Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs
Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs is a perfect dinner for kids. The meatballs are stuffed with cheese and cook in the sauce.
I originally found this Rachael Ray recipe on Annie’s Eats and tried it right away. Of course I substituted ground turkey for the beef, and used my favorite jarred spaghetti sauce instead of Rachael’s because I have yet to find a homemade sauce that is better than Prego, in my humble opinion. Below I’ve included the recipe for how to turn jarred spaghetti sauce into Arrabiatta (thanks to Giada) in case you feel like jazzing it up.
These meatballs are so good! It’s not just the mozzarella surprise inside, of course that helps, but the actual flavor of the meatballs is incredible. It reminds me of something you would get in a really good Italian restaurant. I think I am turning in my old turkey meatball recipe (which was adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook) for this one.
The other BIG plus of this recipe is that it’s FAST because the meatballs cook in the sauce – which also means less clean-up. Plus, cooking the meatballs in the sauce gives the sauce a really delicious flavor. The last time I made these was for my family, and they loved them! My sister who hates spaghetti even liked the dinner!
Although this is a Rachael Ray recipe, I saw Giada De Laurentiis make a very similar one – again a mozzarella-stuffed meatball. The best tip Giada gave – which might be obvious to most but wasn’t to me – is to make the meatball and then create a small hole to put the mozzarella cube inside. I wasn’t even thinking when I made the recipe the first time that forming the meat around the cheese is not exactly the most efficient way.
I tried pre-forming the meatballs the last time I made these. Ground turkey is softer and stickier than ground beef, so it helps to grease your hands with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil before forming the meatballs. Once the meatballs are formed, push your finger in each one and insert the piece of cheese, then close the meatball around the cheese.
I find it is easier to use mozzarella string cheese rather than a block of mozzarella. You may use either.
Gluten Free Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs
Looking for More Italian Dinners?
Check out these other Italian recipes:
Baked Chicken Parmesan
Baked Ricotta Cavatelli in Mascarpone Cheese Sauce
Lighter Eggplant Parmesan
Turkey Lasagna St. Louis Style
Turkey Sausage and Peppers Rigatoni
Chicken with Dijon Marsala Mascarpone Sauce
Five Veggie Four Cheese Lasagna
For the Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves (grated)
- crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 52 ounces jarred spaghetti sauce (such as Prego Traditional)
For the Meatballs:
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 garlic clove (grated)
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces mozzarella string cheese (cut into 16 equal-sized pieces, or block style mozzarella cheese cut into cubes)
- cooking spray
- spaghetti (regular or gluten free)
- In a large bowl, soak the bread crumbs in the milk.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add 2 cloves of grated garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. If you like your sauce a little spicy (a la Arrabbiata sauce), toss in the crushed red pepper flakes. Add jarred spaghetti sauce. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water for the spaghetti.
- Add the ground turkey, 1 clove of grated garlic, parsley, Parmesan, egg, and salt to the breadcrumbs. Stir with a fork until mixed.
- Divide the meatball mixture into fourths, then form 4 meatballs out of each portion (for a total of 16). Make a hole in the center of each meatball and place a cube of mozzarella inside. Reform the meatball so the mozzarella is completely covered with the meat mixture. Place each meatball on a sheet of waxed paper sprayed with cooking spray after cheese has been placed inside, so that all of the meatballs can go in the sauce at the same time.
- Place meatballs in sauce so they are submerged. Cook for 20 minutes over medium-low, or until meat is cooked completely. Cover the pot to prevent the sauce from splattering. You may vent the lid to allow some moisture to escape so the sauce is a little thicker in the end. When only 8-9 minutes remain, add spaghetti to boiling water and cook according to package directions.