Slow Cooker Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs

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These Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs are gluten free and Paleo, easy to make, and packed with flavor! | Fed & Fit

These Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs are gluten free and Paleo, easy, and packed with flavor! | Fed & Fit

These easy teriyaki meatballs are healthy, delicious, and a cinch to whip up thanks to the slow-cooker!

turkey teriyaki meatballs on a bed of rice on a blue plate with a wooden serving spoon

I am so excited to bring you this gem of a recipe. I try to make sure that I'm doing a good job of rotating through various kinds of proteins here on the blog. I like to make sure that in a single month, you'll see at least one beef recipe, one chicken, one pork, one seafood, and one “other.” Of course, I double-down on a few of those (especially chicken), but the wide array of foods pleases my Nutritionist's brain. I like to think of food as one giant multi-vitamin. Though it's great when you can build yourself a colorful plate, the different foods you enjoy across several weeks are also important. It's so easy to get stuck in a chicken, or beef, or pork rut – I know it's easy to get stuck in one and stay there because I've done it! My hope is that by showcasing different proteins (and veggies) in totally different cuisines each week, it helps you stay inspired and un-bored in the kitchen. By rotating through different food groups, we really allow our bodies to take in what each unique food has to offer.

TODAY, we're diving headfirst into some turkey! While I do have a yummy (and easy) roasted turkey recipe coming your way for Thanksgiving this year, this recipe highlights *ground* turkey …which can be found pretty much anytime, all year long. These ground turkey teriyaki meatballs are the perfect easy dinner idea for busy weeknights, but are delicious and crowd-pleasing enough to feed a group (they'd make a GREAT appetizer for your next game day party) – let's get to it!

turkey teriyaki meatballs on a bed of rice on a blue plate with a wooden serving spoon

Teriyaki Meatball Ingredients

This easy recipe comes together with a few ingredients for the meatballs and a few more for the teriyaki sauce. Here's what you'll need:

For the Meatballs

As for the meatballs, we're keeping them breadcrumb-free, but still totally packed with flavor! Jot these meatball ingredients down on your grocery list:

  • Ground Turkey – to start, you’ll need 2 pounds of ground turkey. If you need to sub in ground chicken, ground beef, or ground pork, feel free! Generally, subbing one ground meat for another isn’t a big deal!

  • Panko or Breadcrumbs – we'll add 1/2 cup of panko or breadcrumbs to the meat mixture to help the meatballs stick together better.

  • Fresh Ginger – don’t let fresh ginger intimidate you! You’ll need a 1-inch piece of peeled and grated (just use a zester!) ginger here.

  • Garlic – 3 cloves of finely minced garlic will do the trick!

  • Green Onion – slice a ½ bunch of green onion and then divide your sliced onion into two piles – one will go into the meatballs and the other will be used as garnish!

  • Sea Salt + Pepper – this one’s a given! Throwing in a little salt + pepper is always a good idea.

  • Ghee – you’ll need 2 tablespoons of ghee to brown your meatballs. If you’d rather use butter or your favorite cooking oil, that works too!

  • White Sesame Seeds – a ½ teaspoon of white sesame seeds will be used as a garnish to finish off the dish!

For the Teriyaki Sauce

If teriyaki recipes are your jam and you make them on a pretty regular basis (I typically cook 1 teriyaki recipe per week over here!), then this list will be pretty standard for you. If you’re new to teriyaki/Asian-inspired flavors, you may see a few new ingredients here! One thing to note: things like fish sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil are used in pretty small amounts, but they last FOREVER, so buying an entire bottle now means that you won’t have to restock for a long while!

  • Coconut Aminos – instead of soy sauce, we’ll use 1 cup of coconut aminos as the base of our teriyaki sauce! Note that if you don't have coconut aminos on hand, you can use 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 3/4 cup of water in its place.

  • Honey – 1/4 cup of honey adds the perfect hint of sweetness to counteract the salty flavors we’ve got going here, but feel free to omit the honey if you need to.

