Our turkey zucchini meatballs are a great way to get those hidden veggies on your kids’ dinner plates with no fuss! That’s because they’re just as moist and juicy as your average meatballs. With the help of a few herbs, garlic, onions, squash, and lean turkey, our kid-friendly, healthy meatball recipe is one you’ll look forward to eating again and again!
Content Covered Here
Why We Love Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
- They’re packed with flavor and nutrients.
This is one healthy meatball recipe that’s as tasty as it is good for you! The lean protein and vitamins in poultry satisfy the stomach while strengthening the body with zinc, iron, potassium, and more.
- Only 15 minutes of prep required!
Most of the time spent with this recipe is waiting for these zucchini turkey meatballs to bake. Once the dishes are cleaned and the table is set, they’ll be ready to eat.
- Freeze them for easy eats later on.
These fun-sized, healthy turkey meatballs fit easily in a plastic baggie for freezing, thawing, and serving later on. That is to say, they’re perfect for meal prep!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Turkey – Use poultry that is very lean — 93% lean, 7% fat, if possible. Prepared properly, this flavorful protein can be subbed in for beef in all of the classics, from baked rigatoni to our favorite stovetop chili!
- Zucchini – Grate your squash as finely as you can and squeeze as much moisture out as possible. Too much moisture makes zucchini meatballs mushy!
- Parmesan – We recommend shredding this cheese right from the block, as the pre-shredded options don’t tend to melt well. If you were hoping for something cheesier, give these turkey sausage balls a try — we pack 3 different kinds of cheese in there!
- Balsamic Vinegar – It adds so much flavor, and the fruity, Mediterranean flavor of this vinegar makes these turkey zucchini meatballs absolutely mouthwatering. Red wine or apple cider vinegar can be used in its place.
Healthy Meatball Recipe – Tips for Success
- Take care not to overmix.
More than anything else, this is the most common cause of a tough meatball — whether it be turkey, beef, or otherwise!
You can use a silicone spatula, but we recommend using your hands to mix everything until just combined. To make this easier, mix all of the seasonings in one bowl and all of the vegetables in another. Then, combine before adding to the egg and meat so that you’re not unevenly dispersing any one ingredient throughout the mix.
- Use your hands to form the balls.
These don’t bind like beef-based recipes do. The ground turkey meatball mixture is much looser, wetter, and doesn’t hold together as well.
So after forming with the scoop, which is helpful for getting the proper amount, take a moment to roll the ball between your hands to smooth it out and secure the shape. Then, plop them right in the pan!
- Space them out for proper baking.
Like with any recipe featuring high-moisture ingredients, you’ll risk steaming these oven-baked turkey zucchini meatballs if you’re not careful.
When arranging the balls in the dish, leave at least an inch of space between each so that there’s room for the exteriors to bake and caramelize.
Turkey Zucchini Meatballs Recipe FAQ
The most likely cause is overcooking. The color of your turkey zucchini meatballs will make it slightly difficult to gauge doneness by sight alone — they don’t brown the same way beef does.
Use a thermometer for help! Stick into the center of one ball. Once it reaches 165°F, they’re ready to come out.
The secret, particularly when working with poultry, is baking a little longer at a lower temperature to maintain moisture while baking.
Additionally, you don’t want to pack them too tightly or squeeze themwhile forming. Be loose and gentle throughout the process!
Eggs act twofold as a binder and as a tenderizer, keeping whatever meat you use moist and soft. But if you add too many, the mixture will end up firm yet spongyonce baked.
We use a ratio of one egg per pound of poultry in our healthy meatball recipe, and we’ve found these come out just right every time!
Storing and Reheating Zucchini Meatballs
Keep leftovers no longer than 4 days in the fridge to avoid foodborne illness.
Store in an airtight container and reheat in the oven at the same temperature until just warmed through — they reheat pretty quickly! You could also microwave in short bursts until warm.
What to Eat With Meatballs (Instead of Pasta)
While we’re thinking of this healthy meatball recipe, let’s think of some serving alternatives to pasta
Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
- 2 pounds lean ground turkey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 medium zucchini finely grated and excess liquid squeezed out
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese grated (1/2 cup after grating)
- ½ cup fresh parsley finely chopped plus extra for garnish
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 Tablespoons minced dried onion or 1 tablespoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F. and spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir gently to combine with a mixing spatula or your hands, being careful not to overwork the mixture.
- Using a medium-sized (2-tablespoon) scoop, portion out 24 meatballs, one at a time. **Each meatball should weigh approximately 1.6 ounces before baking.
- Carefully and gently roll the mixture between the palms of your hands, to create a smooth ball. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared baking dish, leaving a little space between each one, so they bake rather than steam.
- Place dish in the preheated oven and let the meatballs cook for 18-20 minutes. **Meatballs are properly cooked when their internal temperature reaches 165°F and the ground turkey is no longer pink.