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Ground turkey (Recipe: Greektown turkey meatballs)

Adapted in part from the archives, with a new recipe, photos and links.

Greek turkey meatballs

When I was a child, I thought I was one of a kind -- the kind of person who loves chicken, but doesn't love turkey.My mother indulged my taste in poultry, and instead of insisting I make a meal out of side dishes, for every holiday she'd cook two main courses. Turkey and brisket. Turkey and sweet-and-sour meatballs. Sometimes turkey and spaghetti.
As I've grown older, my tastes have grown up. I still don't love roast turkey, but I love ground turkey, and I always have some in my freezer.

Without the skin, turkey is naturally low in fat, and a good source of folic acid, vitamins B, B1,B6, zinc and potassium. Its neutral flavor accepts all variations of seasoning, from Mexican to Italian to spicy Asian.

Ground turkey

I substitute ground turkey in Asian recipes that call for pork, and I love to try different incarnations of recipes that might also work well with beef.

In the supermarket, look for ground white meat turkey (extremely lean, sometimes 99 percent fat free, or the 93 percent fat free I prefer) or ground dark meat, which has a bit more fat and flavor. Store ground poultry in the freezer for up to three months.

Of course you can grind your own, if you have a meat grinding attachment for your stand mixer.

I love roast chicken, but not roast turkey -- and ground turkey, but not ground chicken.

How about you? Chicken, turkey, or both?

Greektown turkey meatballs

Greektown turkey meatballs

One of the highlights of my visit to Chicago for the BlogHer conference last summer was a stop at The Spice House with my blogging friend Kalyn. We met owner Patricia Penzey Erd and left the store with many new spices to try. The Spice House sells several spice blends named after Chicago neighborhoods, and their Greektown Billygoat Seasoning -- made with coarse salt, granulated garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, Greek oregano and powdered lemon peel -- is one of my favorites. If you don't have it, substitute Penzeys Greek Seasoning, or dried oregano plus lemon zest, and one clove of garlic smashed to a paste, for the seasoning in this recipe. Makes 36-40 meatballs (or 6 turkey burgers), which turn a Greek salad into a satisfying main course dish.


1-1/4 lb ground turkey (I use 93% fat-free)
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use Fage 0% fat)
1 large egg
1-1/2 Tbsp Greektown Billygoat Seasoning or Penzeys Greek Seasoning (or equivalent mix of dried oregano plus lemon zest, plus one clove of garlic, smashed)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat (silicone liner), aluminum foil or parchment paper, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. With your hands, mix until well combined, with the breadcrumbs and yogurt evenly distributed throughout.

Wet your hands with water, and form the turkey mixture into 36-40 meatballs approximately 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Place on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes, until just slightly brown. Taste one to be sure they're done; the yogurt will keep the meatballs fairly moist.

You can make these ahead, and freeze them. Serve as an appetizer, or add to a Greek salad.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Curried turkey meatballs
Tex-Mex turkey lasagne
Turkey-green-chile chili
Turkey escarole soup
Turkey meatballs with pasta
Turkey meatloaf with fig gravy

Want more meatball recipes? Get Meatballs, my e-book packed with amazing, crowd-pleasing, family-friendly low-fat turkey meatball recipes with bold around-the-world flavors, plus full-color photos and a few fun videos. With the FREE Kindle Reading App, great meatballs will always be just one click away on any computer, tablet or smart phone. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


unfortunately we do not get ground turkey here. i usually mince turkey breast at home for turkey meatballs. i like the use of yogurt in these. they look divine!

What a great idea. I bought the Greektown Billygoat Seasoning too, and I love the idea of using it in meatballs. (And wasn't the Spice House just fantastic. Can't wait to go there again when I'm back in Chicago!)

I tried your recipe using Seasonings Of Salonica (www.spicygreek.com) poultry seasoning...they were incredible! What a great recipe. Thanks for sharing.

I rarely come across ground chicken in the store, and have wondered what it's like, but ground turkey is one of those staples. I make a super turkey meat loaf, and a turkey chili recipe.

I agree that ground turkey is much better than ground chicken (but I like both roasted). I always think that they're going to be interchangeable, but am sorely disappointed when I grab the ground chicken. Luckily I think I finally learned my lesson, and made a delicious turkey chili on Sunday.

We don't have enough ground turkey around here. I like the taste!

Those meatballs look delicious...and that BillyGoat Seasoning sounds terrific, too!

These meatballs look fabulous, Lydia. I cannot wait to try them. Thanks!

As I turned on the computer, realized it's Tuesday, clicked on my bookmark for PP -- I realized that the little frisson of excitement I felt was for you!
And odd thing, the ingredient list for the Greek seasoning mix looks like the Goya Seasoning Adobo ingredient list! Maybe I'll try these with that...

