Easy Turkey Meatballs for Toddlers (With Veggies)

by Eat Well with Lex

If you’re on a mission to make mealtime healthier and hassle-free for your little one, you’re in for a treat. Turkey meatballs with veggies for toddlers are a nutritious and kid-friendly meal option that combines turkey meat and vegetables like carrots, zucchini and bell peppers. Serve them on their own as a finger food, pair them with pasta or rice, or add them to soups and stews.

Want more nutritious toddler meals with veggies? Check out my Easy Homemade Broccoli Tots and Vegetable Chicken Fingers.

Easy toddler dinner ideas: Turkey meatballs with hidden vegetables. eatwellwithlex.com

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One of the best things about these turkey meatballs is how easy they are to prepare ahead of time. I like to make a big batch of these and pop them into the freezer for whenever we need a quick meal. They are incredibly versatile too. Whether it’s lunch, dinner, or an addition to pasta or soup, they always save the day. Just a quick reheat in the microwave or on the stove, and voila – a wholesome meal in minutes!

Turkey Meatballs with Hidden Veggies

Now, let’s talk about why these turkey meatballs are a parent’s dream come true. The secret? Veggies! I love adding veggies to my toddler meals whenever possible. I added carrots, zucchini, and bell pepper, but feel free to get creative with whatever veggies you have on hand. Not only do they add a burst of flavor, but they also added an extra boost of nutrients.

You may also like these Veggie Chocolate Muffins. Delicious and nutritious muffins made with a blend of vegetables such as zucchini, spinach, carrots, or beets.

Why Choose Healthy Turkey Meatballs for Toddlers?

Nutritious: These turkey meatballs aren’t just tasty. With a blend of lean turkey and veggies, they are a powerhouse of nutrients, helping your toddler grow strong and healthy.

Toddler Approved: Even the fussiest of eaters won’t be able to resist these tasty meatballs. Your little one will be gobbling them up without a fuss, none the wiser to the veggies inside.

Convenient and Customizable: As a parent, convenience is key. These healthy meatballs for toddlers can be made in advance, frozen, and customized with any veggies you have on hand. Plus, they’re perfect for adding a nutritious boost to various dishes.

Ingredients for Turkey Meatballs with Veggies

  • Ground turkey
  • Breadcrumbs or rolled oats (optional, for binding)
  • Egg (optional, for binding)
  • Spices and herbs ( such as smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Olive oil

Scroll to the bottom of the page for recipe card with measurements and detailed instructions.

Recipe Variations

  • Different Meats: Instead of ground turkey, you can use ground chicken, lean ground beef, or even ground pork for a different flavor profile.
  • Additional Veggies: Feel free to add other vegetables to the meatball mixture, such as spinach, kale, or mushrooms. Just be sure to finely chop or process them to ensure they blend well with the meat.
  • Gluten-Free Option: If you’re gluten intolerant or prefer to avoid gluten, you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs or substitute with rolled oats or almond flour.

How to Make Turkey Meatballs for Toddlers

Prepare the Veggies: Place the chopped vegetables in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Make sure not to puree them; you want them to be finely chopped but not mushy.

Prepare the Meatball Mixture: In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese, egg, the processed vegetables, Italian seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper. Using clean hands, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Ensure that the veggies are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Form the Meatballs: Take small amounts of the mixture (about 1 tablespoon) and roll it into balls. The size can vary depending on your preference, but for toddlers, smaller meatballs are generally easier to handle.

Cook the Meatballs: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the meatballs to the skillet, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. You may need to work in batches depending on the size of your skillet. Cook the meatballs for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until they are browned and cooked through. You can gently shake the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Baked Turkey Meatballs

You can also bake these meatballs instead. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it with olive oil. Place the formed meatballs onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them slightly apart. Drizzle the meatballs with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.

Recipe Tips for Success

  • When processing the vegetables in the food processor, make sure not to over-process them. You want them finely chopped but not pureed to maintain texture and prevent excess moisture in the meat mixture.
  • Opt for lean ground turkey (preferably ground turkey breast) to keep the meatballs moist without being overly greasy.
  • Ground turkey can be quite bland on its own, so don’t be afraid to season the meatball mixture generously with herbs, spices, and salt.
  • Try to make the meatballs as uniform in size as possible to ensure even cooking. This helps prevent smaller meatballs from overcooking while larger ones are still raw in the center.

