These slow cooker turkey meatballs are Italian style and made with lean ground turkey, parmesan cheese, herbs and spices. They’re slow simmered to tender perfection in the crock pot and are perfect served over spaghetti or as a hearty appetizer.
Meatballs are always a hit in my house, I often make sweet and sour meatballs, teriyaki meatballs, and these lighter turkey meatballs.
Whenever I’m stuck on what to make for dinner, I turn to spaghetti and meatballs. My whole family adores this comfort food classic! I love to make these turkey meatballs in the slow cooker; they come out tender and flavorful every time, and they’re perfect served over a plate of spaghetti.
How do you make turkey meatballs?
The first step in this recipe is to make your meatball mixture, which is a combination of ground turkey, garlic, herbs, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. The meat mixture is shaped into balls, then the pan goes into the broiler so that the meatballs can brown. It takes a few more minutes to broil the meatballs before putting them into the slow cooker, but it’s definitely worth it. The meatballs will be more flavorful, and they’ll be less likely to fall apart in the crock pot. The meatballs are simmered in tomato sauce until tender, then all you have to do is add a sprinkling of parsley and serve!
Tips for turkey meatballs
- You can shape your meatballs as big or as small as you like, I typically make mine about 1 1/2 inches in size.
- I use 93% lean ground turkey for these meatballs. I don’t recommend using the 99% lean ground turkey breast as your meatballs will be more likely to turn out dry.
- I like to use Italian breadcrumbs because they include a lot of great garlic and herb flavor. You can substitute plain breadcrumbs, just be sure to add 1/2 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning to the mix.
- You can substitute ground chicken for ground turkey for a similar end result.
How long do turkey meatballs last?
You can store your turkey meatballs in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can also freeze your meatballs for up to 2 months. Simply place the cooked meatballs in a resealable gallon sized freezer bag and thaw in the refrigerator when you’re ready to use them.
Ways to use meatballs
There are so many different ways to use these meatballs! I often make a double batch so that I have extra meatballs to use for other meals.
- Pasta: Serve your meatballs over spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine.
- Lasagna: Cut up the meatballs and add them to marinara sauce before layering with noodles and cheese.
- Sandwiches: Spoon your meatballs into Italian hoagie rolls, then top with mozzarella cheese and broil until the cheese is melted.
- Pizza: Cut the meatballs in half and use them to top a frozen pizza.
- Calzones: Meatballs make a great filling for both calzones and stromboli.
These meatballs are a great lighter version as compared to the traditional beef meatballs. They’re packed full of flavor, and your family is sure to love them as much as mine does!
More meatball recipes
- Mexican Meatball Soup
- Cranberry Meatballs
- Cheesy Meatball Bake
- Teriyaki Meatballs
- Farro Meatball Soup
- 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey I use 93% lean
- 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley plus more for serving
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- cooking spray
- 28 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 16 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- Preheat the broiler. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Place the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, onion powder, egg, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix until well combined.
- Shape the meat into 1 inch meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Broil the meatballs until browned, about 8-10 minutes.
- Place the meatballs in the slow cooker. Add the marinara sauce, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir gently to combine.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
- Top the meatballs with a sprinkling of parsley and parmesan cheese, then serve.
This post was originally published on October 1, 2015 and was updated on July 26, 2019 with new content.
It is not clear to me if I just broil the meat balls on one side or turn them all around.
I just broil on one side!
The house smelled so good when these were cooking! We loved them!
I really want to make these but I don’t have a slow cooker, so how can I make them on stove in a normal pan? Thanks
You can just broil them as directed, then simmer them in the tomato sauce on the stove top for about 20 minutes.