  • Cornstarch or Arrowroot Starch – 2 tablespoons cornstarch, arrowroot, or tapioca starch will help thicken the sauce.

  • Rice Vinegar – 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar,…

  • Sesame Oil – …2 teaspoons of sesame oil,…

  • Fish Sauce – …1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce, and…

  • Red Pepper Flakes – …¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes finish off our delicious, Asian-inspired teriyaki sauce!

turkey teriyaki meatballs on a bed of rice on a blue plate with a wooden serving spoon

How to Make Teriyaki Meatballs

These slow cooker turkey teriyaki meatballs come together really easily! Here’s what you’ll need to do to bring this flavor-packed dish together in a flash:

  1. Combine the Meatball Ingredients – in a large bowl, simply smash your ground turkey, breadcrumbs, ginger, garlic, half of the green onions, salt, and pepper together. To smash, I recommend using your hands, they work better than any spoon I've ever encountered. If the thought of getting raw ground turkey .under your fingernails freaks you out, put on a pair of housecleaning (latex gloves) first.

  2. Form the Meatballs – once your turkey is well-combined, form them into about 2 tablespoon-sized balls.

  3. Brown the Meatballs – This is an optional step, but adds a lot of flavor to the meatballs if you have time for it! Simply melt 1 tablespoon of ghee, butter, or your cooking oil of choice in a large pan (or the base of your stovetop-friendly slow cooker) over medium heat, and start browning each meatball. It doesn't have to take long, just sear them until the balls really hold their shape and are a light golden brown on the outside.

  4. Make the Homemade Teriyaki Sauce – in a small bowl, whisk together the teriyaki sauce ingredients (coconut aminos, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, and red pepper flakes) to form the teriyaki sauce.

  5. Slow Cook – transfer the meatballs to the slow cooker, pour your teriyaki sauce over top, and let that wonderous Crock Pot work its magic!

  6. Serve + Enjoy!

Can these meatballs be cooked in the Instant Pot?

Sure thing! The Instant Pot is ideal for busy nights when you haven't done much prep ahead of time! To prepare these in the Instant Pot, place your ghee, butter, or cooking oil into the Instant Pot bowl and press the ‘saute' button, then place your meatballs gently into the hot ghee and saute them on all sides until they begin to brown. Be sure to shift them regularly or they may stick! While the meatballs are sauteing, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce, then pour over top the seared meatballs, secure the Instant Pot lid, and manually set the time to cook for 5 minutes. Once the time is up, quick release the pressure valve and remove the lid once safe to do so. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked meatballs, serve, and enjoy your delicious, easy meal!

What to Serve with Teriyaki Meatballs

One of the magical things about these perfect meatballs is that they can be served in a huge variety of ways! Throw them over shredded cabbage, grated carrots, and cucumber salad for lunch or a light dinner, serve them alongside simple steamed broccoli, and a bed of rice (white rice or cauliflower rice for a low-carb option), or even stuff a baked white or sweet potato with them!

turkey teriyaki meatballs on a bed of rice on a blue plate on a dark grey surface

How to Store Homemade Meatballs

These slow cooker teriyaki meatballs store best in an airtight container (these are our favorites!) in the fridge. Stored this way, they’ll last for up to 5 days. If you need them to last longer than that, or you want to make a double batch to have another meal’s worth on hand (we think that meal prep is always a great idea!), these meatballs also store great in the freezer! Reheat them in the microwave or on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet in a 350°F oven until warmed through. For more of my tips on freezing foods, check out my podcast on the topic HERE.

We hope you love these easy slow cooker teriyaki meatballs as a quick weeknight dinner…we think they'll please the whole family (even the pickiest-eaters)!

More of Our Favorite Meatball Recipes

Print

Slow Cooker Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs

These Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs are gluten free and Paleo, come together quickly

These turkey teriyaki meatballs are slow-cooked to tender perfection and covered in a deliciously sweet and sticky sauce!

