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Moist And Tender Extra-Lean Turkey Meatballs

Extra Lean Turkey Meatballs

Extra Lean Turkey Meatballs -Clean & Delicious®

It’s no secret that extra lean ground turkey can be a little dry and tough once it’s cooked up.  So the challenge with this recipe was to find a way to keep these meatballs lean without sacrificing moisture, tenderness, and taste.

And my friends, I’m happy to report, “Mission Accomplished”!

Here are my three ‘not-so-secret’ tips for moist and tender,extra-lean meatballs:

  1.  Minced mushrooms.  Mushrooms are packed with water and they release their moisture as they cook which helps keep the meatballs moist and tender. 
  2. Ground flax seeds.  Fat is not a bad thing.  As a matter of fact having healthy fats in our diet is super important but some fats are better than others.  Adding flax seed to the lean turkey is a great way to add in some healthy fats (omega-3’s) and cut back on the saturated fats that would come in a ground turkey with a higher fat content.
  3. Simmer, simmer, simmer.  This gives the veggies (ie. onions and mushrooms) time to cook and release their moisture and flavor into the meatballs making once again, a tender and moist meatball!

Do you guys have any tips for keeping lean cuts of meat tender and delicious? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

And be sure to come back Monday to see the the Open Faced Meatball Parmesan Sandwiches that I like to make with leftover meatballs!

*Oh and by the way… I had a friend over the night I made these and he said (and I quote), “Wow, I have to say, these are even better than Whole Foods Turkey Meatballs, and theirs are really good”.

Extra Lean Turkey Meatballs

Yield: 6 servings


1.25 lb of extra-lean ground turkey
6 cloves of minced garlic
½ an onion, minced
½ cup of minced mushrooms
1/3 of cup of oat flour
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
2 egg whites
1 tbsp. of worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup of grated Romano cheese
1 tsp. of nutmeg
8 oz. of frozen, chopped spinach - drained really well
Big pot of marinara sauce (I used 3-28oz. cans tomatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot over medium heat, simmer a big pot of tomato sauce (you can either make home made or use store bought sauce - either works just fine). You will need about 8-10 cups of sauce (2-3 28 oz. cans of tomatoes if you are making your sauce).

In a large bowl combine turkey, garlic, onion, mushrooms, oat bran, flax seeds, Worcestershire, cheese, nutmeg, egg whites, spinach, salt and pepper.  Work it together until everything is well combined.  Smell it… maybe you want to give it a hit of red pepper flakes or a shake of Oregano… do what you like… make it yours☺.

Take about two tbsp. of meat mixture and form into a ball about the size of a golf ball you should have 18 meatballs when you're done. Once you form all of your meatballs, one-by-one drop them into the simmering sauce.

Allow them to cook forty-five minutes to an hour…. enjoy!!

Serves 6.

Nutrients for three meatballs w/ one cup of sauce: Calories: 295; Total Fat: 4.2g; Saturated Fat: 1.5g; Cholesterol: 58mg; Sodium: 139mg; Carbohydrate: 34.8g Dietary Fiber: 2.7g Sugars: 2.1g Protein: 30.6g

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24 comments on “Moist And Tender Extra-Lean Turkey Meatballs

  1. Ooh, such a timely post! I made turkey meatballs (instead of beef) for the first time this past weekend, and they were good, but not quite the same – I’ll try some of your tips and see if I can get better results next time. One thing I have noticed is that browning them helps keep in more moisture — I brown mine in a cast iron skillet with a minimal amount of oil. It also helps them cook faster which is always nice!

  2. Joanna – I often brown them first as well, but on this particular day I just didn’t feel like dealing with an extra step…and honestly, the results were better than I expected. But I hear ya, if time is the issue at hand…definitely browning is the way to go:)!!

  3. These turkey meatballs sound really good. Thanks for the moistness tips. I think that the mushrooms would be great additions for their flavour alone but they also help in other ways. I like the sound of simmering the meatballs in marinara sauce.

  4. any suggestions for those of use who loathe mushrooms?

  5. Dani,
    I have heard that grated onion also keeps meatballs moist. Mushrooms are a great idea though, I have never heard of that! And I bet they would complement the meat very well, because they are so meaty themselves.

    I’m inspired! I love turkey burgers and turkey meatballs. They taste better to me than ground sirloin.


