Spicy Turkey Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

Turkey meatballs can be tricky because turkey has a very mild flavor which is kind of the opposite of what you want in a meatball.  However, by adding a little heat with red pepper and fresh ingredients like minced garlic and onion, you can transform your boring turkey into something flavorful and robust.


For a few years now, I have attempted to switch out hamburger meat with ground turkey whenever possible.  I do this primarily for two reasons: 1) Turkey is less expensive than beef and 2) Turkey is more environmentally friendly than beef.

Notice that I did not list “turkey is healthier than beef”.  The idea that turkey is dramatically healthier than beef is kind of a misconception.  If you look at the labels for ground turkey and ground beef that both have the same fat content (ie 85% lean), you’ll notice that the aren’t actually that different in terms of calories or fat.  Turkey has a little less saturated fat, but it also has less iron and potassium.




I stuffed these meatballs with mozzarella.  It sounds like a good idea, but I’ve tried this twice now and it seams like a lot of the mozzarella melts and oozes out onto the pan, making kind of a big mess.  It is also a little bit time consuming to do, so next time I make these I think I will skip the mozzarella. Maybe if you try it out, you will have better luck than I did!

Spicy Turkey Meatballs

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 55 minutes


  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 24-32oz marinara sauce


  • 4oz mozzarella (cubed)


1. Preheat oven to 375°f.
2. Grease baking sheet. Combine and mix all ingredients except for marinara and mozzarella, if you're using it. Form 2" meatballs, poke hole and add cheese if you choose. Arrange on sheet.
3. Bake meatballs for 30 minutes. Heat up sauce in large sauce pan over medium-low heat. When meatballs are done, add them to sauce and bring to a simmer for about 2 minutes.

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