Recipe Review

I Tried Jessica Alba’s “Amazingly Juicy” Turkey Meatballs and I’ll Be Making Them Every Week

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Turkey meatballs in dish.
Credit: Kiersten Hickman

I’m a bit skeptical when it comes to meatball recipes — mostly because my grandmother makes, in my humble opinion, the best meatballs of all time. I grew up in an Italian American household where meatballs in bubbling marinara were a Sunday night staple, and I’ve had very few meatballs live up to Grandma’s caliber. But that doesn’t stop me from trying other versions of meatballs, because I am a genuinely curious cook. What kind of meat, bread, and seasoning mixture are you using in your recipe? Does it include cheese or chopped vegetables? Are the meatballs baked in the oven, or cooked slowly in a Dutch oven? These are all questions that populated my brain when I came across Jessica Alba’s turkey meatball recipe, shared with the team over at Martha Stewart.

Jessica shared her big-batch turkey meatball recipe with Martha on television many moons ago, in 2012. Jessica would make the meatballs with her then-toddler as a way to get her more excited about the food that they were cooking together. (And apparently it worked!) The recipe looks seemingly easy and has a handful of rave reviews from people who make these meatballs every single week (and claim they’re far from dry, which is always my big concern with ground turkey). So, as a meatball connoisseur, I decided to give it a try. Here’s how it went.

Get the recipe: Jessica Alba’s Turkey Meatballs

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

How to Make Jessica Alba’s Turkey Meatballs

In a large mixing bowl, add ground turkey, panko breadcrumbs, finely chopped zucchini, finely chopped carrots, finely chopped onion, eggs, Italian seasoning, and coarse sea salt. Mix everything together with a spatula or with clean hands.

Roll the meatball mixture into 1-inch balls, then set aside on a clean plate.

Heat up olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the meatballs on each side until they are golden-brown, about 7 minutes. Add in chicken broth and let the meatballs simmer in the broth for another few minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

My Honest Review of Jessica Alba’s Turkey Meatballs

Coming from someone who is highly critical of meatballs, given my Italian roots, I have to admit that these are honestly perfect meatballs for meal prep. Letting the meatballs simmer in the chicken broth gives them an extra-juicy quality and keeps the cooked turkey from drying out. The flavor was also immaculate; I enjoyed the added freshness of the zucchini and carrots, giving these meatballs even more moisture and flavor with each bite. (Full disclosure: I added a bit more seasoning and salt to the mixture than Jessica calls for — I’m always a little heavy-handed — because you’re working with a good amount of turkey and I didn’t want the meatballs to lack flavor.

Needless to say, if I was looking for a meatball recipe to prepare — either for easy lunches or to freeze for an easy weeknight meal when I don’t feel like cooking — I’ll certainly be turning to this turkey meatball recipe again.

Tips for Making Jessica Alba’s Turkey Meatballs

  • Add a squeeze of lemon: These meatballs aren’t served with any kind of sauce, so adding a touch of acid will help elevate the flavor. I squeezed them with lemon, which paired really well with the savory broth that soaks into the meatballs while cooking. Highly recommend adding a little lemon to the roasted vegetables you serve with these meatballs as well — possibly roasted carrots with the leftover bunch you bought for this recipe? (If you’re serving the meatballs with a marinara sauce, though, skip the lemon.)
  • Sub out Italian seasoning for poultry seasoning: I understand why using Italian seasoning makes sense for a meatball recipe; I mean, I even do that myself. But I think for this particular recipe, because you’re using ground turkey and working with these vegetables, a poultry seasoning would also work well. Poultry seasoning is a mix of all kinds of flavors including dried sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, and white pepper. Some seasonings may even have additional ingredients like oregano, parsley, dried onion and garlic, celery flakes or seeds, lemon peel, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, bell pepper, and cayenne pepper. Needless to say, this seasoning will really boost the flavor of these meatballs without having to buy all of these separate ingredients yourself.

    Get the recipe: Jessica Alba’s Turkey Meatballs