Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs are a versatile dish you need to know this year. These veggie-packed protein bites pull triple duty as an easy appetizer, main dish or salad topper. Learn how to bake zucchini meatballs and all the ways to serve ’em here. Makes 50 meatballs.
Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs Recipe
Don’t tell anyone, but I really hate leftovers. I’m usually the one who ends up eating them for lunch when everyone is at work and school, and leftovers are just less appealing the next day.
But I have a trick: Make foods that can pull double duty. It’s like having a little black dress you can wear to a daytime meeting or to a nice date night dinner. Two birds, as they say.
These Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs are exactly this kind of dish. How can you use them? Let me count the ways…
They work as an easy appetizer with toothpicks and a dipping sauce. You can add them to a salad for a healthy lunch. Or make a comforting rice or pasta bowl with all your faves.
The best part? These turkey meatballs are stuffed with zucchini, giving them an extra boost of veggies that no one will notice.
They’re light and flavorful with pops of lemon and tangy bits of feta in each bite. You won’t taste the zucchini, but it stretches the meat so you wind up with more meatballs, and also adds a veggie into a dish that usually doesn’t have many.
Why I love this recipe:
These Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs are just the recipe you need to get you through meals this week.
The combination of simple ingredients and a little bit of time really makes these shine. And they’re a fun twist on regular meatballs.
Here are some things I adore about ’em:
- The turkey meatballs are lighter than traditional beef meatballs.
- Turkey is a versatile protein that works from lunch to dinner to parties.
- These tasty meatballs make a delicious quick weeknight meal.
- They’re light, flavorful and a great way to use up extra zucchini from the garden. They provide an easy way to eat more veggies.
- The shredded zucchini isn’t apparent when you’re eating them, so this might be a good way to get extra veggies into someone who is a picky eater.
- These turkey meatballs are baked, so you can form and bake them ahead of time and reheat if you like. They’re perfect for meal prepping.
What you need to make this recipe:
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- Box grater
- Microplane or zester
- Garlic press
- Large baking sheet
- Nonstick baking mat or parchment paper
- Cooling rack
- Large bowl
- 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop
- Instant-read meat thermometer
- Food prep containers for storage
Let’s talk ingredients!
In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Ground turkey — you can feel free to use ground chicken or any other ground meat if you prefer.
- Zucchini — you’ll want to shred this so it is fine and won’t be noticed in the meatballs. You can sometimes buy it this way, but you can also use a cheese grater.
- Lemon zest — use a microplane or zester, or peel the lemon and chop the zest very finely. Try to avoid getting any of the white pith underneath the yellow peel; it’s very bitter.
- Eggs — large eggs work as a binder in this recipe, helping the meatballs not to fall apart. You won’t taste them.
- Panko breadcrumbs — panko bread crumbs are very crispy and when they meet the ingredients, they soften, helping to bind the ingredients together. You can use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs, too. And if you only have regular breadcrumbs, those should work just fine. I used some homemade breadcrumbs to make these before, and they were delicious.
- Garlic cloves — mince them finely or use store-bought minced garlic.
- Kosher salt — kosher salt is my favorite for cooking, but you may use sea salt too. Table salt is iodized and can make recipes too salty.
- Black pepper — freshly ground is best but use whatever you have.
- Feta cheese crumbles — You can purchase a block of cheese and crumble it but I prefer to buy pre-crumbled feta. I like to use flavored feta, such as one with Mediterranean herbs, but regular feta cheese works great too.
Please note that we are not using pecorino cheese or parmesan cheese in these meatballs. If you’d prefer those to feta, feel free to swap them out.
Customizations and substitutions
No zucchini? Make my baked turkey meatballs instead.
Gluten-free meatballs: Use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs. I’ve not tried it, but I don’t see why it couldn’t work.
Vegetarian meatballs: Skip the meat and let the zucchini be the star of meatless meatballs.
Swap out the meat: You can also make these into ground chicken zucchini meatballs or ground beef zucchini meatballs by using different meats.
How to make Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
Here’s how to make this easy and delicious turkey zucchini meatball recipe:
Start by preheating the oven to 375°F.
