30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce

/// October 29th, 2014

Juicy mozzarella stuffed meatballs are coated in a hearty homemade marinara sauce and ready in just 30 minutes! This is a meal you’ll want to make over and over again!

30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce Raise your hand if you’re ready for the easiest, cheesiest, tastiest meatball recipe around!

I hope your pretty little hand is waving wild and high in the air… because easy, cheesy, tasty meatballs is what we’re all about today.

I’m talking crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, super flavorful, STUFFED WITH CHEESE (squee!!!) and swimming in the best marinara sauce to eva hit your lips >>> These 30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce are sure to be a new go-to meal at least once a week 😉 I seriously can’t make them enough!

Meatball love is intense like that.

Let’s dive right into the nitty gritty with some step by steppies, eh?

First thing you’re going to do is grab your meatball ingredients and throw them in a big (maybe neon green?) bowl.

30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce Then it’s time to get your hands messy.

And no prissy poking or prodding…

get your hands in there and give that meat a massage! Rub all that garlic and herbs in reeeeal good because lots of yummy ingredients in your meat = lots of yummy flavor in your meatballs. That is what we want!

30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce Once your meat is ready, you’ll quickly chop your cheese into bite-sized chunks.

Fight the temptation to go BIG here and keep them about a 1/2 inch or even smaller. Any bigger and the cheese will overtake the meatball and seep out while frying. Lost cheese is a sad sad thing. Let’s fight against it the best we can!

And yes… that is string cheese. It works in a pinch 😉

30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce Now, time to put that cheese to action. You’re going to stuff it in the meatballs.

How (you ask)? Well, quite easily my dear friend.

Just scoop a little smidge of meat in your hand, place the cheese smack dab in the center, then add another little bit of meat on top of it. Roll the meatball around in your hands a few times to seal the deal, and repeat with the remaining meatballs and cheese. This will only take a few minutes if you work fast – if you have a husband/girlfriend/kid/or parent that’s down for helping here, it’ll go even faster!

30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce Now it’s time to fry. In olive oil. For just a few minutes on each side. I recommend letting your olive oil get nice and hot while your doing your prep work so it’s ready to go. In hot oil, the meatballs only need about 2 minutes on each side. You’re not fully cooking them here, just crisping the outsides. If you’ve never had a crunchy meatball, you haven’t fully lived… just saying.

30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce The crispy but not completely cooked meatballs take a quick (10 minute) trip to the oven to finish baking. During this time you’ll make your marinara. That’s right… 10 minute marinara. Rejoice!

30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce The marinara is easy as can be. Olive oil, garlic, italian seasoning, crushed tomatoes, salt, and pepper. They get combined in the meatball pan (minus the meatballs; they’re in the oven, remember?) and simmered down for 10 minutes.

Once the meatballs have emerged from the oven, simply plop them in the sauce, and serve! You can serve with crusty bread, on an Italian hoagie roll, or over spaghetti, of course. To be honest, they’re so good I sometimes simply eat them with a spoon. Yes… me, a spoon, and whole bowl of saucy meat-a-balls. Add a glass of red wine to that equation and I am in pure bliss.

The best news? You can be in meatball heaven too. 30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce …  Get after it 😉 30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce I hope you love these 30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce as much as I do!

If (or better yet, when!) you make this recipe, I’d love for you to snap a picture and share it on instagram using the hashtag #bakerbynature – seeing your kitchen magic makes my day! xoxo

30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce

30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6

Serving Size: 4 meatballs plus sauce

Hearty and healthy mozzarella stuffed meatballs are coated in homemade marinara sauce and ready in just 30 minutes! You'e going to love these!


  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup whole wheat panko bread
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into bite sized cubes (you can use 4 (1 ounce) string cheese pieces, too)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Allow the oil to simmer (you want it very hot) while you prepare the meatballs.
  3. In a large bowl combine ground turkey meat, half of the minced garlic, egg, cheese, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and panko. Slowly add the water, a few tablespoons at a time. The mixture should be very moist but still hold its shape when rolled into meatballs.
  4. Scoop one tablespoon of meat into a small ball. Press a piece of cheese in the center, then cover it with another piece of meat, roll to seal in the cheese. Repeat with all meat/cheese.
  5. Fry meatballs in batches in the hot oil, 2 minutes on each side.
  6. Place semi-cooked meatballs on prepared baking sheet. Once all meatballs have been panfried, place the baking sheet in the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they're cooked though.
  7. While the meatballs bake, make your marinara!
  8. Add remaining oil to the same pan the meatballs were in, then add the remaining garlic and sauté for one minute, or until the garlic is golden and fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, seasoning and crushed red pepper flakes, mix well to combine. Simmer the sauce for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  9. When meatballs are done cooking, add them to the sauce, stir to coat, and serve!


*Serve with pasta, rice, or crusty bread!


109 thoughts on “30-Minute Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Homemade Marinara Sauce

        1. bakerbynature Post author

          Hi Amie. It should work flavor wise, but obviously the texture will be a little different since shredded cheese is larger than grated. You could pulse the shredded cheese in a blender for a few seconds?

