Turkey Meatballs in Apricot Sauce with Mint and Almonds

Turkey Meatballs in Apricot Sauce with Mint and Almonds recipe
Photo: Marcus Nilsson
Prep Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 50 mins

Kids will love the sweetness that apricots lend these spiced turkey meatballs—and the soft, almost fluffy consistency, since they don't get seared. The dried fruit steeps with cinnamon and chicken broth, then gets puréed with onion, melding into a bubbling sauce with a subtle spice. Don't bypass chilling the formed balls before plunking them in—this gives the breadcrumbs time to hydrate, and the meat a chance to firm up.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped (2 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (from 4 to 5 cloves)

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • cup dried breadcrumbs or matzo meal

  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more whole leaves for serving

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • ½ cup dried Turkish apricots (3 ounces)

  • 1 small cinnamon stick

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • ½ cup sliced almonds


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large straight-sided skillet or braiser over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but no color has developed, about 5 minutes. Remove half of onion and reserve. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to onion in skillet, stirring to combine. Cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl, reserving skillet (do not wipe clean); stir breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup broth into bowl with spiced onion. Let cool slightly.

  2. Add turkey, mint, egg, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to bowl, gently stirring to combine (do not overwork, or meatballs with be tough). With dampened hands, form into golf-ball-size meatballs and transfer to a parchment-lined tray (you should have about 20, each roughly 2 inches in diameter). Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes or, loosely covered, up to 1 day.

  3. Meanwhile, combine apricots, cinnamon stick, and remaining 2 3/4 cups broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until apricots are very soft and plump, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly; discard cinnamon. Transfer to a blender with reserved onion and purée until smooth.

  4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in reserved skillet over medium-high. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in apricot mixture and bring to a boil. Gently nestle meatballs into sauce. Lower heat, partially cover (leaving about a 1-inch steam vent), and simmer, turning meatballs a few times, until almost cooked through and sauce has thickened and darkened slightly, 15 to 17 minutes.

  5. Uncover and continue to simmer until sauce reduces to a thick gravy, about 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring occasionally, until nutty and golden in places, 2 to 3 minutes. Top meatballs with almonds and mint leaves; serve.

Cook's Notes

To keep this recipe kosher for Passover, replace the breadcrumbs with matzoh meal and the butter with olive oil or margarine. You can also swap in ground chicken, beef, lamb, or a plant-based meat substitute, such as Beyond Beef, for the turkey.

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