Spicy Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti

As much as I like turkey I’ve never been a fan of ground turkey because of its lack of flavor.  I know it’s a healthier than ground beef, and I am trying to prepare meals that are better for us so when I saw this recipe in Ina’s new book, How Easy Is That? I decided to give ground turkey another try.  Ina has never steered me wrong and her recipes quickly become mainstays in my kitchen.  We loved this recipe and I know it’s one that will be requested over and over.  Ina wrote that Mario Batali inspired the recipe and they are the best meatballs she has ever had!  We quite agree.

These meatballs are baked instead of fried before they go into the sauce so dozens can be cooked in just minutes.  Italian sausage, prosciutto and Asiago cheese add fabulous flavor.  The recipe makes lots so I froze some on baking sheets and put them in freezer bags for future use.  They will be delicious in soups and meatball subs.  I usually make my own sauce but used Newman’s Own Marinara this time and loved it.  The simmering meatballs add flavor to the sauce and I challenge anyone to tell the difference.

Spicy Turkey Meatballs and Spaghettifrom How Easy It That? by Ina Garten
Printable Recipe

3 cups (1-inch diced) bread cubes from a round rustic bread, crust removed
2/3 cup whole milk
2 pounds ground turkey (85% to 92% lean)
1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing the meatballs
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
3 24-ounce jars good marinara sauce.
2 pounds spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Place the bread in a bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the bread is in medium crumbs.  Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and add milk.  Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, sausage, prosciutto, bread mixture, cheese, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon salt and 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper.  Lightly combine the ingredients with your hands.  Add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the eggs and stir lightly with a fork to combine.

With your hands lightly roll the mixture into 2-inch meatballs and place them on the prepared sheets.  Brush meatballs with olive oil.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the tops are browned and the centers are completely cooked.  I baked mine at 375 degrees convection for 20 minutes.

Heat the marinara sauce in a large, low pot, add the meatballs and simmer till heated.  Place cooked spaghetti in individual bowls, and top with meatballs and grated Parmesan cheese.


  1. Angie's Recipes says

    I have never made turkey meatballs, not to mention have them served with spaghetti. This looks so delicious and comforting!

  2. From the Kitchen says

    I'm on "Team Ina" as you know! And I've eyed this recipe. Glad to hear how good it is. Love having some in the freezer for a carefree and delicious future meal.


  3. Happier Than a Pig in Mud says

    I only use turkey for meatballs! This recipe sounds amazing Cathy, gonna have to try it-Happy Weekend:@)

  4. Susan says

    Cathy, I have always stayed away from ground turkey for the same reasons. But, if Ina says they are good and you also (and you also made them look good) I will have to try this. Thanks. Susan

  5. My Kitchen in the Rockies says

    I own the book, too and will make a note to try them pretty soon. I love Ina's recipes, they just work and are always tasty.
    Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. My Carolina Kitchen says

    I've had the same experience with turkey. Too lean and it's tough and tasteless. Leave it to Ina and Mario to make meatballs fabulous. Prosciutto adds such richness.

  7. Janine says

    OMG!!! There is something almost eerie about this!! This is the exact recipe that I made for dinner this past Wednesday!!
    It is deeeelicious!!!

  8. Velva says

    You just inspired me to try meatballs with turkey. Like you, turkey has just never had enough flavor for me. This looks really good. Love Ina's recipes. I have her new cookbook and will bookmark this recipe.

    Hope you are enjoying your weekend.


  9. girlichef says

    Cathy…that picture is amazing! I wish I could dive in 😀 I actually really enjoy turkey when seasoned and cooked right…sign me up!

  10. Fresh Local and Best says

    i like challenges and it sounds like anyone would be hard pressed to tell the difference with these meatballs. The pork sausages, prosciutto, cheese, and fresh parsley must add so much flavor. Ina has the best recipes!

  11. Melissa says

    I love spaghetti and meatballs! I made a recipe from Ellie Krieger's cookbook that used ground turkey as well for the meatballs and I loved it. Excited to try this recipe!

  12. SavoringTime in the Kitchen says

    Pasta with lower-fat meatballs sounds perfect to me. I think I'd even try the turkey Italian sausages to blend with the ground turkey. Great recipe, Cathy – thank you!

  13. Vickie says

    Oh Cathy, these sound delicious and I love the idea of freezing them for another day. This sounds like a much healthier recipe to replace my old one. Thanks! (wonderful picture, as always)

  14. Rosemary says

    I've always shied away from ground turkey, too — but if you, Ina, and Mario all agree that these meatballs are the berries, well, who's to argue with that!

  15. Cooking Gallery says

    This looks so yummy…! Spaghetti with meatballs, now you make me think that I have to make it again…!!

  16. Suzy says

    I'm with you on my previous ground turkey experience, but with the additions I bet they are wonderful. Love your springy header!

  17. Barbara says

    I STILL haven't ordered this book…but it's on my wish list….if anyone would look at it. :)
    Ina is a favorite, Cathy. These look excellent. I really am getting to like ground turkey.
    (did you see her do that show with the mocha whipped cream and cc cookies? OMG)

    Love the funny Valentine cupcake post. That happens so often!

  18. Ma What's 4 dinner says

    Mmmm, sounds perfect on a cold winters night…which it always is around here. My boys would love this!

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner

  19. Lisa says

    I knew I should have bought that cookbook! I feel the same way about ground turkey. I will have to try this recipe. My family loves meatballs!

  20. Kathleen says

    I'd be willing to give it a try, but dh wouldn't. He has aversion to ground turkey. I tried to get him to try T burgers with all the fixings, but it was a no go!
    We always bake our meatballs, at least some of the fat is gone!
    Pass the meatballs! :)

  21. The Quintessential Magpie says

    turkey, works for me, c. love this.

    sorry for the wonky post. more on my blog, but my computer is fritzing. i will be gone while it is gone. see you when i return.



  22. Ciao Chow Linda says

    I've been making meatballs with ground turkey lately too, but never with the sausage or asiago added. I'll bet these are fantastic.

  23. Karen says

    Although my daughter uses ground turkey all the time, it's been years since I've used it. Our meatballs are made out of either venison or antelope. In fact, we just had antelope meatballs and spaghetti last night!

  24. Lynda says

    Meatballs and spaghetti is one of my families most favorite meals Cathy; Yours looks delicious and I imagine that the meatballs are very tender since they contain turkey- Healthier than using beef too!

  25. theUngourmet says

    Such delicious meatballs! I use ground turkey in place of beef quite often…my husband isn't always thrilled about this. I know he would have no complaints about these meatballs though! I imagine the flavor is fantastic with the sausage and prosciutto.

  26. Jamie says

    I agree with you about the blandness of ground turkey and actually never thought to use it until I saw my brother always used it to make his chili! But wow all those fabulous flavorful additions you've got in this recipe add a pack of flavor! This is such a great weekend meal!

  27. Adrienne says

    Thank you, Cathy. I think you've just changed my thoughts about ground turkey. I have made a couple of things that I like with it but don't usually like to use it. This will probably become a favorite of ours.

  28. roz says

    I am so JAZZED to that you were happy with this recipe with turkey meatballs. I've been making healthier adjustments to my Italian nutrition including turkey's strong presence. I'll simply have to make this. I love Ina and I've loved following you! Stop by and post this or any of your favorite recipes on my blog hop if you'd like! Ciao, Roz

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