Pesto Meatballs

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Quick Summary

Pesto Meatballs- these juicy meatballs are easy to make and full of flavor thanks to the fresh basil pesto. They can be made in advance and are freezer friendly. Serve the meatballs with pasta, spaghetti squash, rice, or in a meatball sub!

pesto meatballs on plate with small bowl of basil pesto.

Meatballs are a favorite meal at our house. They are easy to make and also perfect for meal prepping. A few of our favorite meatball recipes include: classic spaghetti and meatballs, chicken meatballs, Greek meatballs, and teriyaki chicken meatballs.

We also love making Pesto Meatballs, especially during the summer months when we have a lot of basil to use up.

The meatballs are super moist with a crispy exterior and have a burst of flavor from basil pesto. They are very versatile and can be eaten plain, with pasta, in a sandwich, on top of a salad, or in a wrap! You can also serve them as an appetizer at parties. They are always a crowd pleaser.

The meatballs are also freezer friendly, making them a dinner lifesaver!

ingredients in bowls to make turkey pesto meatballs.

Ingredients

  • Ground turkey– you can use ground chicken or ground beef.
  • Pesto– we like to use our homemade pesto, we always keep some in the freezer, but store bought is fine too!
  • Panko– you can find panko breadcrumbs at most grocery stores. Look in the Asian section.
  • Parmesan cheese– buy a wedge of Parmesan cheese and freshly grate it. Don’t use the canned stuff:)
  • Egg– to bind all of the ingredients together.
  • Garlic powder– the pesto has garlic, but I like to add a little garlic powder for extra flavor.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes– for a little kick!
  • Olive oil– for browning the meatballs.
ground turkey, panko, Parmesan cheese, pesto, egg, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes in mixing bowl to make pesto meatballs.

How to Make Pesto Meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, pesto, panko, Parmesan cheese, egg, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
pesto meatballs being scooped onto baking sheet.
  • Using a medium cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop and roll the mixture into 1.5-inch tablespoon balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. You can wear gloves or lightly spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray.
pesto meatballs being cooked in cast iron skillet.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add half of the meatballs and sauté for a 3 to 4 minutes, using tongs to turn so the meatballs brown on every side.
  • The meatballs don’t have to be cooked through because they are going into the oven, you just want a nice brown crust on the outside.
pesto meatballs on large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Transfer the browned meatballs to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining meatballs.
  • Once all the meatballs are browned and spaced out on the baking sheet, place them in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cooked through.
pesto meatballs with pasta and parmesan cheese in bowl.

How to Serve

  • Serve with pasta. You can add pesto, marinara sauce, or spaghetti sauce to the pasta. You can also just toss the noodles in butter and Parmesan cheese and add the meatballs on top.
  • Instead of pasta, serve with zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or roasted vegetables.
  • Use a bun, roll, or baguette to make a meatball sandwich or sub. Add marinara sauce and mozzarella or provolone cheese.
  • Make a wrap!
  • Serve with rice or quinoa.
  • Top your favorite salad with meatballs.
  • Serve as an appetizer. Put a meatball on a toothpick with a grape tomato and mozzarella cheese or serve on a large platter with toothpicks on the side!

How to Store & Freeze

  • Store leftover (cooled) meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To freeze, arrange meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet, make sure they aren’t touching, and freeze until solid. Transfer the meatballs to a freezer bag or freezer container, label/date, and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw and reheat in the oven, air fryer, or microwave.
pesto meatballs with spaghetti and parmesan cheese in bowl with fork.

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Pesto Meatballs

These juicy meatballs are easy to make and full of flavor thanks to the fresh basil pesto. They can be made in advance and are freezer friendly. Serve the meatballs with pasta, spaghetti squash, rice, or in a meatball sub!
4.82 from 11 votes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb ground turkey, can use ground chicken or ground beef
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • See notes for serving suggestions

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, pesto, panko, Parmesan cheese, egg, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  • Using a medium cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop and roll the mixture into 1.5-inch tablespoon balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. You can wear gloves or lightly spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add half of the meatballs and sauté for a 3 to 4 minutes, using tongs to turn so the meatballs brown on every side. The meatballs don’t have to be cooked through because they are going into the oven, you just want a nice brown crust on the outside.
  • Transfer the browned meatballs to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining meatballs.
  • Once all the meatballs are browned and spaced out on the baking sheet, place them in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cooked through.

Notes

There are so many ways to enjoy the meatballs. Serve warm with pasta. You can add marinara sauce, pesto, spaghetti sauce, or butter and Parmesan to the pasta for more flavor. We like to garnish with Parmesan cheese and basil. You can also serve the meatballs with zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or roasted vegetables. Or serve on a bun to make a sandwich/meatball sub, add to a salad, or enjoy plain!

Nutrition

Calories: 70kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 22mg, Sodium: 152mg, Potassium: 77mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 0.2g, Vitamin A: 115IU, Vitamin C: 0.001mg, Calcium: 26mg, Iron: 0.3mg
Keywords meatballs, pesto

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Maria

I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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