Go Back
+ servings

Turkey Meatballs and Pasta in Marinara Sauce

Easy ground turkey meatballs simmered in marinara and tossed with pasta.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword meatballs and pasta, turkey meatballs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 611kcal
Author Kelly Wildenhaus | the hungry bluebird


  • ¼ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup grated Romano or Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons onion, minced/grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced/grated
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey light and dark mix
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • cups marinara sauce I use my favorite store-bought 28-ounce jar
  • ½ pound penne pasta


  • In large bowl, combine bread crumbs and milk, mix with fork to moisten.
  • Add egg and cheese and mix to combine.
  • Add onion, garlic, spices and ground turkey. Using clean hands, mix just to combine, trying not to over work.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, shape into golf-size balls, about 12-14 meatballs. Heat olive oil in large heavy bottomed skillet until shimmering. Brown meatballs on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total, being careful when turning, they are very fragile!
  • Add the marinara sauce and stir up any brown bits and bring to a boil, turning meatballs to coat. Lower heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water per package instructions. Drain. Remove meatballs to serving bowl with some sauce, leaving about 1 cup behind in skillet. Toss penne in sauce in skillet to coat thoroughly.
  • To serve, place sauced pasta in serving bowl or platter, and either top with meatballs or serve meatballs on the side. Or just put meatballs on top of pasta in skillet and serve. And pass more grated cheese, please! Enjoy!!


  • Use a blend of light and dark turkey meat for best flavor and tender, moist meatballs.  All white meat will yield dry meatballs lacking in flavor. You can also use ground chicken.
  • You can use fresh basil and oregano instead of dried, if you have it, about 1 tablespoon finely chopped each.  Or more to taste.
  • I prefer Romano cheese for these meatballs but Parmesan definitely works, too!
  • Try not to over mix the meatball mixture, just mix until combined.  This also ensures a more tender meatball.
  • Makes about a dozen meatballs (12-14).
  • These are very delicate when frying, just brown carefully on all sides so they don't fall apart.  You can chill the meatballs for a bit before browning to help them hold their shape in the pan.
  • That said, use a non-stick pan to make your life easier.
  • I think its best to toss the pasta with sauce to coat before serving, with the meatballs then on top or on the side.  Tastes best this way, it's also the Italian way of doing things.


Calories: 611kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 1978mg | Potassium: 1173mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1148IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 232mg | Iron: 5mg