Stuffed with fresh mozzarella and seasoned with parsley, garlic, and pesto, these Baked Turkey Meatballs are juicy, tender, cheesy, and so flavorful. They’re the perfect addition to spaghetti, sliders, soups, and more.
The Best Baked Turkey Meatballs
I have no problem declaring this turkey meatball recipe the best. These meatballs are not only tender, juicy, and perfectly flavored…they’re also stuffed with fresh mozzarella!
In addition to your standard meatball ingredients, like breadcrumbs and garlic, I added pesto sauce to infuse basil flavor throughout, as well as a splash of milk to keep the mixture extra moist. Olive oil is drizzled on the top before baking to make the outside extra crisp and golden. Then, when you dig in, just the perfect amount of fresh, gooey mozzarella is there waiting for you.
Baked turkey meatballs with cheese are the perfect accompaniment to your next plate of spaghetti and can be used in nearly every recipe that calls for beef meatballs.
Ground Turkey Meatballs Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make these juicy, cheesy turkey meatballs.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Lean ground turkey – We prefer the Jenni-O brand of ground turkey over others we’ve tried. It’s less wet and sticky, so it’s easier to work with.
- Onion and Garlic – For wonderful aromatics and flavor.
- Bread crumbs – Italian-seasoned bread crumbs help give the meatballs structure and add delicious spices in every bite.
- Egg – Acts as a binder and helps hold everything together.
- Parmesan – Freshly grated parmesan for optimal results.
- Pesto sauce – I used our homemade pesto for best flavor, but store-bought is fine, too. Use a really good quality brand.
- Milk – Whole or 2% milk are recommended, but even skim works fine – whatever dairy milk you have on hand.
- Seasonings – Salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.
- Fresh mozzarella pearls – The perfect size for stuffing inside the meatballs.
- Olive oil – Drizzled over the top of the meatballs before they go into the oven for a nice, golden outside.
What Type of Mozzarella to Use?
For this recipe, I used fresh mozzarella pearls, which are essentially tiny rounds of fresh mozzarella cheese. Fresh mozzarella comes in different sizes like an 8-ounce ball, smaller Bocconcini, and even smaller Ciliegine. Perlini (pearls) are the smallest.
Mozzarella pearls come in a tub of water (or marinated) and can be found in the cheese section of your market. You want the pearls for these meatballs – they’re the perfect size for stuffing. If you can’t find them, buy an 8-ounce ball and dice it up into small pieces.
How to Make Turkey Meatballs
Making cheese stuffed meatballs is easy. Here’s a brief summary:
(For all the details, scroll down to the complete printable recipe card and don’t miss the video below.)
- Combine the ingredients. Mix together all of the ingredients, except the cheese and olive oil.
- Form the meatballs. Use a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to form the mixture into balls. Insert a mozzarella pearl into the center and form the meatball around it. Repeat with all of the mixture.
- Bake. Arrange the meatballs on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake and serve as desired.
Tips for Success
For the best turkey meatballs, follow these tips:
- Be sure to fully enclose the cheese. Once you add the mozzarella to the center, be sure to fully close the meatball around it. If you leave any holes than the cheese will ooze out.
- Make all meatballs the same size. This is easy with a cookie scoop but if you’re forming the balls without one, be sure to make each one the same size.
- Can I make these without cheese? Yes, if you want ground turkey meatballs without a cheese filling, simply omit the cheese and form the mixture as normal.
- How long to bake turkey meatballs? It takes approximately 22 minutes to bake these meatballs through, but time may vary depending on your oven and how big you form the balls. To be sure, use an instant read thermometer. It should read 165F when it’s fully cooked.
- Don’t over-bake. Cooking them too long will result in dry, crumbly meatballs. We want them to be juicy and tender!
These turkey meatballs can be used as an appetizer or entree. They can be added to sandwiches, salads, and pasta, or coated in sauce and served on their own. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy them:
- On top of a big plate of pasta with the absolute best homemade spaghetti sauce.
- Tossed with marinara sauce and used for meatball sliders.
- Added to Lemon Orzo Meatball Soup.
- Used to make Grape Jelly Meatballs and served as an appetizer.
How to Freeze, Store, and Reheat
- To freeze homemade meatballs. These turkey meatballs freeze super well. I recommend making a double batch and freeze them, so you always have some on hand. Pull out as many or as few at a time. To freeze, prepare as directed in the recipe card. Let cool to the touch; then place meatballs on an ungreased cookie sheet and freeze, uncovered, until solid. Then transfer to a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. You can thaw overnight in the fridge or reheat from frozen.
- How to store leftovers. Leftover baked turkey meatballs can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months, as directed above.
- How to reheat leftovers. Leftovers from the fridge can easily be reheated in the microwave. Frozen meatballs can be reheated in the oven (350F for 20 minutes) or air fryer (400F for about 10 minutes). If adding them to a soup, it’s usually better to thaw them overnight in the fridge.
More Meatball Recipes:
- Italian Meatballs
- Grape Jelly Meatballs
- Beef Kofta Meatballs
- Swedish Meatballs
- Chicken Chorizo Meatballs
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1/3 cup Italian-seasoned dried bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup finely diced onion
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 1 large egg , beaten
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
- 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls (*see note below)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients (except the mozzarella and olive oil) until evenly incorporated.
- Using a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, form mixture into balls. Insert a mozzarella pearl into the center and seal the meatball mixture around it so it is completely enclosed. Repeat with the remaining meatballs.
- Arrange meatballs on the prepared baking sheet with space in between. Drizzle the tops with the olive oil.
- Bake until no longer pink on the inside and the outsides are golden, about 22 minutes. (The meatballs are done when an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F. See note below.)
- Serve as desired with spaghetti, as sliders, or in soup.