Southwest Turkey Meatballs Recipe

Pushing the boundaries of classic meatballs, this Southwest Turkey Meatballs recipe is a perfect blend of savory, spicy, and healthy. Ground turkey is a lean source of protein, making it an ideal base for the concoction. Adding a kick of jalapeno and the freshness of cilantro and scallions creates a flavor profile that's sure to impress.

Southwest Turkey Meatballs Recipe

Photos of Southwest Turkey Meatballs Recipe

This recipe calls for some specific herbs and spices like cilantro and cumin, which might not be readily available in your pantry. Cilantro is a fresh herb often found in the produce section of the supermarket. It lends a unique, refreshing flavor to dishes. Cumin, a warm spice, can typically be found in the spice aisle. Lastly, do keep an eye out for 99% lean ground turkey, it's a healthier option but still delivers on taste.

Ingredients for Southwest Turkey Meatballs Recipe

Ground turkey: A leaner alternative to red meat, providing lots of protein without much fat.

Jalapeno: Adds heat to the meatballs, can be adjusted according to taste.

Garlic cloves: Adds a depth of flavor, an essential in most savory dishes.

Cilantro: Fresh herb that gives a bright, slightly citrusy flavor.

Scallions: Also known as green onions, they have a mild, slightly sweet flavor.

Bread crumbs: Helps bind the meatballs together and adds some texture.

Egg: Used as a binding agent in the meatballs.

Cumin: A warm, earthy spice that gives a depth of flavor.

Salt and pepper: Seasoning to enhance the flavor of the meatballs.

Cooking spray: Used to prevent the meatballs from sticking to the pan.

Creamy cilantro tomatillo dipping sauce: A tangy and creamy sauce, perfect for dipping the meatballs.

One reader, Karil Heinrich says:

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These southwest turkey meatballs are a game-changer! The combination of jalapeño, cilantro, and cumin gives them a burst of flavor. They're healthy, easy to make, and perfect for meal prep. I can't get enough of them!

Karil Heinrich

Key Techniques for Making Southwest Turkey Meatballs

How to prepare the meat mixture: Combine the ground turkey, minced jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, scallions, bread crumbs, egg, cumin, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well using your hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

How to roll the meatballs: Measure ¼ cup of the meat mixture and divide it in two, then roll each portion into a meatball about ⅛ cup in size. Place the meatballs on a lightly oiled baking pan.

How to make the creamy cilantro tomatillo dipping sauce: Combine tomatillos, cilantro, sour cream, lime juice, and salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning to taste.

How to bake the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Place the meatballs on the prepared pan and bake for about 15 minutes, or until they are cooked through and golden brown.

How To Make Southwest Turkey Meatballs

Taste the classic favorite meatballs but, this time, with turkey meat! This turkey meatballs recipe makes a delicious dish you will definitely make again!

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes



  • lbs99% lean ground turkey
  • 1jalapeno,seeds removed, leave some in for spicier meatballs
  • 2garlic cloves
  • ¼cupfresh cilantro,chopped
  • 3scallions,chopped
  • ¼cupseasoned plain,or gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 1large egg
  • 1tspcumin
  • pinch oregano
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • cooking spray
  • creamy cilantro tomatillo dipping sauce,optional for dipping


  1. Lightly spray a baking pan with oil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Place jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, and scallions into a small food processor or chopper and pulse a few times until finely minced.

  3. In a large bowl, combine turkey, chopped herbs, bread crumbs, egg, cumin, salt, and pepper.

  4. Using your hands, mix well and measure ¼ cup of meat, then divide in two making each meatball ⅛ cup in size.

  5. Roll and place on a baking pan.

  6. Bake meatballs at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

  7. Makes 24 meatball.


  • Calories: 85.82kcal
  • Fat: 4.70g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.13g
  • Trans Fat: 0.05g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 1.82g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.31g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.97g
  • Fiber: 0.25g
  • Sugar: 0.17g
  • Protein: 10.00g
  • Cholesterol: 48.10mg
  • Sodium: 137.04mg
  • Calcium: 19.12mg
  • Potassium: 143.93mg
  • Iron: 0.83mg
  • Vitamin A: 21.89µg
  • Vitamin C: 2.50mg

Helpful Technique for Making Southwest Turkey Meatballs

When forming your turkey meatballs, try to keep them all the same size. This ensures that they all cook evenly and at the same rate. If some meatballs are larger than others, they may require more cooking time and could result in smaller meatballs being overcooked. Using a measuring cup or a scoop can help achieve uniform size. Also, don't overwork the meat mixture as it can result in tough meatballs. Mix just until the ingredients are combined for tender, juicy results.