  • Author: Cassy
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Asian

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup panko, breadcrumbs, or almond flour
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 bunch green onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sesame seeds

For the Sauce:

  • 1 cup coconut aminos*
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 cup honey (omit for Whole 30)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine turkey, breadcrumbs, ginger, garlic, half of the green onions, salt, and pepper.
  2. Form the ground turkey mixture into 2-inch balls.
  3. Optional browning step: In a large skillet or saute pan (or the base of your stovetop-friendly slow cooker), melt the ghee. Fry the meatballs for 2-3 minutes per side until browned, then transfer to slow cooker.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce. Pour onto the meatballs.
  5. Cook in slow cooker on high heat for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-5 hours.
  6. Garnish with sesame seeds and the remaining green onion.
  7. Serve alongside cauliflower rice or simple white rice (basmati is my favorite).

Notes

Instant Pot Version:

  1. Form your meatballs according to steps 1-2.
  2. Now place your ghee into the Instant Pot bowl and press the Saute button. Place your meatballs gently in the hot ghee and saute them on all sides until they begin to brown. Shift them regularly or they may stick.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all ingredients for sauce. Pour onto the meatballs and then secure the lid and manually set the time to cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Allow the cooking cycle to complete and then quick release the pressure valve and remove the lid once safe to do so. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove the meatballs and set them aside.
  5. Serve as stated above!

Coconut Aminos Replacement

If you don't have coconut aminos on hand, you can replace it with 1/4 cup of soy sauce or gluten-free tamari and 3/4 cup of water. Omit the fish sauce so the sauce isn't too salty!

Keywords: turkey, ground turkey, meatballs, crockpot, slow cooker, teriyaki

Comments

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  1. Gwen says:

    I promise I am not afraid of trying new things, but what would you sub for fish sauce. I’ve tried it, I promise! Multiple times! I just can’t….. 🙁

  2. Sammi says:

    I just took out 2lbs of ground beef – any suggested tweaks to the recipe if you do beef instead of turkey?

    1. Cassy says:

      No tweaks needed! Feel free to make it as written, just with beef.

  3. Belisa says:

    It’s one of the best recipes I’ve ever had in my life, I came to this site, I liked it and decided to put it into practice and it was delicious, super recommend and I ask you to continue with the beautiful and good work of you.

  4. Victoria says:

    Delicious, I really really love this recipe! I made this Sunday night to meal prep my lunches for the week and I’m sure glad I did!

  5. Lori Garvey says:

    has anyone made these in the INSTANTPOT? if so, please send along details-
    cheers!

    1. Kelly says:

      I made this in the instant pot and followed the directions in the notes. It turned out good.

  6. jennyquack says:

    To Lori (and everyone): I just made this in the instant pot. I used the meat button and it took 50 minutes total, including getting up to pressure and de-pressurizing. This is the first time I tried the ‘saute’ button, and it didn’t go so well. I tried browning the meatballs in some avocado oil and they stuck to the bottom, so I gave that up. I might not have let it get hot enough but not really sure. I also added about a 1/2 cup broth because I was worried there would not be enough liquid, but that actually diluted the sauce. =( I may try to reduce it on the stove later. The meatballs stuck together a bit, but I feared it would be one huge lump, so not so bad. I will probably try this again exactly as written, or maybe skillet to oven. Unless someone can tutor me on where I went wrong…?

  7. Emily says:

    I love this recipe!!! It’s a staple in our home. Sometimes I’m lazy and just make it in a skillet without forming the meatballs (like taco meat). The flavors are still there and it comes together so quick!

    1. Cassy says:

      I’m so glad you like it, Emily!!

  8. Stephanie Waldman says:

    can i use an instant pot? if so what do you suggest?

  9. Jennifer Jardine says:

    I’m guessing you can’t substitute soy sauce for the coconut aminos? I did and it turned out SUPER salty!

  10. Christine says:

    I made these today during my meal prep for an easy lunch this week and they turned out delicious! I didn’t have time to let them sit in the crock pot so I used my instant pot and it worked great! Browned them on the sauté setting and then cooked them on high pressure for 15 minutes with a slow/quick release and it was awesome!

