Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs Recipe

Crafting a delightful blend of flavors, these turkey pesto and garlic meatballs are a must-try. The recipe involves creating juicy meatballs from ground turkey, flavored with pesto and garlic. The unique blend of spices enhances the overall taste, making it a perfect dish for a family dinner or a party.

Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs Recipe
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Most ingredients for this recipe can be found in a regular kitchen pantry. However, you might need to purchase basil pesto and lean ground turkey, which are the key components of this dish. They might not be available in every household but can be easily found in local supermarkets. Ensure to purchase traditional basil pesto for an authentic flavor.

The Essential Ingredients for Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs

Lean ground turkey: This serves as the base for the meatballs, providing the necessary protein.

Breadcrumbs: Used to bind the meatballs and give them a nice texture.

Egg: Acts as a binding agent for the meatballs.

Traditional basil pesto: Adds a unique, intense flavor to the meatballs.

Parsley: Freshens up the dish and enhances the flavor.

Tomato paste: Adds tanginess and richness to the sauce.

Garlic: A staple in many dishes, it adds depth and flavor.

Paprika: Brings a sweet-smoky flavor and a nice color.

Red chilli flakes: Adds a bit of heat to the dish.

Salt: Enhances the overall flavors.

Pasta sauce: Used for the sauce where the meatballs are simmered.

Condensed tomato soup: Adds thickness and richness to the sauce.

Fresh chopped parsley: Used for garnish and adds freshness to the dish.

Grated parmesan: Adds a savory, nutty flavor and is used for garnishing.

One reader, Lacy Leger says:

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These turkey pesto and garlic meatballs are a game-changer! The flavors are so rich and the meatballs are incredibly juicy. The pesto and garlic add a delicious twist. It's a must-try for anyone looking for a flavorful and healthy meal. I highly recommend it!

Lacy Leger

Techniques Required for Making Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs

How to shape meatballs: Take a portion of the meatball mixture and roll it between your palms to form a round ball shape.

How to pan-fry meatballs: Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and add a small amount of cooking oil spray or a drizzle of olive oil. Place the meatballs in the pan and cook until the underside is golden brown. Flip the meatballs and continue cooking until browned on both sides.

How to simmer meatballs in sauce: Once the meatballs are browned, pour in the tomato sauce and tomato soup. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer the meatballs in the sauce on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are cooked through.

How to garnish and serve: Sprinkle the cooked meatballs with fresh chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese. Serve the meatballs over spaghetti, quinoa, or rice.

How To Make Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs

Savor a filling dinner with these turkey garlic meatballs made with pesto, parsley, and spices, then simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce.

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes



For Meatballs:

  • 2lbslean ground turkey,(1 kg), or beef, pork or chicken, minced
  • 1cupbreadcrumbs,or almond meal for lower carb
  • 1large egg
  • 4tbsptraditional basil pesto
  • ¼cupparsley,chopped
  • 2tbsptomato paste
  • 4clovesgarlic,crushed or minced
  • 2tsppaprika,sweet or smokey
  • ¼tspred chilli flakes,optional, for a nice kick
  • 2tspsalt,to season

For Sauce:

  • 17ozpasta sauce of choice,or crushed tomatoes
  • 15ozcondensed tomato soup,or passata / tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper,to taste
  • fresh chopped parsley,to serve
  • grated parmesan,to serve


  1. Combine all meatball ingredients in a large-sized bowl. Shape into meatballs.

  2. Spray a nonstick pan with cooking oil spray or grease with a drizzle of olive oil and pan-fry meatballs until the underside is golden. Turn them and cook until browned on both sides.

  3. Pour in tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes) and the tomato soup (or passata/sauce). Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.

