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Close up of Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs with lemon sauce

Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs With Lemon Sauce

by Karen D. Insignares

Have these delicious, moist Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs for your next family dinner or serve as an appetizer with a dunk worthy side of Tzatziki sauce.  This healthy recipe is full of aromatic spices and herbs and can be pan fried or baked in the oven. Have it on a fluffy bed of rice with lemon sauce or as part of a delicious, mediterranean inspired salad bowl with Tzatziki sauce.


What Do I Need To Make Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs?

These meatballs are inspired by the aromatic and refreshing flavors of mediterranean cooking. They are full of flavor and very versatile.

  • Ground turkey
  • Olive Oil
  • Red onion
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Plain bread crumbs
  • Egg
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarse black pepper
  • Cumin
  • Oregano (dried)
  • Rosemary (dried)
  • Sage (dried)
  • Marjoram (dried)
  • Basil (dried)
  • Lemon

You may substitute dried herbs for a premixed Italian seasoning.

Pan full of Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs for Appetizers

How to Make Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs

Step 1: In a medium sized bowl, mix with you hands cold ground turkey, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, cumin, rosemary, sage, marjoram, minced red onion, minced garlic, minced parsley, bread crumbs, and one egg. Let the mixture rest in the fridge for 5 minutes until it firms up.

You may replace dried seasonings for equal amounts of italian seasoning.

Step 2: Scoop out 1-2 tablespoon sized balls and roll into even sized balls.

Use oil on your hands to help prevent mixture from sticking to your hands.

The balls should be firm enough to hold their shape when you put it on a flat surface. If not, add a tablespoon of bread crumbs and wait another 5 minutes.

Step 3: Heat a pan to medium heat and add vegetable oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the meatballs. The meatballs should sizzle when they hit the pan. If they start to burn too quickly, lower the heat. 

Work in batches, you don’t want to overcrowd the pan.

Turn meatballs when the sides turn brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove meatballs.

Step 4: Deglaze the pan: Add water and lemon juice to the pan, and scrape off all the burnt bits. Add the meatballs and let simmer until the sauce reduces by half.

Garnish with minced parsley and serve.

Can I Bake Meatballs in the Oven?

Heck yes you can! Here’s how you do it.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Roll the meatballs with oily hands and place on a baking tray.

Roast for 15 to 30 minutes. Time varies depending on the size of the meatballs you made. The meatballs are done when cooked through, the outsides are browned, and they register 165°F in the middle on an instant-read thermometer.

Close up of Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs with lemon sauce

Why are my Turkey Meatballs Mushy?

Meatball recipes usually have a combination of breadcrumbs and eggs to help keep their shape and texture. Too much breadcrumbs can make the mixture loose and too little won’t help the meat hold together at all. Similarly, too many eggs and the meatballs will come out soggy and mushy, while too little eggs won’t help the mixture hold.

How do you keep Turkey Meatballs from Falling Apart?

There are a few things you can do to make sure you get meatballs that will hold together.

Mix With Your Hands. You want to mix your ingredients just until combined. You don’t want to over mix the ground meat.

Keep Your Ingredients Cold. It’s important to keep ground meat cold so that the fat doesn’t melt and break down before you start cooking the meatballs. Turkey has little fat, so in this recipe we add olive to introduce some more fat and to help maintain moisture.

Breadcrumb and Egg Binder. The combination of breadcrumbs and eggs is the glue that holds your meat mixture together. After you’ve added the breadcrumbs and eggs, usually about ½ cup breadcrumbs and 1 egg for 2 lbs of meat, you want to let it rest in the fridge for a few minutes, to give the breadcrumbs some time to bind with the moist ingredients.

When you form the balls, they should be firm enough to hold their shape when you put it on a flat surface. If not, add a tablespoon of bread crumbs and wait another 5 minutes.

Taste Test The Mixture. Not sure if your meatballs will hold? Cook a mini ball and test it for flavor and structure. If it’s mushy, falls apart, or has trouble holding together, add a tablespoon of breadcrumbs or flour, and let it rest in the fridge for a few minutes before testing another one.

What is the Secret to Moist Turkey Meatballs?

According to every source I know, adding milk to the breadcrumbs is the best way to add moisture to meatballs. 

But, I don’t do that, and it comes out delicious! I’m not a food scientist, but I think the olive oil, raw onion, and egg in this recipe add moisture to the ground turkey. Regardless, this recipe came out fantastic and moist. I hope you’ll enjoy it. 

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Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs with Tzatziki Sauce

Moist Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs served with a dunk worthy side of Tzatziki sauce.  Filled with aromatic spices and can be pan fried or baked.
Recipe by Karen D. Insignares
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Approx Cost of Recipe: $5
Servings: 10 servings (30 Meatballs)

Ingredients

  • 1.75 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup red onion, minced (¼ large red onion)
  • ¼ cup parsley with stems minced, packed (small handful)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced (2 garlic cloves)

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram

Deglaze

  • ½ cup water
  • 4 tablespoon Lemon juice (1 whole lemon)

Extras

  • Vegetable oil for pan frying (approx 1 tbspn per batch)
  • Minced parsley or cilantro for garnish

Click Here For Tzatziki Sauce Recipe

    Instructions

    • In a medium sized bowl, use your hands to mix together cold ground turkey, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, cumin, rosemary, sage, marjoram, minced red onion, minced garlic, minced parsley, bread crumbs, and egg, just until combined. Let the mixture rest in the fridge for 5 minutes, until it firms up.
    • Scoop out 1-2 tablespoon sized balls and roll into even sized balls. The balls should be firm enough to hold their shape when you put it on a flat surface. If not, add a tablespoon of bread crumbs and wait another 5 minutes.
    • Heat a pan to medium heat and add vegetable oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the meatballs. Work in batches, you don't want to overcrowd the pan.
    • Turn meatballs when the sides turn brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove meatballs.
    • Deglaze the pan: Add water and lemon juice to the pan, and scrape off all the burnt bits. Add the meatballs and let simmer until the sauce reduces by half.
    • Garnish with minced parsley and serve.

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