These easy teriyaki meatballs are healthy, delicious, and a cinch to whip up thanks to the slow-cooker!
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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!
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!
How to Make
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:
- 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.
- Form the Meatballs – once your turkey is well-combined, form them into about 2 tablespoon-sized balls.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slow Cook – transfer the meatballs to the slow cooker, pour your teriyaki sauce over top, and let that wonderous Crock Pot work its magic!
- 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!
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)!
Slow Cooker Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs
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
- In a large bowl, combine turkey, breadcrumbs, ginger, garlic, half of the green onions, salt, and pepper.
- Form the ground turkey mixture into 2-inch balls.
- 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.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce. Pour onto the meatballs.
- Cook in slow cooker on high heat for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-5 hours.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and the remaining green onion.
- Serve alongside cauliflower rice or simple white rice (basmati is my favorite).
- Form your meatballs according to steps 1-2.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve as stated above!