  4. Simmer on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

  5. Garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese, and serve over spaghetti or quinoa, or rice.


  • Calories: 448.74kcal
  • Fat: 18.62g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.20g
  • Trans Fat: 0.16g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 4.82g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 4.37g
  • Carbohydrates: 33.93g
  • Fiber: 4.24g
  • Sugar: 12.21g
  • Protein: 36.67g
  • Cholesterol: 137.82mg
  • Sodium: 994.98mg
  • Calcium: 136.56mg
  • Potassium: 1188.21mg
  • Iron: 4.83mg
  • Vitamin A: 120.24µg
  • Vitamin C: 14.88mg

Crucial Technique for Perfectly Shaped Meatballs

When making your meatballs, it's important to not overmix the ingredients. Overmixing can result in tough and chewy meatballs. Instead, gently combine the ingredients until they are just mixed together. This will ensure your turkey pesto and garlic meatballs are tender and juicy. Additionally, when pan-frying, make sure not to overcrowd the pan. This allows the meatballs to brown evenly, giving them a delicious, caramelized exterior.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing This Recipe

Prep ahead: Prepare the meatball mixture in advance and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use. This will save time on the day of cooking.

Use a food processor: Utilize a food processor to quickly combine the meatball ingredients, ensuring even distribution of flavors and saving time on prep work.

Bake instead of pan-fry: Consider baking the meatballs in the oven instead of pan-frying to save time and effort while still achieving delicious results.

Double the batch: Make a larger quantity of meatballs and freeze the extras for future use, saving time on meal prep for busy days.

Organize ingredients: Before starting the recipe, gather and organize all the ingredients and kitchen tools needed to streamline the cooking process.

Multi-task: While the meatballs are simmering, use that time to prepare any side dishes or accompaniments to create a well-rounded meal efficiently.

Invest in quality tools: Quality kitchen tools such as sharp knives, efficient food processors, and non-stick pans can significantly reduce prep and cooking time.

Simplify the sauce: Opt for a store-bought pasta sauce or tomato soup to save time on making the sauce from scratch without compromising on flavor.

Substitute Ingredients For Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs Recipe

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

  • traditional basil pesto - Substitute with sun-dried tomato pesto: Sun-dried tomato pesto can add a rich and tangy flavor to the meatballs, complementing the garlic and enhancing the overall taste.

  • breadcrumbs - Substitute with panko breadcrumbs: Panko breadcrumbs can provide a lighter and crispier texture to the meatballs, adding a delightful crunch.

  • large egg - Substitute with flaxseed egg: A flaxseed egg can be used as a vegan alternative to bind the meatball mixture together.

  • parsley - Substitute with fresh basil: Fresh basil can offer a similar herbaceous flavor to the meatballs, enhancing the overall taste.

  • tomato paste - Substitute with roasted red pepper paste: Roasted red pepper paste can add a smoky sweetness to the meatballs, elevating the depth of flavor.

  • paprika - Substitute with smoked paprika: Smoked paprika can provide a deeper, smokier flavor to the meatballs, enhancing the overall taste profile.

  • red chili flakes - Substitute with cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper can add a spicy kick to the meatballs, providing a similar heat level to the dish.

  • pasta sauce of choice - Substitute with marinara sauce: Marinara sauce can be used as a versatile substitute, providing a rich and savory base for the meatballs.

  • condensed tomato soup - Substitute with vegetable broth: Vegetable broth can be used to create a lighter sauce base, adding depth of flavor without the creaminess of tomato soup.

  • grated parmesan - Substitute with nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast can offer a cheesy, umami flavor to the dish, providing a vegan-friendly alternative to parmesan.

Presentation Tips for Serving Meatballs

  1. Elevate the plating: Arrange the meatballs in a visually appealing manner, ensuring they are evenly spaced and not overcrowded on the plate. Use negative space to create balance and allow the dish to shine.

  2. Garnish with finesse: Sprinkle freshly chopped parsley over the meatballs with a gentle hand, ensuring an even distribution. This adds a pop of color and freshness to the dish.

  3. Incorporate texture: Consider adding a delicate sprinkle of grated parmesan over the meatballs to provide a contrasting texture and a subtle umami flavor.

  4. Focus on precision: Pay attention to the placement of the pasta or accompaniment, ensuring it complements the meatballs without overshadowing them. Each element should be meticulously placed.

  5. Emphasize the sauce: Use a small ladle to carefully drizzle the rich tomato sauce around the meatballs, creating an artistic and appetizing presentation.

  6. Consider the serving vessel: Choose a sophisticated, high-quality plate or bowl that complements the colors of the dish and enhances the overall presentation.

