Crockpot Turkey Meatballs

This is my favorite recipe for classic crockpot turkey meatballs. They’re spiced just right, incredibly tender, filled with tons of flavor, and there’s hardly any work involved.

Lean Turkey Meatballs that are packed with flavor and so easy to make in the slow cooker!

I’ve gotten a few requests for everyday dinner recipes. Stuff I eat on the regular. Because as much as I’d love to live off of chocolate croissants and only chocolate croissants, it’s just not in the cards for me. Dream world.

I was thisclose to sharing this turkey meatball recipe with you last winter, but chickened out because let’s face it. There are no sprinkles, chocolate, peanut butter, unicorns, rainbows, or sparkles hiding inside.

But now that we’ve all gotten a little more used to dinner recipes and such, I believe it’s time. These crockpot turkey meatballs are one of Kevin’s favorite meals. And judging by the amount he’s seen me eat (and still wants to marry me??), one of my favorites too.

Lean Turkey Meatballs that are packed with flavor and so easy to make in the slow cooker!

This is my no-frills, no complications, good ole meatball recipe. I don’t eat much beef, so I make them with ground turkey instead. It’s a feel good, fill-you-up kind of meal that you can put on the table without doing much work at all. That’s the perk of a slow cooker = all the comforting homemade goodness with none of the actual homemade work.

It’s a beautiful thing.

I like to make a big batch for the two os us, so we can eat it during the week. Meatball subs toasted with provolone on Sundays, a couple meatballs paired with a caesar salad and a side of cheesy garlic breadsticks during the week, piled on top of spaghetti on Friday night, or directly out of the tupperware. Cold. I really like them that last way…???

For the meatballs, I like to use a mix of extra lean all-natural ground turkey (around 98% lean) and lean all-natural ground turkey (around 93% lean). I highly suggest you do the same as well; this way the turkey meatballs are on the lighter side, but still pack a ton of tenderness and flavor. Win-win meatball situation.

I don’t use too much binder because I feel it takes away from their melt-in-your-mouth texture. Just enough to get the job done – to bind. Add a little spice, garlic, and grated parmesan cheese round things out. Pantry staples, nothing fancy here.

Lean Turkey Meatballs that are packed with flavor and so easy to make in the slow cooker!

In terms of flavor, the parmesan does wonders inside the meatballs! Also: the onions. They give a ridiculous amount of flavor to this crockpot recipe.

The most important step before going into the crockpot is to sear the meatballs after they’ve been formed. Searing quickly on each side helps hold all the juices inside the meatball (flavor flavor flavor), while gently browning the outside. Don’t skip this step – your meatballs will crumble all over the place in the crockpot.

The sauce is so simple. Since the meatballs pack so much flavor, all you reed are some canned crushed tomatoes and an onion. Nothing more, nothing less. It makes a ton of sauce, perfect for all you sauce lovers like me.

These crockpot turkey meatballs are the answer to your busy, chaotic weekend and weekday life. Make them ahead of time. Having company over tomorrow? Brown the meatballs as instructed and keep in the fridge until the next morning then pop in the crockpot. Or freeze now to enjoy during the colder months. Or cook today and simmer tomorrow just before dinnertime. So many make ahead options.

These tasty turkey meatballs will get you all the compliments without all the work.

Lean Turkey Meatballs that are packed with flavor and so easy to make in the slow cooker!

Since they’re so mind-numbingly simple, you can spend more time on dessert. I don’t know what pairs well with meatballs, but you can’t go wrong with death by chocolate.

Print

Crockpot Turkey Meatballs

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours, 35 minutes
  • Yield: 25 medium size meatballs
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is my favorite recipe for classic crockpot turkey meatballs. They’re spiced just right, incredibly tender, filled with tons of flavor, and there’s hardly any work involved.


Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound 97-98% lean ground turkey*
  • 1 pound 92-93% lean ground turkey*
  • 2/3 cup (40g) Panko*
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (22g) grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • optional: chopped fresh basil for serving

