We love a good meatball! So much so, that there were only two left by the time I took this photo of our turkey meatballs covered in this smooth sweet and sour sauce.
When it comes to a low fat ground meat like turkey or chicken, keeping meatballs moist and tender can be a little more challenging. To avoid tough, dry meatballs, consider one or two of these tips:
- Add moisture inducing ingredients to the mix (finely chopped or grated onions, parsley or other veggies, Parmesan cheese, BBQ sauce, cream, etc.). You know I don’t mean add all of them – pick and choose one or two based on what you have on hand and the flavor you’re going for.
- Consider mixing a higher fat ground meat with your lower fat ground meat. It doesn’t have to be a lot of high fat ground meat, even a 30/70 ratio would be enough to add moisture. A little chopped up uncooked bacon would do the trick too.
- Go easy on the mixing. The more you mix and squish the meat, the tougher your meatballs will be. Use your hands so you’ve got a good feel for what’s going on. You should still have bits of ground meat intact (just the way it came out of the meat grinder).
- When shaping the balls, run your hands under cold water to prevent them from sticking to your hands and accidentally overworking them.
- Bake your meatballs in the oven to prevent overhandling and overcooking.
- Don’t overcook. Chicken and turkey meatballs are going to be lighter in colour, period. Going for the deep browned look will get you in serious dry trouble!
- Braise your meatballs in your favorite sauce to keep them nice and tender. If a crispy brown outside is important to you, brown them in a frying pan before adding them to the sauce – just brown the outside, don’t worry about cooking all the way through as they’ll get cooked in the sauce. I would do this, but my kids are adverse to anything in sauce. They don’t even like dip with their veggies or dressing on their salads. When it comes to meatballs – they want them straight up. I don’t know what’s crazier, their sauce freakishness or the fact that I fall for it and serve sauce on the side. Sheesh!
- Keep your meatballs at least 1 inch in size or bigger – you know what they say about small balls! Actually,I don’t know what they say about small balls, but they do tend to dry out more quickly.
Those are my secret tips for making awesome meatballs. I’m sure you’ve got a few secret tips up your sleeve too! Feel like sharing? Comment below or send me an email and let me know.
Here’s a recipe for great turkey meatballs that incorporate some of these tips.
Tasty Tender Turkey Meatballs
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 to 1 tsp Sriracha Sauce or other hot sauce optional
- 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
- Heat oven to 375°F or 190°C and lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
- In large bowl, gently mix together ground turkey with all other ingredients. Use your hands for greatest control. Some meat should remain in tact.
- Wet your hands with cold water and begin shaping meatballs - 1 to 2 inches or walnut sized. You should get about 20 meatballs.
- Place meatballs on baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes, turn them and bake 10 minutes more until outside is lightly golden and inside is no longer pink (peek inside one to see). That's 20 minutes total baking time at 375°F.
- Remove from oven and serve with, in or beside your favorite sauce.
Want to learn more? Get Getty to facilitate a home cooking session for you, a group of friends or a community group. Getty Stewart is an engaging and enthusiastic facilitator that makes it fun and easy to learn tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.