I’m a meatball fan through and through. I love them in soup, I love them tossed in creamy gravy, I love them in tomato sauce on top of spaghetti (of course), and most recently, I’ve been LOVING these super-light Dill and Lemon Turkey Meatballs with Oats.
These are some unique turkey meatballs!
These Dill and Lemon Turkey Meatballs with oats are such a nice change from the typical flavours we’re used to in a meatball. I use a mix of turkey thigh and breast meat for just the right fat content to keep these turkey meatballs light, yet juicy and full of flavour. The lemony broth ties it all together and makes the meatballs juicy as heck. Plus, you can use all that juice to douse over a starchy side dish.
What you’ll need to make this recipe:
- Ground turkey: I use a combo of dark meat and white meat for just the right balance.
- Dill: Fresh dill is best here, but if you can only find dried, measure it out into a small bowl ahead of time and stir in about a tablespoon of hot water to rehydrate it slightly.
- Lemons: We’re using both the zest and the juice for maximum lemon flavour.
- Quick oats: I love using oats instead of bread crumbs as a binding agent in things like meatballs. Mostly because I always have them on hand, ready to go.
- Eggs: To bind the mixture together.
- Garlic: For a flavour that you just can’t beat.
- Onion: For a savoury bit of oomph.
- Tomatoes: I like fresh tomatoes here, but canned tomatoes will do in a pinch.
- Spinach: I use baby spinach, but you could really use any leafy green here.
- Salt: As always.
- Olive oil: For frying the meatballs.
How to make these Dill and Lemon Turkey Meatballs With Oats
Follow these easy steps to make this easy and satisfying dinner
Step 1 – Roughly chop the onion, garlic, and fresh dill. Reserve half of the garlic for later, add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor with the chopping blade attached. Pulse the mixture until it’s quite well chopped.
Step 2 – Add the ground turkey, oats, eggs, lemon zest, and salt to the food processor, and pulse until well combined. You might have to scrape with a rubber spatula once or twice to ensure everything is mixed well.
Step 3 – Using a soup spoon or a portion scoop, scoop the mixture into rough golf ball-sized portions and arrange them on a large plate or a rimmed baking sheet. You should have approximately 24 portions. With wet hands, shape the portions into meatballs and chill them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Step 4 – Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp of the oil, and fry the turkey meatballs until brown on one side, then flip to a second side and fry again until brown. This should take 3-4 minute per side. Depending on the size of your pan, you will likely have to do this in two batches. While the meatballs are frying, chop the tomatoes. Remove the browned turkey meatballs from the pan and set aside.
Making the sauce for these turkey meatballs
Step 5 – In the same pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic and the chopped tomatoes, and cook for 30 seconds or so before adding the chicken stock. Add the meatballs back to the pan to finish cooking.
Step 6 – Turn the heat back up to high heat until the stock comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook the meatballs in the stock for 12-15 minutes.
Step 7 – Remove the lid, stir in the spinach, squeeze in the lemon juice, and cook for about 1 minute with the lid on until the spinach is completely wilted. Taste, and add salt if needed. (Whether or not it needs salt will largely depend on what type of chicken stock you use.)
Step 8 – Serve with a starchy side of your choice. Rice, noodles, or smashed potatoes are all lovely options in my book!
These tips will help you make the best Lemon Turkey Meatballs.
- The best meatballs contain a decent amount of fat, so I wouldn’t recommend using 100% turkey breast here. I love the breast/thigh combo.
- It’s important to use a heavy-bottomed sauté pan for this recipe to prevent things from burning, and to encourage things to cook evenly.
- If you have a portion scoop, use it! It really is the best way to make sure every meatball is the same size, and it makes a really quick job of portioning out the meatballs.
- If possible, try not to skip the step of chilling the meatballs in the fridge before cooking them. This really gives the oats a chance to soak up some moisture in the meatballs, and it helps them hold their nice round shape as they cook.
- The broth is a key component of this recipe, so don’t use crappy stock. Homemade is always best, but if you are using store-bought, just make sure it’s a good one. Low sodium and high flavour!
What to serve with Lemon Turkey Meatballs with Oats?
