These healthy, paleo spicy turkey meatballs hide some grated zucchini and are baked and drizzled with hot sauce for a little spicy kick. Simple to make, they are great as the main protein dish for dinner or lunch, or as a quick snack. Also Whole30, keto, and gluten-free.
Meatballs are quick and easy to make and you can store a batch in the fridge or freezer for a quick midweek meal or a snack. For these paleo turkey meatballs, I use ground mince and grated veggies like zucchini, which are nutritious and budget-friendly.
Although I call them ‘spicy turkey meatballs’, the amount of hot sauce you add on top can vary on how much heat you like. A little drizzle gives them a tiny kick and could even be kid-friendly.
TURKEY MEATBALLS NUTRITION
As a whole dish, these meatballs are rich in B-Vitamins, zinc, selenium, vitamin D and potassium. They are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, suitable to those following a low-carb or keto diet. They are naturally gluten-free and nut-free. Having some hidden veggies, these are great for kids and you can reduce the amount of spice as you see fit.
The recipe makes about 12-14 meatballs depending on size, and I think it’s about 3-4 meatballs per serve. Find the full nutrition breakdown below the recipe.
Turkey meat nutrition tips: dark turkey meat typically contains more vitamins and minerals than white turkey meat and ground meat is usually a mixture of two. Pasture-raised turkeys will also have higher omega-3 content than factory-farmed turkeys.
Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which is said to cause sleepiness. Not much that you can’t get behind the wheel but it could help those with sleep difficulties. Another upside to this amino acid is that it may help to support healthy levels of serotonin in the body, which promotes alertness and good mood. Probably because you got a good night’s sleep!
HOW TO MAKE SPICY TURKEY MEATBALLS
Making these turkey meatballs is a piece of cake (or turkey meatloaf cake!). Prepare all the ingredients and mix them together in a bowl. Make sure to squeeze the juice from the zucchini so it doesn’t add too much liquid to our meatballs when they’re cooking.
Using clean hands, roll the mixture into small meatballs. If your hands start to get sticky, give them a rinse and continue. I love baking the meatballs because it’s less hassle, less cleaning and well less oil. Put them on a baking sheet on some parchment paper and off they go in the oven.
TIPS & VARIATIONS
You can make the meatballs with ground chicken mince, pork or beef as well. They last for around 3 days in the fridge and are very tasty cold. I often grab one or two as a snack, maybe with some cherry tomatoes.
You can also use this turkey meatball mixture to make a turkey zucchini meatloaf or turkey burger patties. Once cooked, you can break the meatballs into scrambled eggs or a veggie stir-fry, add them to a veggie soup or stew for extra protein, or heat them up in a simple tomato sauce to serve over zucchini noodles.
With the ingredients that I use, I would say these meatballs have a slight Mexican flair to them. You could replace coriander and cumin with some parsley and paprika for a more Spanish touch, or some grated ginger and mild curry powder for an Oriental twist.
WHAT TO SERVE TURKEY MEATBALLS WITH
I served the meatballs hot out of the oven with a side salad and some veggies, extra hot sauce, lime and garlic aioli (a little grated garlic and mayonnaise). These are also great in tacos, wraps, salads and in soups. If you eat rice or quinoa, they would make good, energy-dense sides as well.
Paleo Turkey Meatballs – FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS
You can pre-bake and store cooked meatballs (once they’ve cooled down) for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight or in a microwave. Alternatively, you can make the mixture and roll the meatballs, then place them on a flat cutting board or a plate and put in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Once they are frozen solid, transfer them into a Ziploc bag and this way they won’t stick together.
MORE TURKEY & MEATBALL RECIPESPrint
Healthy spicy turkey meatballs made with grated zucchini, baked and drizzled with hot sauce for a tiny kick. These are Whole30, paleo, keto, gluten-free.
- 1 medium zucchini, grated
- 500 g / 1.1 lb ground turkey meat (I used 2% fat turkey mince)
- 1/4 brown or white onion, finely diced
- 3 large cloves of garlic, grated or finely diced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder (optional but very nice)
- 2/3 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Frank’s Original)
- A pinch of pepper
- 1 egg (can be omitted)
- For cooking: parchment paper, dash of olive oil and more hot sauce
- To serve: extra hot sauce, lime wedges and coriander (optional)
Preheat the oven to 210 C / 410 F.
Using your hands, squeeze out the juices from the grated zucchini into a sink (or into a cup so you can use it in a smoothie later). Return the grated flesh to a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the egg if using, and mix everything really well so the flavours and ingredients are well incorporated (I used my hands to do this).
Place a piece of parchment/baking paper over a flat oven tray/sheet pan. Grease lightly with a dash of olive oil (this is optional if you have non-stick paper). Wet your hands and roll the meat mixture into medium-size balls (a little smaller than a table tennis ball). Place on the tray, spaced out evenly (don’t overcrowd the tray). Drizzle each meatball with a few drops of the hot sauce and place the tray in the oven (make sure it’s hot!) on the middle shelf. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve with extra hot sauce and some lime wedges. I like to drizzle a little more hot sauce to make them glossy for presentation.