  1. Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness

    UGH. I wish this recipe was posted yesterday.
    You’re totally going to judge me but I just bought pre-made meatballs for the hubs, because after a day of blog cooking,I don’t want to cook him dinner. I’m the worst.
    These looks SO GOOD! Pinned!

    1. bakerbynature Post author

      I would never you judge you! After blog baking all day I pretty much always want to eat out haha… unfortunately the MR is spoiled on my food and wants to eat home. Hence the bounty of 30 minute meals I chug out lol.

  2. Janet Bradley

    What would you serve these with (are they stand alone)? Would I serve them over spagetti with a salad. They look fantastic and I want to try them for the family.

        1. Rachel

          I am doing low/no carb so I used 1/2 cup of Italian breadcrumbs (didn’t have panko) & did NOT add water because the meat mixture stayed moist. They turned out just fine! I also only had diced tomatoes with garlic/oregano, used extra minced garlic & served over bed of uncooked spinach…this was SO GOOD! I was surprised it really was as good as it looked! Will definitely make again!!

        2. Johanna

          I’m going to try with almond meal rather than panko crumbs. (I need gluten free). I am going to try these for company tonight. :)

    1. bakerbynature Post author

      Hi Tiffany. The meatballs definitely will come out much different in texture if you skip the frying part. That said, if you just bake them, add 10-15 minutes to the cook time.

  3. Katie

    Made these twice and LOVE them. My go-to meal now. How much salt and pepper do you recommend in the meat and in the sauce. Half of what is listed in the ingredients in each or the whole amount in each? Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

    1. bakerbynature Post author

      Hi Katie. So glad to hear you’re enjoying these meatballs! We love them too :) You can really add as little or as much salt & pepper as you prefer. With the meatballs I say stick to what’s written in the recipe (1/2 for each) and then adjust them if need be. With the sauce it’s easier to add a little, taste, then add more. The amount listed in the ingredients is just a starting point so they don’t come out over seasoned.

  4. Jessica

    In your step by step you say you add Italian Seasoning to your homemade marinara, but then it doesn’t list it in the ingredients/instructions. I feel like it would need it for flavor. I’m trying to make these tonight. HELP!!

      1. Jessica

        That Italian Seasoning is for the meatballs right? I’m talking in the marinara sauce. Sorry, I’m not so usually recipe-challenged ;). I just see under the second to last picture before you post the recipe it says, “The marinara is easy as can be. Olive oil, garlic, italian seasoning, crushed tomatoes, salt, and pepper.” But then in the recipe, all 2 tsp of Italian Seasoning goes into the meatballs.

          1. bakerbynature Post author

            Hi Jessica. No need to apologize :) Yes, it should have 2 teaspoons. I’m not sure why it’s not showing up on your end! I’m going to look into this further tonight.

          2. Jessica

            Ya it’s not showing up at all. That’s so weird! I’m excited to make this tonight though! And I’ll add 2 tsp to the marinara sauce :). Thanks for your help!!

          3. Jessica

            Just wanted to let you know it’s fixed and now the italian seasoning is showing up correctly :). Thanks!!

  5. Leslie

    Made these this week and my fiance loved them. I am a vegetarian so I didn’t taste them but he had them 2 days this week so thank you. Already starred them as something I would make again!

    1. bakerbynature Post author

      Hi Sarah. I don’t currently know the caloric information for this meal, however there are many tools online that let you type in the ingredients and easily find out :)

  6. WendinEzzes

    Im trying to keep my meals low carb. Do you or does anyone have a suggestion for a substitute for the panko breadcrumbs?! Thanks bunches!

    1. bakerbynature Post author

      Hi Wendin. You could try using gluten free bread crumbs and maybe using 1/4 cup less than the recipe calls for? Other than that I’m not too sure. I know there is a brand called Mary’s gone crackers that sells seed based bread crumbs – those may work too :) Good luck!

    1. bakerbynature Post author

      Hi Caren. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed them! Although I’ve never had a problem with leaking cheese, I have two tips that should help! You could try freezing the cheese cubes for 15 minutes before using them (the colder the cheese the slower it will melt) and you could also try making the meatballs larger so they have more “padding” so to speak 😉

  7. Melissa

    I have been making my own mozzerella stuffed turkey meatball but I don’t use egg or bread crumbs or anything like that . For seasoning the meat I use a pk of hidden valley ranch dressing mix ( the dry powder) I put that in the meat and work it like a meat loaf making sure there is no dry clumps of powder , i precut little squares of the part skim mozzerella and make a patty in my hand and flatten it as much as I can , put cheese in middle then mold the meat around the cheese forming a ball . I have tweak this every time I have made them to get the better and better every time . Be careful not to make the meatballs to small or you will have a pan full of cheese . My meatballs are about tennis to soft ball size , I put them in a pan with a tad bit of olive oil and work on getting all sides browned then turn it down and get the insides done . I believe. The fast you can get each side of the balls browned the better the chances of keeping the cheese from spitting out , I use store bought sauce ( organic) and we love this over zucchini pasta . This has became a favorite and my hubby ant big on veggies but he loves our zucchini pasta . Just thought I would share another option , the ranch in the meat gives them good flavor . I also use it in my ground turkey for turkey burgers .

