Turkey Meatballs

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These juicy baked turkey meatballs pack a bite-sized sweet, tangy, spicy punch! They’re one of my favorite party appetizers coated in tangy brown sugar glaze, or I’ll serve these meatballs plain over pasta or in a meatball sub as a meal.

I’m a big fan of turkey as a lighter, leaner alternative to beef or pork in meatball recipes! It tastes great in these appetizer meatballs, my grilled Mediterranean turkey meatball skewers, and this Swedish meatballs recipe.

A bowl full of glazed turkey meatballs.


I LOVE football food. Mainly because I’ll take any excuse to eat only appetizers and snacks, all day long. As soon as the season begins, it’s non-stop nachos, steak bites, stuffed peppers, and another personal fave: appetizer meatballs.

The first time I made these juicy turkey meatballs, I got creative with a package of Butterball’s Turkey Sweet Onion burger meat and then tossed the baked meatballs with a sweet-tangy brown sugar glaze. They’re lean, wholesome, and DELICIOUS. If you don’t have burger meat, any ground turkey will do!

Why I Love These Baked Turkey Meatballs

  • Full of flavor. These juicy turkey meatballs are herby, spicy, and garlicky. All the flavors come together so well and the ingredients are easy, including what you need to make the glaze.
  • Oven-baked. Staying with the lean theme, I make these turkey meatballs in the oven rather than frying them in a pan. They bake up golden outside, are moist and flavorful inside, and basically grease-free. The trick is to bake them on a wire rack so that they get perfectly browned on all sides.
  • Party-ready. Whether I’m making these meatballs for Football Sunday or the holidays, they’re 100% crowd-friendly, no matter the size of the crowd. It’s easy to scale the recipe up and down, and I can even prep the meatball mixture the day before.
  • Versatile. These meatballs are one of my favorite finger foods smothered in a brown sugar glaze. Or, skip the glaze and toss them with pasta sauce instead!
Ingredients for turkey meatballs with text labels overlaying each ingredient.

Meatball Ingredients

These turkey meatballs use simple ingredients to pack tons of flavor into a 1×1” ball. Below are some quick notes on what you’ll need. Scroll to the recipe card for a printable list with amounts.

  • Ground Turkey – Any ground turkey or burger meat works here. You can also make this recipe with other ground meat, like pork, chicken, or beef.
  • Egg and Breadcrumbs – To bind the ingredients and hold the meatballs together. I use Italian-style seasoned breadcrumbs, but you could always use plain and add a sprinkle of Italian seasoning.
  • Spices – Turkey is a very mild meat, so I like to jazz up my meatballs with an easy seasoning blend of paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and dried oregano.
  • Garlic – Freshly minced, or you can substitute ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder per clove.
  • Brown Sugar – I combine sugar with soy sauce, white vinegar, and rice vinegar for the glaze. There’s also the option to leave off the glaze if you’ll be serving these meatballs over pasta instead.

How to Make Turkey Meatballs

Just like my pork meatballs and cashew chicken meatballs, these turkey meatballs come together in a snap. Plus, these bake up quickly! Follow these steps:

  1. Mix the ingredients. First, combine the meatball ingredients in a big bowl. Give that a mix with your hands or a wooden spoon, being careful not to overwork the mixture.
  2. Shape the meatballs. Now, roll out your meatballs and place them onto a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
  3. Bake. Bake these turkey meatballs at 350ºF for 15-18 minutes until they’re cooked through and juicy.

Easy Brown Sugar Glaze

I coat these turkey meatballs with a quick and sticky brown sugar glaze when I make them as an appetizer. All you do is heat soy sauce, water, brown sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and white vinegar in a skillet. Right when the baked meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the pan and cook over medium heat for several minutes. Make sure to stir so the meatballs get well coated and serve!

Close-up of a wooden spoon holding a meatball with more glazed turkey meatballs around it.

Recipe Tip

Don’t overwork your meatball mixture. Everything should be well-combined, but just like overmixing cake batter results in dense cakes, overmixing the meat can lead to dense, tough meatballs.

Serving Suggestions

These juicy turkey meatballs are a staple at our game day buffet! I love them next to tasty snacks like nachos, battered shrimp, and crispy potato skins. The plain, unglazed meatballs are also delicious in sandwiches or pita pockets for a light and easy lunch. Or, I’ll simmer them in homemade spaghetti sauce or red pepper sauce and serve them over pasta or rice for dinner!

