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Turkey Meatballs in Grandma's Marinara

There's so much flavor packed in this super simple sauce, you'll think you're back in the old country. Turkey meatballs simmer in the same pot as the marinara for easy cleanup. This recipe freezes beautifully and is great dish to share with a new mom or as a housewarming gift.
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 6 servings


Marinara Sauce

  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 TB kosher salt divided
  • 2 TB thinly sliced garlic
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes
  • 3 35 oz cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1 TB no-salt Italian seasoning
  • 1 TB sugar

Turkey Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • ½ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup fine-grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ tsp no-salt Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt


  • Heat oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions and sprinkle with 1 TB salt. Cook, stirring often, until golden and softened, about 10-15 minutes. Add chili flakes and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, basil, Italian seasoning, remaining 1 TB salt, and sugar to pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring often.
  • While sauce simmers, combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Shape into 30 1” meatballs and add to simmering sauce. Cook for 35-40 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.


If you like your sauce completely smooth, use a blender or immersion blender to purée it before adding the meatballs to simmer.

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