Spicy Turkey Meatballs with Cheesy Polenta


Happy Monday!

How was everyone’s weekend? I got to cook for a lovely couple on Saturday night who were celebrating a birthday. I got brunch with my friend Sarah yesterday, and other than that, just laid pretty low. I was in Manhattan yesterday and it was so strange to walk around and see all of these restaurants and bars I use to go to be closed. I know it shouldn’t feel strange since it’s been so long but it is still so weird to me when I actually see the streets in person. I also genuinely forgot that people use to have lives and go out to bars on the weekends. It truly escaped my mind that that was even a thing that people use to do. AnyWAYS. I’m done with my weekly “covid times are strange” rant.

Onto important things, like meatballs!

Spicy Turkey Meatballs with Cheesy Polenta

These meatballs are SO flavorful you guys! And so moist!! Sorry for everyone that hates that word, but they truly are. I set out to make a healthier meatball that still was juicy and packed with flavor and I’m happy to report I succeeded.

This recipe is true comfort food in a bowl! Healthy comfort food!

I start this recipe by cooking down an onion in olive oil.

Once the onion has cooked for about 5 minutes, I take half of the onion mixture and add it to the bowl with all my meatball ingredients:

Ground turkey, breadcrumbs (that I soak in milk), pecorino, garlic, dried oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, eggs, salt and pepper.

Mixed together and formed into balls. Pro tip, before forming the mixture into balls, coat your hands in olive oil. This prevents the mixture from sticking to your hands. Also, this mixture is on the more wet side, but that ensures the meatballs will be nice and moist. Sorry with that word again..

While the meatballs are baking I finish what I call my “semi homemade” marinara. Turn the pot back on with the onions and add the remaining garlic, red pepper flakes, and cook for a minute or two.

Now time to add my tomato products. This is “semi” homemade because I use both jarred marinara and crushed tomatoes.

You can use any store bought marinara but Raos is truly the best. It is a bit on the pricey side, but I find it is on sale pretty frequently, so stock up!

Season with more salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Once the meatballs have baked for 15 minutes, I add them directly to the sauce. Simmer for another 10-20 minutes and boom, done!

Right before serving I make the polenta since it cooks so quickly.

I just brought 4 cups of water to a simmer, slowly whisked in the polenta, then added in grated fontina cheese, butter, a bit of whole milk, salt and pepper.

All plated up, garnished with some basil, more cheese, and if you like things extra spicy, a bit more crushed red pepper flakes. This is SO delicious you guys! So flavorful and comforting without weighing you down. These meatballs would also be delicious over garlic bread, pasta, spaghetti squash, whatever you prefer! I love the polenta because it’s not something I make all the time, but every time I do I remember how much I love it!

Spicy Turkey Meatballs with Cheesy Polenta 

Serves: 4


For the Meatballs and Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup seasoned breadcrumbs 
  • ¼ cup whole milk 
  • 1 lb ground turkey 
  • ⅓ cup italian parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1-2 tsp red chili flakes 
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup grated pecorino (or parmesan)
  • 1 32 oz jar marinara 
  • 1 24oz can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Fresh Basil for garnish (optional)

For the Cheesy Polenta:

  • 1 cup instant polenta 
  • ½ cup whole milk (or chicken stock) 
  • 1 cup grated fontina (or more pecorino/parmesan) 
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 
  2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute the onion in 3 tbsp olive oil.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the breadcrumbs and ¼ cup whole milk and allow to soak for about 5 minutes. 
  4. Once the onions have cooked for about 5-6 minutes, turn off the heat and add HALF of the cooked onions to the breadcrumb mixture. Once the onions are slightly cool add the remaining meatball ingredients to the bowl (ground turkey, parsley, 3 cloves of minced garlic, dried oregano, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 2 eggs, pecorino, and a large pinch of salt and cracked black pepper). Mix together thoroughly with your hands.
  5. Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with olive oil (or non stick spray). Form the meatball mixture into balls (it is a wet mixture, pro tip, cover your hands in olive oil before rolling to prevent the mixture from sticking!) and place on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the meatballs with a touch of olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. 
  6. In the meantime, add the remaining garlic to the pot with the onions and turn the heat back to medium. Add in another teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, and cook for a few minutes. Add in the jarred marinara, crushed tomatoes, and a large pinch of kosher salt and bring to a slight simmer. 
  7. Once the meatballs are out of the oven, carefully place them in the sauce and simmer for another 10-20 minutes. 
  8. Once the meatballs are almost ready to go, make the polenta. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large skillet with sides. Slowly pour in the polenta while whisking constantly. Add in the cheese, milk, and season with salt and pepper. If it seems a little too thick feel free to add a bit more stock or water.
  9. Plate each dish with the polenta, meatballs, a bit of sauce, and garnish with basil and serve.

I will definitely be keeping these turkey meatballs in my rotation of winter comfort food meals.

I hope you give these a try! Let me know what you think 🙂

Wednesday I will be posting what I’m teaching for my next virtual cooking class which will be on February 3rd. I hope to see some of you there!

XX Chelcie

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