Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs

turkey meatballs in a oval bowl on an ornate porcelain tiled counter
Easy | 1 ½ HRS | 12 Large meatballs

Several years ago my long-time assistant Lakiia had a recipe for Oprah’s favorite turkey meatballs. We made them. Unfortunately, they weren’t my favorite, but they inspired me to come up with my own recipe which has become quite a favorite, not only for the Nourishing Well clients but also for my family and friends. They are so delicious and pretty easy to make.

These meatballs freeze beautifully so if 12 is too many for you freeze what you don’t need.


  • 4 cups of your favorite pasta sauce, either homemade or from a jar. If you’d like a recipe for a quick and easy, very tasty sauce check out Marilyn’s Cheater Marinara
  • 1 ½ pounds ground turkey - I prefer a mix of dark and light meat for this, but any will be fine.
  • ¾ pound mild turkey sausage, removed from casing
  • 4 eggs – 2 for the meatballs, 2 for dredging
  • 4 oz grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup panko or for gluten-free finely crushed organic crispy brown rice cereal– divided – ½ for inside meatballs, ½ for dredging
  • 1 teaspoon salt (optional for lower salt meatballs)
  • Optional: Big pinch of ground black pepper
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup white flour or gluten-free flour blend
  • If your deep-frying: 2 quarts organic, refined sunflower oil, or olive oil as needed for baking or air-frying




Have your favorite pasta sauce ready in a large deep 12” skillet – the meatballs will finish cooking in the sauce.

In a large bowl combine the ground turkey, the sausage removed from the casing, 2 eggs, ½ cup panko or finely crushed crispy brown rice for gluten-free, the parmesan, parsley, cream, salt, and if using: crushed red pepper flakes and ground black pepper (these will make it nice and spicy if that’s what you’d like). Mix everything together, being careful not to over mix. Shape into meatballs and set aside. These meatballs will be pretty big if you’re making 12. Of course, you can make smaller ones and get more out of this recipe.

Put the flour on a plate or in a shallow bowl. In another bowl whisk 2 eggs with a splash of heavy cream and in a third bowl or plate place the panko/or crushed up brown rice crisps.

Lightly coat the meatballs in flour, then dip in egg then roll in the panko/crispies.

You can either deep fry these meatballs, cook them in the air fryer or bake them. I know a lot of people are afraid of deep-frying. Not so for me but I really like the air fryer since I don’t have to stand over them and keep an eye on them. Any of these techniques work well.

Here’s how to do the three techniques:

To deep fry

Put 2 quarts organic refined sunflower oil* into a deep fryer or a large heavy pot suitable for frying and heat to 360º.

Set up a wire rack over a rimmed sheet pan. This will be used to drain the meatballs after they are fried.

Using a slotted spoon or spider strainer, carefully add one or two meatballs at a time, up to 6 meatballs total, into the hot oil. Cook the meatballs until they are golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on the wire rack.

In an air fryer

Lightly coat the meatballs in oil. Some people prefer spray oil for this but I hate the waste of those cans, so I just put a little oil on a plate and roll the meatballs in it.

Place as many meatballs as comfortably fit in your air fryer without touching. Set the temperature to 375º and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. The crust will not be a golden brown, like you get with deep frying, but it will be nice and crispy.

Bake in the oven

Set the oven temperature to 350º. Put the meatballs on a rimmed sheet pan and cook for about 30 minutes.

Finish cooking the meatballs in pasta sauce

Start to heat the sauce while the meatballs are cooking.

Once the meatballs are cooked by one of the methods, put them into the sauce to simmer for at least 20 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked throughout. They are done when the thermometer reads 165º.


Inspired by Oprah’s favorite turkey meatballs

Related Spices and Marinades