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Italian Ground Turkey Meatballs

Have a pound of Italian ground turkey without any plans on what to make with it? I have you covered! These Italian turkey meatballs are super easy to make and can be used for spaghetti and meatballs, subs, and all kinds of things.

I’ll teach you how to make them three ways: air fried, oven baked, and pan fried. So no matter how you like to party, I have you covered on that front as well.

Ingredients for Italian Ground Turkey Meatballs

In addition to Italian ground turkey, here’s everything you’ll need:

  • eggs
  • Italian breadcrumbs
  • shredded mozzarella (use freshly grated if possible)
  • marinara or pasta sauce
  • garlic powder and crushed red pepper flakes
  • fresh parsley (optional)
mixing meatball ingredients together before adding ground turkey

Regular ground turkey works just fine, by the way. If you have some Italian seasoning, you may want to add a dash, but that’s optional. A bit of fresh garlic and Calabrian chiles like I used for my creamy Italian pasta with ground turkey would also be a nice addition.

It’s also worth mentioning this recipe would work great with ground chicken, pork, and beef.

Tips for Forming Meatballs

Making a paste with all the non-turkey ingredients first ensures you won’t over mix the meatballs before forming. There’s a reason you don’t throw everything in a stand mixer or hit it with a hand mixer! Over mixing meatballs can make them tough.

If you want perfectly even meatballs, I recommend using a food scale. I like placing the bowl on top of a scale to easily monitor how much is being removed as opposed to placing the meat on a scale and adding tiny pieces.

forming 16 ground turkey meatballs and placing them on an air fryer tray

The recipe makes 16 meatballs, but you’re welcome to make smaller or larger meatballs. My meatball mixture weighed in around 720g total. Divide that by the number of meatballs you want to make.

Just be aware cook times will be affected. Though my sweet chili chicken meatballs have a similar cook time with 12 larger meatballs.

How to Cook Turkey Meatballs Three Ways

Let’s take a look at how to air fry, bake, and pan fry these turkey meatballs.

For Air Fried Meatballs

Air frying is the easiest method, in my opinion, so we’ll start there. In an Instant Vortex Pro, a tray of 16 turkey meatballs cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF in 6-8 minutes at 400ºF. I don’t preheat the air fryer so this includes any time the air fryer takes to come up to temperature.

air frying meatballs in an Instant Pot Vortex Duo Pro

For Oven Baked Meatballs

To bake these Italian turkey meatballs, place them directly on a sheet pan after forming and bake at 400ºF for 16-20 minutes. The oven doesn’t do as great a job at browning, so you may want to use your oven’s broiler for the final 4-6 minutes.

Similar to the air fryer method, smaller meatballs like my BBQ baked chicken meatballs and sheet pan Greek chicken meatballs have similar cook times in case you’re playing around with size.

For Pan Fried Meatballs

Using my spaghetti and chicken meatballs recipe as a guide, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the meatballs and brown the meatballs on all sides.

pan frying meatballs in a cast iron skillet
A photo from my spaghetti and chicken meatballs recipe.

At this point, I like to add a jar of marinara (like the Rao’s in my easy turkey lasagna), reduce to a low heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes to finish cooking the meatballs to an internal temperature of 165ºF.

If you’d like to cook your turkey meatballs without sauce similar to the baked or air fried versions, you can place the pan in a 350ºF oven after browning all sides to take them all the way to 165ºF internally.

How to Use These Italian Turkey Meatballs

You can make everything from meatballs subs and spaghetti to casseroles and pasta bakes with your cooked meatballs. Let’s take a look at a couple of my go-to options.

Turkey Meatball Subs

making meatball subs with hollowed out sub rolls

Use a bread knife to hollow out sub rolls and place provolone or mozzarella in the bottom, followed by marinara and more cheese. You can air fry or bake to toast the bread and melt the cheese. And finally, garnish with basil chiffonade and freshly grated parmesan.

