Mozzarella and pesto turkey meatballs recipe

  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Poultry
  • Turkey
  • Turkey mince

Cubes of mozzarella are tucked inside turkey meatballs seasoned with onion, garlic and pesto. I came up with this recipe for a recipe competition and it's been a family favourite ever since. Serve with your choice of pasta.

9 people made this

IngredientsServes: 12

  • 1.4kg turkey mince
  • 150g finely chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 120g seasoned brumbcrumbs
  • 40g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 450g fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large jars tomato pasta sauce

MethodPrep:35min ›Cook:35min ›Ready in:1hr10min

  1. Preheat an oven to 190 C / Gas 5.
  2. Place the turkey mince, onion, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, pesto, milk, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Mix until evenly blended, then form into meatballs. Make a hole in each meatball with your finger and place a cube of mozzarella cheese in the hole. Seal the meatball around the cheese and place on a nonstick baking tray. Drizzle the olive oil over the meatballs.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the meatballs are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Heat the pasta sauce in a saucepan over low heat. Bring up to a simmer and place the baked meatballs in the pasta sauce for about 2 minutes.

Recently viewed

Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(334)

Reviews in English (247)

by hannahelizabeth

Awesome recipe! My entire family begs me to make this! I have found that wrapping the meat around the mozzarella ball is easier than stuffing it in though. Definitely a fantastic family favorite-24 Jun 2011

by akuhns

These are really great, and they're even better the next day in a meatball sandwich! I axed the mozzarella in the middle (watching calories), and I don't keep pesto around, so I used olive oil and a bit more garlic. Next time I'll omit the salt; with the sodium in the marinara, I think that the addition of the salt in the recipe is unnecessary.-24 Jul 2011

by collierd

To cut back on calories, I used fresh basil from my garden, eggbeaters, and no olive oil. I cubed low fat string cheese instead of fresh mozz.-24 Jul 2011

Turkey Meatball & Mozzarella Sandwiches

Easy and healthy dinner that could be on your table in 30 minutes!


  • 1 slice Bread
  • 2 Tablespoons Milk
  • ½ pounds Ground Turkey
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil, Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, Chopped
  • 2 whole Green Onions, Chopped (green And White Parts)
  • ¾ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1 clove Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 cups Prepared Good Quality Marinara
  • 1-¼ cup Grated Mozzarella Cheese
  • 10 whole Frozen Dinner Rolls
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter, Melted
  • 3 dashes Garlic Salt


Break apart a slice of bread into small pieces into a large bowl. Pour milk over bread and let soak 1-2 minutes. Stir to break bread apart more. Stir in turkey, basil, parsley, onion, salt, pepper and garlic until well combined. Form mixture into 15-20 small meatballs (I use a cookie scoop to keep them equal in size).

Preheat a large skillet to medium to medium-high heat. Pour in olive oil. Fry meatballs 3-4 minutes per side until deep brown.
Reduce heat and pour marinara over meatballs. Stir to coat. At this point, the meatballs probably are not cooked thoroughly. So be sure to simmer covered at least 10 minutes before serving to ensure doneness. (You can simmer this longer until you are ready to serve–just be sure to add splashes of water here and there to keep the sauce at a consistency you like.)

Two minutes before serving, top meatballs with grated cheese and cover to melt.

Defrost rolls in a greased baking dish. Before baking, brush with melted butter and sprinkle garlic salt over the tops. Bake according to package directions. Brush hot rolls with any remaining butter.

To serve, cut rolls in half and fill with 2-3 mozzarella-covered meatballs.

Ingredients //

For the meatballs:

  • Ground Turkey Breast – is pretty bland on it’s own but made into meatballs? Game changer. I buy my ground turkey from ButcherBox. (affiliate link)
  • Bread Crumbs – can be purchased from the store or quickly made by grinding down stale, dry bread.
  • Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper – enhances the flavor of the meatballs. – Store-bought or homemade works great.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese – adds moisture to the ground turkey breast and dry bread crumbs.
  • Egg Whites – in meatballs help bind everything together into bite size balls

For the sauce (if using):

  • Onions & Carrots – add rich, complex flavor to sauces. They also add a better texture.
  • Tomato Paste – enhances the tomato flavor and adds depth to the sauce.
  • Garlic – adds distinctive homemade Italian-inspired flavor.
  • Can of Crushed Tomatoes – I use San Marzano tomatoes. I love the texture crushed tomatoes gives to a simple red sauce.
  • Bay Leaves – are a great way to add a lot of flavor to quick-cooking sauces.
  • Salt & Pepper – balances the sweetness and acidity.

30 mozzarella stuffed meatballs Recipes

Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti

Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti

Stuffed Meatballs

Stuffed Meatballs

Stuffed Meatball Hoagies (Emeril Lagasse)

Stuffed Meatball Hoagies (Emeril Lagasse)

Stuffed Meatball Hoagies (Emeril Lagasse)

Stuffed Meatball Hoagies (Emeril Lagasse)

Hidden Valley Stuffed Meatballs #RSC

More Italian-Inspired Dinners


heart solid heart solid icon

How do I make these Turkey Basil Pesto Meatballs?

Make & bake the meatballs – 4 easy steps:

  1. Cut the mozzarella sticks into 1/2 inch cubes and freeze them.
  2. Mix all of the other ingredients for the meatballs: Ground turkey, eggs, breadcrumbs, pesto, tomato paste, and parsley.
  3. Roll into 16-18 balls. Press a piece of chilled mozzarella gently into each meatball and roll again to make sure the cheese is completely covered.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until they’re cooked through.