    1. CHEF ZEE




  8. Rachel

    I made these last night for my fiance, myself and a guest and they were an absolute hit! Instead of pasta I warmed sub sandwich rolls :) The marinara was honestly perfect, and fit both my fiance’s and my taste (he loves red crushed pepper, while I’m on the sensitive palet side :) ) but it was the perfect amount of heat! Even though this recipe is too good not to share – I might keep it in my secret stash for bragging purposes! Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. Ashlee

    Yum! I just tried these and they were delicious! I made a few substitutions. I used grated parm instead of romano, herb panko crumbs (instead of whole wheat) and I used jar spaghetti sauce. These were extremely easy to make and were delicious! My picky 6 year old gobbled them up. Thanks for the great recipe! Just curious- can you freeze these?

  10. Amy Pinney

    I am by no means a “good” cook–I need lots of instructions and a clear recipe when making anything from scratch. This totally fit the bill!! They were easy to whip up and were DELICIOUS. I felt quite accomplished serving this dish for dinner tonight. My six year old cooking-lover helped make the meatballs, and my actually-is-a-good-cook Husband loved it and has plans to use the Panko and leftover string cheese to make fried Mozzarella sticks for the leftover marinara

  11. Andrea

    Awesome recipe! I just made them with a couple changes. Since my mom can’t eat grains, I used almond flour instead of the bread crumbs to make them paleo. 1:1 ratio worked. Also added extra spices to sauce, mostly sugar since I like sweeter sauces. Served with zucchini noodles to make sure i ate my vegetables… My new favorite meatballs!!!

  12. anu

    hi, i am gona try this recipe today becuse the recipe looks great….i just wanted to know that how to decide the meatballs are cooked through…plz reply soon..

    1. bakerbynature Post author

      Hi Anu. Simply follow the baking time listed in the recipe box. You can cut into one of the meatballs after that time is up if you’d like to check if they’re cooked through. They should be brown; not pink.

  13. Toni

    I absolutely love this recipe, I’ve made it three times already. I never have grated romano cheese on hand so I just shred some parmesan cheese instead and serve it with whole grain pasta and a side of veggies. It also heats up nicely. Love it!

  14. Linda

    Absolutely delicious., I took a risk and made these for the first time on game day. They were a big hit! Definitely going into the rotation. Thank you, I excited to try other recipes from you.

  15. Sara

    These were so so so good! Believe it or not, this was my first time using ground chicken and I was scared to try it. But these definitely put my mind at ease. Sooo good! I served with garlic bread and a nice green salad.

  16. Agelica

    I made these for the first time tonight i used 1pd ground turkey meat and 1pd ground turkey sausage and doubled the recipe ( i have a family of 7 ) i added a little more garlic because we are garlic lovers and about 1 tsp of dried minced onion and my family LOVED it! Thanks for the awesome recipe will def be making again

  17. Shelby

    We LOVE these meatballs!!! So, so good! In fact, my five year old requested these for his birthday dinner :) Do you think I could make these ahead of time and then refrigerate or freeze them raw? Thoughts? Thanks so much!

    1. bakerbynature Post author

      Yay! So happy to hear it, Shelby. I think you could definitely make the meat mixture, stuff them, and roll them ahead of time, then store them covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. I hope this helps! And happy birthday to your little guy :)

  18. Lori C.

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I just finished making everything and, of course, had to taste before I serve for our dinner later. YUM! This is definitely my go to recipe from now on! No more frozen store bought meatballs for me. I can’t wait to make this for a dinne party!

  19. Shala

    Yum!!! I am so glad I found this recipe. I used Italian panko bread crumbs instead of whole wheat and that was the only major change. Healthy, easy and crowd pleasing. Thanks you. :)

  20. Mimi Hickman-Perfetti

    I made these for a party Sunday and people loved them. I made them for dinner tonight as well! The dogs begged me for one. My picky husband loved them as well! Thank you for sharing! You were right about the sneaky mozzarella cheese getting out if the piece is to large!

  21. Sabrina - Cozy Cuisine

    So I made this recipe Monday night and I did find it to be quite bland (especially right after I made it). The flavors did meld together better the next day, but still the flavor was lacking (which I was quite surprised about). My co-worker loved them. Also, I just couldn’t bring myself to add a 1/2 cup of water. I added maybe 1/4 cup instead.

    I will make this again, I just know now that I must season better than I thought I did.

  22. kim

    I have made these several times in the past and never had any problems, but this time the turkey was way to sticky to work with. I used a different brand ( all natural from Costco) and it weighed just over a pound. This brand was really moist out of the package. I did ad some water per your instructions, but could the water have been the problem? I was hoping to serve these to company tonight….Thanks.


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