How to make slow cooker turkey meatballs (video)

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It's fair to say that many people have stopped eating red meat, opting for healthier, leaner white meats instead. For pasta lovers, this is good news, as turkey meatballs made in the slow cooker bring all the flavor of their beef counterparts, just with a lower calorie count. And because they're turkey, these meatballs are stuffed with sage and thyme instead of the traditional Italian herb mix — but you'll get that too, from the sauce these meatballs are cooked in.
It's important not to skip the freezing step in this recipe. Without it, the meatballs might fall apart and turn into a meat sauce rather than individual turkey meatballs. They'll need at least half an hour in the freezer, but if you want to cut down on prep time the day of, you can make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them overnight.
Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs
20 minutes
4 hours
4 hours, 20 minutes
2 pounds ground turkey
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 24-ounce jars marinara or your favorite spaghetti sauce
In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, minced garlic, egg, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, sage, thyme, onion powder, salt and white pepper. Mix to combine all ingredients thoroughly, but be careful not to overmix, as this can cause the meatballs to dry out.
One by one, roll the turkey mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Continue rolling meatballs until you've used the entire mixture and all the meatballs are on the baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least half an hour. To keep meatballs for later use, freeze overnight, and then place them in a large resealable bag and keep frozen until ready to use.
When ready to cook, empty one jar of spaghetti sauce into the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the turkey meatballs into the slow cooker on top of the sauce and cover with the remaining jar of sauce.
Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, until meatballs are hot and completely cooked through.
Pro tip: To get even more turkey flavor from these meatballs, sear them in hot oil for a few minutes per side before placing in the slow cooker. This will give more texture and flavor as the natural sugars will caramelize on the meat. If searing the meatballs first, you can also skip the freezing step, as the sear will help the meatballs hold their shape.
Note: All slow cookers are a little bit different in temperature and calibration. This recipe was tested in Cooktop Cove's Test Kitchen using this slow cooker, which is available for purchase here.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which help support our website.
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A meal doesn’t have to be complex to be delicious.
June 25   ·  
One of the best things about this dish is that it's incredible as is, but also wonderfully easy to adjust to your own preferences.
June 24   ·  
This also makes a great leftover dish, but you probably won't have any left!
June 23   ·  
New to making potatoes in your slow cooker? Now's the time to hop on board.
June 4   ·  
This meal is effortless.
June 23   ·  
It's rare that we come across a slow cooker recipe so incredibly simple, yet fancy enough to serve for special occasions.
June 25   ·