  11. Kelly says:

    This was delicious even without the rice vinegar. Next time I will make sure that I have ALL my ingredients. I will definitely make this again.

  12. Danielle says:

    Loved it! Boyfriend approved too!! He said “soy sauce” was soooo good and this is coming from a gag who gags at the smell of rice vinegar raw hahaha – Cassy is my favorite recipe and lifestyle blogger by a landslide!!

  13. Sally Loeffelman says:

    Made this tonight for dinner. It is amazing! The meatballs came together quick and I cooked them in my Instant Pot. They did stick a little but didn’t take away from the flavor. I served it with cauliflower rice and green beans. This will be added to my rotation for sure. Thank you!!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So glad you loved it, Sally!!! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  14. elise cushman says:

    So easy and tasty! I use a scooper to shape the balls out and freeze them for when I need a “ no think” meal!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Great idea, Elise!! Glad you love this one!

  15. Emily S says:

    I made these last night (Instant Pot version), and I loved them! Forgot to get ginger root at the store, so I had to swap in ground ginger, but it still turned out great! My husband liked them, too, so these meatballs are definitely going into our dinner rotation.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      That’s so great to hear, Emily! We’re glad you guys enjoyed them!

  16. Lorie T says:

    Made this last night. It was really good and it was nice to see it on Instagram stories to also see the prep before making the meal. I may try with beef next time just because I like beef more than turkey. Also used cauliflower rice and that was great. I did do the Browning step and that was also worth it! Will definitely make this again!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So glad you enjoyed this one, Lorie! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  17. Kelly W. says:

    This was delicious! I made it in the Instant Pot and the meatballs did stick to the bottom as indicated in the recipe. I think next time I will brown the meatballs in a nonstick skillet on the stove top. I didn’t have any ghee, so I used olive oil. Maybe that’s why it was really sticking to the bottom of my pan?

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Oh no! I’m sorry they stuck, Kelly! We’re glad you enjoyed the flavor though!!

  18. Teresa says:

    Made these for dinner last night. So yummy and the whole family enjoyed them!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      SCORE! We’re glad they were a hit!!

  19. Stephanie says:

    I made this in the slow cooker and it was delicious! And I love being in charge of all the ingredients in the teriyaki sauce 🙂 In the slowcooker the top half of the meatballs were not submerged in the sauce, so I cut the tops off a few and fed them to my super picky preschool aged boys — and they loved it! Yay! Also, as I was in the middle of the recipe I discovered I only had one pound of ground chicken, so I combined that with one pound of ground beef. I thought that might be weird mixing the two, but it tasted great and no one seemed to notice 🙂

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      That’s so great to hear, Stephanie! We’re glad the whole family loved it!

  20. Jennifer says:

    This was a good recipe. The only thing I would say is the almond flour gave the meatballs an odd texture. I would use the breadcrumbs or nothing next time.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Thanks for sharing that with us, Jennifer!

  21. Michelle says:

    We have found our new favorite—easy to make, delicious Plus healthy—a home run in my home of teenage girls who want to look their best. I had actually forgotten about the 2 hour slow cooker time, so I made the balls & sauce, then stored them in the frig until the following night—and like magic, we had a dynamite meal! I served them over cauliflower rice since we’re all trying to loose our “quarantine 15” and zip our jeans. Thank you so much, Fed & Fit, for creating this delicious Plus Healthy Plus easy-as-pie dish!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So glad you all loved it, Michelle!

  22. Lauren Moore says:

    Congratulations to our winner, Elise! Please check your email for further instructions!

    1. Elise Cushman says:

      Thank you Lauren! I am so excited!!!

  23. Savina says:

    This was so good! We made it two weeks in a row. The only adjustments we made was not using fish sauce and we didn’t sub a thing! The other was more garlic bc we’re garlic lovers 🙂 Highly recommend!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Yay! So glad you loved it, Savina!