Juicy and flavorful turkey meatballs swimming in a sea of homemade marinara sauce. Baked and ready in about 30 minutes. YES.

When we lived in Brooklyn one of our happiest Sunday afternoon traditions was to schlep a few miles south, find a seat at the bar, and order a good part of the menu at our favorite little pizza shop. Icy cold draft beers, pipping hot Neapolitan pizzas, and one or two small plates to start. My definition of heaven on earth.

One of my favorite starters was the meatballs in sauce. No pasta; no bread; just perfectly plump and juicy meatballs delicately surrounded by a few spoonfuls of spicy marinara sauce.

Simple, sensational, and so so satisfying. The way real Italian food is and should always be.

Last week I awoke with a fierce craving to once again call those meatballs my own, and decided to take matters into my own hands. <—- Recipe testing beats a 3 hour drive to Brooklyn every time 😉


For the Meatballs:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey meat (ground beef will work too!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste (I suggest starting with 1 and 1/4 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper)
  • 2 cups zucchini, finely grated and drained (it will look more like 1 cup once it’s been drained of excess liquid; see post if you need more clarity on this)
  • 1 small red onion, grated

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine ground turkey meat, olive oil, minced garlic, eggs, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, zucchini, and onion. Using your hands mix the meat mixture until the ingredients are evenly combined; the mixture should be very moist but still hold its shape when rolled into balls.
  3. Scoop two tablespoon sized balls of meat from the mix, roll into a firm ball, and place on prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining meat.

You can find complete recipes of this Baked Turkey Zucchini Meatballs in bakerbynature.com

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