Time-Saving Tips for Making This Recipe

Prep ahead: Prepare the minced herbs and vegetables in advance and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Use a scoop: Utilize a cookie scoop to portion the meat mixture, ensuring uniform meatball sizes and saving time on shaping each one individually.

Double batch: Consider doubling the recipe and freezing half of the meatballs for future use, providing a quick and convenient meal option.

Invest in a chopper: A food chopper can expedite the process of mincing jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, and scallions, saving time and effort.

Prep station: Set up a designated workspace with all the necessary ingredients and tools to streamline the meatball assembly process.

Bake and freeze: Bake a large batch of meatballs and freeze the extras for later use, reducing the need for frequent preparation.

Substitute Ingredients For Southwest Turkey Meatballs Recipe

  • ground turkey - Substitute with ground chicken: Ground chicken can be used as a lean alternative to ground turkey, providing a similar texture and flavor profile.

  • jalapeno - Substitute with serrano pepper: Serrano peppers can be used as a substitute for jalapenos, offering a similar level of heat and flavor to the dish.

  • fresh cilantro - Substitute with fresh parsley: Fresh parsley can be used as a substitute for cilantro, providing a similar fresh and herbaceous flavor to the meatballs.

  • scallions - Substitute with chives: Chives can be used as a substitute for scallions, offering a mild onion flavor and a similar appearance when used as a garnish.

  • cumin - Substitute with chili powder: Chili powder can be used as a substitute for cumin, providing a warm and earthy flavor to the meatballs.

  • creamy cilantro tomatillo dipping sauce - Substitute with avocado lime dressing: Avocado lime dressing can be used as a substitute for creamy cilantro tomatillo dipping sauce, offering a creamy and tangy accompaniment to the meatballs.

Presentation Ideas for Southwest Turkey Meatballs

  1. Elevate the meatballs with a unique plating: Arrange the meatballs in a circular pattern on a large, elegant platter, garnished with fresh cilantro leaves and thinly sliced jalapeño for a pop of color and heat.

  2. Create a stunning dipping sauce presentation: Serve the creamy cilantro tomatillo dipping sauce in individual miniature ramekins placed on the platter, each garnished with a delicate cilantro sprig for an added touch of sophistication.

  3. Incorporate vibrant colors and textures: Accompany the meatballs with a vibrant side salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, and avocado slices, dressed with a zesty lime vinaigrette to complement the southwest flavors.

  4. Utilize elegant serving ware: Present the meatballs on a sleek, modern serving tray with a polished finish, adding a touch of refinement to the overall presentation.

  5. Incorporate artistic elements: Sprinkle a pinch of smoked paprika over the meatballs for a hint of smoky flavor and a visually striking touch, enhancing the overall appeal of the dish.

  6. Offer a variety of textures: Accompany the meatballs with a side of warm, freshly toasted corn tortillas, adding a delightful crunch and warmth to the dish.

  7. Emphasize precision and attention to detail: Ensure that each meatball is uniformly shaped and sized, showcasing the chef's dedication to culinary excellence.

Essential Tools for Making Turkey Meatballs

  • Baking pan: A flat, metal pan used for baking and roasting foods in the oven.
  • Food processor: A kitchen appliance used to chop, blend, and puree food quickly and efficiently.
  • Chopper: A handheld kitchen tool used for chopping and mincing ingredients.
  • Mixing bowl: A bowl used for combining ingredients and mixing them together.
  • Measuring cup: A tool used to measure liquid or dry ingredients accurately for cooking and baking.
  • Baking sheet: A flat, metal sheet used for baking and roasting foods in the oven.
  • Oven: A kitchen appliance used for baking, roasting, and heating food.

