This easy high protein slow cooker turkey meatballs recipe combines ground turkey with fresh spinach, basil and marinara for an easy, healthy meal that requires no pre-browning; and results in tender, juicy, delicious meatballs that will be a hit at dinner time!

white bowl of crockpot turkey meatballs on blue background with striped napkin

About These High Protein Turkey Meatballs

I absolutely love meatballs, whether they are for a hearty Sunday night dinner, a celebratory game day, or just a busy weeknight meal.

Especially when it’s an easy dump and go slow cooker recipe that doesn’t require any browning, which I just happen to be an expert in!

For this easy prep wonder, I wanted to create a healthy and low-carb take on turkey meatballs, and so used both spinach and basil for tons of plant powered nutrition.

Plus, I made these slow cooker turkey meatballs gluten free, dairy free, and egg free so they are free of top allergens.

But trust me, no one will even notice because they are so darn delicious and taste just like a classic Italian meatball.

top down shot of crockpot turkey meatballs with herbs on top

Process and Tips for the Best Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs

For this slow cooker turkey meatball recipe, I wanted to keep the meatballs egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and breadcrumb free, and also wanted to keep the recipe as simple as possible.

One of the tricks to keeping these meatballs juicy (not to mention nutritious) is the addition of the fresh spinach and basil, as well as the grated onion.

To keep prep to a minimum, I also wanted to skip the browning or baking step for the meatballs. 

While browning can add a bit more flavor, to me it’s just not worth the time and dirty dishes — we love easy clean up around here.

So, for easy prep, this method skips the browning and baking process, and instead adds the meatballs directly to the crockpot, making it a fantastic dump and go slow cooker recipe for busy weeknights!

Prep Tip

Be sure to follow the instructions for best results, and don’t stir the meatballs once they are in the slow cooker!

tomato sauce and meatballs in black slow cooker pot

Ways to Serve Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs

Serve the crockpot turkey meatballs on top of cooked pasta, spaghetti squash or zoodles.

Or, create a hearty dinner bowl with roasted veggies & a grain base like rice, quinoa or creamy polenta.

Get creative with your toppings to make it your own!

Some of my favorites are red pepper flakes, more fresh basil, and Parmesan (traditional or dairy-free).

Want more slow cooker turkey recipes? Check out these easy & yummy Slow Cooker Turkey Recipes.

How to Store & Freeze

This crock pot turkey meatball recipe can easily be made ahead, making it perfect for meal prep and busy weeks, or anytime you need to feed a crowd quickly & easily.

Just fully cook the meatballs, then store along with the sauce in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, in a sealed container.

This recipe also freezes well, store in a sealed freezer friendly container or zip-top bag for up to 2-3 months.

spooning out meatballs and tomato sauce from black crockpot

Key Ingredients & Substitutions

Onion: Don’t skip grating the onion! Grating it (just as you would cheese) allows the onion to release much-needed moisture and allows it to dissolve into the meat as it cooks.

Nutritional yeast: adds a cheesy flavor without containing any dairy. Find it on the bulk aisle of your natural foods store, or in the baking section. It adds an essential “cheesy” flavor to the recipe without added dairy. If dairy is part of your diet, you can substitute ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese place of nutritional yeast.

Ground turkey: 93% lean works best, but a leaner option can also be used.

Spinach and basil: Adds moisture and plant powered nutrients!

Marinara sauce: I love using my simple homemade marinara sauce in this recipe, but a good quality store-bought option will work well, too.

Tip: If you’re looking for more healthy meatball recipes, you can cook your way through this collection of my favorite paleo meatball recipes too. A great list to save for busy weeks!

Notes & Tips for Success

This recipe makes approximately 24-28 small meatballs, which serves about 6 people, especially when served over 1 pound cooked pasta.

I was able to fit 26 meatballs into one layer using the 1.6 cookie scoop, plus 4 extra, which I layered on top.

Your yield will depend on the size you make the meatballs.

Keep in mind that depending on the grinding method, ground turkey can be sticky and won’t always roll the way ground beef does.

I recommend using a small cookie scoop if you’re having trouble rolling the meatballs.

turkey meatballs in tomato sauce in white bowl with striped blue napkin

This Recipe Is…

white bowl of crockpot turkey meatballs on blue background with striped napkin
5 stars (9 ratings)

Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs

These easy and healthy slow cooker turkey meatballs use ground turkey for an easy-prep meal that requires not pre-browning!

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 cups baby spinach, loosely packed
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, or freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 lb 93% lean dark meat ground turkey
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 (15-oz) jar marinara sauce

Optional Serving Suggestions

  • 1 pound cooked spaghetti, red pepper flakes, fresh basil, parmesan, crusty bread

Instructions 

  • Grate the onion using the large holes of a box grater over a large bowl. You should end up with about ¼ cup.
  • Chop the spinach and basil into very small pieces. Alternatively you can add the onion, basil, and spinach to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not pureed.
  • To the same bowl, add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt, stirring to combine. Add the turkey and stir again, until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Add the olive oil to the base of a 6-quart slow cooker, spreading it around until the bottom is well coated.
  • Using a small, 1.6-inch cookie scoop, scoop the turkey mixture into a single layer into the base of the slow cooker. Gentle scoop any remaining mixture on top, creating a second layer. If you don’t have a cookie scoop, you can use a large soup spoon instead. Ground turkey is very sticky, so trying to roll them into balls by hand will likely result in a mess, so use the scoop or spoon method for best results.
  • Pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs. Do not stir.
  • Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8. Uncover and gently stir to separate the meatballs.
  • Serve over pasta, spaghetti squash, or with crusty bread, topped with fresh basil, parmesan (traditional or dairy-free), and red pepper flakes if desired.

Notes

For more recipe notes & ingredient modifications, see the blog post above.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 4 (6 meatballs with sauce), Calories: 203kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 0.3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 596mg, Potassium: 189mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 1725IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition disclaimer
Did you make this recipe?If you do, be sure to share it on Instagram and tag me at @realfoodwholelife so I can see!

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