Make the Chunky Tomato Sauce – 3 easy steps:

  1. Heat the oil and sauté the diced onion for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Then sauté the minced garlic for 1 minute.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.

Then all you have to do is throw the meatballs in the sauce, sprinkle them with parmesan cheese and basil, and serve them over pasta, polenta, rice, or piled up high on a sub sandwich!

  • Author: Kelly McNelis
  • Yield: 18 Meatballs 1 x



  • 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto (store-bought or homemade )
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 – 5 mozzarella string cheese sticks, cut into 4 pieces each
  • 4oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (about one cup )


  1. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, egg, pesto, breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese. Form into 18 meatballs.
  2. Press one piece of mozzarella cheese inside each meatball and place in crockpot.
  3. Cover with diced tomatoes and cook 6-8 hours on low.
  4. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese and cook additional 5 minutes or until melted.

To Freeze and Cook Later

Label a gallon-sized plastic freezer bag with the name of the recipe, cooking instructions, and use-by date. Assemble meatballs and add to bag. (You can add diced tomatoes to bag or wait to add until the day of cooking.) Seal and freeze for up to three months.

Weeknight Turkey Meatball Recipe

Ingredients: (makes about 12 meatballs)

  • 1 lb ground turkey (I like to get this from the butcher and do 1/2 lb ground turkey thigh and 1/2 lb ground turkey breast)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite pesto
  • 1 cup of baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • garlic powder
  • oregano
  • salt + pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine the ground turkey, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 2 tbsp of your favorite pesto, 1 cup of baby spinach chopped, 1 egg, a couple dashes of garlic powder, oregano, salt + pepper
  • Roll into equal size balls and set aside
  • In a medium saute pan, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add meatballs and brown on both sides (about 3 mins each side)
  • Transfer to a baking tray lined in aluminum foil. Bake for 18-20 minutes until cooked through
  • Serve however you’d like!

Ideas on how to serve

We are limiting our carb intake lately so I sautéed some mushrooms and topped with our favorite pasta sauce (we love Rao’s!). We also love these over quinoa, roasted tomatoes and basil, over spaghetti, tucked into a pita with tomato sauce and mozzarella or just alone from the refrigerator. Ha! They are so so good. I swear pesto is a GAME CHANGER and I prefer meatballs without the bread crumbs because I think it keeps them more moist.

What You’ll Need

I mentioned earlier that these paleo pesto turkey meatballs were crazy easy and I wasn’t lying. Here’s what you should grab:

  • Ground turkey (or chicken!)
  • Pesto (If you’re Whole30, read your labels or make your own using this recipe)
  • Egg
  • Almond flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Kitchen Tools

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Parchment paper or foil
  • Large baking sheet (optional, see notes)


Turkey Pesto Meatballs Baked in Marinara

Never in a million years did I ever think I would describe my eating style as “on the lower carb side”. I’m a pasta and pizza loving girl and early on in my weight loss journey I learned to fit these foods in while still managing to lose weight. It was all about portion control.

However, now that I’m into my 40s, and hormones are becoming a factor, carbs seem to effect me differently than they once did. I become bloated almost immediately and whatever I eat sits like a brick in my stomach for about 2 days. Not to mention, carbs have really put a cramp in my weight loss goals – it just not like it was 5-6 years ago. Now, I’m not saying I’ve completely given up carbs. Umm, no that’s never happening. But I need to keep carbs under control and to a minimum. It’s just the way it is.

To be honest, this hasn’t been as hard as I thought. I can still enjoy Italian favorites like baked chicken parmesan or garlic shrimp but now I skip the pasta and eat it alongside a salad or vegetable. Guess what? I still love it.

With that said, I still prepare Italian-inspired recipes like this new Turkey Pesto Meatball recipe I’m sharing today.

I never thought about stirring pesto into meatballs until Hello Fresh sent me a turkey pesto meatball recipe. Mmmm it was good but it included tossing the meatballs with pasta and adding in more pesto. I wanted to leave out the pasta and lighten it up a bit.

I mixed together 1 lb ground turkey, 6 tablespoons pesto (I used Wegmans brand), grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs, garlic, worcestershire sauce, and seasoning. Pesto is very easy to make homemade but I typically just pick up a jar from the store – that’s even easier! My favorite jarred pesto brands are Wegmans and Dellalo.

Then I used a medium cookie scoop to portion out 18 meatballs.

After I rolled the meatballs out I baked them for 15 minutes in a 370 degree oven. I spread 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Then I place the meatballs on top of the sauce and poured the rest of the sauce over the meatballs.

Before putting the meatballs into the oven, I sprinkle them with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella and covered with foil. Then I baked the meatballs for another 20 minutes.

These Turkey Pesto Meatballs are scrumptious! They are tender and full of flavor. Trust me, you won’t even miss the pasta.

Like I said, I try to keep on the low carb side of life so I enjoy these meatballs with zoodles, other vegetables, or a salad. They keep and reheat well so you can make these ahead of time and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

You don’t need to give up Italian favorites, just learn to enjoy them minus the carbs. Believe me, if this carb-loving girl doesn’t miss the pasta neither will you. Try it!