Storing and Freezing Southwest Turkey Meatballs

  • Once the meatballs have cooled completely, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To freeze the meatballs, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid (about 1-2 hours).
  • Once frozen, transfer the meatballs to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label the container or bag with the date and contents for easy identification.
  • Frozen meatballs can be stored for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat, place the frozen meatballs on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.
  • Alternatively, you can reheat the meatballs in a microwave-safe dish, covered with a damp paper towel, for 1-2 minutes on high power, or until heated through.
  • If reheating from the refrigerator, simply microwave the meatballs for 30-60 seconds, or until warmed to your liking.

How To Reheat Leftover Southwest Turkey Meatballs

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the leftover southwest turkey meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the meatballs are heated through and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). This method helps maintain the meatballs' texture and prevents them from drying out.

  • For a quicker reheating option, use the microwave. Place the meatballs in a microwave-safe dish and cover them with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until the meatballs are heated through. Be sure to check the temperature and stir the meatballs halfway through to ensure even heating.

  • If you want to add some extra flavor and moisture to your leftover meatballs, try simmering them in a sauce. Place the meatballs in a saucepan with your favorite tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, or salsa. Heat the meatballs and sauce over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are heated through and the sauce is bubbling. This method not only reheats the meatballs but also infuses them with additional flavor.

  • For a crispy exterior, reheat the meatballs in a skillet. Heat a small amount of olive oil or cooking spray in a skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning them occasionally, until they are heated through and the exterior is slightly crispy. This method works well if you plan to serve the meatballs as an appetizer or in a sandwich.

  • If you have a lot of leftover meatballs, consider using a slow cooker to reheat them. Place the meatballs in the slow cooker and add a small amount of broth, tomato sauce, or salsa to keep them moist. Cover and cook on low for 1-2 hours, or until the meatballs are heated through. This method is ideal for large quantities and helps keep the meatballs tender and flavorful.

Interesting Fact About Southwest Turkey Meatballs

The Southwest Turkey Meatballs recipe is a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional meatballs. These meatballs are packed with flavor from the jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, and scallions, giving them a unique Southwest twist. They are also lean, as they are made with 99% lean ground turkey, making them a great option for those looking to reduce their fat intake. Additionally, the creamy cilantro tomatillo dipping sauce adds a refreshing and zesty element to the dish. These meatballs are perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner or as a party appetizer. Enjoy!

Is This Turkey Meatball Recipe Budget-Friendly?

The Southwest Turkey Meatballs recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. Ground turkey is a budget-friendly protein, and the addition of simple, fresh ingredients keeps the overall cost low. With pantry staples like breadcrumbs and spices, the recipe offers great value. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $12-$15. Overall Verdict: 8.

Are Southwest Turkey Meatballs Healthy?

This southwest turkey meatball recipe is a healthy choice for several reasons:

  • Using 99% lean ground turkey reduces the overall fat content, especially saturated fat, compared to traditional beef meatballs.
  • The inclusion of fresh vegetables like jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, and scallions adds flavor and nutrients without relying on excessive salt or processed ingredients.
  • The recipe uses a moderate amount of breadcrumbs and a single egg as a binder, keeping the meatballs moist without adding unnecessary fillers.
  • Baking the meatballs instead of frying them reduces the calorie content and eliminates the need for additional oil.

To make this recipe even healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Replace the seasoned breadcrumbs with whole wheat breadcrumbs or rolled oats for added fiber and nutrients.
  • Incorporate additional vegetables into the meatball mixture, such as finely chopped bell peppers or grated zucchini, to increase the vitamin and mineral content.
  • Serve the meatballs with a side of roasted vegetables or a fresh salad to create a well-rounded, nutrient-dense meal.
  • Instead of a creamy dipping sauce, opt for a fresh tomato salsa or a Greek yogurt-based tzatziki sauce to reduce the calorie and fat content while still providing a flavorful accompaniment.