How to Store Turkey Meatballs?

Refrigeration: Allow the cooked turkey meatballs to cool completely to room temperature. Transfer them to an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Freezing: If you want to store the meatballs for a longer period, you can freeze them. Place the cooled meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze them until solid. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. They will keep well in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.

Reheating:

To reheat refrigerated meatballs, you can use the microwave, stovetop, or oven. If reheating frozen meatballs, it’s best to thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before reheating using any of the methods mentioned above. This ensures even heating throughout.

If you don’t have time to thaw, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the frozen meatballs in an oven safe dish with 1-2 tablespoon of water, cover and bake for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I make this recipe without a food processor?

While a food processor makes it easier to finely chop the vegetables, you can still make the recipe without one. Simply finely chop the vegetables by hand using a sharp knife or a grater. It may take a bit more time and effort, but it’s definitely doable.

How do I know when the meatballs are cooked through?

The meatballs are cooked through when they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) as measured with a meat thermometer. Alternatively, you can cut into one of the meatballs to ensure there are no pink areas inside.

More Quick and Easy Toddler Meals to Try

Kid-Friendly Lentil Soup with Veggies

Cheesy Spinach Pasta Sauce for Toddlers

Hidden Veggies Pasta Sauce

DID YOU MAKE THESE TURKEY MEATBALLS?

Don’t forget to leave a ★ star rating and comment below. I’m already looking forward to hearing how your toddlers enjoy these healthy turkey meatballs. Don’t forget to share your experiences and any creative additions you made to the recipe.

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Wondering if hidden veggie recipes are bad for kids? Read my post about “Navigating the Hidden Veggie Debate” for tips to address the concerns associated with hidden veggie recipes.

Healthy homemade turkey meatballs for toddlers. eatwellwithlex.com

Turkey Meatballs for Toddlers

Turkey meatballs with veggies for toddlers are a nutritious and kid-friendly meal option that combines turkey meat and vegetables like carrots, zucchini and bell peppers. Serve them on their own as a finger food, pair them with pasta or rice, or add them to soups and stews.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 30 meatballs

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs or oat flour, almond flour
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 small zucchini or 1/2 large zucchini
  • 1 large egg optional, for binding
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions
 

Prepare the Veggies

  • Place the vegetables (zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, onion and garlic) in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Make sure not to puree them; you want them to be finely chopped but not mushy. If you don't have a food processor try to finely chop the veggies with a knife.

Prepare the Meatball Mixture

  • In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese, egg, the processed vegetables, Italian seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper.
  • Using clean hands, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Ensure that the veggies are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Form the Meatballs

  • Take small amounts of the mixture (about 1 tablespoon) and roll it into balls. The size can vary depending on your preference, but for toddlers, smaller meatballs are generally easier to handle.

Cook the Meatballs

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the meatballs to the skillet, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. You may need to work in batches depending on the size of your skillet. Cook the meatballs for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until they are browned and cooked through. You can gently shake the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Bake Meatballs (Alternative Cooking Method)

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it with olive oil. Place the formed meatballs onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them slightly apart. Drizzle the meatballs with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.
  • Read blog post above for more details on ingredients variations and substitutes, recipe tips for success and how to store and reheat the meatballs.

Notes

  • When processing the vegetables in the food processor, make sure not to over-process them. You want them finely chopped but not pureed to maintain texture and prevent excess moisture in the meat mixture.
  • Ground turkey can be quite bland on its own, so don’t be afraid to season the meatball mixture generously with herbs, spices, and salt.
  • Try to make the meatballs as uniform in size as possible to ensure even cooking. This helps prevent smaller meatballs from overcooking while larger ones are still raw in the center.
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Recipe Rating




2 comments

alexis March 11, 2024 - 6:00 am

5 stars
Made these tonight! Super delicious & easy to make. Everybody loved them — a 2 year old, 40 year old, & 80 year old!
I didn’t have zucchini, so I used grated yellow squash, grated carrot, chopped red bell peppers & red onion. Seasoned really well! Huge hit.

Reply
Eat Well with Lex March 13, 2024 - 11:39 am

WOW! that is a huge hit. I am so glad to hear that your family loved these. Thank you for trying them.

Reply

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