Hands-down the best baked turkey meatballs that are juicy and won’t fall apart, thanks to one secret ingredient! And you’ll love the bold Mediterranean flavors from fresh herbs, feta, and a little bit of spinach.
Juicy turkey meatballs with a Mediterranean twist!
Ground turkey may not be your first choice for meatballs, but this recipe for lighter, truly juicy baked turkey meatballs may change your mind!
No, you won’t get the same exact flavor as you would from baked beef meatballs. That’s not really the goal of this recipe. But, with garlic, onions, a little feta, and a generous sprinkle of herbs like parsley and mint, these ground turkey meatballs are every bit as delicious.
The secret to juicy meatballs that don’t fall apart
When it comes to lean turkey meatballs, two big and related questions seem to frequently come up: How to make them juicy? And why do they fall apart?!
My secret to the juiciest baked turkey meatballs is a humble slice of toasted bread that’s been soaked in water then squeezed dry before adding to the meatball mixture!
The soggy bread acts as a binder and helps add moisture to the meat mixture. Together with an egg and a little bit of good extra virgin olive oil, the bread (or binder) will help prevent the baked turkey meatballs from shrinking too much and turning tough.
Ingredients – what you’ll need to make ground turkey meatballs
This easy turkey meatballs recipe with spinach requires a few simple ingredients. Here is what you’ll need:
- 1 slice whole wheat bread, crust removed – DO NOT skip this! As mentioned earlier, this bread, soaked in water, is the secret to moist, juicy meatballs. For gluten-free, simply swap out whole wheat bread for your favorite gluten-free variety.
- Extra virgin olive oil – Use about a tablespoon to cook the spinach. I used our Hojiblanca Spanish EVOO: Its mildly bitter, fruity, slightly peppery finish makes it a great choice for cooking.
- Baby spinach – You need two cups of spinach, which you’ll wilt briefly. Adding a vegetable like spinach (which has an easily hidden flavor) is a great way to sneak extra nutrients into your meals – especially if you have picky eaters at home!
- Ground turkey (1 pound) – Substitute with an equal amount of ground chicken if you prefer. Or you can use both ground turkey and ground chicken. (Use half a pound of each.)
- Yellow onion – Grate it to make it easier to incorporate into the meatball mixture.
- Minced garlic cloves – I used 3 cloves to make the meatballs garlicky, but not overwhelmingly so.
- Feta cheese – For best flavor and moisture, use blocks of feta in the brine and crumble it yourself for this recipe. Pre-crumbled feta is dry and will not meld well with the other meatball ingredients.
- 1 egg, beaten – Eggs act as a binder in meatballs, preventing them from falling apart.
- Chopped fresh parsley – Fresh parsley adds a peppery, slightly earthy finish to the meatballs.
- Dried crushed mint – In this recipe, 1 tablespoon of dried mint adds bright freshness.
- Lemon zest (optional) for garnish
How to make turkey meatballs
- Toast and soak the bread. This is one of the most important steps of this recipe. A slice of soaked bread will both moisten the turkey meatballs, and also act as a binding agent. Start by toasting 1 slice of whole wheat bread (or other bread of your choice) until light brown. Transfer the lightly toasted bread to a shallow dish and add water to cover. Let the bread soak for around 5 minutes, or until it is very tender. Squeeze the bread dry and discard any remaining water.
- Cook the spinach. Heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until just wilted. This will only take a few minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the spinach to cool while you move onto the next step.
- Make the meatball mixture. In a large mixing bowl, add 1 pound ground turkey, 1 grated yellow onion, 3 cloves minced garlic, ½ cup crumbled feta, 1 beaten egg, ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, and 1 tablespoon dried mint. Add the bread and wilted spinach. Season with kosher salt and black pepper, and mix well to combine.
- Form the meatballs. Lightly oil a sheet pan. Form the turkey mixture into golf ball-sized balls and arrange them on the sheet pan. Don’t place them too close together or they may fuse together while baking.
- Cook the meatballs. Bake the ground turkey meatballs in a 400 degrees F heated oven for about 30 minutes or until fully cooked through. (Cooked ground turkey will have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when measured with a meat thermometer.) Turn on the broiler and transfer the sheet pan to the top rack of the oven. Broil for 2 minutes or so, or until the tops of the meatballs are nicely browned. Serve immediately with a salad or side of your choice.
Serve them with
These turkey meatballs with spinach are nutritious and full of Mediterranean flavors that pair well with a variety of sides. They’re delicious as the main protein in a light meal with roasted vegetables or over a salad, like this Fennel Orange Salad or Greek salad. I like to add a little tzatziki sauce for dipping!
