Baked Turkey Pesto Meatballs stuffed with mozzarella cheese! These meatballs taste absolutely amazing and are loaded with tons of Italian flavor. Perfect to serve over polenta or pasta, or even as a filling for a sub sandwich! This easy turkey meatballs recipe is a great go-to dish for meal prep.
It’s no secret that meatballs are a favorite in my house! I’ve shared my Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs, Asian Turkey Meatballs, Slow Cooker Firecracker Chicken Meatballs, and even turned my Italian meatballs into a soup! Italian food is just one of my favorite cuisines – pasta, pizza, sauces, meat, cheese, and bread – it’s all SO good!
- Why you will love these Baked Turkey Pesto Meatballs:
- How do I make these Turkey Basil Pesto Meatballs?
- Do I need to use mozzarella sticks or will any cheese do?
- Can I add anything else to the sauce?
- How do I store and reheat these Turkey Pesto Meatballs and the chunky tomato sauce?
- Here are more Italian Recipes you will love!
Why you will love these Baked Turkey Pesto Meatballs:
- They’re made with turkey which is a leaner protein than the usual beef and pork you see in meatballs.
- The flavor of the basil pesto really shines through! I used my own Basil Pesto recipe which takes just 5 minutes to throw together, and it’s loaded with basil-y, garlicky goodness, but store-bought would work too.
- They’re coated in a Chunky Tomato Sauce which uses ingredients you probably already have on hand, and you can customize it to your own taste. You could also make my Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce to go with the meatballs instead.
- They’re stuffed with mozzarella cheese! It melts amazingly. Need I say more?
How do I make these Turkey Basil Pesto Meatballs?
Make & bake the meatballs – 4 easy steps:
- Cut the mozzarella sticks into 1/2 inch cubes and freeze them.
- Mix all of the other ingredients for the meatballs: Ground turkey, eggs, breadcrumbs, pesto, tomato paste, and parsley.
- Roll into 16-18 balls. Press a piece of chilled mozzarella gently into each meatball and roll again to make sure the cheese is completely covered.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until they’re cooked through.
Make the Chunky Tomato Sauce – 3 easy steps:
- Heat the oil and sauté the diced onion for 4-5 minutes.
- Then sauté the minced garlic for 1 minute.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.
Then all you have to do is throw the meatballs in the sauce, sprinkle them with parmesan cheese and basil, and serve them over pasta, polenta, rice, or piled up high on a sub sandwich!
Do I need to use mozzarella sticks or will any cheese do?
Can I add anything else to the sauce?
How do I store and reheat these Turkey Pesto Meatballs and the chunky tomato sauce?
Fridge: Store these turkey meatballs in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
Freezer: Store in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.
To reheat: place them on a baking tray, cover them with foil to retain moisture, and bake at 300°F until cooked through. This will probably take about 15-20 minutes.
Fridge: Store this tomato sauce in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.
Freezer: Store in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 5 or 6 months. Thaw completely before reheating in a pot on the stove.
To reheat: place the sauce in a pot on the stove and heat until it’s hot all the way through. You can add a little water if the sauce is too thick.
Here are more Italian Recipes you will love!
- Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce
- Italian Nachos
- Lasagna Roll Ups
- One Pan Italian Chicken Skillet
- Italian Ham and White Bean Orzo Soup
Baked Turkey Pesto Meatballs
- 3-4 mozzarella sticks sliced into cubes
- 2 pounds ground turkey
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoons basil pesto
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- salt and pepper
- olive oil for drizzling
Chunky Tomato Sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper
- Cut mozzarella into small cubes, about 1/2 inch. (About 6 pieces per stick). Place mozzarella cubes in the freezer for at least 1 hour to set.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Add turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, pesto, tomato paste, parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until combined and form into 16-18 meatballs.
- Gently push a piece of chilled mozzarella into the center of the meatball and roll again to make sure the cheese is completely covered.
- Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
- Cook for 25-30 minutes or until fully cooked.
- Serve the meatballs immediately with your favorite tomato sauce and pasta.
Chunky Tomato Sauce
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add in the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender.
- Add in garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Pour in tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, sugar and crushed red pepper flakes.
- Cook, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.
Originally published March 10, 2016