Turkey meatballs and Falafel unite in this Turkey Falafel Meatballs recipe. When you mix chickpeas, Middle Eastern Spices and ground turkey, you get extremely tender tasty meatballs. And just wait until you try them drizzled with lemon yogurt sauce…
It’s great to have a stash of comfort food recipes that taste like a delicious indulgence yet are lighter and healthier than classic comfort foods. These turkey falafel meatballs fit the bill. They have lots of lean protein from turkey and all the nutritious benefits of falafel, but way less fat because they’re not deep fried.
How to make Turkey Falafel Meatballs
The recipe is easy enough for a weeknight. Chop the falafel mixture in the food processor, mix it with ground turkey and bread crumbs (or quinoa), roll it into balls and sauté.
- Pulse canned chickpeas, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, egg, cumin, coriander and salt in the food processor until everything is chopped finely.
- Scrape the mixture into a bowl and add ground turkey and bread crumbs (or quinoa for gluten-free)
- Mix well, roll into balls and sauté until golden brown and cooked through.
- If you prefer, you can bake these turkey meatballs in the oven. Spread them out on lightly-oiled baking tray and cook for 20 minutes at 400ºF.
What is Falafel and Who Invented It?
Falafel is made of ground chickpeas or fava beans, mixed with herbs and spices, shaped into a ball or patty, and deep fried. The balls are usually served wrapped in pita with assorted salad ingredients and tahini sauce on top.
Falafel is extremely popular throughout the Middle East. But like many things in that region, falafel is the subject of a contentious debate about which country is its rightful owner or originator.
Honestly, after a good deal of research, I’m reluctant to connect these fried chickpea balls to any single country for fear of inciting a war. And I can truthfully (and safely) say that my recipe for turkey falafel meatballs was inspired equally by the falafel of Israel, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.
How To Serve Turkey Falafel Meatballs
There are so many delicious possibilities.
- Turkey falafel meatballs are delicious served warm or at room temperature.
- For dinner serve them warm, over rice or mashed potatoes.
- Here are my favorite side dishes to serve with these: Mediterranean chickpea salad, Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad, Moroccan Carrot Salad
- Mix up a simple Israeli salad of diced tomato, cucumber, red onion, and parsley, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- For lunch, stuff falafel meatballs into a pita with chopped veggies, hummus and lemon yogurt sauce
My Favorite Healthy Comfort Foods
These falafel meatballs are one of my favorite healthy comfort foods. Here are a few more of my favorites: healthy shepherd’s pie, cheesy cauliflower casserole with kale, my favorite vegetarian chili.
Do you have a favorite healthy comfort food? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Here’s the recipe for Turkey Falafel Meatballs with Lemon Yogurt Sauce. If you try this recipe I hope you’ll come back to leave a star rating and comment. I’d love to know what you think.Print
Turkey Falafel Meatballs with Lemon Yogurt Sauce
Light, flavorful, healthy turkey meatballs made with ground turkey, chickpeas and Middle Eastern spices. Serve with a side salad for dinner or pack into a pita for lunch. Pass around the lemon yogurt sauce!
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 50 mins
- Yield: 5-6 1x
- Category: Lunch, brunch or dinner
- Method: sauté
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
For The Lemon Yogurt Sauce
- 1 cup plain whole milk or low-fat yogurt
- 1 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried crumbled mint or basil to sprinkle on top (optional)
For The Meatballs
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 pound ground turkey, light or dark meat
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, packed
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves, packed
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plain Panko bread crumbs or (for gluten-free) 1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To make the lemon yogurt sauce, combine all ingredients, cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Set up your food processor with the chopping blade. Add chickpeas, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, egg, cumin, coriander and salt. Process until finely chopped with a grainy consistency. Scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl, add turkey and bread crumbs (or cooked quinoa). Mix until just combined and roll into 1 ½ inch balls (should make about 25)
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the meatballs and sauté for 8 minutes or so, turning frequently, until browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the rest of the meatballs.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon yogurt sauce on the side. See post for more serving suggestions.
Make These Gluten Free: Use 1 cup of cooled cooked quinoa in place of bread crumbs. When using quinoa, the meatball mixture will be a bit looser. Use a light touch when rolling it into balls, tossing the meat from palm to palm and pressing, to shape.
Make These In The Oven: You can bake these turkey falafel meatballs in the oven instead of sautéing them. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Spread meatballs out on lightly-oiled baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
[This post first appeared on Panning The Globe in July 2013. It was updated in January 2020 with added nutritional information, clarifying details in the written post and clearer instructions in the recipe.]
Nutrition Information: The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and is not a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist.
Keywords: turkey meatballs, falafel, chickpea and turkey meatballs