Turkey meatballs skewered with cocktail toothpicks on a white plate.

Storing and Reheating Leftover Meatballs

  • Make-ahead. The raw meatball mixture can be prepared a day in advance and stored airtight in the fridge. Just roll your meatballs and bake the next day!
  • Refrigerate. Store any leftover turkey meatballs covered airtight. They’ll last for 3-4 days in the fridge, or there’s the option to freeze them (see below).
  • Reheat. Warm the meatballs in a skillet on the stovetop, in the oven under foil, or you can use the microwave.
  • Freeze. I like to pre-freeze the baked turkey meatballs on a baking sheet before transferring them to a freezer bag for storage. Freeze for up to 2 months, and defrost in the fridge before reheating.

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5 from 6 votes

Turkey Meatballs

These juicy baked turkey meatballs are the most delicious and easy appetizer tossed with a sweet-tangy brown sugar glaze. Serve them with skewers at your next party!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 30 meatballs


For the Meatballs

  • 2 pounds ground turkey, (or 1 package of Butterball Sweet Onion Turkey Burgers, thawed)
  • ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten to break up the yolk
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

For the Glaze:

  • cup water
  • ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
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  • Prep. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place a baking/wire rack over a baking sheet; set aside.
  • Combine the ingredients. In a large bowl, combine thawed turkey burgers, bread crumbs, egg, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic, and oregano. Using a wooden spoon, mix until well combined and thoroughly incorporated.
  • Shape the meatballs. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls and place them on your previously prepared baking sheet. You may have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your baking sheet.
  • Bake. Bake the meatballs for 16 to 18 minutes, or until cooked through.
  • Make the glaze. In a large, non-stick frying pan, combine soy sauce, water, brown sugar, white vinegar, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
  • Add the meatballs. Add the baked meatballs to the pan and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes, turning the meatballs once halfway through cooking, stirring occasionally. Remove from frying pan and serve.


Calories: 59kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 84mg | Potassium: 105mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 67IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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  1. Melissa says:

    Can these be done in an air fryer? They look delicious! Thanks

    1. Katerina says:

      Hi! Yes, definitely. You can air fry them at 400˚F for 10 to 12 minutes (this will depend on how big they are) or until their internal temperature registers at 165˚F. I have a recipe specifically for air fryer meatballs, too, if you’d like to try them, as well. ☺️ https://diethood.com/air-fryer-meatballs/

  2. Jackie says:

    Can you substitute rice vinegar for anything else?

    1. Katerina says:

      Apple cider vinegar closely matches the sweet-to-sour taste of rice vinegar, and white wine vinegar is the next best option.

  3. Debbie says:

    Can these be made in a crockpot? Or maybe put in crockpot after baking to keep warm?

    1. Katerina says:

      I have not made these in the crock pot so I can’t comment on that, but I definitely know that you can keep them in the slow cooker to keep warm.

  4. Von says:

    I live in Australia so how can I make meatballs from scratch, we haven’t got the ready made frozen turkey meatballs, but would like to make this yummy recipe, any ideas!🇦🇺

  5. Suzanne says:

    If you can only find the plain turkey burgers what seasoning would you recommend adding to make up for not having the sweet onion ones?

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I would suggest just adding in 1/2 teaspoon onion powder. 🙂

  6. Natalie says:

    I don’t have any rice vinegar, is there a substitute I could use?

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      Hi! You can use white vinegar. I hope that helps!

      1. carole says:

        I’m replying with a question on this message because i don’t see where i can add question. You mention a wire rack over a baking sheet. can i just put them on the baking sheet?

        1. Katerina Petrovska says:


          You definitely can put them on a baking sheet, but, by baking them on the wire rack the meatballs get crispier rather than getting mushy due to sitting in the meat-juices as they bake.

          1. carole says:

            thank you, they are in the oven as I type. I used two baking sheets. I improvised a wire rack on one of them by turning over the top of a broiler pan. i’ll let you know how they turn out.

          2. carole says:

            Hi Katerina:

            Well, they were beyond my expectations! I followed your recipe to a T. Just delicious, everyone loved them. thank you!