  6. Kevin – You got it…I hope you give them a try:).

    Katie – Well, first off….honestly, you don’t even taste them BUT if there’s just no way…the onions add moisture too or maybe you can try adding some minced up celery and carrots. At the end of the day, if they are simmering, any veggies should release some moisture!

    Anticiplate – You hit the nail on the head…onions help out a ton! At the end of the day any diced veggies will do the job:)!!

  7. OATMEAL!! Keeps them super moist! That’s what I use in my turkey meatball (I hope you don’t mind me linking)

  8. Roni – Oatmeal is a great idea…thanks!

  9. I have a LOT of lean venison to use and was thinking about doing meatballs with some of the ground venison–I think your tips will be great for helping me keep them from drying out. Thanks!

  10. Sally – You got it…I hope they turn out D’LISHES:)!!

  11. I use applesauce, along with spinach, onions and other seasonings. The applesauce makes the meatballs moist and they get a nicely carmelized exterior.

  12. Shelia Donaldson Reply

    I have not tried this yet, but I am going home today and fix some for my husband and I.

    If you know other ways to cook Turkey meat that would help me, so much.

    What do you think about dairy products, are they not good for you?

  13. I have tried this recipe twice and LOVE IT!! Thank you for publishing it. I will try other recipes here now. I just have one suggestion, which is that if you fry the meatballs in oil first (about 12 minutes, getting all sides), this will prevent them falling apart in the sauce. Because they are very moist and tender, the first time I tried it some of them fell apart (not too badly, though). Of course, frying in oil takes more time but it did work. Thanks again! -MelR

  14. I am simply delighted to have found this recipe & made it tonight. I used bottled sauce & added a tablespoon of sugar to cut the acidity of it. I will experiment with omitting the nutmeg – I used freshly grated & just a tiny tad less than the recipe called for because I am not wildly fond of it as a general rule. Also I will experiment with grinding oats instead of using oat bran because we always have oatmeal on hand. Having said all of this, however, this recipe is just fabulous exactly as it is & will be a staple around here. I used a 1/8 cup measuring scooper & actually got 29 golf size balls out of it. I am flash freezing half of them on a cookie sheet right now for placing in a Zip-lock bag for other uses. My meatballs did not at all fall apart so I am thrilled to skip any frying/browning step. I gently made sure each meatball was completely covered in sauce & then I did not disturb them until I felt they had somewhat set up to hold their shape. Then I gently simmered them for an entire hour. One would be hard pressed to find a comparable turkey meatball as tender as these that wasn’t all bread as a filler instead of nice healthy ingredients. I used whole grain angel hair pasta. Thanks so much. I will look at some of your other recipes now.

  15. One thing I tried that my family ended up loving: Put one of the very small cans of tomato paste into the mix for the meatballs. Comes out so tasty and moist.

  16. I agree with exactly what you said about adding veggies (zucchini works too!) to up the moisture. I also discovered a great recipe for turkey meatballs that has pureed cannellini beans added in, and those are awesome too!

  17. I tried these this week and they were so wonderful & moist! Seriously some of the best meatballs I have ever tried! On accident I forgot to add the Romano cheese until after I had already made all the meatballs and I couldn’t really tell that I had forgotten it.

    Since only my husband and I were the ones that would be eating these I actually froze half the batch (already made up into meatballs) for another day :)

    Thanks so much for the wonderful recipes! I am planning to try the Shrimp Tacos next!

  18. These are the best meatballs I have ever tasted! I did add some pepper flakes for some heat and I also seared them before adding the sauce. Definitely a keeper!

  19. I made these tonight. Absolutely amazing

  20. Hi. I have a few question. It says to simmer on medium heat but I noticed that the sauce was bubbling so much so that it was splashing at the top of the lid. Here’s my questions.
    1.) Do we simmer on medium hear the entire 45-60 minutes that the meatballs are cooking?
    2.) Do we simmer on medium while we are getting the meatballs together? Is the sauce supposed to boil that way?

    Thanks so much.

    • Basically you want to bring the sauce ego a boil and reduce to a simmer…. it should simmer while the meatballs are in the pot. I may have had my heat a little high in the video but the good news is that they are hard to mess up:) Pretty simple recipe!

  21. Very soft-textured, moist meatballs, Danigirl! It truly does melt in your mouth. Had a big smile on my face when noticing my guests went back for more! Sure glad I had extra on hand. By the way Dani, would it be a good idea to serve it over spaghetti squash? Or not really a good idea? What are your thoughts?

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