Turkey Spinach Meatballs and Spaghetti
These Turkey Spinach Meatballs are irresistibly healthy, deliciously seasoned, packed with spinach and are served on a bed of spaghetti noodles with marinara sauce. It’s a delicious — and healthier — take on spaghetti and meatballs!
Why This Recipe Works
- Super awesome flavor. My husband was pretty skeptical about the ground turkey meatballs. He was worried it wouldn’t taste as flavorful or substantial as ground beef meatballs. But he loved them! You can’t even tell it’s ground turkey and the flavor is amazing! The spinach turkey meatballs have a delicious garlic flavor and are accompanied with 3 different classic Italian spices and seasoned breadcrumbs. The flavor really packs a punch, and you’ll know once you bite into these delicious turkey meatballs with spinach.
- Sneaks in a vegetable. I love this recipe because it’s a great way to sneak in a vegetable for picky eaters! If your kids are anything like mine, then they probably love pasta! This turkey spinach meatballs and spaghetti dinner is a great way to make something they’ll love while disguising a vegetable in there!
- Juicy meatballs. If you’re worried about getting juicy meatballs with ground turkey, don’t be! The turkey meatballs with spinach stay juicy and flavorful, even after being cooked on the stove and baked in the oven with the noodles and cheese.
- High protein meal. This is great high protein meal that is filling and yet it doesn’t feel super heavy — thanks to using ground turkey.
- Olive Oil: The olive oil is used to grease the pan for cooking the spinach turkey meatballs. I’d also recommend using a good nonstick pan or else the meatballs will stick to the pan (yes, even if you are using oil) and the’ll begin to fall apart.
- Ground Turkey: This recipe uses 2 lbs ground turkey. It makes a lot of meatballs!
- Eggs: The eggs act as a binding agent so the meatballs don’t fall apart when you are cooking them.
- Breadcrumbs: You can use Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs or plain breadcrumbs. If using plain, be sure to add about a teaspoon or so of Italian seasoning to the breadcrumbs.
- Baby Spinach: Cut the spinach up really good so that it mixes into the meatball mixture really well.
- Seasonings: You’ll need dried parsley, dried basil and Italian seasoning.If you are using plain breadcrumbs instead of Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, then you’ll want to add a bit of Italian seasoning to the breadcrumbs.
- Marinara Sauce: Depending on how saucy you like your noodles you may need more than 1 jar. Another plus with this recipe is that because the spinach turkey meatballs are so flavorful, you can use a classic marinara — no need to spend extra on a jar of sauce that has extra seasonings.
- Fresh Mozzarella: The fresh mozzarella is slice and place on top of the noodles in the baking dish. I love using the fresh instead of the shredded because you get more of those gooey cheesy spots! Plus, there’s a big difference with the flavor of the fresh mozzarella in my opinion.
- Make the turkey spinach meatballs. Combine the ground turkey, eggs, garlic, breadcrumbs, spinach, dried basil, Italian seasoning, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Wet your hands and then mix with your hands until combined. Then portion the meatballs into 1-1 1/2-inch balls.
- Cook the meatballs with spinach and the pasta. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and cook the meatballs over medium heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides (about 4), working in batches until all meatballs are cooked. The meatballs should reach 165ºF internally to be done. While the meatballs are cooking, cook the pasta until 1 minute under al dente. Let cooked meatballs rest on a plate. Add additional olive oil between batches of meatballs.
- Coat the pasta. Pour half of the marinara into the now empty skillet and add the cooked noodles. Toss to coat.
- Prepare the baking dish. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the marinara-coated pasta to the baking dish. Nestle the meatballs into the pasta. Pour the remaining marinara on top. Top with the sliced mozzarella.
- Bake. Bake at 400°F for 20 -25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Don’t want to use your hands to mix the meatball mixture? Use a pastry cutter instead!
Use a sauce you love! The meatballs are very flavorful so if you want, you can use a plain marinara sauce! You don’t have to spend time doctoring the sauce up nor more money on a fancier sauce.
Be sure to use a nonstick pan when cooking the meatballs + olive oil or else the meatballs will stick to the pan.
You really do want to finely chop the spinach so it combines better with the ground turkey.
Serve these meatballs with the pasta as listed in the recipe card, with spaghetti squash for a lighter and healthier option, in a meatballs sub sandwich, or as an appetizer with Baked Zucchini Fries and marinara dipping sauce!
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
This is the perfect recipe for meal prep! You’ll get a lot of turkey spinach meatballs from this recipe that you can cook, cool and freeze to use in meals later.
If you really want to make a lot of meatballs to store in the freezer, I would recommend doubling the meatball portion of the recipe. You’ll be able to freeze a lot more meatballs to use later.
To freeze, cook the meatballs until they are 165ºF internally. Remove from the pan and let cool completely. Then store in an airtight container or Ziplock bag and freeze for up to 4 months. Remove from the freezer and warm on a sauté pan with some oil until thawed.
Store any leftover pasta and meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Yes you can. You’ll just want to thaw the frozen spinach and press out any liquid. Then transfer to a cutting board and chop before adding to the turkey meatball mixture.
Yes you can. I cooked them on the stove so I’ve have that nice crispy, browned outside. If you bake them, bake at 400ºF for about 18-20 minutes or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165ºF.
Definitely. I preferred the flavor and texture of the slice fresh mozzarella. It gave the dish more of that Margherita pizza style.
A few things can help keep your turkey meatballs together. First, make sure you’ve added the eggs. The eggs will act as a binding agent in the meatballs. Second, the breadcrumbs. Using breadcrumbs + eggs will help form a meatball mixture that will cook up well and will keep together. Finally, make sure you’ve cut the spinach really finely. Big pieces of spinach will make it hard for your meatballs to stay together, regardless of the eggs and breadcrumbs.
Yes you can! It’s a great way to get a pop of color in the meatballs while adding the boost of vegetables!
More Pasta Recipes
Turkey Spinach Meatballs and Spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil - for browning the meatballs
- 2 pounds lean ground turkey
- 2 large eggs - lightly beaten
- 2 garlic cloves - minced
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 3 cups baby spinach - finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 12 oz spaghetti noodles
- 28 oz jar marinara sauce - depending on how saucy you like your noodles you may need more than 1 jar.
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella - sliced
- Preheat the oven to 400°F
- In a large bowl combine the ground turkey, eggs, garlic, bread crumbs, spinach, dried basil, Italian seasoning, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix with your hands until combined.
- Wet your hands and then portion the meatballs into 1-1 1/2 “ inch balls.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta until 1 minute under al dente.
- Add 1 T olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the meatballs in a single layer and brown them on all sides (I do about 4 sides). You will need to work in batches. Once browned, transfer the meatballs to a plate. Add the remaining 1 T olive oil and continue browning the rest of the meatballs.
- Pour half the marinara into the now empty skillet and add the cooked noodles. Toss to coat.
- Spray a 9”x13” inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the marinara coated pasta to the baking dish. Add the meatballs to the top, doing your best to nestle them into the pasta. Pour the remaining marinara overtop of the meatballs. Top with the sliced mozzarella.
- Bake for 20 -25 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from and inspired by How Sweet Eats.