Turkey Meatballs and Quick Homemade Marinara

by jenna on September 30, 2010

Today I made meatballs.

And before you all start to freak out and tell me just how uncool meatballs are, let me explain myself.

Okay fine, the truth is that I just wanted meatballs. They’re not only great to make ahead of time and freeze, but they’re also just pretty darn tasty. Plus, they’re superrrrrrrr photogenic.

No? You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

I make mine with ground turkey instead of beef and bake them instead of fry them. I like to be healthy, you know?

Here’s what you need for success:

Now, remember when I told you last night I broke the can opener trying to open some pumpkin?

Yeahhhhh…..Don’t try that at home.

By some grace of God, I didn’t chop off any digits AND successfully got all the tomatoes into the VitaMix.

After I blended these babies up, I poured the puree into a large dutch oven and added oregano, salt and garlic. Your house will smell like Grandma’s–promise!

That is, if your grandma is Italian. Mine is Norwegian and her house smells more like butter and sugar.

Let this simmer for about twenty minutes so it thickens up a bit and meanwhile, start on yo meat!

Actually, first, combine a half cup of milk with a half cup of bread crumbs and let it sit for a sec. I like to use Panko because that’s what my mom uses.

Now, in a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, a minced shallot (I know I took a picture earlier of an onion but turned out, that onion was rotted on the bottom so we had to improvise!), salt, parsley and red pepper flakes.

Are you ready??? Now comes the fun part!

Awwwww yeahhhhhh get in there with your paws and mix, mix, mix! And then form golf ball sized meatballs and lay ’em out on a greased baking sheet.

See? Aren’t they so photogenic??

Bake the balls at 375 for twenty minutes. Then, gently drop them into the tomato sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, egg noodles, spaghetti squash or just plain!

I’m actually transporting these to Almanzo’s in a little bit for football food while we watch his Aggies, but I just had to try one. You know, to make sure they were alright!

I guess they’ll do.

Turkey Meatballs in Homemade Tomato Sauce

Serves 4-6

1.5 lbs ground turkey (lean but not *extra* lean)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice

1 large shallot, minced

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, minced

Puree your tomatoes in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour into a large dutch oven or heavy saucepot and bring to a simmer with the oregano, garlic and a half teaspoon of the salt. Let simmer for about twenty minutes to thicken.

Combine the milk and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and let stand for five minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, a teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes, minced shallot and the soaked breadcrumbs. Mix well with your hands and form small balls.

Bake the meatballs at 375 for twenty minutes. Once done, drop into tomato sauce and serve plain or with pasta!

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{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope September 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm

On Twitter, you made it sound like you shaved your head, lol. It looks great!


Evan Thomas September 30, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Yeah, you don’t look like a boy at all! Much better than the crew cut/Demi Moore I was expecting.


Liz @ LBBakes September 30, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Love the cute haircut! Makes me want to chop mine!


GirlOverboard September 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Yeah, I was expecting a pixie cut. The short hair is super adorable!


Laine September 30, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I was picturing a pixie! Maybe next time…


Becca@ Start Over From Scratch September 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Meatballs look amazing! So does your hair!!!


Shanon September 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm

The meatballs look amazing! Almost like the tailgating food we had today but I have to say “GO COWBOYS!” That’s the way we roll in Stillwater, OK! :)


Allie (Live Laugh Eat) September 30, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Your hair is gorgeous!! As are those meatballs.


Jessica @ The Process of Healing September 30, 2010 at 5:17 pm

LOVE LOVE LOVE your hair!!!!!!!
(The meatballs don’t sound half bad either 😉 )


Meredith @ An Epic Change September 30, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Jeez I was expecting a super short cut, too!! Very cute. Also, we must be on the same wavelength today (or at least, I’ll flatter myself thinking that) because I was using ground turkey tonight in picadillo. And, for Almanzo, HOOK EM HORNS!!! mwahaha.


Jillian @ reshape your life September 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Your hair looks amazing! And so do those meatballs. :) hope almanzo likes them!


Janna@Janna's Keeping it Real September 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm

adorable hair!!


Kendra September 30, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I love making meatballs, those ones look really good. I use turkey instead of beef as well.

My grandmother is Native American so I’m not sure what her kitchen should smell like.


Lacey @ Lake Life September 30, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Incense, firewater and peace pipe. Lol my grandparents are full-blood Native American, but their kitchen never actually smelled like anything, lol,


Jasmine @ Eat Move Write September 30, 2010 at 5:25 pm

AW! Cute hair. I think that’s your go-to length. Young, fun, blonde. Perfect.

