My tender, juicy turkey meatballs in pumpkin sage sauce are a comforting, autumn-inspired meal to warm the belly on a chilly evening. Incredibly moist and succulent, these turkey meatballs are filled with lots of savory flavor from the fresh sage, dried herbs, garlic and a touch of parmesan, then added into a creamy and velvety pumpkin sage sauce!
Turkey Meatballs Fit For Pumpkin Season
I appreciate the challenge of finding new and inspiring ways to make delicious use of seasonal ingredients, creating nutritious, ultra comforting and cozy recipes to warm our bellies with.
If there are two ingredients that go really well together, and quintessentially speak of fall, they are pumpkin and turkey.
Turkey and pumpkin always make me think of the holidays and all the sweet-savory and earthy flavors that are so irresistible to us!
Enter my delectable recipe for turkey meatballs in pumpkin sage sauce, absolutely brimming with lots of savory flavor, just perfect to take the chill off this time of year.
Super moist, tender and succulent, the turkey meatballs are seasoned with fresh sage, dried herbs, garlic and onions, plus a touch of parmesan cheese.
And for the sauce, a very rich, creamy and velvety pumpkin sage sauce, prepared with organic, canned pumpkin puree, aromatics, fresh sage, a touch of cream, and a sprinkle of parmesan—it tastes a little like a pumpkin Alfredo sauce.
So if you're craving a really special, extra comfy-cozy and delicious fall-inspired meal that's also nutritious and satisfying, my turkey meatballs in pumpkin sage sauce are definitely a creative recipe to add to your dinner rotation this season.
My Turkey Meatballs in Pumpkin Sage Sauce Recipe
Turkey meatballs can sometimes get a bit of a bad wrap because they can turn out a little dry and not quite so flavorful if not treated with a little TLC.
The great news is, that they can be super moist, succulent, juicy and utterly mouthwatering if prepared with ingredients that add good flavor and moisture.
For my turkey meatballs recipe, I use fresh breadcrumbs (though panko breadcrumbs can be substituted in a pinch) that are soaked briefly in milk.
Then, I add lots of aromatic and flavorful ingredients such as very finely minced onion, garlic, fresh sage, Italian seasoning, a whole egg plus an egg yolk, as well as parmesan.
Keep in mind that when mixing the turkey meatball mixture, it's important to use a light touch to create tender meatballs, taking care to mix all of the ingredients together well, but not over working things.
To cook the turkey meatballs, I like to pan-fry them for a few moments to help create that golden-brown outer crust that provides lots of added flavor.
I prefer this method over baking the meatballs, because it just tastes better in my opinion, and even looks more appetizing.
And for that delectable pumpkin sage sauce?
It takes only minutes, because I'm using good quality, organic canned pumpkin puree (or pure pumpkin) for the sauce, with just a small handful of ingredients so it's quick and easy.
Here's a glance at my turkey meatball in pumpkin sage sauce recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I prepare my turkey meatball mixture and portion out my meatballs, then chill them for 25 minutes.
- Working in batches, I lightly sear the turkey meatballs in my skillet until golden-brown and cooked through (165° internal temp), then set them aside.
- Next, in the same skillet, I prepare my pumpkin sage sauce, then add my turkey meatballs into the sauce.
- To serve, I spoon the turkey meatballs with pumpkin sage sauce over gnocchi (our favorite!), or linguini, penne or bow tie pasta, even mashed potatoes.
Turkey Meatballs in Pumpkin Sage Sauce
by Ingrid Beer
These savory and juicy turkey meatballs in pumpkin sage sauce are a rich, delicious and warming meal brimming with fall flavors!
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 658 calories per serving
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Turkey Meatball Ingredients:
- 1 ½ cups (slightly heaping) fresh breadcrumbs (or panko breadcrumbs)
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ½ cup finely minced onion
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- 1 large whole egg plus 1 yolk
- 1 ½ pounds ground turkey (dark meat, 93/7 ratio lean to fat)
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Olive oil or avocado oil, for brushing over top and lightly frying
Pumpkin Sage Sauce Ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup finely minced onion
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 (15 ounce) can plus 1 cup organic pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt (or to your taste)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ¾ cups chicken stock
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoons chopped, fresh sage
- Fried sage leaves, optional garnish
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your turkey meatball ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare your turkey meatballs, to a large bowl add the breadcrumbs and pour over the milk. Let them sit and soak for 2 to 3 minutes. Then, add in the onion, garlic, sage, parsley, Italian seasoning, parmesan and whole egg plus yolk, and using a fork, mix the ingredients together to thoroughly combined.
