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Nutritional Information: The nutritional information below is an estimate. We used the USDA Supertracker Recipe Calculator to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, take a picture and tag #inspiredtaste – we love seeing your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition per serving: serving size 6 meatballs / calories 354 / protein 37 g / carbohydrate 28 g / fiber 9 g / total sugar 14 g / total fat 12 g / Saturated Fatty Acids 4 g / cholesterol 114mg

AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher



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