I really think this recipe looks good. I’ve yet to ever manage to make truly tasty turkey meatballs. How’s that for alliteration? Maybe this recipe will be the winner.


Sana September 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Oh you are so dramatic! I thought you were bald! You look adorable!!!


Sarah R September 30, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Love the hair! Super super cute! And now I’m craving meatballs.


M September 30, 2010 at 5:34 pm

You’ve had your hair this length before. It’s definitely not a dramatic difference!


Thetreadmilldiaries September 30, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Nothing wrong with a good meatball now and then. I like to make mine with beef but the 96% lean kind. Sooo good. Yours look pretty delish too.


stacey-healthylife September 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I love turkey meatballs. I’m going to try this recipe.


Jessica @ How Sweet It Is September 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Love your hair!


chelsey @ clean eating chelsey September 30, 2010 at 5:41 pm

LOVING the new ‘do!! It is super cute! My mom always baked her meatballs instead of frying them – actually, I never even knew most people fried theirs until you mentioned it!


Estela @ Weekly Bite September 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Super cute hair :)


Kasey September 30, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Love the hair cut!!


Food & Other Things September 30, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Turkey meatballs are a comfort food for me! I’ll have to try this recipe out soon!


eatmovelove September 30, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Yeah the hair looks great! I can see what you mean though – it was super long before. You look older now – but in a good way…more chic :)

This recipe looks great – I love meatballs. Why not “extra-lean” turkey? Just curious – I’m lucky if I can find Lean around here! Bah.

…and what’s a Dutch Oven?


jenna September 30, 2010 at 5:56 pm

it’s best to have a little fat in there so they don’t get dry!


fittingbackin September 30, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Just found your blog – awesome! This recipe looks great – love the idea of healthifying the meatballs – thanks for sharing!!


Gina September 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Your hair looks great!…
and the meatballs sound delicious. Thanks for the recipe =]


Rocio September 30, 2010 at 5:57 pm

YUM!!!! Those meatballs look like they rocked!!!!


Kath September 30, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Clearly all onions are rotten


Michelle September 30, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Love the new hair cut!!!!


Erin September 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Truthfully, I’m a vegetarian who gets intense meat cravings and this is NOT helping. 😉


Nicole@TheSaltedKitchen September 30, 2010 at 6:05 pm

LOOOOVE your hair… and the meatballs;) You look so sophisticated with the new do!


Jamie @ Food in Real Life September 30, 2010 at 6:06 pm

The balls look awesome! Totally photogenic, just like you! :)


Mary @ stylefyles September 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Your hair is pretty. I was just thinking about chopping mine into something very similar. But then I got all confused because I’ve been growing it out and it’s sort of nice to have long hair that actually stays in a ponytail. Ahhhh – decisions!


tina September 30, 2010 at 6:16 pm

love the hair cut!!! you’ve been cooking SOOO much lately! i wish i had time to too!


Nadia Jaber September 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm

How much parsley did you use?


Krystina September 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm

You look beautiful.


Katherine @ Left Coast Contessa September 30, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Love the hair cut!


Page September 30, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Meatballs look DELISH! Thanks for the healthy recipe and your hair looks super cute!!


Lindsay R. September 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I have a hair appt in 2 weeks and after growing my hair long for 5 years, I’m looking for something new! And I love yours!! What does the back look like? :)


dragonfly180 September 30, 2010 at 7:10 pm

yummy! i just made turkey meatballs a few nights ago, but i was doubly bad – i made meatball stroganoff pasta!


Lisa (bakebikeblog) September 30, 2010 at 7:11 pm

oooh yummo! What a tasty dish!


Amy September 30, 2010 at 7:13 pm

I love turkey meatballs– I find they turn out light and moist.


Kelly September 30, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Those meatballs look delicious! And your haircut looks fabulous!


Lacey @ Lake Life September 30, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Those look delicious- and of course you have to try any food you make for your man! It’s a chick rule right? 😉


Liz @ Tip Top Shape September 30, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Who said meatballs were uncool??? They are wrong. Definitely. They look amazing!! Definitely a photogenic food 😀


Kerry September 30, 2010 at 7:25 pm

I can’t believe you made meatballs tonight! I did too but they were the ultimate meatball from esquire or details that my husband demanded I make… They had ricotta and prosciutto they were ridiculous but the garlic bread and apple crisp was even more ridiculous. I hope your meal was great!