Instructions

  1. Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, Panko, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, parmesan, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Mix everything up just so the ingredients are combined – avoid overmixing. Roll into desired size balls – mine were slightly larger than a golfball. Place all rolled meatballs on a large baking sheet.
  2. Place onion slices in the bottom of the crockpot, topped with 1 can of crushed tomatoes.
  3. Coat a large skillet with remaining Tablespoon of olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Lightly brown the meatballs (only 6-8 meatballs at a time) for about 1 minute on each side. Do not skip this step – read above for why. Layer the meatballs into the crockpot as you’re browning each batch. Once all browned meatballs have been added to the crockpot, pour remaining can of tomatoes on top.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-6.5 hours. Serve with pasta, as meatball subs, plain, etc. No matter how I serve them, I always top with a little chopped fresh basil. Store leftovers covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare meatballs through the browning step; cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day or freeze up to 2 months. Add to crockpot and cook as directed. OR you may fully prepare 1 day in advance, refrigerate, then cook in the crockpot on low for 45 minutes or until warmed. Freeze cooked meatballs in sauce for up to 2 months. Defrost before reheating as desired.
  2. Crockpot: You need a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Here is the one I own— I have it in white.
  3. No Slow Cooker? No Problem! Prepare through step 2. Add the shaped meatballs to a large skillet coated with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and sauté until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer back to the large baking sheet. Repeat with all meatballs since they cannot all fit into the pan at once. Turn off heat. Pour off any excess oil. In a very large pot, add the sliced onions and 1 can crushed tomatoes. Add the meatballs and pour remaining can of crushed tomatoes on top. Turn the heat to low-medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, the flavors blend, and the meatballs are cooked through, 25-35 minutes.
  4. Turkey: You need 2 pounds total ground turkey. I like to use a mix of extra extra lean and lean for best flavor, while keeping them on the lighter side.
  5. Panko: Panko is sold in all major grocery stores. I prefer Panko for texture, but you may use whole wheat or homemade dry breadcrumbs instead. To make your own for this particular recipe, you can trim the crusts from 2 slices of stale whole wheat bread. Cut bread into pieces and pulse in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Spread breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F (121°C) until dry, about 12-14 minutes. This makes around 2/3 cup.
  6. Adapted from Eating Well magazine.

Keywords: crockpot turkey meatballs, turkey meatballs

These Lean Turkey Meatballs are packed with flavor and SO EASY to make in the slow cooker!

149 Comments

  1. The crock pot is my husband’s favorite kitchen tool! And he doesn’t cook. He just likes me to put lots of meat into it and then he reaps the benefits.
    This recipe looks amazing. Love that it’s turkey and not beef! Sometimes I’ll throw a little cranberry sauce into the mix to add a sweet tang toward Thanksgiving, too. It’s lots of fun!

  2. Love that you’re showcasing some dinner options! Funny, last time I moved I put all THREE of my slow cookers in a storage locker. I have been telling myself for the last 2 weeks I was going to drive over there and fish one of them out b/c I seriously want to set it and forget it 🙂

  3. I love that you called them “really really good turkey meatballs” on that picture. Not only did it make me laugh (remember, “Lynn does!”), but I kind of despise when bloggers title something “THE BEST” such and such. I say this knowing you have a recipe titled “the best chocolate chip cookies,” but some people just go over the top titling every recipe “THE BEST.”
    Anyway… I’ll step off of my soapbox (oops). These look so good and you are making me even more excited to break out the ‘Pot!!

    1. Haha I wanted a phrase other than “the best” (even though I think they are the best meatballs I’ve ever made lol) – I think “really really good” does the trick. Thanks for laughing. And then making me laugh.

  4. Yes!! Thank you for a healthier dinner option! Anyone who follows your work can see that you have as much pride in your healthy lifestyle as you do in your sinfully delicious treats. I am a lady on a change-your-lifestyle mission, and right now I can’t afford all of the splurges that I would allow myself in the past. I am loosing the weight, feeling better and gaining control of my health again – and I love that I can still follow one of my favorite food bloggers without having to give up making her recipes. Thank you again!

    1. Congrats on losing the weight Kerrie! That’s something to be incredibly proud of. Your lifestyle change is inspiring. Life’s all about balance and it took me a long time to learn that! Hope you give these a try.

  5. Sallie, I have thoroughly enjoyed the new type of recipes you have been sharing. Let’s face it, we all can’t eat chocolate all the time 🙂 I can’t wait to try this! I’m loving my cookbook too! Thank you so much for inspiring me to make different things that don’t always include chocolate!!!! I can’t wait to try these and the pumpkin chocolate chip bread too!

  6. Yes yes yes!! This recipe sounds sooo delicious & I can’t wait to try it! My fiance bought me a crock pot for Christmas last year & I’m so in love with it! It’s huge so I can make a big batch of something on the weekend & have enough left overs to last the rest of the week, which is perfect after a long day at work! I’m always looking for new recipes for it, if I agree to try this recipe this weekend will you agree to keep the crock pot recipes coming? 🙂

      1. Well Sally, I held up my end of the bargain & made this delicious recipe on Sunday & I have to say I totally loved it! I initially promised my fiance I would share some of my leftovers with him but since I likely won’t get to see him again until this Saturday we’ll have to wait & see how many are left! 😉 Haha can wait to see what other delicious crock pot recipes you have to share with us!