  7. Add a touch of elegance: Consider incorporating a sprig of fresh basil or a drizzle of high-quality olive oil as a finishing touch, adding a touch of sophistication to the dish.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Turkey Meatballs

  • Large mixing bowl: You will need a large mixing bowl to combine the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, pesto, parsley, tomato paste, garlic, paprika, and red chili flakes for the meatballs.

  • Nonstick pan: A nonstick pan is essential for pan-frying the meatballs until they are golden brown on both sides.

  • Cooking oil spray or olive oil: You can use cooking oil spray or a drizzle of olive oil to grease the nonstick pan for cooking the meatballs.

  • Spatula: A spatula will be useful for turning the meatballs while they are being pan-fried.

  • Saucepan: You will need a saucepan to simmer the tomato sauce, tomato soup, and meatballs together.

  • Serving dish: A serving dish will be used to present the finished turkey pesto and garlic meatballs.

  • Grater: A grater will be needed to grate the parmesan cheese for garnishing the meatballs.

  • Chopping board and knife: These tools will be used for chopping and mincing the garlic and parsley for the meatballs.

  • Measuring cups and spoons: Measuring cups and spoons will be used to accurately measure the ingredients for the meatballs.

  • Stove or cooktop: A stove or cooktop will be used for cooking the meatballs and simmering the sauce.

  • Serving utensils: You will need serving utensils such as tongs or a serving spoon to plate the turkey pesto and garlic meatballs.

Storing and Freezing Instructions for Meatballs

  • Allow the meatballs to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • To freeze the meatballs, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid (about 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 with the date and contents.
  • Frozen turkey pesto and garlic meatballs can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat the meatballs, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator (if frozen) and then reheat in a covered skillet or saucepan over low heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. You can also reheat the meatballs in the microwave, covered with a damp paper towel to maintain moisture.
  • If you want to freeze the meatballs with the sauce, allow both the meatballs and sauce to cool completely before combining them in a freezer-safe container. Leave some space at the top of the container to allow for expansion during freezing.
  • When reheating the meatballs and sauce together, thaw the mixture overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat in a covered skillet or saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat the meatballs and sauce in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds to ensure even heating.

How To Reheat Leftover Meatballs

  • To reheat leftover turkey pesto and garlic meatballs, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the meatballs in an oven-safe dish and cover with foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. This method helps to retain the moisture and flavor of the meatballs while preventing them from drying out.

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

  • If you have leftover sauce as well, you can reheat the meatballs and sauce together on the stovetop. Place the meatballs and sauce in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the meatballs are heated through and the sauce is simmering. This method allows the flavors to meld together and can make the meatballs even tastier than when they were first cooked.

  • For a crispy exterior, you can reheat the meatballs under the broiler. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with foil and broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned and crispy. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning.

  • If you have a lot of leftover meatballs, you can freeze them for later use. Allow the meatballs to cool completely, then place them in a freezer-safe container or bag. When ready to eat, thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight and reheat using one of the methods above.

Interesting Fact About Turkey Meatballs

The meatball was originally invented in the Roman Empire around 2,000 years ago. Meatballs were made from various types of meat, including fish, and were seasoned with a variety of spices. The dish has since evolved and is now enjoyed in various forms and flavors around the world.

Is Making Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs Cost-Effective?

This turkey pesto and garlic meatballs recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. Ground turkey is an affordable and lean protein option, and the addition of breadcrumbs and eggs helps stretch the meat further. The use of pasta sauce and tomato soup adds depth of flavor without breaking the bank. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people would be around $15-$20. Overall, this recipe offers a budget-friendly way to enjoy a flavorful and satisfying meal. Verdict: 9.

Is This Recipe Healthy or Unhealthy?

The turkey pesto and garlic meatballs recipe has both healthy and unhealthy aspects. On the positive side, using lean ground turkey as the base for the meatballs is a healthier choice compared to ground beef, as it is lower in saturated fat and calories. The addition of parsley and garlic provides some beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. However, the recipe also includes some less healthy ingredients, such as breadcrumbs, which are a refined carbohydrate, and condensed tomato soup, which can be high in sodium and added sugars. The use of pasta sauce and parmesan cheese also contributes to the overall sodium content of the dish.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Replace the breadcrumbs with a whole grain alternative, such as quinoa or rolled oats, to increase the fiber content and reduce refined carbohydrates
  • Use a low-sodium pasta sauce and opt for a homemade tomato soup instead of condensed soup to reduce the sodium content
  • Increase the amount of vegetables in the dish by adding sautéed spinach, zucchini, or bell peppers to the sauce
  • Serve the meatballs over a bed of zucchini noodles or whole grain pasta to boost the nutrient density of the meal
  • Use a reduced-fat parmesan cheese or sprinkle the dish with nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor without the added saturated fat

