Make-Ahead Turkey Meatballs are the ultimate party food. Delicious, easy, and totally make-ahead, you don’t want to miss these make-ahead turkey meatballs that are great for stress-free gatherings or just a incredible meal that will make everyone in your family happy.

Make-Ahead Turkey Italian Meatballs are the classic meatball recipe only healthy. Easy and delicious, these are great served over pasta, on slider buns, or by themselves as appetizers. #meatballs #groundturkey #classic #italian #recipe #easy #weeknightdinner #parenting

If there is one recipe that people love to eat, it’s meatballs. But the ultimate comfort food doesn’t have to be stressful to make and can be completely and totally made ahead with excellent results.

The nice thing about these meatballs is that they are made with ground turkey and Italian sausage, so they aren’t lacking in flavor but won’t leave you full like beef meatballs do. Also, the preparation couldn’t be simpler. You could even use your favorite jarred sauce instead of making a homemade marinara.

To make ahead, prep and bake the meatballs. Simmer them in a dutch oven with marinara for about 30 minutes and turn off heat. Pop the entire dutch oven full of meatballs in the fridge. The day of the party, just reheat and either serve directly from the dutch oven or transfer to a crock pot for easy serving and little clean up.

If serving with pasta for a party, you could also toss the it all together and serve in a large baking dish, like this Le Creuset, with parmesan on the side. Hearty noodles like penne or rigatoni pair well with the meatballs and are less mess than spaghetti.

Great for kids parties, baptisms, showers, holidays, or just a great family meal, give these meatballs a try and you’ll see why they are so popular.

Make-Ahead Turkey Meatballs

Prep for this dish couldn’t be easier. Just combine all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. You could attempt to stir all of the ingredients together with a spoon, but clean hands seem to work the best to really incorporate everything.

close up of raw meat for the turkey meatballs.

Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Roll meat into round balls and place on sheet. TIP: Be sure to wet your hands often so that the meat doesn’t stick while you’re rolling it. You could also spray your hands with cooking spray.

raw balls on a foil lined baking sheet.

I was able to get about 30 large meatballs, but you can make whatever size you want.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your meatball.

meatballs on a foil lined baking sheet.

While the meatballs are baking, either make your marinara or bring your jarred sauce to a simmer on the stove. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and let simmer for 30 minutes.

balls in the marinara sauce.

Cool slightly, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. These make-ahead turkey meatballs are so moist and delicious and cooking them ahead allows them to absorb some of the sauce. Such an easy and crowd pleasing recipe!

Easy Italian Recipes

For more simple and delicious Italian recipes that are all make-ahead friendly, be sure to check out:

I hope you love this recipe for Turkey Meatballs. Be sure to comment below if you try it. Enjoy!

Make-Ahead Turkey Meatballs are healthy and delicious using ground turkey. These classic Italian meatballs are sure to a family favorite! #turkeymeatballs #meatballs #healthy #weeknightdinner #makeahead #partyfood #partyappetizer #parenting #kidsfood

Make-Ahead Turkey Meatballs

An excellent make-ahead party meal, these meatballs are easy, delicious, and would be great to serve at your next get together. 
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 298kcal
Cost: 18



  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey meat
  • 1 pound mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • ¾ cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Marinara Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano



  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and, using clean hands, mix until combined. Roll into large balls, approximately 1 ½ inch and place on baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. 
    make-ahead turkey meatballs

Marinara Sauce

  • For the marinara sauce, heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and salt and cook for an additional minute. Add the remainder of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed. Optional: using an emersion blender, blend the sauce to your desired consistency. 
  • Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes. If making ahead, cool slightly, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat until warmed through. Serve with parmesan and pasta, if desired. 
    make-ahead turkey meatballs


These turkey meatballs are a great appetizer or perfect served over a hot dish of spaghetti. You can make them ahead and freeze for up to two months or refrigerate for up to a week. Enjoy! 


Calories: 298kcal
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turkey meatballs with parmesan cheese

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Perfect! I have a pack of turkey meat in my fridge. I will make these meatballs today for dinner. It’s an easy recipe and looks delicious.

  2. 5 stars
    Anything make-ahead is a life-saver when entertaining, and these look totally delicious – the kids will love them! Thanks so much.