Editor's Opinion on Southwest Turkey Meatballs

The Southwest Turkey Meatballs recipe is a delightful fusion of flavors. The use of lean ground turkey, fresh herbs, and spices creates a light yet satisfying dish. The addition of jalapeño and cilantro tomatillo dipping sauce adds a zesty kick, elevating the overall taste. The recipe's simplicity and health-conscious approach make it a versatile option for various occasions. These meatballs are perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, a party appetizer, or even a protein-packed snack. Enjoy the vibrant Southwest flavors in every bite!

Enhance Your Southwest Turkey Meatballs Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad: Create a refreshing and zesty salad with roasted corn, black beans, cherry tomatoes, and a tangy lime vinaigrette.
Grilled Pineapple Salsa: Whip up a tropical salsa with grilled pineapple, red onion, jalapeño, and fresh lime juice for a sweet and spicy accompaniment.
Sweet Potato and Avocado Hash: Serve up a hearty and flavorful hash with roasted sweet potatoes, creamy avocado, red bell pepper, and a hint of smoky paprika.

Similar Recipes to Southwest Turkey Meatballs

Spicy Beef Tacos: These spicy beef tacos are a perfect weeknight dinner option. The combination of flavorful spices and tender beef will have your taste buds dancing!
Mango Salsa Chicken: This mango salsa chicken is a refreshing and tropical twist on a classic chicken dish. The sweet and tangy flavors of the mango salsa pair perfectly with the juicy chicken.
Creamy Avocado Pasta: Indulge in this creamy avocado pasta for a rich and satisfying meal. The creamy avocado sauce coats the pasta perfectly, creating a luxurious and delicious dish.
Berry Cobbler: This berry cobbler is a delightful dessert that showcases the natural sweetness of fresh berries. The buttery, crumbly topping adds the perfect finishing touch to this classic dessert.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for Southwest Turkey Meatballs

Spicy Shrimp Tacos: Create a flavorful appetizer by serving spicy shrimp tacos with a zesty lime slaw. The combination of spicy shrimp and tangy slaw will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.
Stuffed Mushrooms: Impress your guests with delicious stuffed mushrooms filled with a savory mixture of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs. These bite-sized appetizers are perfect for any gathering and will surely be a hit with everyone.
Chocolate Lava Cake: Indulge in a decadent, rich chocolate lava cake that oozes with molten chocolate when you cut into it. The warm, gooey center is the perfect contrast to the slightly crisp exterior, creating a symphony of textures and flavors.
Strawberry Cheesecake: Create a luscious and creamy strawberry cheesecake that is both tangy and sweet. The smooth, velvety texture of the cheesecake is complemented by the vibrant burst of fresh strawberries, making each bite a delightful experience.

Why trust this Southwest Turkey Meatballs Recipe:

This Southwest Turkey Meatballs recipe is a flavorful and healthy choice for any occasion. Made with lean ground turkey, fresh jalapeño, garlic, and cilantro, it offers a burst of flavor in every bite. The addition of cumin and oregano enhances the taste, while the creamy cilantro tomatillo dipping sauce adds a zesty kick. With the use of seasoned plain breadcrumbs and a touch of egg, these meatballs are bound to be moist and delicious. Trust this recipe for a delightful Southwest-inspired dish that's perfect for any gathering.

Share your thoughts on the Southwest Turkey Meatballs Recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum and let us know how they turned out!
How can I make the meatballs spicier?
If you want to add more heat to the meatballs, you can increase the amount of jalapeño or add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the meat mixture.
Can I make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them?
Yes, you can make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them. After baking, allow them to cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, simply reheat them in the oven or microwave.
What can I serve with the southwest turkey meatballs?
These meatballs are versatile and can be served in various ways. You can serve them as an appetizer with the creamy cilantro tomatillo dipping sauce, or as a main dish with rice, quinoa, or a salad.
Can I use a different type of meat instead of turkey?
Yes, you can substitute the ground turkey with ground chicken or lean ground beef if you prefer. The cooking time may vary slightly depending on the type of meat used.
Can I make the meatballs gluten-free?
Yes, you can make the meatballs gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs or almond meal as a substitute for the seasoned plain breadcrumbs. Additionally, ensure that the dipping sauce and other ingredients used are also gluten-free if needed.

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