Angharad September 30, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Ohhh he’s an aggie?! Sad. Just kidding, I care zero about football. I do however care about meatballs. And nice hair. Both are occurring here. #ftw


Jenny September 30, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Hey Jenna!! What do you do with all of this leftover delicious looking food?! I’ve been working from home recently and love experimenting with some of the recipes in the blog world and making them my own, but I have gallons of tupperware in the fridge and feel like it’s all going bad. How long can cooked lentils stay in your fridge for ya know??! haha


Suzanne de Cornelia September 30, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Your hair looks beautiful! Very healthy looking. Nice length for fall! Am making prawns, baby bok choy, garlic, butter + red thai curry paste stir fry in a wok–right aft this glass of wine 😉

From #1 cocktail of #1 mixologist in the world per Forbes magazine. They sell more of these at Paris Ritz than anything else:

If you’re going to be a sissy–here’s it is in english 😉 hehe


Em - The Lady Pastor September 30, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Cute hair!
Cute meatballs!



Ariffa September 30, 2010 at 7:58 pm

GAH i did the exact same thing to open a can tonight, why can’t can openers be a little thicker skinned? why? oh well, i feel bad ass opening a can with a knife any how.


Moni'sMeals September 30, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Now that is some meat balls!
I LOVE the cut, good call sista. I am envious of your boldness. 😉


Amber K September 30, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Your cute hair almost makes me forgot how much I hate meat. My husband would LOVE this recipe!


Maria @ Oh Healthy Day September 30, 2010 at 8:52 pm

I agree. Meatballs are totally cool. As is your haircut.


Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) September 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Meatballs are TOTALLY cool. They are one of my favourite foods EVER.


Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] September 30, 2010 at 9:19 pm

LOVE the hair!


stephanie@Avocado Nation September 30, 2010 at 9:33 pm

You have got to try cooking the meatballs IN the sauce. Trust me, it’ll change your life. They melt in your mouth when you eat them. I won’t eat my meatballs any other way.


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) October 1, 2010 at 2:36 am

Per your post yesterday, yes, you did cut a few inches of your blond locks! Looks sassy and cute!

I am not a meatball girl, vegan or real meat or any kind. I just dont like meatballs but I could talk hair forever! I just posted today about my new Brazilian Blowout (hair) not waxing…hah! But anyway, your hair looks great!


Lauren at KeepItSweet October 1, 2010 at 3:23 am

your haircut looks great!!


A Teenage Gourmet (Sami) October 1, 2010 at 4:05 am

I love, love, love your blog. The butternut squash pancakes are calling me.


Joelle (The Pancake Girl)) October 1, 2010 at 4:20 am

Even thought the name is kind of gross, I love meatballs. 😉 Big italian families are all about them for Pasta Sundays.

CUTE hair! I’m trying to decide if I want to chop my hair or grow it- haircut today!


jenna October 1, 2010 at 5:08 am

cute cute cute hair!!!!!


MyThy as in "Mighty" October 1, 2010 at 5:09 am

Cute bob haircut! Perfect for going into fall and winter!

I make my meatballs the same way except I squish a tiny block of mozzarella in them before baking. That way you get a surprise yummy ooeey gooey in every bite! =)


Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) October 1, 2010 at 5:30 am

That knife in the can completely freaks me out…haha. But I’m glad you managed to get those tomatoes open, and it looks like it was well worth it for that sauce and meatballs.

Oh, and I love, love, love meatballs. They are totally cool, in my book. 😀


Tina October 1, 2010 at 5:34 am

I want these meatballs in my belly.

How are you!?!?!?!??!


Heather October 1, 2010 at 6:16 am

Jenna – I love the new direction you have been working with for the blog. I am glad you are staying true to you, and honestly I like reading your posts 10x more than before. I’m going to be making those meatballs asap. Happy Friday!


Andrea October 1, 2010 at 6:22 am

Love the haircut. And oh, the balls look good too. :)


Daisy October 1, 2010 at 6:55 am

andddd your hair looks awesome!


Heather (Heather's Dish) October 1, 2010 at 7:41 am

i love the haircut! so cute :) and meatballs are TOTALLY photogenic! at least yours are 😉


Natalia - a side of simple October 1, 2010 at 7:45 am

Lovin’ the new do! Looks great.

Since I found out I’m allergic to gluten I’ve been making meatballs with quick cooking oats instead of panko or regular breadcrumbs. Have you ever heard of that? I definitely recommend the oats! They give them a hearty, nutty taste.


Kelly October 1, 2010 at 9:34 am

You can also use steel cut oats as the binder and that works well too. I have also done turkey meatballs with gluten-free gingersnaps as the binder. I crush them fine in the food processor…they are so yummy!!!


