Looking for a leaner twist on classic spaghetti and meatballs? Try this version, which is made with ground turkey mixed with onion, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and chopped parsley.

Everyday Food, March/April 2003


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

50 mins
1 hr


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Make the sauce: In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and cook about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, 20 to 25 minutes.

  • Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, whisk together egg, milk, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper with a fork. Stir in onion, breadcrumbs, cheese, and parsley. Add turkey, and mix until combined. Form mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls.

  • Add meatballs to skillet, and spoon sauce over to coat. Place over medium heat until meatballs are just cooked through, about 8 minutes.

  • Cook spaghetti until al dente according to package instructions, about 12 minutes. Drain pasta, transfer to skillet, and toss gently with the sauce. Serve with more cheese.

Cook's Notes

Keeping your hands wet when forming meatballs will prevent the meat from sticking, making the task much easier.


Reviews (8)

130 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 28
  • 4 star values: 41
  • 3 star values: 34
  • 2 star values: 22
  • 1 star values: 5
Rating: Unrated
Excellent!!! I only deviated by lightly sauté the meatballs before adding them to the sauce and added 2 tablespoons of sugar to the sauce in order to reduce overall acidity. Perfect recipe for a colon cancer survivor like myself, trying to avoid red meat but still enjoying a GREAT meal! Thank you Martha!
Rating: Unrated
Wow, my family truly loves this. My son requests it regularly. Tonight, I snuck some fresh spinach into the meatball mixture & no one was the wiser. I love it when my kids willingly eat wholesome meals!
Rating: Unrated
This recipe was awesome! I am always looking for whole food recipes to pin and share and try with my 90/10 nutrition challenge groups (www.tribasetraining.com/nutrition). This fit perfectly and was a big hit. Highly recommended. The prep is a little more involved than some might like and you might get a bit messy making the meatballs but it is worth it. I love this recipe.
Rating: Unrated
A favorite Everyday Food recipe since it was published. I add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes along with the tomato paste. This one recipe where my family prefers whole-wheat spaghetti to my surprise and delight.I slightly undercook the spaghetti and then add to the sauce an let it cook for a few more minutes.
Rating: Unrated
This recipe was incredible. I was reluctant to try it since the meatballs weren't first browned and I thought the onion would be overpowering, but I am so glad I tried it. The balls kept together nicely and tasted incredible and made the sauce taste extra delicious. I followed it to the tee except I didn't have the crushed tomatoes in my cabinet, so I used a 28-oz can of whole san marzano tomatoes and one 14-oz can of tomato sauce. YUM. THANKS
Rating: Unrated
I have been making these meatballs for years and they are super soft and yummy! My husband and 2 young kids love them in toasted french rolls with melted cheese and a little of the sauce... Thanks for a great recipe!!
Rating: Unrated
These were really good! Easy to make and lots of flavor. I had plenty leftover to freeze (uncooked) so I have them on-hand for busy nights. My non-meat eating son even will eat these (ok, just one of them)!
Rating: Unrated
Delicious and quick to make. I had everything together in less than an hour. All ingredients were on hand - I didn't have to run to grocery store for anything. The meatballs were full of flavour - I wasn't sure about the turkey but they tasted better than my hamburger meatballs. The kids loved them, I will be making them again and again.