If your summer CSA box or garden is overflowing with zucchini, quick & easy Zucchini Meatballs are the perfect recipe to try!
Start with your choice ground poultry – chicken or turkey, just make sure you’re working with at most 93% lean – & fold in tender grated fresh zucchini, aromatics like onion, garlic, & fresh herbs, & some standard meatballs add-ins like breadcrumbs & egg. For zucchini meatballs, it’s best to use small- to medium-sized squash, which are a little more flavorful & a little less watery.
Once mixed & formed, simply bake until juicy & tender & serve them however you like. While tomato sauce & pasta (pictured) is always a good idea, these zucchini meatballs are also great with pesto sauce (super summery & fresh!), served on a salad, or stuffed inside a roll for meatball subs or sliders. The options are endless, so be sure to refer to the blog post, above, for lots of inspiration to get you started.
- nonstick cooking spray
- 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey or chicken
- 1 medium zucchini, grated (approx. 1 cup grated)
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- optional: up to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- for serving, as desired: quick pesto or simple tomato sauce, cooked pasta or crusty Italian bread, a simple green salad or Caesar salad, grated parmesan, thinly sliced basil, etc.
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, ensuring a rack is positioned in the center of the oven. Lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Gather & prep all ingredients according to the Ingredients List.
- Grate the zucchini: Set a box grater over a clean kitchen towel & run the zucchini along the sides, grating it into fine pieces. Roll the towel up & squeeze as much of the excess liquid from the zucchini as possible. Transfer the grated zucchini to a large bowl.
- Mix the zucchini meatballs: To the large bowl with the grated zucchini, add the grated yellow onion, garlic, basil, grated parmesan, panko breadcrumbs, egg, olive oil, Italian seasoning, & crushed red pepper flakes (if using). Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Use your hands to mix well. Once the breadcrumb mixture is combined, add in the ground turkey or chicken. Using your hands, mix just until combined – take care to avoid over-mixing. [gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="32042,32047"]
- Form the zucchini meatballs: Divide the zucchini meatball mixture into 15-18 equal portions, then gently roll each into a meatball slightly larger than the size of a golf ball, rolling just until smooth – take care to avoid pressing the meatballs together too compactly. For quickness & ease, I like using a spring-loaded scoop. The mixture yields 15-18 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake the zucchini meatballs: Lightly spritz the zucchini meatballs with cooking spray for a golden finish, then transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Bake 18-22 minutes, until cooked through.
- Serve: Serve the zucchini meatballs immediately as desired. You can toss them into a quick pesto or simple tomato sauce, then serve them with pasta or in a meatball sub, etc. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Ground turkey or chicken: The secret to seriously juicy & tender zucchini meatballs is using the right poultry. Whether you decide to use ground chicken or turkey, it needs a decent fat content, otherwise the meatballs will dry out. Look for at least 93% lean, though if you can find 90-92%, that’s even better! If you’re purchasing from your grocery store’s butcher counter, ask for ground turkey/chicken thigh or dark meat.
- Storage & Reheating: Transfer cooled zucchini meatballs to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through, adding a splash of water or chicken stock as needed to help them steam up & loosen any sauce that may be on the meatballs.
- 15-20 Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for this recipe comes from prepping & forming the zucchini meatballs. Take care of some of this in advance & you can jump straight in to cooking during the week:
- Mix & form the zucchini parmesan meatballs according to Step 2-4 of Recipe Directions, above. You can roll out the meatballs immediately or save the rolling for dinnertime; either way, the mixture will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (15 minutes active for meatball mixture prep, 5 minutes active for forming the zucchini meatballs)
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