  7. That’s the first comment I leave here, even if I read all your posts and I’m a proud owner of your book. There isn’t a single recipe of yours that I have made and I wasn’t satisfied with. I’m such a fan 🙂 Anyway, I also can’t live only with cupcakes (too bad) and everytime I make your recipes, I think “If only Sally would make also a dinner cookbook…” or a second cookback actually 🙂

    About this recipe… I wanna try it this week! But I don’t own a slow cooker… Can I use a normal pot? How long should they cook then?

    Greetings from Italy and all the best for your upcoming wedding!

    1. Hi Chiara! Thank you so much for the sweet comment. I am so glad you are enjoying my cookbook! All the way in Italy, too. I just added a short note to the recipe if you do not own a crockpot. Maybe you can purchase one soon because I hope to post a lot of crockpot recipes this winter! Thanks Chiara.

  8. Mmm. I love meatballs and I love using my slow cooker. But I’ve never made meatballs in my slow cooker. Your recipe is a MUST try, Sally! I may have to try them this weekend, since it’s supposed to be rainy which means there won’t be any outdoor grilling activities going on!

  9. Hi Sally,

    I can’t keep up with all the fabulous recipe’s, I just finished the “pop tarts” they came out really good!

    My question about the crock pot, do you know where I can find one NOT made in China? All the ones I have looked at are made in China. Keep sending these great recipes.

    Thank you

  10. I am so making these tonight. Ground turkey is a staple in my house . I will make this to top our spaghetti which is on the menu for dinner. I love my slow cooker so great to have another recipe for my arsenal. I slow cook 3 times a month never wait for cool weather. Living in Florida it rarely comes. Thanks Sally for another great recipe. Oh and i made your vanilla cupcakes. Yummy no more box mixes for me. I bow down to you recipe queen.

  11. “Or freeze now to enjoy during the colder months” Sally, It’s Know its my own misunderstanding… But when you say this do you mean brown/sear the meatball and THEN freeze? Or do you suggest to freeze the fully cooked, ready-to-eat meatball?

    These look amazing. 🙂

    BTW, 10 more days ago?!! You must be sooo freakin’ excited.

  12. Hi Sally,
    These look delicious! One question: is your grated Parmesan the fresh kind you grate yourself, or do you buy the Parmesan that comes grated in bags? Perhaps you use the cheese in the can – the almost powdered kind. I’m excited to try this recipe ASAP! Thank you!

  13. I love ALL Italian food cold. Pizza, spaghetti, meatballs (when I ate meat), SOUPS. Actually, I would prefer eating things straight from the fridge over heating them. The only thing I like piping hot is coffee… A cookies straight from the oven ;o)

  14. Oh these look really good! I love using my crockpot for things because the recipe makes a lot usually so I get a lot of leftovers and save money, plus after I put something in the crockpot I can just go away and not think about it for at least 4 hours 🙂

  15. Sally, you are a mind reader! I told my husband last night that I wanted to make turkey meat balls with pasta for dinner. Usually, I throw ingredients into a bowl and hope for the best. It will be wonderful to have a solid recipe from a trusted source.

  16. oh I do enjoy receiving your emails Sally!
    This one looks so good – I’m always on the lookout for slow cooker recipes!
    Thanks 🙂

  17. These sounds so warm and cozy Sally! I love meals like this that keep on giving with leftovers, especially when they freeze well!

    P.S. Can you (or anyone) explain the difference between a crock pot and a slow cooker to me? I just googled it without a lot of luck… We only have a crock pot – will that work just as well?

    1. I typically get varying answers from different sources and vendors selling slow cookers and crockpots, but basically they both perform the same function (slow cooking). A crockpot is a type of slow cooker, but not all slow cookers are crockpots. Confusing, I know. But a crockpot is a type of slow cooker with a pot that sits inside a surrounding heating structure. A slow cooker is a pot, usually made from metal, sitting atop a heating surface.

    1. These look scrumptious, Sally! Just pinned the recipe and plan on making them next week. 🙂 I thought I’d weigh in here – Crock Pot is actually just a brand of slow cooker, but the two names have become synonymous over the years, just as Kleenex has for tissue, and Band Aid has for bandages. I was confused too, until a friend of mine explained the difference!

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