Editor's Thoughts on This Delicious Meatball Recipe

This turkey pesto and garlic meatballs recipe is a delightful twist on a classic dish. The combination of lean ground turkey, traditional basil pesto, and aromatic garlic creates a flavorful and juicy meatball. The addition of tomato paste and paprika adds depth to the dish, while the sauce, made with pasta sauce and condensed tomato soup, brings a rich and comforting element. The final touch of fresh parsley and grated parmesan elevates the dish, making it a versatile and satisfying meal. Whether served over spaghetti, quinoa, or rice, this recipe is sure to impress with its delicious flavors and textures.

Enhance Your Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and a hint of buttery goodness.
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest: Tender asparagus spears grilled to perfection and topped with a zesty lemon zest for a burst of freshness.
Honey Glazed Carrots: Sweet and tender carrots glazed with honey for a delightful touch of sweetness.
Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette: A refreshing mix of greens tossed in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette for a light and crisp side dish.
Garlic Breadsticks: Soft and fluffy breadsticks brushed with garlic butter and baked to golden perfection for a savory side to complement the meatballs.

Similar Recipes to Try If You Love These Meatballs

Creamy Chicken Alfredo: This creamy and indulgent pasta dish is perfect for a cozy night in. The tender chicken and rich alfredo sauce will satisfy your cravings.
Mango Salsa Chicken: Add a tropical twist to your chicken dish with this flavorful mango salsa. It's a refreshing and vibrant addition to your dinner table.
Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad: This hearty and nutritious salad is packed with roasted vegetables and fluffy quinoa. It's a great option for a light and satisfying meal.
Berry Cobbler: Indulge in the sweet and juicy flavors of mixed berries in this classic cobbler. The buttery topping adds the perfect crunch to every bite.

Appetizer and Dessert Ideas to Complement the Meatballs

Stuffed Mushrooms: Create a savory and indulgent appetizer by stuffing mushrooms with a mixture of cream cheese, garlic, herbs, and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden and serve hot for a crowd-pleasing starter.
Caprese Skewers: Assemble skewers of cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves for a colorful and refreshing appetizer. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with sea salt for an elegant and simple starter.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder for an elegant and decadent dessert experience.
Apple Crisp: Savor the warm and comforting flavors of baked apples, cinnamon, and a crunchy oat topping in this classic apple crisp. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect balance of sweet and tart.

Why trust this Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs Recipe:

This recipe offers a delightful twist on traditional meatballs, using lean ground turkey and flavorful basil pesto to create a lighter, healthier option. The addition of garlic and tomato paste infuses the meatballs with rich, savory flavors, while the combination of pasta sauce and tomato soup in the sauce creates a luscious, well-balanced finish. With the aromatic blend of parsley and a sprinkle of grated parmesan, this dish promises a satisfying and delicious meal that's perfect for any occasion.

Have you tried this Turkey Pesto and Garlic Meatballs Recipe? Join our Recipe Sharing forum to share your experience and discuss any tweaks or variations you made to the recipe.
Can I use a different type of meat for the meatballs?
Yes, you can substitute the ground turkey with ground chicken, beef, or pork, depending on your preference.
Can I make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them?
Absolutely! You can prepare the meatballs and freeze them on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or airtight container. When ready to use, simply thaw them in the refrigerator before cooking.
Can I use store-bought pesto for this recipe?
Yes, you can use store-bought pesto if you're short on time. However, if you have the opportunity, making your own pesto will enhance the flavors of the meatballs.
What can I serve with the turkey pesto and garlic meatballs?
These meatballs are versatile and can be served with spaghetti, quinoa, rice, or even on a bed of mixed greens for a lighter option.
Can I adjust the level of spiciness in the meatballs?
Absolutely! You can adjust the amount of red chili flakes to suit your spice preference. Start with a small amount and add more if you prefer a spicier kick.

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