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Turkey & Sweet Potato Meatballs (aka Turtle Balls)

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These yummy little appetizer meatballs actually started off as a meatloaf recipe. I found the original meatloaf recipe on the whole foods website. And really, you should try it. You make these little meatloaves and bake them in the oven. Halfway through the baking time you add some green beans to the pan and 20 minutes later you have your whole meal right there on the baking sheet. Not only is there very little hands-on cooking time, but cleanup is a breeze, too!

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Meatloaf often has a bad reputation for being dry and tasteless, and keeping lean turkey moist can also be a challenge, but these meatloaves were none of that. They were soft and moist and full of flavor. The meatloaves quickly became a favorite dinner here and earned the nickname of “Turtles”, since each individual meatloaf resembled  the shape and size of a small turtle shell.

Turning the “turtles” into meatballs was as simple as just rolling the turkey mixture into a bite sized ball instead of forming it into a small meatloaf. I’ve served these at a number of parties and potlucks and they are always disappear quickly. After baking the meatballs on the baking sheet I transfer them to a large casserole dish with a lid to keep some of the heat in and place toothpicks and tongs nearby for serving and eating. Don’t be surprised when your guests ask you how you made them and what the flavors are!

Turtle Meatballs 2

The original recipes contains only a handful of ingredients and I’ve made very few modifications, simply because it doesn’t need it. The flavor will come from the sweet potato and BBQ sauce, mainly. Be sure to read the label on any BBQ sauce before you use it to make sure it is GF. I’ve dabbled in making my own BBQ sauce (lots of fun!), but when I buy it at the store I usually get Weber’s brand, which is all natural. If you’re aiming to make this a healthy meal be sure to scrutinize the ingredients of the BBQ sauce further than just looking for gluten. Its remarkable how many BBQ sauces out there list high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient. Avoid those sauces, if possible!

Turtle Meatballs 3

P.S. My photos of these meatballs just don’t do them justice. Don’t let my beginning photographer skills keep you from trying these!

Turkey & Sweet Potato Meatballs

Adapted from this Whole Foods recipe
  • 2 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 c grated sweet potato (peel before grating, and use a coarse grater)
  • 2/3 c BBQ sauce (read label to make sure if it GF)
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. I’ve found that the easiest way to mix this is with my hands.
  3. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the turkey mixture and roll into into a ball. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture, placing balls close together on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meatballs has reached 165° F.
  5. Let the meatballs rest for about 5 minutes once removed from the oven. Transfer to a large casserole dish with a lid to keep warm.


About Kristin

I have always loved to cook, and have been eating and cooking gluten free since 2007. I aim to make delicious, frugal and healthy meals that will be appealing to GF and non-GF eaters alike!

One response »

  1. I put shredded carrots in my meatloaf. They make it very moist. I’m sure the sweet potato does pretty much the same thing. The meatballs look good!


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