Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Savory Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs

Hi friends!  Hope you are having a marvelous week so far.

Being that we are in the throes of 'winter' here in SoCal (and by 'winter' I mean nighttime/early morning lows in the 40s), I am always on the lookout for tasty warm-me-up meals to take away the winter chill.  Hubby bought ground turkey on sale quite a while back and it had been hogging space in our freezer. I've also been a little obsessed with our slow cooker lately, so slow cooker turkey meatballs fit the bill quite nicely.

I found this recipe in the Rival Crock Pot Slow Cooker Cuisine cookbook.  Hubby's had it for ages from someone in his family (thanks guys!) and it's been a great go-to resource for easy (and pretty tasty!) slow cooker meals.  The recipe is actually listed as "Spicy Turkey Meatballs", but I digress.  I often find recipes to have too little flavor for my taste when I add the suggested amounts of seasoning, so I always add more because I like FLAVOR.  Recipe spicy does not equal fire-in-your-mouth spicy (which I do like).  Hence, these have become "savory" meatballs because I think they have great flavor, not spice.  Okay, enough of that :)

These turkey meatballs were outstanding, really.  The slow cooker keeps the moisture in, which is crucial for turkey meat since it tends to try out if you overcook it or use a leaner cut of meat.  The orange zest and cayenne pepper add a great extra something that makes you go "hmm, what is that?".  I highly recommend these.  We served them over cooked whole wheat spaghetti and had a feast!  Dee-lish.

Here we go.  Gather up your ingredients.  I love how simple this is and we already had everything in our pantry.  Bonus points!  P.S. I highly recommend using seasoned bread crumbs for extra flavor (not spice, remember?) :)

Add your dry ingredients and herbs to your turkey.  Mix it all together until everything is combined.

Roll mixture into 1-inch meatballs.  Aren't they cute? :)

Heat a few teaspoons of olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the meatballs until they are golden brown on all sides.  Just gotta sear those puppies, not cook 'em all the way through.

Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  I used 93% lean turkey so there wasn't much fat in them to begin with.

Place the meatballs in your slow cooker and cook for 1 hour on high.

After an hour, add a jar of pasta sauce.  Cook for 4-6 hours on Low or 2-3 hours on High.  Here's what you'll get!

Serve over cooked pasta and grate some lovely fresh Parmesan cheese over the top.  


Savory Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs
Serves 4-6

  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic (I used TJ's Crushed Garlic from the jar)
  • 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp. dried sage
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp. grated orange peel
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (I used cilantro and it was fine)
  • 1 jar (16 oz. or 24 oz. - I ended up needing 24 oz. to cover all the meatballs in the slow cooker) spaghetti sauce


  • Combine onion, garlic, ground turkey, bread crumbs, sage, egg white, orange peel, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and parsley.
  • Form into 1-inch balls and brown in skillet with 1 tbsp. oil.
  • Drain meatballs and place in slow cooker.
  • Cook on High for 1 hour, then stir in spaghetti sauce.
  • Cook on Low for 4-6 hours or on High for 2-3 hours.
  • Serve over cooked pasta and top with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.


  1. What a perfect winter meal. It's hard to beat quick and easy. I'm new here and just wanted you to know how much I enjoy the food and recipes you feature here. I'll definitely be back. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  2. This looks so good, I have been thinking about making turkey meatballs lately, I will try this for sure!

  3. Yum! and healthy, too! My slow cooker is feeling neglected, I need to use it more!

  4. These look great. Wonderful flavors. I love to find good crockpot dishes because they are easy to prepare, and the meatballs must be so flavorful and yummy after cooking for so long:)

  5. Slow cooker's the way to go with this weather!

  6. These look delicious -- but I'm curious to know why you have a plastic bag in your slow cooker? Theresa

  7. These look really delicious, Lauren...I don't get my crockpot out of the cabinets as often as I should. But I have some ground turkey in the freezer, so maybe for dinner on Saturday over some penne pasta! BTW...I'm having a giveaway for some great gourmet food products, so come by before tomorrow at midnight to enter, ok?

  8. @Theresa - it is actually a slow cooker liner! Reynolds makes them and they are great for easy clean up.

    @Wendy - just entered your giveaway - looks fantastic!

  9. Those look fabulous! I can't wait to try it!

  10. Lauren, This is a perfect cold weeknight dish. I love those liners, they are the best. Have to have this soon. Have a great week.

  11. This looks like such an easy and delicious recipe. Bring on the meatballs! I am in the need of some more slow cooker recipes, and this looks like a winner. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Oh wow. Slow cooker so you don't have to fuss with it after work, and then it'd be perfect leftovers for lunch at work the next day. You, Lauren my dear, have a definite winner!

  13. I don't have a slow cooker (I know I know), but I generally love turkey meatballs!! Definitely lighter than using beef or a combination of beef, veal, and pork like I lot of people do. Maybe someday I will invest in a slow cooker, seems like it's a really convenient kitchen toy to have :)

  14. They certainly look like a wonderful, satisfying meal, and not too difficult to make. Nice work!

  15. Winter in Socal sounds a lot like winter in Phoenix :) I love turkey meatballs this time of year, but have never made mine in the slow cooker before...I love the convenience of it! PS: Thinking good thoughts for you and your interview :)

  16. This sounds interesting and easy to do.


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