Turkey zucchini meatballs are the perfect way to add lean protein and extra veggies to your next meal! Mixed in a single bowl then popped in the oven, these meatballs are perfect for meal prep and freeze beautifully.
Making a big batch of meatballs couldn't be easier! Parmesan cheese and a few simple spices make them super flavorful and easy to pair with your favorite sauce.
These meatballs are made with ground turkey, parmesan cheese, shredded zucchini, egg, breadcrumbs, and a few simple spices mix together in a bowl. Grab a medium cookie scoop (or use your hands) to roll into balls before baking to perfection in the oven.
Make a batch of turkey zucchini meatballs for your next weeknight meal or meal prep for the week. Turkey meatballs can also be frozen (raw or cooked) for 3 months or more.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Ground turkey - These meatballs can be made with your favorite ground meat, like ground chicken, beef, or pork.
- Shredded zucchini - Zucchini adds moisture and structure to your meatballs. This helps them stay moist while baking in the oven. Finely shredded zucchini works best because it doesn't add a noticeable texture to your cooked meatballs.
- Parmesan cheese - Adds salty, cheesy flavor and moisture to your meatballs. I don't recommend omitting the parmesan cheese.
- Panko breadcrumbs - Adds structure to your meatballs. Regular panko or gluten-free panko will work in this recipe.
- Egg - One egg helps add moisture and structure to your meatballs. I don't recommend omitting the egg.
- Seasoning - Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, onion, powder, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes add depth of flavor to your meatballs.
How to prevent dry meatballs
The biggest issue with making turkey meatballs is that turkey is generally a lean meat that dries out quickly when cooked. Turkey meatballs can quickly turn dry or rubbery if they're overcooked slightly. Here are a few tips to help prevent your meatballs from turning out dry.
- Don't omit or substitute any of the moisture-adding ingredients in the recipe. This includes the egg, shredded zucchini, and parmesan cheese. These ingredients help keep your meatballs moist.
- Don't omit the breadcrumbs in the recipe. They add structure to your meatballs and help prevent that 'rubbery' texture.
- Take care not to overcook your meatballs. Overcooked meat will be dry. This is the most common reason why meat turns out dry.
- I highly recommend using a meat thermometer to test your meatballs for doneness. Ground turkey is cooked through at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Removing your meatballs from the oven at this temperature guarantees that they turn out perfectly cooked, not dry.
- Meatballs turn out a little dry anyway? Add a sauce - it will add moisture to your meatballs and cover up any dry texture.
What to serve with turkey meatballs
Turkey zucchini meatballs can be served on their own, with a dipping sauce, or with a bowl of pasta and your favorite pasta sauce. Here are a few ideas:
- Pasta and marinara sauce
- Pasta and alfredo sauce
- Roasted vegetables
- Mashed potatoes
- Steamed rice and veggies
- Baked potato
- Slice in half and add to soup
Freezing and reheating
Turkey zucchini meatballs, whether raw or cooked, can be frozen for up to 3-4 months in a tightly sealed, freezer-safe container.
To freeze raw - Prepare meatballs as directed and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze baking sheet until meatballs are frozen solid, about 1-2 hours. Transfer frozen meatballs to a freeze-safe container and store until ready to bake. Meatballs can be baked from frozen, but may take up to an extra 5 minutes of baking time to cook through (test with a meat thermometer for best results).
To freeze cooked - Allow your cooked meatballs to cool completely to room temperature. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and store until ready to enjoy. Frozen meatballs can be reheated in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 20 minutes, or until warm in the center. Or, transfer meatballs to the refrigerator to thaw overnight, then reheat in the microwave.
Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
- 1 pound (453 g) ground turkey
- 1 cup (135 g) finely grated zucchini, liquid squeezed out after measuring
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup (28 g) panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup (50 g) grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add ground turkey, shredded zucchini (with excess liquid squeezed out first), egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Mix until completely and evenly incorporated.
- Using a medium (1.5 tablespoon) cookie scoop, or your hands, form mixture into meatballs and place onto prepared baking sheet. Recipe should make about 24 meatballs of this size.
- Bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (I highly recommend using a meat thermometer to prevent meatballs from drying out due to overcooking).
- Cooked turkey meatballs will look pale across the tops when cooked (since ground turkey is a lean white meat), and golden brown on the bottom. Turkey meatballs will not look dark brown like traditional beef meatballs.
- Leftover turkey meatballs will keep for 3-4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
- Turkey meatballs (raw or cooked) can be frozen for 3-4 months in a tightly sealed freezer-safe container.
- Nutrition estimate shown is for ¼ of the recipe, or 6 meatballs (when recipe makes 24 meatballs).