A starchy side dish is perfect for these dill and lemon turkey meatballs, to help soak up the delicious broth. I recommend rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes—but soft polenta or even a nice hunk of bread will do the trick too.
Storage, freezing, and reheating tips
You can make these meatballs in advance and keep them in the fridge for up to 4 days. To Reheat the meatballs, place them in a covered dish in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or heat gently in a pot on the stove. The broth provides a nice moist environment for reheating, and they will still be nice and juicy that way.
If you’re freezing these meatballs, I’d recommend doing so in their raw state rather than their cooked state. Once chilled, transfer them to the freezer on a plate or a sheet so they can freeze individually without gluing themselves together. When you’re ready to cook them, partially defrost them first for 30 minutes at room temperature, then fry and simmer them in the broth as if they were fresh. Because they will still be partially frozen, you will need to cook them a bit longer—up to 20-25 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the meatballs is at least 170F.
Frequently asked questions
Are turkey meatballs healthy?
Turkey is a great source of protein, and it tends to be lower in saturated fat than red meat. These turkey meatballs use the dark meat and the breast meat, so although they may be lower in fat than some beef or pork meatballs, they still have a decent amount of fat in them to prevent them from being dry. Regardless of the type of meat, the fat content will vary based on the cuts of meat you use. For example if you wanted these meatballs to be very low fat, you could use 100% breast meat instead. (But I don’t recommend it).
What if I only have regular rolled oats, rather than quick oats?
If you only have regular or large flake oats, give them a few pulses in the food processor before adding the other ingredients.
What if I can only find ground turkey breast?
If you can’t find ground turkey thigh, consider using a combination of ground turkey breast, and ground pork. The pork will provide juiciness and a really good flavour. If you’re not into pork, stick with 100% turkey breast, but add a tablespoon of olive oil or butter to the meatball mixture while you’re blending it together.
I don’t like dill. Can I use something else?
Sure! Fresh parsley would be the best substitution for dill in this case, but any combination of soft fresh herbs will do.
Can I make these turkey meatballs in a crockpot?
Because these cook in under 20 minutes, I wouldn’t recommend using the slow cooker for these meatballs.
If you like this turkey meatball recipe, you might like these too:
- Oven-Braised Chicken Thighs with Capers
- Turkey and Spinach Meatballs
- 3 Sheet Pan Dinner Ideas
- Instant Pot Chicken and Brown Rice with Mushrooms
I hope you enjoy these meatballs! Let me know if you make them by tagging me on Instagram @howtomakedinner.
Dill and Lemon Turkey Meatballs With Oats (No Breadcrumbs)
For the meatballs
- 300 grams ground turkey breast
- 300 grams ground turkey thigh
- 1 small onion 165 grams
- 50 grams fresh dill 1/2 a large bunch
- zest of 2 lemons
- 3 cloves garlic
- 100 grams quick oats
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon salt
For the broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken stock
- juice of 2 lemons
- 150 grams baby spinach
- Salt to taste
- Roughly chop the onion, garlic, and dill, then add it to the bowl of a food processor, reserving half of the garlic for the broth. Pulse the mixture until it’s quite well chopped.
- Add the ground turkey, oats, eggs, lemon zest, and salt to the food processor, and pulse until well combined. You might have to scrape with a rubber spatula once or twice to ensure everything is mixed well.
- Using a tablespoon or a portion scoop, scoop the mixture into rough golf ball-sized portions and arrange on a large plate or a rimmed baking sheet. You should have approximately 24 portions. With wet hands, shape the portions into balls, and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp of the oil, and fry the meatballs on one side until brown, then flip to a second side and fry again until brown. Depending on the size of your pan, you will likely have to do this in two batches. While they are frying, chop the tomatoes. Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic and the chopped tomatoes, and cook for 30 seconds or so before adding the meatballs back to the pan and adding the chicken stock.
- Turn the heat back up to high until the stock comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook the meatballs in the stock for 12-15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 170F.
- Remove the lid, stir in the spinach, squeeze in the lemon juice, and cook for about 1 minute with the lid on until the spinach is completely wilted. Taste, and add salt if needed. (Whether or not it needs salt will largely depend on what type of chicken stock you use.)
- Serve with a starchy side of your choice. Rice, noodles, or smashed potatoes are all good options.