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs

If you plan to pan fry your meatballs, your marinara will already be taken care of. But it’s also possible to heat marinara in a pan on its own to toss your air fried or baked turkey meatballs in after cooking.

You don’t want to continue cooking the meatballs, however, so be sure to heat the sauce on its own before adding the meatballs.

marinara in a pan with cooked turkey meatballs and spaghetti and meatballs in a bowl with basil and parmesan

For spaghetti and meatballs, I like to cook the pasta in salted water and add to the sauce and meatballs with about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to bring it all together. Garnish with basil and fresh parmesan and you’re good to go.

And like I mentioned above, you can always use them in recipes like this meatball casserole or meatball parmesan bake. It might be a good idea to double the recipe and freeze them for later if you plan to use them in recipes like bakes and casseroles.

turkey meatball subs on an air fryer basket with extra meatballs

All righty then, you should be ready to tackle these Italian ground turkey meatballs and all the potential use case scenarios. If you have a question about the recipe, drop it in the comments at the bottom of the post. And recipe reviews on the stars in the recipe card below are always appreciated!

Italian ground turkey meatballs after air frying

Italian Ground Turkey Meatballs

Yield: 16 Meatballs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

High protein meatballs made with Italian ground turkey in an air fryer, oven, or pan fried on the stovetop.


  • 1 pound Italian Ground Turkey
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 2 oz Shredded Mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup (60g) Italian Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) Marinara
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons (10g) Freshly Chopped Parsley


  1. Mix everything but the ground turkey together in a bowl to form a paste.
  2. Add the ground turkey and work together by hand until evenly mixed.
  3. Form 16 45-gram meatballs.
  4. To cook the meatballs in an air fryer, cook in an even layer at 400ºF for 6-8 minutes until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165ºF. (Instructions for pan frying and baking are in the notes below.)


If you're using regular ground turkey, you can add about 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning to the meatballs.

For Pan Fried Meatballs

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides before adding a jar of marinara, reducing the heat to low, and simmering until the meatballs are cooked through, about another 6-8 minutes.

For Baked Meatballs

Arrange the meatballs in an even layer directly on a sheet pan and bake for 16-20 minutes at 400ºF.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 Meatball
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 75Total Fat: 4gCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 7g

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Tuesday 7th of November 2023

I missed the note about adding italian seasoning so the meatballs came out a little bland (maybe due to doubling all ingredients?) but even so I think it could still use a bit of salt overall. I ended up carmelizing some peppers and making meatball subs with marinara!

Michael DeRoche

Sunday 1st of October 2023

Hi Mason, My wife and I are doing Stronger U and I'd love to use your nutrition info (much easier than entering an entire recipe to MFP). But wanted to make sure that you are using the same ground turkey. Is your nutrition info based on 93% lean? Thanks so much - also love your recipes dude!

Mason Woodruff

Monday 2nd of October 2023

It varies between recipes, I'm afraid. The MFP info should match up with whatever the recipe calls for, though. Looks like I forgot to add the % to this one, but it was with 93/7. Good call!


Monday 14th of November 2022

I have been following your Facebook page for a while and decided this week would be a good time to finally make some of the recipes and I am glad I did. I made this but double the meat and I used extra lean pork because it is what I had and I used my own dried herbs and it was very good! I loved that you included instructions for the air fryer.


Tuesday 1st of November 2022

I just realized I made these without using specifically “Italian style” ground turkey, which I didn’t know was a thing. What am I missing out on? If I don’t have Italian style ground turkey in my supermarket, what would you recommend that I add to the mix?

(as an aside, I still enjoyed the meatballs).

Best, First time meatballer.

Mason Woodruff

Thursday 3rd of November 2022

I'm honored to be a part of your meatball journey. Good to know these still work without Italian seasoned ground turkey. I typically recommend about 1/2-1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning when using regular ground turkey. If you're making something with more ingredients like my ground turkey mushroom orzo, go with a full tablespoon. For something like these meatballs, I'd probably go with 1/2 tablespoon. Thanks for the note and pointing this out!

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