Nana’s turkey meatballs (Kari’s mom) are a family favorite and for some reason I have never been able to perfect her recipe. The kids complain and tell me “these meatballs aren’t as good as Nana’s meatballs.” After years of hearing this, it was time for Nana to come over and show us her secrets! Although she had told me the basics of her recipe in the past, she had never written down the exact measurements. So, technically it’s not my fault that I was never able to make it just like Nana! My 5 year old, Sloane, was her sous chef while I vigorously wrote down every detail and of course took photos along the way so I didn’t miss a thing!
In full disclosure, my mom (Nana) wouldn’t let me take any pictures of her on this day because according to her she was having a bad hair day! Of course she looked beautiful as usual, but there was no convincing her, so we will have to save her pretty face for another recipe!! However, Sloane is definitely not camera shy, so at least we get to see her pretty face!
One big tip that I was not doing before was combining all of the ingredients except for the ground turkey in the bowl first. This allows for all of the ingredients to blend together so when you add the turkey meat you have even distribution.
Lean ground turkey tends to be more on the mild/bland side, it’s definitely important to add all of the fresh herbs and a lot of grated romano cheese to enhance the flavor. Nana uses a microplane to grate her cheese directly from the block so it’s always fresh. You want to also make sure NOT to over-mix once the turkey is added, otherwise you will create tough meatballs….and nobody likes tough meatballs!
It’s also always a good idea to test the meatballs by cooking them in a skillet before you bake the entire batch. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook a small meatball in the skillet to make sure you don’t need to add additional S&P or herbs. More than likely you won’t need to adjust your seasonings, but it’s a good idea to make sure first!
Nana likes to use a cookie scooper when she scoops out the meatballs for even cooking. Line a sheet pan with parchment to make clean-up a cinch and scoop away!
Pair the meatballs with your favorite marinara sauce (either store bought or homemade) and allow the meatballs to be the star of the show. Leftover meatballs are amazing in a panini sandwich the next day with mozzarella cheese and good italian bread…my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
This recipe allows for approximately 30 meatballs. Nana likes to freeze half of the meatballs, if you decide to do this make sure to freeze the meatballs without the marinara sauce.
We are so excited to bring you this recipe. Family recipes that we have been enjoying for years are always our favorites to pass on to all of you. The memories attached to some of the family recipes we share are priceless. Hopefully you can create your own family memories with Nana’s turkey meatballs as well!!
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- ⅓ C breadcrumbs (baguette or french loaf bread, crust removed and cut into small pieces - can use stale bread)
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- ¼ C cream
- ½ C fresh basil, finely chopped
- ⅓ C flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 C romano cheese, finely grated - we use a microplane to grate the cheese
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1.5 lbs organic lean ground turkey
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl add all ingrdients except the ground turkey, mix until well incorporated. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the liquid to soak into the breadcrumbs. Add ground turkey and use a spatula to mix, make sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated into the turkey but be very careful not to overmix - the meatballs will be tough if they are overmixed.
- Test the meatballs to make sure you don't need to adjust the seasonings (S&P) by quickly frying in a skillet. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Form a small meatball from mixture and add to the skillet, cooking each side for approx 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Taste test the meatball to ensure you don't need to add additional S&P. Also if mixture is too thick you can thin it out with a little milk.
- Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment. Use a cookie scooper to form meatballs and drop onto parchment. Bake on middle rack in the oven for approx 13 minutes.
- Add desired amount of meatballs to red sauce (marinara) of your choice. Serve over pasta or zuchinni noodles. Also great to make a meatball sandwich or panini with leftovers. You can also freeze leftover meatballs, just don't add red sauce if you are freezing the meatballs.