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. I never would’ve thought to cook meatballs in a slow cooker. We sorta killed ours and haven’t replaced it yet…which is a shame because I’m always like “we can make this…oh no we don’t have one anymore” 🙁 These meatballs are a kick in the butt…now I’m on a mission for a new slow cooker.

    I also just ordered a copy of your cookbook and can’t wait to receive it! I’m feeling a need to get in the kitchen thanks to you and your wonderful recipes 🙂

  2. These look absolutely delicious !
    Would halving this recipe work- I only have one pound of ground turkey on hand? Would the amount of sauce matter if less meat was used?
    Thanks so much!

  3. Unfortunately, my family isn’t a huge fan of tons of sauce… (?!!) Would it be possible to halve the amount of sauce, but still keep the rest of the recipe the same? Thanks!

    1. The meatballs will dry out if they are not cooked while being submerged in sauce. Perhaps you can serve them without all the sauce they are cooked in.

  4. Hi, I love the look of all your recipes and I too am enjoying the dinner recipes you’ve started posting!

    I would really like to give these a go, spaghetti meatballs was always one of my dad’s favourite dishes but he can’t eat red meat any more so these would really be a treat for him!

    I’m from the UK so I’m not too used to cups, do you have the ingredients as grams at all?

    Sorry to be awkward!

    Thank you 🙂

  5. It is nice to see another dinner recipe from you Sally. I love how you seasoned the turkey, sometimes I also add some finely chopped onion to my meatballs 🙂 I really have to start using my crockpot !

  6. Spaghetti and meatballs is one of my all time favorite meals. This recipe for Turkey meatballs looks delish and looks so simple! This sounds like the perfect comfort food to kick off our fall-like weather that we are going to have this weekend.

  7. Healthy crockpot recipes–no condensed soups!–are really valuable at my house, so if you can provide some more, that would be fantastic! So far pot roast and chicken barbecue are my crockpot staples, but I’m always looking for more options.

  8. These look amazing Sally! Ground turkey is so good and I am fortunate enough to have a small store in my city that sells local and non-gmo turkey meat. By the way, it’s nice to see that you are posting dinner dishes on your blog.

  9. Hi Sally! Congrats on your upcoming wedding! I just started following your blog and it is a delight for a chocoholic like me! I’m going to start with your triple chocolate layer cake. Your pics are beautiful and I love your positive and cheerful outlook on everything. I just started a blog recently and your blogging tips encourage me to do better. Thanks! 🙂
    The turkey meatballs looks delish, I’m going to give it a go this weekend!

  10. Oh, these are probably so tender after being cooked in your slow cooker! I’ve always wondered if meatballs would be okay in a crockpot with sauce or if they would just get so tender that they would fall apart in the sauce. Will be trying these soon! Thanks for sharing, Sally:)

  11. Mmm, will have to try this recipe tomorrow!! I have recently befriended my crockpot and my kids love meatballs 🙂 they are currently munching away on your PB cookies!

    We don’t do ground turkey (no reason why, I guess…we always do beef!), so do you think I could do the same with ground beef?

  12. I made this recipe on Monday night and served it for Tuesdays dinner. It was nice having the meatballs in sauce ready to go. They were very tasty and a healthy alternative to my veal pork and beef ones. Thanks Sally

    1. I forgot to mention that I grated the onion and combined it with the meat before rolling the meatballs. It gave the meatballs such a fantastic flavor. I also believe the grated onion helps the meatballs remain moist.

  13. To anyone who is looking for a tender meatball look no further. I made this with 1lb of turkey and just 2(14oz) cans of tomatoes. It did the trick. Bonus was that my extremely finicky-eater 5 yr old actually ate this happily. 🙂 Smiles in the end!

  14. I’ve just recently been following your blog via Facebook and I love it! I made your cookies but could not wait to tell you how much I adored the slow cooker turkey meatballs. I added a pinch of cayenne for a bit more spiciness but otherwise I followed your recipe to a T. The meatballs were so moist and tender..they literally melt in your mouth! I’ll make this again and again! Thank you!

  15. Everything is prepared and in the crock pot, but I don’t want to wait 6 hours on low, can I do some of it on high to speed it up, or take the crock it’s in and slip it in the oven for a bit?.but I don’t want to sacrifice tenderness, so your answer will tell me when we will have supper. Lol

    1. Hi Brenda! Sorry for the delay responding. I’m sure switching to high would work just fine, but I am unsure of the exact amount of time this would shave off the cook time. I have an option for anyone not wanting to use a slow cooker. See the bottom of the recipe.

  16. Made these yesterday and my husband could NOT stop raving about them. I served them over white rice and they were pretty darn good. Tonight will be with spaghetti.

    Every recipe I’ve made from your blog has been SO DELICIOUS!

    Thanks so much Sally.
    R.

  17. These will be done cooking at 3:30 and I want to serve them at 7:30- should I leave them in the crock pot set on warm for 4 hours or take them out and reheat?

  18. Made these on Halloween night and everyone loved them! Just wanted to say thank you! I’m going to make them again for dinner one night this week since they were suc a hit. 🙂

  19. Hi Sally,
    Really loved the recipe! Gonna step it up next time and add some cayenne like Michelle suggested, and maybe some grated onion. Looking forward to trying some of your other recipes.

    Thanks,
    Stephen

  20. Your crockpot turkey meatballs have become a favorite in our household. I love them because they are 10 Weight Watchers Points, which is so much more doable than ground beef or sausage meatballs! Thanks for creating perfection, Sally!

  21. What size crock pot? Seems like a lot for mine which is 4 qqt, also what would be the cook time on high? Sorry new to the crock pot, just got my first for Christmas.

  22. I definitely want to try these out. But I have two questions.
    1. Is the tomato sauce absolutely necessary or can it be made without it?
    2. After you slow cook them for 6 hours and freeze them, what is the best way to reheat it besides the microwave?

    1. I would look for a different sauce recipe that you like– I don’t suggest cooking the meatballs in a crockpot without sauce. You may reheat frozen meatballs on the stove until heated through.

  23. Sally,

    When you sear the meatballs should they appear totally cooked before placing in the slow cooker or should they still be a little pink?

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