Oddly, I can eat turkey but not chicken (allergic). I love it in my Mexican recipes (green chile stew and enchiladas).

ground chicken is actually less healthy.. and when I found out why I decided I didn't like it. To give the chicken more flavor, they actually grind the skin into the meat too. YUCK!

This recipe sounds good. I bet it would be delicious with an orzo salad.

We can't get the good quality ground turkey here either, but that is an excellent idea to grind it at home - I'll have to try that.

Meeta, Anh, Natashya: I think ground turkey is a particularly American supermarket staple, as it's very easy to find here but all three of you have trouble finding it in other countries. Grinding your own in a food processor is a great solution and easy if you can buy boneless, skinless turkey breast.

Kalyn, I'd happily spend an afternoon there. One thing I love about this shop is that it smells like spices!

Tom, nice to know about your product. I'm sure it would work well in this dish.

TW, the ground chicken I see is somewhat unappealing. Maybe it's the color that first turns me off, but the flavor is lacking, too. I always find both ground turkey breast and ground dark meat turkey in my market. Now, want to share those recipes of yours?

Katie, same here. Ground chicken has no flavor, but a roast chicken is delicious.

Bridget, Candy: Please try these. They are truly my best meatball variation to date.

Susan, you're a sweetheart. One thing to watch out for with adobo seasoning, at least the Goya brand: it's very salty. But turkey needs lots of seasoning.

Karina, I love your green chile stew and make it often!

Amy, that's really yuck. But the thought of these meatballs with an orzo salad is making my heart flutter.

I don't care ground turkey or chicken, it is always dry and has an off taste. But I keep trying to find ways to eat it.

As I get older I noticed that I have to have all natural poultry. Those chemicals really affect me. I mean seriously.
And yes, these look nice and moist.

These look absolutely delicious and so much healthier than beef.

The meatballs look fab and the Greek inspiration is alive here. Ground turkey has only just recently entered the market there but it's a good, slim alternative!

Melynda, try this way. The yogurt really makes it delicious.

Dawn, if you're lucky enough to live near a poultry farmer or raise your own poultry, that's always the best, isn't it?

Daryl, I've become quite addicted to turkey meatballs in all forms (even with spaghetti)!

Peter, so glad to hear that the idea of ground turkey has made it to Canadian markets.

I love both turkey and chicken, both ways. I use tons of ground turkey here, my husband and I don't eat much red meat so I use turkey in place of ground beef all the time.

Ironically I like both roast turkey and chicken - but only ground turkey -never chicken! and AMY you just sealed the deal for me - yuck.

but here's the thing - I started grinding my own meats a couple of years ago with my handy kitchen-aid and attachment. It is really easy and you know what is going into your ground meats. However when I am lazy I admit to buying ground turkey - but I usually have to mix in some ground pork to slip it by my husband! it is a great combo if you eat pork.

I hardly use ground turkey cos it seems too dry.

Annettek, I'm trying to substitute turkey for beef more often, too.

Carol, Tigerfish: for those of us (like me) who don't eat pork, turkey can be a bit challenging (i.e., dry). The yogurt in these meatballs really helps keep it moist.

I always have ground turkey in the freezer. Yogurt, eggs, milk, buttermilk, all can help make the meat more moist. I love these meatballs and am saving the recipe now. Thanks for the link, Lydia!

Christine, I've never tried buttermilk, but same idea as the yogurt, and I like the little bit of tang, too.

Lydia, these are awesome. I made them last night (although I did saute with a spray of oil because my oven was full) I ate mine in a pocket-less pita with roasted vegetables. Heavenly! These are the best turkey meatballs I've ever had. Even my bf said I should make them again (a true compliment I assure you).

Lydia this sounds like a great recipe. I always have ground turkey, and about two months ago started getting it from a local farm. Yeah! I also have a very finicky eater, who loves pre-made meatballs which I have stopped buying (too much bad stuff). I plan to make this tomorrow with fingers crossed that he likes it. I will make it every other day if he does.

I am also doing a cooking challenge on my blog this month and plan to link over here for folks (the few that read my thoughts) to get recipe ideas. I found you via "food blog search" and am so happy i did.

Melpy, so glad you tried these. I think they are my favorites to date of all of the meatball variations I've posted. Or maybe the turkey-cranberry ones....

Annie, glad you found your way here! Hope your finicky eater loves them as much as we do.

Could this be done gluten-free...without the breadcrumbs without destroying your marvelous recipe?...Could I use ground flax or quinoa or oats?...Even buckwheat?...Thanks so much for any enlightenment in advance!!

Doona, why not? Gluten-free bread crumbs, ground oatmeal, ground rice -- any binder will work, though the taste and texture will change depending on what you use. I would not use buckwheat, though; I think it's just too heavy and will overwhelm the lighter flavor of the turkey.

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