If you’re planning to feed a little crowd, you can serve these turkey meatballs as an appetizer. Simply stick a toothpick into each one and serve on a platter, and if you want to up the feta factor, then add a bowl of whipped feta dip next to the meatballs!
How to freeze and reheat turkey meatballs
This is one of my favorite ground turkey recipes because these healthy turkey meatballs are perfect for meal prep! I like to make a big batch by doubling the recipe and freezing the meatballs for later. They will freeze well for 1 to 3 months, but for best flavor, I don’t freeze mine for more than 1 month. There are two options to freeze turkey meatballs:
- Freeze uncooked meatballs. Make the meatball mixture, form it into balls and arrange them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the freezer for an hour or so, until the meatballs are solid. Then transfer the meatballs to a freezer-safe container or bag and seal well. Store until you are ready to eat them. (Like cooked meatballs, raw meatballs keep for up to 3 months in the freezer, but I try to use them in a month.) You can bake the prepared meatballs from frozen following the recipe – they might just take a bit longer to cook.
- Freeze cooked meatballs. You can fully cook these meatballs in advance before you freeze them. Just allow them to come to room temperature, and transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Freeze for about an hour, and then transfer the meatballs to a container or a freezer-safe bag and seal well. They can be frozen for up to 3 months, but will retain more flavor and moisture if eaten in a month or so. To reheat, place the meatballs on a lightly oiled baking sheet and warm in a 400 degrees F heated oven for about 10 minutes or until warmed through.
Leftovers and storage
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Alternatively, you can freeze the turkey meatballs (see my tips above!) and simply reheat them in a 400 F heated oven until they are cooked through.
More meatballs recipes to try
Turkey Meatballs with Spinach and Feta
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 slice whole wheat bread crust removed
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 yellow onion grated
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- ½ cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1 egg beaten
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried crushed mint
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Toast the bread until just brown then transfer it to a bowl and add water to cover. Allow it to soak for about 5 minutes or until very tender. Discard the water and squeeze the bread very dry and crumble it a bit with your hands.
- In a skillet heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Add the spinach and cook briefly over medium heat until just wilted. Remove from the heat and let cool briefly.
- Make the meatball mixture. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground turkey, onions, garlic, crumbled feta, egg, parsley, and mint. Add the bread and wilted spinach. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Form the mixture into balls (golf ball size) and arrange them on a large lightly oiled sheet pan.
- Bake in the heated oven for about 30 minutes or until fully cooked through.
- Transfer to the top rack and turn the broiler on for just a couple of minutes or until the tops are browned.
- Serve immediately with salad of your choice.
- This recipe will feed 4 for dinner or 8 as an appetizer.
- For juicy turkey meatballs that won't fall apart, don't skip the bread! A slice of bread lightly toasted and then soaked in water. Don’t skip this ingredient! Soaked bread helps to add moisture and to bind the turkey meatballs so they don’t fall apart.
- To freeze and reheat turkey meatballs. You can freeze the meatballs before or after you bake them. To freeze uncooked meatballs: make the meatball mixture, form it into balls, and place the meatballs on a sheet-pan lined with parchment paper. Freeze for an hour or so, until the meatballs are solid. Then transfer the meatballs to a freezer-safe container and store until you are ready to eat them. (They will freeze well for up to 3 months, but I try to eat mine in about a month.) You can bake the prepared meatballs from frozen – they might just take a bit longer to cook. When they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, the baked turkey meatballs are cooked. Alternatively, you can fully cook the meatballs in advance. Allow them to come to room temperature, and transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Freeze for about an hour, and then transfer to a container and store in the freezer. To reheat, place the meatballs on a lightly oiled baking sheet and warm in a 400 degrees F heated oven for around 10 minutes.
- Meal-prep tip: To make a large batch of these easy turkey meatballs, you can double the recipe, and freeze the meatballs. For best flavor, I recommend freezing them for no more than a month.
- Serve them with: For a light meal, add the meatballs over a salad such as Fennel Orange Salad or Greek salad. You can also dunk them in my homemade pasta sauce and serve them with your favorite pasta or over plain rice. As an appetizer, you can serve these meatballs with tzatziki sauce or whipped feta dip next to the meatballs!
- Leftovers and storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Alternatively, you can freeze the turkey meatballs (see my tips above!) and simply reheat when you feel like eating them again!
- Visit Our Shop for quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils (In this recipe, I used our Spanish Hojiblanca EVOO) and spices.