These heathy, easy to make baked turkey meatballs are made lighter with lean ground turkey, spinach, and fresh herbs, then baked up and served with creamy polenta and zesty marinara for a restaurant-worthy meal at home!
Bikini season is right around the corner. Make that tankini season for this girl. I’m smart enough to realize I’m no Demi Moore and my bikini days are over.
Making small changes for a little healthier eating and working toward a bit of scale tipping in the opposite direction of up is what’s on my agenda. And easy. I want easy meals whenever I can get them but not at the expense of freshness and taste.
This year I’m pleased to be working again with DeLallo Foods, whose products I purchased even before our partnership began, making it all the easier to profess my fondness for them and show how I use some of their favorite products.
This recipe for baked turkey meatballs is a mash up of store-bought and homemade, with herb-filled, from-scratch ground turkey meatballs that are finished off with DeLallo Foods’ jarred Pomodoro Fresco Marinara and their Instant Polenta. The combo makes for an incredibly easy, fresh and fast weeknight dinner.
And simply because you won’t be able to tell the difference, it’s on the healthy side too.
What’s in These Baked Turkey Meatballs?
We’re talking turkey today, because while sausage and beef meatballs make my mouth water, I’m working on making each bite count. As in calorie count.
My turkey meatballs start off with the standard meatball combo of meat, egg, breadcrumbs and cheese. But what makes these babies sing (in the eye of every mom who tries to get her kids to eat veggies disguised as “real food”) is the addition of fresh herbs (basil, sage, parsley), leafy green spinach, spunky garlic and the sausage-ey taste of fennel seeds that are infused into each and every bite.
I’m sneaking in healthy every where ever I can.
You may ask yourself while perusing my ingredient list, “But where are the onions? Every meatball needs an onion.” I will be the first to agree. Until now. Truth be told, we forgot to put them in, and guess what? Still delicious. And one less ingredient to cry over.
How to Make Baked Turkey Meatballs
Besides the bunch of spinach and fresh herbs in our balls o’ turkey, another shortcut to healthy is that these meatballs are baked, not fried.
To achieve the golden crust we all desire in a meatball, I took a nod from this meatball recipe and basted my balls with a mix of extra virgin olive oil and my DeLallo marinara sauce and baked them at 400 degrees on the top rack of the oven.
While the meatballs are cooking, a pour of the marinara is warmed on the stove while the instant polenta cooks. The polenta will be really thick when you follow the package directions so I thin it down and make it creamy by vigorously whisking in low-fat milk. Back in the day that would have been cream. See? Little changes, friends.
Of all of the jarred sauces out there, and I’ve tested my share, DeLallo is by far my favorite because they simply taste like homemade. Probably because that’s how they’re made, simmered in small batches that start with Italian plum tomatoes, fresh herbs, and veggies for rounded out flavor.
Bonus, Pomodoro Fresco Sauces come in 5 flavors (did you say creamy vodka sauce!) delivering variety that knows no bounds.
And more importantly, the sauce and the meatballs pass the Smudge taste test. “Mom! This is soooo good.”
That’s pretty much all the endorsement I need.
Can I Use a Different Ground Meat?
Yes, you can. We really enjoy these baked turkey meatballs in sauce, but if you don’t have turkey on hand or prefer not to use turkey you can swap it out for ground chicken, pork, or beef if desired. Your meatballs won’t taste the same as mine, but they’ll still be good.
Can I Use Dried Herbs?
No, these healthy turkey meatballs are best with fresh herbs. Dried herbs are more potent than fresh and can easily overpower the ground turkey.
Can I Make This Gluten-Free?
If you need these baked turkey meatballs to be gluten-free, simply swap out the regular breadcrumbs for certified gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Can I Freeze Meatballs?
Yes, very easily. You can freeze raw or baked meatballs in freezer bags, then set them in the fridge overnight to thaw. Bake them off the next day as you normally would, noting that pre-baked meatballs just need to be warmed through.
Tips for Making the Best Turkey Meatballs
If you don’t have a food processor, you can easily chop the herbs, fennel, and garlic by hand. Be sure to chop everything as finely as you can so you don’t end up with big chunks of garlic or herbs in the easy turkey meatballs.
You’re welcome to add other fresh herbs into the ground turkey meatball mixture. We really enjoyed the combination of fresh sage and basil, but if there’s another combination you like feel free to try it out in this recipe.
You’ll know the baked turkey meatballs are done when they’re no longer pink on the inside and are a lovely golden brown on the outside.
More Easy Meatball Recipes You’ll Love
- Skinny Slow Cooker and Turkey Meatball Soup
- Mexican Turkey Meatball Sandwiches with Avocado Smash
- Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
- Slow Cooker Sriracha Meatballs
- Tobasco Chicken Meatballs in a Spicy Tomato Apricot Sauce
Baked Turkey Meatballs with Polenta and Marinara
- 1 large handful spinach leaves
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
- 8 large basil leaves
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
- 1 25.25 ounce jar of DeLallo Pomodoro Fresco Marinara Sauce
- 3 tablespoons DeLallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 9.2 ounce box DeLallo Instant Polenta
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Combine the spinach, parsley, basil, sage, garlic, fennel seeds, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. Set aside.
- Place the ground turkey and egg in a large mixing bowl and use your hands to gently combine the turkey and egg but be careful not to overwork. Add the finely chopped spinach and herb mixture, breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined then shape into golf ball-sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet.
- Mix 2 tablespoons tomato sauce with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and baste each of the meatballs.
- Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.
- Meanwhile, heat the jar of marinara sauce in a large pot over medium heat and prepare the instant polenta according to package directions. If you prefer your polenta thick and chunky the polenta is done. For a creamier polenta, whisk in 1/2 cup milk at a time until the polenta is of desired consistency. Season the polenta with kosher salt to taste.
- Transfer the cooked meatballs to the warmed marinara sauce and cook for 3-5 minutes. Serve over the cooked polenta and more Parmesan cheese.
More Time-Saving Italian Dinner Recipes
- Shrimp Scampi Pasta
- Fresh Tomato and Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta
- Baked Sausage and Cheese Rigatoni
- 30-Minute Chicken Parmesan
- Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Peas
All hail to the meatball! Make it a great day and cook something good.
Craving more life balance, less stress, and better health? Check out my Nourished Planner, the daily planner to help create simplicity and under-schedule your life.
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This post is part of my partnership with DeLallo Foods. As always, thank you for reading and supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. There may be affiliate links in this post of which I receive a small commission. All opinions are always my own.