I love to use turkey as an alternative to beef when I’m craving something hearty and comforting yet light and lean. You can even substitute ground turkey in recipes that traditionally use beef, as I did in my Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie. For other comforting recipes with turkey, try this 3 Bean Turkey Chili and my Turkey Pumpkin Chili.
Full List of Ingredients
Aside from turkey and zucchini, all you need are a few pantry staples to throw together these turkey zucchini meatballs. We’re using crispy Panko breadcrumbs for texture, lots of yummy Italian seasonings for flavor, and an egg to bind everything together. Here’s the full ingredient breakdown:
- Grated zucchini (from one large zucchini)
- Ground turkey: You can use lean meat or dark meat. Dark meat will be more flavorful and rich than lean ground turkey, but it’s completely up to your personal preference.
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Chopped scallions
- An egg
- Seasoning: Italian seasoning, onion powder, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and ground black pepper.
How to Make Ground Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini?
What’s better than a flavorful, healthy, and comforting recipe that comes together in only 30 minutes? Baking turkey meatballs is as simple as mixing the ingredients together, shaping them into meatballs, and popping them in the oven. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:
- Prep for baking: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
- Shred the zucchini: Use the larger holes of a box grater to shred the zucchini. Place the shredded zucchini in the center of a clean kitchen towel, gather up the sides of the towel, and squeeze to remove as much juice as possible. It should yield about one cup of shredded zucchini. Place in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the ingredients: In the same bowl, combine ground turkey, Panko, scallions, egg, garlic, onion powder, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Roll into balls: Use a small cookie scoop or a large spoon to divide the mixture into smaller portions. Wet hands with a little water and roll each portion into a small, golf-sized ball. Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake: Cook the ground turkey meatballs in oven for 15-18 minutes or until they reach 165 degrees F when measured with a thermometer.
- Serve: Serve the meatballs on a bed of pasta or with your favorite sauce.
How to Store, Reheat, & Freeze?
While these healthy turkey meatballs are easy to whip up for quick weeknight family dinners, this is also a good meal prep recipe for busy weeks ahead. Here are some tips for storing, reheating, and thawing your meatballs:
- Store: You can store your leftover homemade turkey meatballs with or without tomato sauce. Either way, let them cool to room temperature before placing them in an airtight container. They will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days.
- Reheat: You can reheat your leftovers in the microwave or in the oven. Microwave in 30-second intervals, making sure to stir them after each interval. You can also reheat your turkey meatballs in the oven. I recommend low heat (300 degrees F) for about 5 minutes or so. Alternatively, you can heat up the meatballs in your tomato sauce on the stovetop.
- Freeze: If you decide to serve your turkey meatballs with tomato sauce, you can freeze the meatballs with the sauce in an airtight container. However, I find it easier to freeze the meatballs individually so they don’t stick together. Place the leftover cooked meatballs in a single layer on a large baking sheet, let them freeze, and then store them in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container. However you choose to freeze them, they should keep for about 2 months.
- Thaw: Thaw your frozen meatballs overnight in the fridge and reheat once completely thawed.
As with other types of meat, the ideal internal temperature for oven-baked turkey meatballs is 165 degrees F. I recommend using an instant read thermometer for easy, accurate measuring that removes the guesswork.
For properly cooked, moist turkey meatballs that retain a juicy, tender center, I recommend baking them at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. The temperature of turkey meatballs should reach 165 degrees F, so I also recommend using a thermometer to ensure they’re cooked properly.
Your recipe for turkey meatballs is likely mushy because the meatball mixture has a lot of moisture. To prevent this problem, make sure to remove as much excess moisture as possible from any veggies you add to the mixture, especially the grated zucchini (or grated onion, if using). I’ve found that the best way to remove the juices is to squeeze the grated veggies in a clean kitchen towel.
The key to preventing the turkey mixture from falling apart is the addition of an egg. Eggs act as binding agents that help the ingredients adhere and stay together while baking. As a rule of thumb, use one egg per pound of ground meat. The addition of breadcrumbs in these turkey panko meatballs also helps to bind the mixture together, as well.
Turkey is a lean meat that’s a great source of protein, loaded with important B vitamins, and rich in several minerals, among other health benefits. Because of these benefits, turkey can help you achieve your weight loss goals as long as you consume it in reasonable portions.
Other Ground Meat Recipes You Might Like
I love to use various types of ground meat for easy weeknight meals, as it cooks quickly and pairs well with a variety of flavor profiles. If you’re looking for more quick and easy meals with ground chicken or beef, check out these recipes below:
- Ground Chicken Bolognese
- Turkish Meatballs with Ground Beef
- Pasta Bolognese Recipe
- Meatball and Potato Bake
If you try these Meatballs with Ground Turkey and Zucchini or any other recipe on Foolproof Living, please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. And if you took some pictures, be sure to share them on Instagram using #foolproofeats so I can share them on my stories.
Zucchini Turkey Meatballs Recipe
- 1 cup grated zucchini from one large or two small zucchinis ~ 190 grams
- 1 pound ground turkey meat
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs ~ 40 gr
- ½ cup chopped scallion both white and green parts ~56 gr
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Prep the zucchini: Shred the zucchini using the large holes of a box grater. Place it in the middle of a clean tea towel, collect it from the sides, and squeeze as much liquid as possible. You should have about 1 cup of shredded zucchini. Transfer it to a large bowl.
- Mix the ingredients: Add the turkey, panko breadcrumbs, chopped scallions, minced garlic, onion powder, Italian seasoning, paprika, red pepper flakes, egg, salt, and black pepper into the bowl. Mix until fully combined.
- Shape the meatballs: Using a small cookie scoop or a large spoon, divide the meat mixture into small golf-size balls. Each ball should be around 0.88 oz. Roll each turkey meatball between your palms and arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until the internal temperature of a turkey meatball reaches 165 degrees F when a thermometer is inserted in the middle.
- Serve: Enjoy it with your favorite sauce, or serve it with pasta.
- Store: You can store your leftover meatballs with or without tomato sauce. Either way, let them cool to room temperature before placing them in an airtight container. They will stay fresh in the fridge for about 3-4 days.
- Reheat: You can reheat your leftovers in the microwave or in the oven. Microwave in 30-second intervals, making sure to stir them after each interval (especially if you’re reheating them with tomato sauce). You can also reheat your turkey meatballs in the oven. I recommend a low-heat oven (300 degrees F) for about 5 minutes or so. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to serve your meatballs with tomato sauce, you can heat up the meatballs in the sauce on the stovetop.
- Freeze: If you decide to serve your turkey meatballs, you can freeze them with the sauce in an airtight container. However, I find it easier to freeze the meatballs individually so they don’t stick together. Place the leftover meatballs in a single layer on a large baking sheet, let them freeze, and then store them in an airtight container or freezer-safe plastic bag. However you choose to freeze them, they should keep for about 2 months.
- Thaw: Thaw your leftovers overnight in the fridge and reheat once completely thawed.
- Can I cook the turkey meatballs in a skillet instead of baking them in the oven? You sure can. To do so, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook, turning often, for 2-3 minutes on each side (a total of 5-6 minutes) or until the internal temperature of turkey meatballs reaches 165 degrees F. Transfer the pan-fried meatballs to a plate or place them right into warmed tomato sauce. Serve immediately.