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.
- 1 large egg
- 1 pound 97-98% lean ground turkey*
- 1 pound 92-93% lean ground turkey*
- 2/3 cup (40g) Panko breadcrumbs*
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
- 1/3 cup (30g) grated or shredded parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons 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
- Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, Panko, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, parmesan, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, 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.
- Place onion slices in the bottom of the crockpot, topped with 1 can of crushed tomatoes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Crockpot: You need a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Here is the one I own.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Adapted from Eating Well magazine.
Keywords: crockpot turkey meatballs, turkey meatballs