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Recipe for turkey pesto meatball sliders

Make these turkey pesto meatballs ahead and freeze, for quick and easy sliders..

I'm glad you can't really tell from my photographs that these turkey pesto meatball sliders look a bit, well... green-ish. Yes, the meatballs are wearin' the green for St Patrick's Day, thanks to a good bit of garlicky basil pesto that perks up both the color and the flavor. I formed the meatballs with a two-inch ice cream scoop, a perfect fit for my favorite slider buns, but they'd be equally delicious in a smaller size, tossed with some pasta, garlic and olive oil. It takes just a few minutes to make your own pesto, or you can use good-quality store-bought pesto, if that's what you have in your pantry. Like all of the many turkey meatball variations I've shared here in The Perfect Pantry, these pesto meatballs freeze well, so whip up a double batch when you have time, and store the cooked, cooled meatballs in ziploc bags for easy worknight dinners or party fare.

Turkey pesto meatball sliders, on The Perfect Pantry.

Turkey pesto meatball sliders

From the pantry, you'll need: ground turkey, Greek yogurt, dry bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, pine nuts, garlic, mayonnaise.

Makes 14 sliders; can be doubled.


For the pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the meatballs:
1-1/4 lb ground turkey (I use 93% fat-free)
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 egg
3 Tbsp finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 tsp kosher salt, or more
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper, or more

For the sliders:
14 small slider buns
A few leaves of crisp lettuce


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

In a food processor, pulse together the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper, until everything is chopped finely. While the machine is running, add the oil in a stream through the feed tube, until the mixture turns into a sauce. Add the cheese all at once, and pulse a few times to combine. Set aside. (This will make more than you need for a single batch of meatballs. Refrigerate or freeze the rest.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients. Use your hands to mix everything together until the ingredients are well incorporated. Do not overmix.

Using an ice cream scoop with a release (called a disher), or a large soup spoon, form the meatball mix into 14 two-inch meatballs on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake at 425F for 22 minutes. While the meatballs are baking, prepare the slider buns. Slice each in half, and spread with mayonnaise. Pile on a bit of lettuce, and top with a meatball.

Turkey meatballs freeze well, so you can make these ahead, then reheat in a microwave or warm oven.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
North African harissa turkey meatballs
Greektown turkey meatballs
Thai red curry turkey meatballs
Italian turkey meatballs with sun-dried tomato and basil
Curried turkey meatballs

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Turkey pesto meatloaf with tomato sauce, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Healthy lasagne with turkey, pesto and peppers, from Cookin' Canuck
Pesto parmesan turkey burgers, from Elle's New England Kitchen
Turkey bagel burger, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Pesto ricotta lasagna, from The Amateur Gourmet Community

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.


Looks very tempting.

First time on your blog and you've got a great space.

This sure beats a green milk shake. My Irish eyes are smiling!

Lali, welcome, and thanks so much.

TW, well, yes. I'm always suspicious of green milk.

Sounds really delicious. And I love the idea of making them into sliders.

Kalyn, this is a great way to use some of the pesto we've frozen from last summer (and I know you have pesto in your freezer). It really pumps up the flavor of the turkey meatballs.

I am sure the pesto gives an amazing flavor to these burgers. Great idea!

I've heard of pork meatballs and beef meatballs, even lamb meatballs, but this is the first time I've seen turkey ones. They look really appetising! Thank you for sharing.

Jennifer, these pesto adds just enough garlicky goodness, and then, of course, there's cheese.

Louise, if you use the search box in the right-hand column, you'll find lots of recipes for variations of turkey meatballs here.

I almost lost the last of my pesto stash when my daughter's Castle building committee unplugged the fruit and veg freezer in favor of using a HOT glue gun, but we discovered the power loss when things were still icy, so whew.

These look great and remind me that I need to make sliders for the family soon. We all love them.

yummm I see meatballs in my future!

Kirsten, last summer when we had a days-long power outage after a hurricane, I had to toss my entire summer's worth of frozen pesto. It broke my heart. So glad yours was saved!

Carol, I hope you like these.

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