Meatballs lose fat but none of the flavor or juiciness in this variation made with ground dark-meat turkey and ricotta cheese. Once formed, the meatballs brown in the oven, essentially unsupervised, so you’re free to deal with the rest of the meal. A final simmer in a simple tomato sauce and you’re ready to plate or pack them into sandwich rolls.

What to buy: Pretty much any crushed tomatoes will do for this recipe, but we prefer the 6-in-1 brand for the right balance of sweetness and acidity.

  • Yield: 14 meatballs, about 4 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 20 mins
  • Active: 20 mins

Ingredients (15)

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground dark-meat turkey
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the upper third. Generously coat a rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and milk. Set aside until the crumbs have absorbed most of the milk, about 5 minutes. Crush the dried oregano with your fingers and add it to the bread mixture. Combine the fennel seeds and red pepper flakes on a cutting board and coarsely chop them, then add to the bread mixture. (Alternately, you can crush the oregano, fennel seeds, and pepper flakes coarsely in a mortar.) Add the ricotta, egg, parsley, measured salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the ground turkey. Make sure the mixture is well combined. Shape into 14 meatballs, 3 to 4 tablespoons each. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Roast the meatballs in the oven until browned and firm, about 15 minutes (they’ll brown mostly on the bottom, but that’s OK). Meanwhile, add the crushed tomatoes to a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Transfer the browned meatballs to the saucepan and, using a metal spatula, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the baking sheet and add them to the saucepan. Add the olive oil.
  4. Simmer the meatballs and tomato mixture over low heat until the sauce is thick and the meatballs are tender, about 30 minutes (turn the meatballs a few times during cooking). When the meatballs are nearly done, taste the sauce and season with salt as needed.
  5. Transfer the meatballs and tomato sauce onto a large warmed platter or individual plates. Garnish with the Parmesan and serve hot. Alternately, spoon meatballs and some of the tomato sauce into split sandwich rolls.