Caprese meatballs are a flavorful ground turkey mixture, including fresh basil, with a mini mozzarella ball tucked into each one for a cheesy surprise. They are baked to perfection then served over spaghetti, with some more mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, basil and Parmesan, for a delicious meal that’s ready in just 30 minutes!
This post is sponsored by the American Dairy Association Mideast. As always, as thoughts and opinions are my own.
My kids go back to school tomorrow. Tomorrow. It's the first day of school. The first day of school is tomorrow.
No, I am not freaking out. Why do you ask?
Whew, deep breaths. We are mostly prepared and almost ready. Hopefully by tomorrow morning we'll be rocking and rolling.
But let's move along to the food.
Today’s recipe is another fun twist on meatballs.
It started with my easy baked turkey meatballs, which are my go-to standard and on the regular rotation in my house.
But of course, I like to experiment and play with my food.
I have others, but I’m too excited for today’s twist.
These Caprese meatballs are a flavorful ground turkey mixture, including some fresh basil, with a mini mozzarella ball tucked into each individual meatball.
It’s such a fun pop of cheesy flavor - and it even oozes out of some of the meatballs as they bake.
Yup, we’re baking them. Cause we’re keeping it super easy and loading up a sheet pan full of these meatballs and baking them to perfection in the oven.
Hands off and they come out perfectly cooked all at once! No splattering on the stove and doing batches and constantly turning them to cook evenly. No thank you.
And the flavors here! The fresh basil and the mozzarella really comes through in these meatballs and they are just so light and flavorful. And pop-able!
They’re just the ticket, too, in this summer heat. August can’t pass quickly enough if you ask me!
AND these meatballs are ready in just 30 minutes, start to finish.
That’s a weeknight winner if you ask me! Especially during the crazy back-to-school season.
I think you’re going to love them.
To complete the Caprese theme, we’re serving these meatballs with some hot cooked spaghetti loaded with more mozzarella, more basil, chopped fresh tomatoes and some extra Parmesan cheese.
But I like options myself, so I’ve got more ideas on serving them below. You can find your favorite!
Also, I have to share that I’m so happy to be partnering again this year with the American Dairy Association Mideast.
Dairy foods are one of the most affordable and accessible sources of high-quality proteins and of nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and potassium that most of us really need more of in our daily diets.
You know, strong bones and all, we've all heard that. But dairy also contributes to strong bodies and strong minds overall. Not to mention giving you energy to tackle your day.
Wondering if you are getting enough dairy these days? The USDA recommends eating three daily servings of low fat or fat free milk, cheese and yogurt to meet dairy food group recommendations for people ages 9 years and older.
Can you say more cheese, please? (And milk and yogurt, too, of course!)
OK, so let’s get cooking!
Now, I’ve got some notes and tips coming up below on how to make Caprese meatballs. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
Notes on making Caprese meatballs:
- Ground turkey: Lean ground turkey (the 93% lean kind) is my go-to for most meatballs. You could probably also substitute lean ground beef or use ground chicken if you prefer.
- Onion: Grating the onion (on a regular cheese greater) really helps it dissolve into the meatballs. You’ll need about a half of a small onion to get ¼ cup. You can also chop the onion very small if you’d rather.
- Mozzarella: The “perline” size of mini fresh mozzarella balls, usually sold in liquid in round tub containers, is the size you need for tucking into the middle of these meatballs. You can use more of those or even use sliced fresh mozzarella for serving with the spaghetti.
- Parmesan: We’re using grated Parmesan cheese in the meatball mixture as well as extra for serving the meatballs over spaghetti.
So yes, we’re doubling up on the cheese in the meatballs and for serving the meatballs, as well.
Cause that just seems like a stellar idea, doesn’t it?!
Speaking of serving, I’ve included my go-to here and in the recipe card.
You’ll add these meatballs to your hot, cooked spaghetti, along with some chopped fresh tomatoes and more perline mozzarella balls then sprinkle the whole thing with more Parmesan cheese and sliced, fresh basil.
It’s light and fresh and perfect for these late summer evenings.
And it’s like a Caprese spaghetti and meatballs party on the plate!
Feel free to serve with a nice, light Italian wine and have yourself a dinner date!
However, you might find you like these meatballs tossed with marinara and served more traditionally.
Absolutely, go for it.
Or try them dipped in a little bit of pesto. Deliciousness! (You can also toss your pasta noodles with some pesto. 👌)
And I’m pretty sure they would be delightful on top of a Caprese style pizza.
Or find other favorite ways to enjoy these meatballs! I won’t lie, I pop a couple in my mouth as soon as they are finished baking and I'm fairly confident I'm not gonna burn my mouth.
They are so flavorful, they don’t even need anything else!
Last thing, what to do with any leftovers.
First, move the meatballs from the parchment paper to a paper towel after baking so they don’t sit in any liquid that's accumulated.
Once cooled, store the meatballs in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
Want to freeze them? Totally do-able!
Tips on freezing turkey meatballs:
– I cook all of my meatballs before freezing, so then they are ready to reheat and serve.
– Once the meatballs are cooked and cooled, you can place them in a freezer ziptop bag or a freezer-safe container.
– Label the bag and pop it in the freezer for up to 5-6 months.
– To defrost, it’s best to take the bag out of the freezer and let the meatballs thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
– Then you can reheat them on the stove or in the microwave and you’ll be ready to eat! 👍
I hope you give these a try soon for a fun new take on meatballs. If you do, please leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram. I love hearing from you!
- 1.25 pounds ground turkey (see notes)
- ¼ cup grated onion (or very finely chopped)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 oz. fresh mozzarella "perline" pearl size balls
- Hot, cooked spaghetti, additional mozzarella balls, chopped tomatoes, extra fresh sliced basil, extra grated Parmesan cheese (see notes for other ideas)
- Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, onion, garlic, egg, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, fresh basil, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Mix until combined, but be careful not to overmix. I usually start with a fork to get things somewhat combined and then use my hands to gently mix it together well.
- Take about 2 tablespoons of meatball mixture per meatball and shape into a small nest-like shape in your hands. Place a single perline mozzarella ball into the nest them cover the ball with the meatball mixture, sealing it in. Use your hands to roll it into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining meatball mixture until you have used it all up.
- Bake the meatballs at 400 for 20-22 minutes, until done. Serve immediately.
Ground turkey: Lean ground turkey (the 93% lean kind) is my go-to for most meatballs. You could probably also substitute lean ground beef or use ground chicken if you prefer.
Onion: Grating the onion (on a regular cheese greater) really helps it dissolve into the meatballs. You’ll need about a half of a small onion to get ¼ cup. You can also chop the onion very small if you’d rather.
Mozzarella: The “perline” size of mini fresh mozzarella balls, usually sold in liquid in round containers, is the size you need for tucking into the middle of these meatballs. You can use more of those or even use sliced fresh mozzarella for serving.
Serving: Add these meatballs to your hot, cooked spaghetti, along with some chopped fresh tomatoes and more perline mozzarella balls then sprinkle the whole thing with more Parmesan cheese and sliced, fresh basil. You can also mix the pasta noodles with some pesto. Or serve these meatballs with marinara for a more traditional spaghetti and meatballs dinner. They'd also be great on a Caprese pizza!
Leftovers: Leftovers, once cooled, will keep in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 4-5 days. You can also freeze the baked meatballs for up to 5-6 months.
Serving Size:4 meatballs
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 304Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 382mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 26g