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Ottolenghi turkey and zucchini meatballs

5 votes, average: 4.00 out of 55 votes, average: 4.00 out of 55 votes, average: 4.00 out of 55 votes, average: 4.00 out of 55 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5


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Easy and quick

I love Ottolenghi's turkey and zucchini meatballs!

This is really an amazing dish made from very simple ingredients. But Ottolenghi does so many things so well, it is not surprising that he makes great meatballs. In all fairness, he calls them "burgers"and makes them into little disks. I use his recipe, but make them into slightly smaller golf ball-sized meatballs. The original recipe was published in Jerusalem: A Cookbook.

So versatile

You can eat these ground turkey and zucchini meatballs for dinner, for lunch, for a snack, or as part of a packed lunch. I am always looking for ways to get a little more protein for breakfast and have been know to heat up a couple leftover meatballs for breakfast. These meatballs are good warm, room temperature or even cold out of the fridge.

Nutritious and veggie-filled meatballs

Made with turkey, shredded zucchini, fresh mint, cilantro, green onions and garlic, these meatballs are a great way to sneak a few extra veggies into your family's diet.

Click to download our free e-cookbook: 15 Recipes To Make You Look Like A Star

The sauce is delicious

Ottolenghi's yogurt, sour cream and sumac sauce is a delicious accompaniment. It adds flavor and keeps the meatballs moist. Sumac can be purchased at Middle Eastern stores or here online.

Double the batch and freeze the extras

I strongly recommend doubling the recipe and freezing the extras for another meal, or snacks.

Gluten-free and paleo-friendly

The nice thing about these meatballs is there is no bread in the ingredient list, so unlike many meatballs, they are gluten-free and paleo-friendly. Skip the sauce if you are avoiding dairy.

Quick, easy and very kid-friendly

The ingredient list is a little long, but don't let it scare you off. If you use a food processor to grate the zucchini these meatballs come together very quickly.

Serve with:

I like to serve these turkey and zucchini meatballs and sauce with quick-roasted tomatoes and pita bread, but you could also serve them in lettuce cups if you are avoiding bread. The roasted tomatoes really pair well.


See my post on Meatballs - The perfect food.


Ottolenghi turkey and zucchini meatballs

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Ottolenghi’s turkey and zucchini meatballs have so much going for them. They are delicious, quick and easy, nutritious, gluten-free, economical, and suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinner and in-between. You gotta love these meatballs!

  • Author: Something New For Dinner
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 20 meatballs 1x


  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup greek yogurt
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 T sumac
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound ground turkey, dark meat
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (2 small to medium zucchinis)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground pepper
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup sunflower or canola oil


  1. Make the sauce by mixing the first 8 ingredients together. Refrigerate. Can be made a day or two in advance.
  2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the next 11 ingredients together in a bowl, mixing well with your hands. Form into golf-ball size balls.
  3. Pour oil into a skillet and heat on medium high. Working in two batches, brown meatballs, turning periodically to brown all sides. This will take about 6 minutes per batch.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line meatballs up on the baking sheet and bake for 6-7 minutes. Serve meatballs with sauce, roasted tomatoes and pita bread.








  1. Joyce Hopkins Cassel says:

    Another great recipe, i used low fat sour creme and 2% greek yogurt and the sauce was perfect!

    1. Kim says:

      So glad you liked it Joyce! Ottolenghi rarely lets you down. A friend recently made the same recipe in meatloaf format to simplify and avoid frying the meatballs. She said it turned out fabulously. I think the zucchini keeps the meatloaf moist and succulent. Zucchini in meatloaf is kind of brilliant!

  2. Casey says:

    I make these at least once a month, and last night I tried something new. When we had them for dinner, my boyfriend knew something was different (the original are simply perfect!), but he did like the variation. So, for anyone else who makes this meal as often as I do, here is a suggestion:

    1. Add shredded apples (Pink Lady’s or Fuji’s)
    2. Add shredded carrots
    3. Forget the egg, with the apples and zucchini they stay together nicely!
    4. For the sauce, just use greek yogurt, lemon juice, and sumac
    5. Bake for 15-20 minutes and skip the frying pan

    I serve mine with sweet potatoes sprinkled with cinnamon and sliced avocado on a bed or arugala. Enjoy! 😉

    1. Kim says:

      Hi Casey,

      Thank you so much for sharing your variations. I LOVE the idea of making meatballs with apples and carrots instead of the zucchini. Your methods on simplifying the recipe are also terrific. Can’t wait to try your ideas out!

