Savoury and tender homemade pumpkin turkey meatballs cooked in a tomato pumpkin sauce with fresh herbs and spices. A fall-inspired twist on a comfort classic that makes for an easy, healthy and filling meal served over pasta or straight up as an appetizer!
Can you think of anything more satisfying and comforting than good old homemade meatballs? They’re flavourful, hearty, bite-sized and perfect around this time of year.
This recipe is a classic in all ways but one; it calls for turkey instead of the usual beef! Yes, it’s true. I’ve always preferred turkey as a lighter and easier-to-digest alternative when it comes to meatballs. So, with Thanksgiving season (aka turkey season) upon us, I naturally felt inspired to make a batch but this time incorporating all of the other fall flavours in there too. I do have to give credit to my KitchenAid Food Processor for how quick and easy this recipe came together though because I was able to add all of the ingredients into just one twist-free bowl – I’m talking the onions and garlic too! Then with a click of the food processor’s attached lid, I gave all of the ingredients quick pulse and these delicious Pumpkin Turkey Meatballs were born!
Herbs & Spices
In case you’re beginning to question the combination of flavours that I’m proposing here, I promise you that they compliment each other surprisingly well! The unique blend of fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary with the warming spice of nutmeg and pumpkin puree makes for the perfect sweet and savoury fall-inspired dish. Not to mention the pumpkin puree adds so much moisture to this dish making them pillowy-soft and (everyone’s favourite descriptive word) m-o-i-s-t. I try to use as many fresh herbs and spices as I can when cooking as they add so much flavour without having to add as much salt and oil. Plus, they are a perfect appetizer at your next family dinner party followed up with a slice of pumpkin pie of course. T’is the season!
Yumminess aside, let’s talk about how easy they are to make! As far as meatball recipes go, this is pretty much as simple as it gets. By throwing all of the ingredients into one food processor bowl, the mixture is able to come together in minutes and then all you have left to do is scoop, roll and cook them up! No muss no fuss.
Use A Food Processor
I always say food processors are one of the most underrated kitchen appliances, and the ease of making these Pumpkin Turkey Meatballs is the perfect example of just that. Personally, I love using my KitchenAid food processor because it’s compact, easy to use and stores really nicely on the counter or stored away in a cupboard. Plus it just looks super cute in my kitchen which is always a bonus- style and functionality. It’s also one of the only food processors on the market that doesn’t require you TWIST the bowl and lid, instead, you simply click it into place and ta-da! It may seem like a minimal feature, but it actually makes a huge difference when you’re wanting to be efficient and seamless in the kitchen.
Now let’s talk about the sauce because it’s ALMOST just as good as the meatballs themselves. For the sauce recipe, I used a mixture of marinara pasta sauce, the rest of the pumpkin puree sauteed with onions, garlic and some spices for the perfect complement to the meatballs- but feel free to use any sauce you prefer!
Serve your turkey meatballs cooked in the tomato pumpkin sauce as an appetizer, or serve them piled on top of your favourite pasta with all of the fresh parmesan cheese! Fun fact: They would go really well alongside my Lemon and Garlic Green Beans or my Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Pomegranate and Walnut Salad!
If you make this recipe, be sure to share a photo on social media and tag me @healthnutnutrition and #healthnuteats so that I can see your creations!
Homemade Pumpkin Turkey Meatballs
Savoury and tender pumpkin turkey meatballs cooked in a tomato pumpkin sauce with fresh herbs and spices. A fall-inspired twist on a comfort classic that makes for an easy, healthy and filling meal served over pasta or straight up as an appetizer!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Pumpkin Turkey Meatballs
- 2 tbsps avocado oil
- 1/2 yellow onion quartered
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 lb lean ground turkey
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup brown rice breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp fresh sage thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme de-stemmed
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
Tomato Pumpkin Sauce
- 1 jar marinara pasta sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée *the rest of the can from recipe above
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk canned
- 1 tsp italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp dried sage
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmug
- 1/4 tsp red chili flakes dried, crushed
- sea salt and pepper to taste you may omit this if your marinara sauce is already salty
Pumpkin Turkey Meatballs
To make the meatballs start by adding the onion and garlic to your food processor using the bottom blade and process for 5-10 seconds until finely chopped.
Next, add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse for 15-30 sec (stopping halfway to scrape down sides with a spatula) until all ingredients are well incorporated into the ground turkey.
Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out 2 tablespoons worth of the mixture and using clean dry hands roll into even round balls.
Place meatballs on a tray or plate and repeat until you’ve used up all of the mixture. Preparing all of the meatballs at once will make it easier to cook them at the same time on the pan.
Heat a large skillet with oil to medium heat and transfer all meatballs to the pan making sure to space them out evenly so they aren’t touching. Cook meatballs for 4 minutes per side until lightly golden.
Remove meatballs from pan and set aside to make the sauce.
Tomato Pumpkin Sauce
In the same pan, add in the chopped onion and garlic (using a food processor to finely chop) and saute for 2 minutes in the oil leftover from the meatballs.
Next add tomato paste, marinara sauce, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, italian seasoning, dried sage, nutmeg, chili flakes, sea salt and pepper.
Stir well to combine, add meatballs and bring to a low simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stopping to stir occasionally.
Remove from heat and serve immediately warm over cooked brown rice pasta or as is for a festive party appetizer.