Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs
This easy slow cooker turkey meatballs recipe combines ground turkey with fresh spinach, basil and marinara for an easy-prep meal that requires no pre-browning; and results in tender, juicy, delicious meatballs that will be a hit at dinner time!
We absolutely love meatballs around here, whether it’s 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, as this one is!
For this easy prep wonder, I wanted to create a healthy 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!
Process and Tips
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 on this particular recipe.
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!
Tip: Be sure to follow the instructions for best results, and don’t stir the meatballs once they are in the slow cooker!
Ways to Serve 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).
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.
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!
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.
More Slow Cooker Recipes with Ground Turkey
Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joes
this recipe is…
Dairy FreeGluten FreeNut FreePaleoWhole30
Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs
- 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
- Cookie Scoop (optional)
- 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.
Delicious! Have made them twice now and love these.
Dawn, yay, so happy to hear you’re enjoying this one! It’s on of our family favorites, too! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!
This was delicious and will be my go-to turkey meatball recipe going forward! I love how you use the slow cooker. I’ve never cooked with nutritional yeast and I can say it gives you the cheesy flavor without adding actual cheese. It doesn’t take long to prep nor is it over complicated.
Whitney, thanks for your kind words and notes on nutritional yeast, I bet that will help someone else considering whether to give it a try, too. Cheers!
So easy to make and very tasty!
This recipe will become a regular on busy week nights!
Thanks Robyn! 🤗
Yay, so glad you enjoyed this one, Genevieve, thanks so much for leaving a review!
I didn’t have any trouble forming the meatballs by hand- Loved it and plan to share !!!
Great to hear this, Erin! The consistency of ground turkey can differ quite a bit, so great to know yours rolled easily. Thanks so much for leaving a review!