Pesto Turkey Meatballs are rich, savory and packed with flavor. These baked turkey meatballs stay moist and juicy thanks to the addition of ricotta cheese. They are infused with flavor from the basil pesto sauce. The meatballs are topped with homemade pesto alfredo sauce, making this an easy, comfort food recipe for any night of the week!
All good home cooks need to have a couple of meatball recipes in their back pocket. Meatballs are a staple on our weekly menu, and when I don't want to make my slow cooker 5 Cheese Meatballs or my Meatball Stuffed Shells, I make my Pesto Turkey Meatballs instead!
Turkey meatballs with pesto can be served with marinara sauce, or with no sauce at all, but I prefer to serve them with a savory alfredo sauce. I add pesto to the alfredo sauce so that the delicious, basil flavor really stands out in this recipe.
I truly love basil pesto, which is obvious if you're one of my regular readers! I incorporate basil pesto into my Caprese Chicken Sandwich, Turkey Pesto Panini, Pinwheel Sandwiches and my Pesto Pasta Salad.
You can make your own homemade pesto using a food processor or high-speed blender. You can also purchase pesto at the grocery store in the deli section or in the Italian foods aisle, near the specialty pastas and sauces.
Here is a list of the ingredients needed for the meatballs. After the meatballs go into the oven, you can make the pesto alfredo sauce!
- Ground turkey
- Basil pesto spread
- Ricotta cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Panko bread crumbs
- Garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper
The ingredients for the pesto alfredo sauce are listed below. I definitely recommend making this sauce! Homemade alfredo is so incredibly easy to make. Skip the jarred stuff and take a few minutes to whip up your own.
- Heavy cream
- Parmesan cheese
- Basil pesto spread
- Garlic powder
- Large mixing bowl
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, pesto, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. You can start out using a large wooden spoon, but eventually you need to use your hands! This is the best way to combine the meatball ingredients.
Step 2: Using your hands, roll the ground turkey mixture into 24 equally sized meatballs. They will be about the size of a golf ball. Place the turkey meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake the pesto turkey meatballs for 30-35 minutes, at 375°F. The meatballs should reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F. The best way to measure the temperature is by using a digital meat thermometer.
Step 3: While the meatballs are cooking, you can make the pesto alfredo sauce. Add the butter and heavy cream to a small sauce pan and cook over low heat, until the butter has melted and the mixture comes to a very gentle simmer.
Once simmering, stir in the grated parmesan cheese, pesto sauce and garlic powder. Stir until the parmesan cheese has melted, and then remove the alfredo sauce from the heat. Set the sauce aside until the meatballs are done baking.
Step 4: After the meatballs have finished cooking, transfer them to a serving dish and top with the pesto alfredo sauce. Serve and enjoy!
If you would like to slightly change up the recipe, then I have some easy variations for you!
- Make it spicy! Add some red pepper flakes to the meatball mixture or sprinkle them into the alfredo sauce.
- Keep the alfredo sauce traditional! If you leave the pesto out of the alfredo sauce, then you will have a more traditional, rich and creamy sauce.
- Add more basil! Are the additions of pesto in this recipe not quite enough for you? Add some chopped fresh basil to the ground meat mixture. You could also sprinkle diced fresh basil over top of the turkey pesto meatballs when you are ready to serve them.
I'm a big fan of using substitutions if you don't have the exact ingredients on hand. That's part of the reason why I love cooking so much. Recipes are so easy to play around with and customize to your exact preferences.
- Ground turkey - The most common substitution for ground turkey is ground chicken. Both ground turkey and ground chicken are lean, white, poultry meat with similar taste, texture and consistency.
- Dried herbs - I used garlic powder and dried Italian seasoning blend. If you don't have either of those on hand, then use fresh minced garlic and fresh Italian herbs instead. You may need more of the fresh herbs and garlic than what is called for in this recipe though.
- Bread crumbs - I prefer to use panko bread crumbs when I am cooking. If you don't have panko on hand though, you can substitute in regular bread crumbs or make your own bread crumbs.
One of the reasons I love making meatballs on a weekly basis, is because you can serve them with a large variety of side dishes.
Pesto Turkey Meatballs would pair well with any type of cooked pasta, rice, steamed vegetables, spaghetti squash, orzo, roasted potato wedges or fresh salad.
Store turkey meatballs in a sealed, airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Meatballs are one of the best make ahead meals! They keep very well in the fridge and reheat in the microwave easily.
You can easily freeze these meatballs too! Freeze them without the alfredo sauce though. Make the alfredo sauce fresh when you are ready to thaw and reheat them.Print
For the meatballs
- 2 pounds lean ground turkey
- ½ cup basil pesto spread
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
For the pesto alfredo sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 2 cups grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon basil pesto spread
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients needed for the pesto turkey meatballs. Use your hands to thoroughly mix the meatball ingredients together.
- Use your hands to make 24 equally sized meatballs from the ground turkey mixture. The meatballs will be about the size of a golf ball. Place the meatballs onto a rimmed, parchment lined baking sheet, leaving a little bit of room between each meatball.
- Transfer the meatballs to the oven and bake them at 375°F for 30-35 minutes. The internal temperature of the meatballs should reach at least 165°F.
- While the meatballs are cooking, make the alfredo sauce. Add the butter and heavy cream to a small sauce pan and cook over low heat, until the butter has melted and the mixture comes to a very gentle simmer. Once simmering, stir in the grated parmesan cheese, pesto sauce and garlic powder. Stir until the parmesan cheese has melted, and then remove the alfredo sauce from the heat. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
- Serve the meatballs topped with pesto alfredo sauce. Enjoy!
- Add salt and pepper to the alfredo sauce to taste. If you are using salted butter to make the sauce, then you may not need to add additional salt.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: lunch, dinner
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: pesto turkey meatballs
Check out my highlights on Instagram for weekly family dinner ideas!
Did you make this recipe? Tell me all about it in the comments below! I love hearing from my followers and answering any of your questions!