  3. Gina says:

    These are delicious and fun to make! Thank you so much for this recipe. It was an awesome lunch/dinner meal for someone that needs healthy, low carb meal options.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Thank you Gina. Ottolenghi gets credit for this one!

  4. Craig D says:

    What a hit! I made sour cream from scratch, and substituted cilantro with parsley. I’ve been working my way through Ottolenghi: Simple. Glad I came across this recipe to put 4 lbs of leftover ground turkey to work. Delicious.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Craig,

      They are great aren’t they. Ottolenghi rarely lets you down. I like that the fact that they have extra veggies embedded in the meat balls.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Do you think these could be made larger and cooked on the bbq?

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Interesting question. Meatballs can be cooked on the grill, although I have not cooked these particular meatballs on the grill. I suggest you thread a few on a skewer to make a meatball kabob. Please let us know how it works out.

  6. Deb says:

    Interesting that I have made this exact recipe from a Turkish cookbook my Australian daughter in- law has had for awhile. They were excellent then and now.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      That is interesting. Ottolenghi’s recipes are inspired by a wide range of Middle Eastern cuisine.

  7. Iupi says:

    Sauce is sour and uninteresting.

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Lupi, I am sorry you didn’t care for the yogurt sauce. Any yogurt and sour cream sauce is going to be tart. Perhaps you might prefer a traditional tzatziki sauce, which is also made with yogurt, garlic and lemon, but also cucumber and mint. Or perhaps a yogurt raita? This one is made with yogurt, lots of spices, fresh herbs, chili powder, cucumber and yellow raisins, which make for a more complex sauce with tart, sweet, spicy and herbal notes. I do like a yogurt-based sauce with these meatballs because it provides both moisture and is meant to be cooling.

  8. Rinata Yaffe says:

    I followed the recipe to a “t” but replaced turkey with the vegetarian ground beef – they totally fell apart in the frypan! Added flour, not much better.
    Perhaps grated zucchini required draining but not in recipe to do so – very disappointing

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Rinata, I am so sorry you had trouble with this recipe. We have not had a problem with the meatballs falling apart as you can see from our photos. I am trying to diagnose the problem. Traditionally meatballs are made with egg and bread crumbs that act as binders to hold the meatball together. These meatballs are meant to be gluten-free so shredded zucchini is used instead of breadcrumbs. I don’t drain my shredded zucchini, so I don’t think that was the problem, unless you rinsed it and the zucchini was wet when you mixed it in. My thought is that the problem could have been in one of three steps. 1) Mixing the meatball ingredients. Did you mix them by hand so that the ingredients were well integrated? 2) Forming the meatballs. The mixture is a little wet and needs a little extra attention when forming the meatballs. I squeeze the meatballs multiple times to shape them. 3) Transferring them to the pan. Take a little extra care when you put the meatballs into the hot oil, lowering them in with a spatula one-by-one. You mentioned adding flour. Some people like to roll their meatballs in flour before frying them. That would be a possibility if you don’t care about the meatballs being gluten free. Or you could add some bread crumbs to help them bind together. I hope this helps!

      1. Kim Pawell says:

        Note: In further discussions with Rinata we determined that it was likely the “vegetarian ground beef” that caused the meatballs to fall apart. Plant-based artificial meat does not perform like real meat.

  9. Dominique says:

    Thank you for posting. The recipes were both incredible. Like Renata mine also were impossible to make round but I think my problem is that I ground the turkey for way too long in the food processor. I added breadcrumbs and just went along with it. Still no round shape but absolutely delicious! Thank you!

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed them. The turkey mixture is very wet, so it takes some care to form the meat balls. I think Ottolenghi actually forms his into little logs.

  10. Gloria says:

    These are wonderful done in the air fryer. Fantastic

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      I love that idea. Thank you for the tip!

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