There’s nothing that says comfort like meatballs. These Italian turkey meatballs are super tender and flavorful, gluten free, dairy free and low fat. So feel free to come back for seconds or even thirds.
These are the meatballs we can’t stop eating. One of my favorite weeknight dinners is these homemade turkey meatballs simmered in Rao’s (store-bought) marinara sauce with angel hair pasta, or with spaghetti squash, for a healthy, low-carb dinner.
What sets these turkey meatballs apart from classic Italian style meatballs is ground turkey instead of ground beef and pork. And, unlike most Italian style meatballs, there’s no cheese, bread or milk in this recipe. These little polpette (Italian for “meatballs”) get all their flavor and texture from vegetables. Onions and garlic, of course. And a surprise ingredient, grated sweet potato, which gives the meatballs a wonderful texture and an earthy sweetness. There’s also tomato paste in the mix, which adds rich umami flavor to the meatballs. Chickpea flour makes the mixture just dry enough to roll, yet leaves it with a super tender consistency.
How to make these tasty Italian turkey meatballs:
- Combine ground turkey (I like to use half dark meat and half light meat) with chopped onion, minced garlic, an egg, tomato paste, grated sweet potato, salt and pepper. (I grated the sweet potato on a box grater and then chopped it more finely on a cutting board.) Add 3 tablespoons of gluten free flour. I used a mix of garbanzo bean and fava bean flour from Bob’s Red Mill.
- Refrigerate the mixture for at least a half hour to firm it up and making rolling easier. Roll up the meatballs and sauté them in a little oil, to brown them.
- In a saucepan, combine the meatballs with your favorite store-bought marinara sauce and gently simmer them for 25 minutes.
- Serve Italian turkey meatballs with pasta or spaghetti squash or zoodles.
By the way, if you don’t mind gluten in your meatballs, feel free to use bread crumbs instead of gluten-free flour. I’ve tested the recipe with bread crumbs and so did my oldest son, who’s s a bit of a meatball expert. He makes meatballs every Monday night for “Meatball Monday,” and invites friends over. Here’s what he texted me one Monday night when he made these: “These meatballs are so amazing…my friends are going nuts for them…they’re the softest meatballs I’ve made so far.” I was very happy to get that text. 🙂
I want to give a shout out to my friend Nina who gave me the idea of putting sweet potatoes in meatballs. Such a genius idea. Thank you Nina!
Other delicious ground turkey recipes to try
- Ottolenghi’s Turkey-Zucchini Meatballs
- Turkey Falafel Meatballs
- Sicilian Turkey Meatloaf with Potatoes Capers and Wine
- Quick Turkey Ragu
Here’s the Italian Turkey Meatballs Recipe. If you make these, I hope you’ll come back and leave a star rating and a comment. I’d love to know what you think.Print
Italian Style Turkey Meatballs
These turkey meatballs are extra tender and flavorful and naturally gluten free, made with lean ground turkey, grated sweet potatoes, chickpea flour and tomato paste.
- Prep Time: 40 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 25 mins
- Yield: 4-5 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Italian-American
- 1 pound ground turkey (I suggest using dark meat or half white meat, half dark meat)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion (1/2 a medium onion)
- 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic (2 medium cloves)
- 1 large egg
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup finely grated and chopped sweet potato. Grate it on a box grater, using the largest holes and then chop it finely on a cutting board.
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or double the amount for more of a kick (I recommend Aleppo pepper or Maras pepper, if you can find it. Otherwise, use black pepper)
- 3 tablespoons garbanzo bean flour or garbanzo bean & fava bean flour Or substitute bread crumbs, if you like.
- 2–4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (such as light olive oil or canola)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine ground turkey, onion, garlic, egg, tomato paste, sweet potato, salt and pepper. Stir with a fork until everything is well mixed. Sprinkle in flour and stir or knead with your hands until just combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour or up to 4 hours. If you omit this step, the mixture will be mushy and harder to shape into balls. The longer you chill the mixture, the easier it will be to roll the meatballs.
- Set a large plate on your work surface. Roll all the meat into balls – a heaping tablespoon at a time. Set the meatballs on the plate as you go. If your hands get sticky, fill a small bowl with ice water and dip your hands in periodically. If your hands are cold and wet, the meat is less likely to stick to them.
- Once all the meatballs are rolled, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, in a large heavy skillet, preferably cast iron or non-stick. Once the oil is nice and hot, add half the meatballs and sauté them for 5 minutes or so, turning them gently with a spatula every minute or so, to brown them on all sides. Transfer the browned meatballs to another plate. Cook the rest of the meatballs, adding more oil if the pan is dry.
- Return all the meatballs to the skillet or to a saucepan, if you need a large vessel, and add 4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce and 1/2 cup of water. Gently simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 25 minutes, until they’re cooked through. Serve with pasta or spaghetti squash or zoodles.
Keywords: Italian style gluten-free diary-free turkey meatballs