Line a rimmed cookie sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside. Please note that we are baking these meatballs, not frying them in a pan like you might traditional meatballs.
To prevent the meatballs from sitting in their juices, you can place an oven-safe, non-stick cooling rack on top of the baking sheet to prevent the meatballs from sitting in their juices. Personally, I skip this because cleaning up the cooling rack can be a pain.
Prep all the ingredients before getting started.
Please note that when we shred the zucchini, we are not wrapping them in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to soak up excess liquid.
Measure the turkey, grated zucchini, lemon zest, beaten eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper and feta cheese crumbles into a very large bowl or your favorite mixing bowl.
Use your hands or a spatula to combine the ingredients until evenly incorporated.
Once the meatball mixture is combined, form palm-sized meatballs. You can use your hands or a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop.
Drop them on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer, being sure to leave space between each so that they can brown in the oven.
Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
How to serve Greek turkey meatballs
You can serve these meatballs in so many delicious ways.
Salad: Make a Greek salad and put a few of these puppies on top. Use this shawarma salad as a base.
Rice or pasta bowl: Start with a bed of rice or pasta, or even orzo pasta salad. Add a scoop of white bean hummus and some baba ganoush, plus olives, cucumbers and diced or cherry tomatoes and whatever your faves are!
Greek spaghetti and meatballs: Feel free to make pasta and serve these the old-fashioned way with your favorite sauce and a few crumbles of feta on top.
How to store and freeze
If you like, you may prepare the meatballs ahead of time. Store them in a food-safe, airtight container in the refrigerator and cook them within a few days. (Be sure to check the expiration of the ground turkey and cook them before it expires!)
You can also freeze baked meatballs for later. Let them cool completely and transfer to a clean baking sheet. Flash-freeze for an hour, then transfer them to a zipper-locking bag or other freezer-safe container. Enjoy frozen meatballs within 3-4 months.
Thaw before cooking or cook from frozen — they will need 5-10 more minutes in the oven if you cook from frozen.
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
- These meatballs make an easy appetizer or main dish for anyone. (We always serve them with tzatziki either way.)
- Meal prep these babies! Making meatballs on a random weeknight does not always jive with me, so feel free to follow my meal prep and freezing tips to make them ahead of time.
- Serve them with tzatziki sauce — they are so good this way!
Frequently Asked Questions
A binder like eggs and breadcrumbs the meatballs stay tender, and prevents them from falling apart. Also, mixing with your hands is the best way to gently mix everything together so they aren’t overmixed.
Zucchini is a great veggie addition to meatballs. Grate the zucchini on a cheese grater so that it is in fine pieces. This is key to keeping the meatballs from falling apart. Bigger chunks of zucchini will create pockets that can cause the meatballs to break or crumble.
Quick tips and tricks to making the best Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
- Zucchini should be finely grated or it can cause the meatballs to break.
- Mix the turkey and other ingredients together with your hands for best results.
- Use a meat thermometer to check they have reached an internal temp of 165°F (74°C).
More dinner recipes
Here’s how you make these meatballs:
Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
- 2 lbs. ground turkey
- 1.5 lb. zucchini shredded (about 2 medium or 4 cups shredded)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs 115g
- 8 garlic cloves finely minced (28g)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ cup feta cheese crumbles 130g (we used Mediterranean herb for this batch, but you can use regular, too)
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside. (You can also place a cooling rack on top of the baking sheet to prevent the meatballs from sitting in their juices, if you’d like to do this. I used to, but cleaning up the cooling rack is a pain, so I forgo it now.)
- Measure the turkey, shredded zucchini, lemon zest, beaten eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper and feta cheese crumbles into a very large bowl.
- Use your hands to gently mix the ingredients until incorporated.
- Once the meatball ingredients are combined, form palm-sized meatballs (in your hands or with a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop) and drop them on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Give them a little space between each so that they can brown up.
- Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Serve with tzatziki over your favorite salad greens or pasta or serve as an appetizer with a tzatziki dipping sauce.
Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her…