March 22, 2014

S&L's Favorite Meatballs

S&L's Favorite Meatballs

Tender baked turkey meatballs made with a surprise ingredient and smothered with a sweet barbecue glaze.

In my personal handwritten cookbook, this recipe is called Sunny and Lindsay’s Favorite Meatballs, penned for my two daughters. 

It started out as a pretty basic recipe, but as time went by, I kept changing the measurements and adding different things. Instead of breadcrumbs, I changed it to oatmeal because it seemed healthier when the girls were little. Once, I didn’t have an onion, so I chopped up an apple and it made the meatballs really tender and moist. Then I added the onion back in for more flavor.

The sauce has gone through changes too. It was your basic ketchup, sugar and Worcestershire sauce glaze, but I wanted more depth to the flavor, so I added tomato paste. The apple juice might have gotten thrown in by accident one day when the girls were little and trying to help with a drink in hand, but it tasted good, so it became part of the recipe too. And the mustard just gives it a bit of a tang. 

Today, Sunny is a mom herself and Lindsay graduated from law school and is pounding the pavement for a job, and I’m still making this! In fact, everyone came over tonight for these meatballs, served with rice and fresh veggies. I hope these beauties will become one of your favorites for parties and home meals too.

S&L's Favorite Meatballs

Makes 29 meatballs


  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 3 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 T yellow mustard
  • 2 T tomato paste (see hint below)
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt (this addition depends on how sweet your apple juice is, so taste before adding)


  • 1 – 20 oz. package of lean ground turkey
  • ¾ cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, grated
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small apple, peeled, cored and finely diced (about ¾ cup or a little more)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • oil for shaping meatballs
  • 1½ T cookie scoop


  • about 1 T snipped chives

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small pot and heat until warm and sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl, except for the oil. I use my hands. Do not over mix. It makes the meatballs tough.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put a couple of tablespoons of oil in a small bowl. Oil the palms of your hands and use the cookie scoop to make uniform-sized meatballs. The oil on your hands will keep the meat from sticking to your palms and will keep the meatballs moist as they bake. It also makes very smooth looking meatballs, which is great for presentation.

Place meatballs on cookie sheet, but don’t let them touch each other. Bake them for 12 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a large baking pan. You might need two. Don’t let meatballs touch and pour the sauce over them. Try to coat them all completely, so they’ll glaze nicely. Bake another 15 minutes.

You can remove them from the pan by sticking the meatballs with serving picks and placing them on a dish, in a single layer, as in the picture. That way, the glaze stays in tact. Or, use tongs to remove them to a platter and stack the meatballs, as in the other picture. Garnish with snipped chives.

Hint: When you open a can of tomato paste and only use a small amount, freeze the rest in one tablespoon portions on Glad Press n’ Seal paper. Place on a cutting board and when frozen solid, store in zip lock bag for future use.

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