Tender, flavourful, and juicy, these turkey meatballs are everyone’s favourite. Baked, not fried means they are big-batch and meal-prep friendly – healthier too! Packed with fresh spinach and the classic Greek players: feta, oregano, and lemon, then served with a delicious garlicky yogurt sauce.
These meatballs have been a family favourite of ours for the past 10 years. Always enthusiastically received, I realized early on that making a large batch of these was in my best interest. Several are usually snatched off the tray straight out of the oven before the rest make it to the dinner table to be dipped in yogurt sauce, or let’s be honest, most often ketchup.
Intentionally written as a “double-batch” recipe, with the first tray full baked for immediate consumption by our family of four and the second tray heading to the freezer. Once frozen, I pop the meatballs into an appropriate container and stash them away for another day. There’s nothing like finding a stockpile of these beauties on a night you thought you might have to order pizza – again.
Since turkey and chicken are generally leaner meats than beef or pork, using the wrong kind of ground poultry to make meatballs can lead to unfortunately dry and sometimes bland results.
But not this time.
These little morsels defy the norm and are anything but dry and bland for a few simple reasons:
Look for ground turkey thigh meat when shopping. Dark poultry meat has a higher fat content, which means a more flavourful and juicer meatball. Most grocers have it available, but if you can’t find it, try your local butcher. Now, I will say that I’ve made this recipe plenty of times with ground turkey breast and they’re still delish, so don’t think of it as a deal breaker if you can’t find the thigh meat.
Seasoning is another key but sometimes overlooked factor. Besides making sure to use enough salt, taking the step to sauté and cook down the onions, garlic, and spinach not only adds a more developed flavour to the mix but allows us to sneak in more greens, and the kids are none the wiser.
Lastly, let’s agree not to overcook these, OK? Nothing ruins a turkey meatball faster. The cook time in this recipe is perfect for a tray full of meatballs measured with a 3 tbsp cookie scoop. Having said that, a trust-worthy instant-read thermometer is your best friend in the kitchen (besides your dishwasher). I use mine all the time for foods from homemade coconut yogurt to a perfectly medium-rare steak. With poultry, we’re looking for an internal temp of 165ºF.
One more quick word about the ground turkey …
Don’t get too hung up on the amount when shopping for it. I’ll never understand why supermarkets package ground meats in odd, random weights. It’s somewhat frustrating when you’re faced with a bunch of packages that weigh 367-ish grams when you need 454. Get as close as you can to the amount required, and err on the side of generous, rather than conservative.
A cool, fresh, garlic and lemon-spiked yogurt is our sauce of choice. Served as a straight-up dip or even better as a spread for warmed pita to wrap up the meatballs and veggies. So good, you guys.
These meatballs could be served in all sorts of creative ways and would most definitely be a hit served as an appetizer for a crowd – maybe even as a component on a platter, mezze-style.
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do, and it soon becomes one of your go-to recipes too!
Turkey, Feta and Spinach Meatballs with Garlickly Yogurt Sauce
Tender, flavourful and juicy, these turkey meatballs are everyone's favourite. Baked, not fried means they are big-batch and meal-prep friendly – healthier too! Packed with fresh spinach and feta cheese, and served with a delicious garlicky yogurt sauce, spiked with lemon and fresh dill.
For the Meatballs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- pinch red pepper flakes ((or to taste))
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 5 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach ((1 x 227g / 8 oz package))
- 2 lbs ground turkey thighs
- ⅔ cup crumbled feta cheese ((plus more for serving))
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- zest of one lemon
For the Garlicky Yogurt Sauce
- 1 cup full-fat greek yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced ((about 2 tsp minced))
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
- ½ tsp kosher salt ((or to taste))
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed ((about 1 small lemon))
- pita or naan
- thinly sliced red onion
- diced roma tomatoes
- diced english cucumber
- kalamata olives
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly-greased foil, and warm a large skillet over moderate heat.
Finely dice the onions, then add olive oil and diced onions to the skillet. Sauté gently to soften. Finely mince the garlic and add to the skillet once the onions are translucent. Add the salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes then cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds.
Add the Worcestershire sauce to the skillet, stir and reduce heat to low. Coarsely chop the spinach then add to the skillet and cook until the spinach is wilted and all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
While the onion mixture is cooling, place a rack in the top half of the oven and preheat to 400ºF, then prepare the yogurt sauce. Zest the lemon before juicing and reserve for the meatball mixture. Stir together the ingredients for the yogurt sauce and season to taste with additional salt if needed, and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cooled onion mixture with the ground turkey, feta cheese, bread crumbs, eggs, and lemon zest. Try not to over mix. Using a 3 tbsp capacity cookie scoop or your hands, form golf-ball-sized meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet(s). Bake for 20 minutes. (See Notes for air fryer instructions.)
While the meatballs are baking, dice or thinly slice the red onion, chop the tomatoes and cucumber into bite-sized pieces. Wrap the pita in foil and place in the oven to warm for the last 5 minutes of cooking time on the meatballs.
Once the meatballs are cooked, broil for a few minutes if a little more colour is desired, and serve with the warmed pita, garlicky yogurt sauce, and prepared veggies. Dress with a drizzle of olive oil and more feta cheese for an extra special presentation.
If raw onions are not your thing, try soaking the sliced onions in ice water for 15 minutes to remove some of the bite.
This recipe will make about 40 x 1½” meatballs (measured with a 3 tbsp capacity cookie scoop). If you make larger or smaller meatballs, adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Don’t get too hung up on the weight when purchasing the ground turkey. If the packages are not even pounds (454 g), get as close as you can, and err on the side of generous, rather than conservative.
For a family of four, bake one tray to enjoy immediately (20 meatballs is plenty for one meal) then freeze the rest. Once frozen, pop them into an appropriate container and stash them away for an even quicker meal or lunch on another day. Bake as directed, adding an extra few minutes if needed.
For the air fryer, spray the basket and the formed meatballs with cooking spray. Place as many meatballs that will fit comfortably in a single layer in the basket without touching and cook at 400ºF for 8-9 minutes.
Adapted over the years from homecookingmemories.com.
* Nutrition facts are an estimate and always calculated without the optional ingredients. Since this makes an extra-large batch of meatballs, the data has been adjusted to allow for 5 meatballs per person with the sauce and does not include the “to serve” items.
Thanks for reading and if you make this recipe, let me know! Drop a comment below and share your creation on Instagram. Don’t forget to tag #myfamilyfoodlife!