Juicy and flavorful turkey meatballs are made without breadcrumbs. Well-seasoned and pan-fried in olive oil, they are truly delicious!
These tasty meatballs are a huge hit whenever I make them. My kids love them, but it’s not just the kids – the adults enjoy them too.
As long as you use ground thighs (93% or 94% lean) and NOT ground breast (99% lean), and cook them in plenty of olive oil, the meatballs will come out nice and juicy, so don’t worry about them being too dry.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make these yummy turkey meatballs. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Ground turkey thighs: These should be marked as 93% or 94% lean. Ground turkey breast is too lean, so please don’t use it in this recipe.
Mayonnaise: I like to use avocado oil mayonnaise. My favorite brand is Sir Kensington’s.
Dijon mustard: if you have regular mustard you can use that, but Dijon is better. It’s thick and creamy, and the flavor is less vinegary and more mustardy.
Seasonings: Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika. They add lots of flavor to the meatballs! It’s important to make sure that the spices you use are fresh – a stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Chopped fresh parsley: If you don’t have fresh parsley you could use 1 teaspoon of dried parsley, oregano, or thyme instead. But the fresh herb does add a nice flavor.
Olive oil for frying: I use 1/4 cup even though about half of it stays in the skillet after frying. But I feel that being generous with the oil helps the meatballs brown better.
How to make turkey meatballs
It’s really very easy. Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Mix. Simply mix everything (except for the oil) in a medium bowl.
Portion. Use a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop to portion the mixture out into 16 portions.
Shape. Wet your hands and shape the portions into round meatballs.
Heat the oil. Now heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers and smells great, about 2 minutes. Use a very large skillet – 14 inches – and make sure it has a lid. But you can also cover it later with aluminum foil if none of your skillets have a lid.
Brown. Add the turkey meatballs to the skillet in a single layer. They’ll be a bit crowded in there, but I’m frankly too lazy to cook in two batches. However, if your frying pan is smaller than 14 inches, you’ll likely need to cook in two batches. Brown the meatballs all over, turning them frequently, about 5 minutes.
Finish cooking. The meatballs are nicely browned now, but they are not yet fully cooked. So now add a bit of water to the bottom of the skillet, cover it with a lid (or with foil), and cook 3 more minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. An instant-read thermometer inserted into one of them (as I do in the video) should read 165°F.
Can I bake turkey meatballs in the oven?
Yes! Instead of pan-frying, you can arrange them in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, spray liberally with olive oil, and bake for about 15 minutes at 400°F. As always, check to make sure they are cooked through.
How to serve them
Gosh, they’re so versatile, you can truly serve them with anything. Here are a few ideas:
- Serve them on top of mashed cauliflower.
- Serve them with microwave spaghetti squash and marinara sauce.
- Stuff them in a lettuce sandwich with some mayo, sliced tomatoes and pickled red onions.
- Or just serve them all on their own with a side dish such as roasted Brussels sprouts or broccoli and cheese sauce.
What to do with leftover turkey meatballs?
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. reheat them gently in the microwave on 50% power, or do as I do and snack on them cold. 😋
More yummy meatball recipes
I have many meatball recipes on this blog! My kids always liked them, so it was a powerful incentive for making them. Here are a few of my favorites:
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- 1 lb. Ground turkey thighs (93% lean; ground turkey breast is too lean)
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I use avocado oil mayonnaise)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 4 tablespoons olive oil for frying*
- In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients except for the oil.
- Using a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop, the same one you would use for cookies, scoop out even portions of the mixture into a plate. I usually end up with 16 meatballs.
- With wet hands for easier handling, shape each portion into a round meatball.
- Heat the olive oil in a very large (14-inch) lidded skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers and becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook, turning frequently, until golden brown, 5 minutes.
- Add 1/4 cup of water to the bottom of the skillet. Cover with the lid and cook until cooked through (internal temperature should be 165° F), 3 more minutes.
- Remove the meatballs from the skillet to a serving plate using a slotted spoon. Serve immediately.