Turkey pesto meatballs with ground turkey, basil pesto, and baby spinach. Simmered in marinara sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese. These meatballs are so juicy and flavorful.
We love them with a side of our Easy Chickpea Tomato Salad for an easy weeknight meal.
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Turkey Pesto Meatballs
Turkey meatballs that you’ll actually want to make week after week. These are the pesto meatballs that my kids go crazy for. So juicy, tender, and full of flavor.
Made with ground turkey, basil pesto, and spinach. They are simmered in marinara sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese for extra creaminess.
So easy to put together for an easy weeknight meal. They serve well over spaghetti, with a green salad or over a bed of roasted veggies.
Why You’ll Love These Turkey Meatballs
These meatballs call for basic ingredients. That’s the best part about this recipe is that the ingredients are all so easy to find at the supermarket or your own pantry.
For these turkey pesto meatballs, you’ll need ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, yellow onion, garlic, basil pesto, dried oregano, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. You’ll also need olive oil, salt, and pepper.
These meatballs freeze well for later. There’s nothing better than having freezer meals for busy nights. This recipe makes 15 meatballs and serves about 6 people (or more if you’re serving to little ones) so you can easily freeze the leftovers for later.
This recipe is relatively easy to make. Even though the recipe may look like it calls for a lot of ingredients but with minimal chopping or special prep it goes so quickly. You’re basically making the meatballs, cooking them in marinara, and topping with cheese. So simple.
How to Make Pesto Meatballs
Have all your ingredients set out before starting. It’ll make the whole process much faster. You’ll find the full recipe below, but here’s a rundown:
Step 1: Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, garlic, pesto, oregano, salt, spinach, and olive oil. Mix gently with hands to combine, and form into 15 meatballs, roughly golf-size.
Step 2: Cook the meatballs: Heat a large skillet, either stainless-steel skillet or a non-stick skillet with little olive oil and when hot, add the meatballs to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown.
Step 3: Add the marinara: Add the marinara sauce to the pan and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook the meatballs, partially covered, for about 5 minutes.
Step 4: Add the cheese: Top the meatballs with mozzarella cheese, cover, and cook until melted. Garnish with fresh basil and serve over spaghetti or any favorite pasta.
Helpful Tips for Making Turkey Meatballs
Do not overmix the meatball mixture otherwise, the meatballs will be tough. Put all the meatball ingredients into a bowl at once and always use your hands to mix.
If the meatball mixture is sticky, wet your hands with water or lightly oil your hands. It’ll help with the mixture not sticking to your hands.
To help meatballs stick together, do not leave out or substitute any ingredients. Yes, you do need an egg to bind the meat, breadcrumbs, and everything else together. Also, the breadcrumbs are necessary to keep meatballs tender and moist.
Do not skip the sear. You’ll get the best flavor out of meatballs by quickly searing them first. Technically you can add raw meatballs to the sauce and cook them that way but you just won’t get as much flavor out of them.
Make sure not to overcook the meatballs. They only need 3-4 minutes of sear time per side and then 5 minutes of active simmer in the sauce. Meatballs are cooked through when an instant-read thermometer registers at 165°F in the middle.
There are a handful of ways we love to serve these turkey pesto meatballs that do not involve some sort of pasta, such as with crusty bread to soak up all the sauce, over roasted veggies, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or even cooked quinoa.
More Meatball Recipes:
- Orecchiette with Baked Chicken Meatballs
- Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
- Healthy Chicken Meatballs
- Mini Asian Chicken Meatballs
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Turkey pesto meatballs with ground turkey, basil pesto, and baby spinach. Simmered in marinara sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese. These are SO incredibly juicy and flavorful.
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (not seasoned)
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup minced yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Tbsp. basil pesto
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1–2 Tbsp. fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons
- Black pepper, to taste
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, onions, garlic, pesto, oregano, salt, spinach, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with black pepper, to taste. Combine everything with your hands until the ingredients are evenly mixed. Do not overmix.
- Form the turkey mixture into 15 meatballs, each the size of a golf ball.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive in a large heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add meatballs and sauté for 3-4 minutes per side until browned.
- Add the marinara sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Top with mozzarella cheese, cover and cook until melted, about 2 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve over pasta of choice.
- Leftovers: Leftover meatballs in sauce can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container. You can also freeze them up to 3 months.
Keywords: easy, kid friendly, healthy, weeknight meal
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