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Spicy Quinoa Turkey Meatballs

This recipe caught my eye on Cooking Light. With an Italian mom, half my childhood diet consisted of meatballs. Not that I'm complaining. I love 'em, and welcome the creativity to try different ingredients that bind, yet hold moisture. Whether it's coconut milk with gluten-free breadcrumbs or quinoa with eggs, each work in different ways. The quinoa-egg combo produced a dense, yet not dry, ball.


Alone, these guys have a little heat, but once sauced they are tamed. I made my adjustments...turkey for pork, some onion for shallot, added salt and dried basil. I used the tomato sauce from my spinach turkey meatballs, or I suggest buying a jarred version to save you time.


My son gave it a "not bad." Translated from teen to adult lingo that means, "I love them. Thanks so much for making me a healthy dinner, mom. You're the absolute best." At least that's what I meant, Mom! 




  • 1/2 cup washed quinoa 

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 1 pound ground turkey, 93% lean or 3/4 breast, 1/4 dark

  • 1 medium diced shallot, chopped with this.

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion

  • 1 garlic clove, smashed in this.

  • 2  large eggs 

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 

  • 1/2 tsp paprika 

  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano 

  • 1/4 tsp dried basil

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper 



  • Preheat the oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Rinse quinoa. Combine quinoa and 1 cup broth in medium pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.

  • Place all ingredients, including all quinoa, into a large bowl. Using your hands, mix until ingredients are well combined.

  • Shape into balls. Place evenly on the lined baking sheet. (If there is leftover mixture, consider making small patties to have as turkey burgers. Cook in a sauté pan, sprayed with olive oil.) 

  • Place baking sheet in the oven and cook the meatballs until they're slightly browned and internal temp is 165º, 12 to 15 minutes.

  • Serve with a good jarred tomato sauce, or I used the tomato sauce from our spinach turkey meatballs.

  • Top with shredded parm if you're one of the lucky people who can consume dairy without digestive upset.

MAKES: 16 - 20 meatballs

TIME: 45 start-to-finish

PLAN AHEAD: make quinoa early if trying to speed up dinner


HEARTFUL RECIPE - Remove parm if dairy-free - One of our real food recipes that focuses on veggies, protein, healthy fats and/or healthy carbs and doesn't include gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, corn or peanuts. ​

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