These Turkey Pesto Meatballs are stuffed with mozzarella cheese in the center! Then they are baked until golden brown then tossed in a homemade tomato sauce. These turkey meatballs make the perfect Sunday Dinner!
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turkey pesto meatballs
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:
- 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 Thick Tomato Sauce which uses ingredients you probably already have on hand, and you can customize it to your own taste. You could use your favorite store bought tomato sauce (here’s my favorite premade tomato sauce) or 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:
- Mix all of the other ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl: Ground turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, pesto, tomato paste, parsley, salt and pepper all go in.
- 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 Easy 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!
frequently asked questions
can i stuff the meatballs with any other kind of cheese?
Yes! If you don’t want to use mozzarella you could use provolone or a Swiss cheese instead. I’ve also made this recipe with mozzarella sticks too!
Do these have to be bake?
No you could also cook them on the stove top in a bit of oil or in the air fryer!
I recommend storing the sauce and meatballs separately if possible, because they will taste much better when reheated.
- Fridge: Store these turkey meatballs in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
- 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 degrees until cooked through. This will 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.
more Italian Recipes you will love!
- Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce
- Authentic Italian Meatballs
- Lasagna Roll Ups
- Italian Ham and White Bean Orzo Soup
- Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan
what I used to make this recipe
Baked Turkey Pesto Meatballs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.Add turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, pesto, tomato paste, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix until combined and then portion into meatballs. (see note 1)Place the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper. You could also just place them on a baking sheet drizzled with a bit of oil.
- Gently push a piece of chilled mozzarella into the center of the meatball and roll again to make sure the cheese is completely covered.
- Cook for 25-30 minutes or until fully cooked. While the meatballs are baking make the tomato sauce.
- Serve the meatballs immediately with your favorite tomato sauce and pasta.
Easy 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 15 minutes. Allow the sauce to keep simmering on low until your are ready to toss in your meatballs.
- I portion my meatballs out using this scoop. I don’t worry about rolling them until after I add in my cheese in the center.