- Add to this the ground turkey, plus the salt and pepper, and using a light hand, gently combine all the ingredients just until well combined. (The mixture will be very sticky and moist, this is normal.)
- Then, using a 2 tablespoon scoop, portion out your turkey meatballs, placing them onto a parchment or wax paper-lined large platter. Place the meatballs into the freezer to chill and firm for 20 to 25 minutes, as this will make working with them much easier.
- Once all the turkey meatballs have chilled, lightly wet your palms with water (or a small amount of oil), and gently and quickly roll each meatball between your palms to make them round.
- Brush a small amount of olive oil over each meatball. Then, place a large, heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat (use non-stick or cast iron for this), and drizzle in about 4 tablespoons of oil.
- Once hot, add in a batch of turkey meatballs, allowing them to sear and brown for a moment. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, then continue to cook and fry the meatballs on all sides for about 10 minutes, until cooked through (165° internal temp). Set cooked meatballs onto a clean platter to hold, and repeat with remaining turkey meatballs.
- Once the meatballs are cooked, gather and prep all of your pumpkin sage sauce ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Wipe out the skillet from frying the meatballs, and add in the ghee (or butter) and the oil. Once melted together and the skillet is hot, add in the minced onion and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes, until softened.
- Stir in the garlic and the Italian seasoning, and once aromatic, whisk in the pumpkin puree, the salt and pepper, plus the chicken stock until smooth.
- Allow the sauce to very gently simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to marry the flavors, then turn off the heat and gently whisk in the grated parmesan, the heavy cream, the maple syrup, and the chopped sage.
- Add the meatballs into the sauce and allow them to sit for few minutes just to warm them through again. Top with fried sage leaves if using, then serve the turkey meatballs with pumpkin sage sauce over your favorite accompaniment such as gnocchi, linguini, penne, bow ties, or mashed potatoes.
Tips & Tidbits for my Turkey Meatball in Pumpkin Sage Sauce recipe:
- Opt for organic, dark meat turkey for flavor and juiciness: For quality and flavor, I like to use organic ground turkey, opting for the dark meat. It has more flavor and a bit more fat than ground turkey breast, which is what keeps these meatballs juicy and succulent.
- Pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling: When purchasing pumpkin puree, opt for organic if possible, and make sure that it is pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, which contains sugar and other ingredients.
- Fry or bake your turkey meatballs: I prefer to lightly sear my turkey meatballs in a skillet, as this creates a delicious golden-brown, caramelized crust on the meatballs and that equals flavor. I just think they look and taste better, and they actually cook through quite quickly, in roughly 10 minutes. But if you prefer to bake your turkey meatballs, you can place them onto a foil-lined baking sheet, brush with oil, then bake at 400° for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°.
- Quick fried sage leaves, as an optional garnish: I like the way a few fried sage leaves look as a garnish on this dish. To prepare them, I heat about a ¼ cup of vegetable oil in a small sauce pan. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, I add my sage leaves and fry for about 20 seconds. When crisp, I remove them from the oil and place onto a paper towel to drain, and sprinkle lightly with salt.
- What to serve with turkey meatballs in pumpkin sage sauce: I like to serve these savory, fall-inspired turkey meatballs over top of mini or traditional gnocchi (super quick and easy to prep), but linguini, penne or bow tie pasta, or even mashed potatoes are terrific options.
Craving more cozy fall-inspired recipes? Check out this Butternut Squash Lasagna, this Pumpkin Soup with Buttery Sage Croutons, this Stuffed Acorn Squash, this Pumpkin Bread with Pecan Streusel, or these Pumpkin Oatmeal Cream Pies!