Rachel @ The Avid Appetite October 1, 2010 at 8:27 am

Love meatballs! Cooked any way, on anything, or by themselves. Yum!


R @ Learning As I Chop October 1, 2010 at 9:05 am

What’s wrong with meatballs? They’re versatile, fun and easy to make!


Sarah @ BikingNBaking October 1, 2010 at 9:26 am

I love making meatballs! The first time I tried making them I used my vitamix! It worked but I probably wouldn’t do that ever again!

p.s. Love the haircut!


Kelly October 1, 2010 at 9:33 am

Looks wonderful! Perfect some Aggie football watching. I went to A&M (class of 03) and was sad last night as I watched OSU win in the final seconds of the game…seriously it was a let down..we were so close!!!


The Healthy Apple October 1, 2010 at 9:41 am

My mouth is watering; you just inspired me to create meatballs tnite! Hehe..have a fabulous weekend!


Allison K October 1, 2010 at 10:03 am

Cute hair cut, but why on earth would we say you looked like a boy?!?


Ali @ Food, Fitness, Fashion October 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

I bookmarked this! I can’t wait to make it this week for me and the hubs! He loves turkey meatballs :) So simple and delicious.


Kim (Imperfectly Perfect) October 1, 2010 at 10:41 am

Meatballs and sauce (aka gravy) totally remind me of my grandma. I still remember when I initially started losing all of my weight and I turned down one of my grandma’s meatballs. Hers were fried and definitely not healthy. You’d think I stabbed her in the back from the look of horror on her face. I felt horrible, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. 😉 Yours look great!


Lisa October 1, 2010 at 10:55 am

That looks really good. Our recent attempt at meatballs was a little lackluster.


Jil October 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Cute haircut!!


Rachel Wilkerson October 1, 2010 at 1:22 pm

SO glad I have some ground turkey in my fridge, just waiting to be turned into meatballs! This sounds delicious!!


Kelly October 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Wow just made these meatballs and sauce for my family and they were a hit. So easy and yet so yummy. I added parsley because I saw in the picture you did as well ,but not in the recipe.. Thank you so much this reciepe is a keeper.


Gracie October 1, 2010 at 7:00 pm

your new haircut looks adorable! Anyhow, I tried the recipe, and the meatballs seems alittle soft? I’m not sure. hahaha, will try with maybe a little less milk and homemade breadcrumbs instead of panko next time.

Thanks for the recipe and the pictures are beyond gorgeous!



Jessica October 2, 2010 at 5:38 am

Those look super yummy!! (and your new haircut is super cute!)


AllieNic @ Frisky Lemon October 2, 2010 at 10:51 am

um…meatballs are uncool? Then I must be uncool…because I loves me some meatballs…

My boyfriend’s mom makes old school meatballs in sauce every once in a while and they are the BEST! I probably eat about five of them every time she makes them.


Marie October 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Your haircut looks so good! :) It makes me want to cut mine shorter!


Teresa @ vinogals October 3, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I made these turkey meatballs tonight and my husband and I loved them! I had them over spaghetti squash and my husband used pasta. Mmmmm. It was a great home cooked meal for a fall Sunday night. Thanks! Now back to watching NFL.


helly October 4, 2010 at 2:58 pm

my gma was also norsk 😉 would love to see a holiday post with norwegian christmas treats like sandkake or krumkake! my mom bakes about 50 loaves of julekake every year at christmastime. so tasty! love the cardamom. (just searched your site and saw the post where you made the lucia buns; very cool!)


Danielle October 6, 2010 at 11:04 am

Thanks for the recipe! i’m making these tonight!


Lori December 30, 2010 at 6:22 am

Making these tonight!


Heidi - Apples Under My Bed January 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm

mmmm I LOVE meatballs! & I agree, so very photogenic.
Heidi xo


karen January 7, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I’m the only one who goes out to dinner and orders spaghetti and meatballs, or so I thought….must try this recipe for my super bowl party.


rach May 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Made this today. Super-easy. Extra-delicious cold, straight out of the fridge!!!!!!!!


Karen May 19, 2012 at 4:47 am

When I read you had a Vitamix I got excited! I just got my Vitamix last week and I think I’ve used it like three times a day since I got it. It was worth every penny.


Elizabeth April 4, 2014 at 1:02 pm

How much parsley do you recommend? I noticed that it’s not listed in the ingredients but I see it in the pictures. Thanks! You are my cooking guru!


mary dowdy August 1, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Hi how much parsley? You hve dried oregenonin the ingredient list but in the picture fresh parsley. Do you use both?


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