Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatballs

Three things are true of these particular meatballs:

1. My entire family really enjoyed them.  The finnicky 3-year-old took one bite, announced “MMM!”, and proceeded to eat quite a few.  The lovable, yet opinionated husband said, “This should be in the regular rotation of meals for sure.”

2. These little orbs actually include all four food groups and are quite healthy.  They include several veggies, whole wheat bread crumbs, low fat ground turkey, some Parm cheese and are cooked in a tomato sauce.  Makes for a pretty well-rounded meal when served on top of whole wheat spaghetti.

3. I won’t lie…they were time-consuming to make.*  But, I did have plenty leftover for lunch tomorrow and to freeze for meatball subs later.

Mini Turkey and Veggie Meatballs

Inspired by: this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis
Makes: about 40 mini meatballs

1 medium carrot, minced in food processor
1/2 small onion, minced in food processor
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c fresh loosely packed parsley, finely chopped in food processor
1/2 c fresh, finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1  c whole wheat bread crumbs (Here is how to make your own!)
 3 T organic ketchup
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lb lean ground turkey
olive oil, as needed for sauteing (about 3 T)
4 1/2-6 cups organic marinara sauce (about 2 regular-sized jars)


1) Add the carrot, onion, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, salt and pepper to a large bowl and blend. Mix in the turkey (get ready to use your hands and get gross!).

2) Shape the turkey mixture into about 1 inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a large plate or baking sheet.

3) Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs and saute until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. (I had to do this in several batches, cleaning the pan out each time.)  Set meatballs on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

4) Place all the meatballs and marinara sauce in a stockpot. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, about 20 minutes.  (Make sure to put the lid on.  It splatters!)

5) Serving suggestion:  Serve over whole wheat spaghetti and top with more freshly grated Parm cheese.

6) Freeze for meatball subs or spaghetti another day.  Just thaw and reheat later.

* Here are a few ideas to speed up the prep/cooking process:
– Use store-bought Panko bread crumbs (they contain no MSG), store-bought pre-shredded Parmesan cheese, and store-bought minced garlic.
 – Skip the browning step (which took me a long time because I had to do three batches) and instead bake meatballs in sauce at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes; this will mean cleaning up fewer dishes, too.

You may also enjoy these recipes:
Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs
Super Sloppy Joes
Stretch a Buck Turkey and Bean Burrito Burgers


  1. Maeve Bolin says

    I just made these, and they turned out great! I used two time savers that I usually use with meatballs. First, I mixed everything in my standing mixer – super quick and non-messy. Then, I baked the meatballs instead of sautéing – 350 for 20 minutes did the trick. I am looking forward to trying them out tonight.

    • Rachel says

      Maeve, I hope your family likes them! My kids and hubs never has known all the vegetables I sneak in there. Thanks for leaving a comment with your changes. Great ideas! I am all for easier!

  2. melissa says

    Made these tonight. They were so good! my husband who is super picky RAVED about them the whole meal!!

    • Rachel says

      Awesome, Melissa! I’m in your boat. A meal that my husband raves about counts as a big “win” in my mind.

  3. Brittany says

    These have been a total life saver for me so far! My one year old son was refusing all meat and veggies. I tried everything which way I knew how to cook different meats and veggies, but he refused to eat any of it. I tried out these meatballs and he LOVES them. I love them because I’m finally getting some meat in him AND I can sneak in different types of veggies and he has no clue (not to mention I’m getting to sneak in veggies into my husbands diet too 🙂 .) Thank you!

    • Rachel says

      Brittany, I love this comment so much! My first child was the same way exactly. That’s why I started developing recipes where we hid veggies. If it brings you any hope, he is now a huge vegetable lover at age 7. Never would I have imagined him loving mushrooms, spinach, cucumbers, etc. Keep working at it! P.S. Have you seen this post? You might find it helpful.

      • Brittany says

        That’s perfect!! The last few days I have been looking for exactly a list of recipes like this. I”ve made the pumpkin french toast and the blueberry pumpkin bake french toast and they were huge hits with my family. Excited to try more recipes. Cannot thank you enough for this blog and sharing your recipes and knowledge.

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