Buffalo Meatballs are a glorious marriage of two of America’s favorite football foods — meatballs and wings. What’s not to love? Finger food, bite-size nibbles, and casual entertaining go hand in sticky hand. Are these Baked Turkey Buffalo Meatballs the same as butter-soaked, hot sauce-drenched, deep-fried Buffalo Chicken Wings? Well, no. No, they are not. Let’s not kid ourselves. Are they good? Yes! I guarantee this recipe mashup-makeover for Baked Turkey Buffalo Meatballs will “scratch that itch.” Read on for more about “delayed gratification” and making it work for you.
Recipe Makeover for Meatballs
Whenever I have a hankering for something super-indulgent like a double cheeseburger, wings, or nachos I will first try to delay that urge with a recipe makeover. I’ll go for a turkey burger, air-fried chicken tenders, and baked tortilla chip nachos.
Often, that switch will “scratch the itch” and abate my craving. If I can’t trick my mind, then eventually I go ahead and satisfy my urge with the real deal. This is why I call it “delayed gratification.” However, the good news is that often, my plan works and I’m satisfied with the healthier version.
My eating habits revolve around the fact that food has to taste good. Who wants sad food? Nobody. Healthy food, healthier food, or even healthyish food does NOT have to taste sad or boring.
The same mind game bait-and-switch philosophy is what inspired these Buffalo Turkey Meatballs. They’re so good, you won’t miss those fatty wings! The recipe can be easily doubled and, unlike wings, they can be easily made ahead and reheated.
In these Buffalo Turkey Meatballs, I sub the super grain quinoa in place of breadcrumbs. Quinoa is a complete protein containing all eight essential amino acids. It’s light and fluffy in texture but has that whole-grain power to help fill you up. I’m not against bread or gluten-free; subbing out quinoa makes the meatballs more nutritionally dense and better for you.
The other big swap is ditching the blue cheese dipping sauce. Simply sprinkle the blue cheese crumbles on top. You’ll get the flavor with a lot less fat and calories. And, it looks great on the plate. (If you love the buffalo-blue cheese combo, check out my recipe makeover for Buffalo Chicken Dip. Lawd.)
Check out my video on how to make Buffalo Turkey Meatballs — and what this awesome recipe has to do with #LoveYourself
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Bon Appétit Y’all!
PS Need a dessert recipe for the weekend? It’s better-for-you baking! Check out my Lower Fat Carrot Cake in AARP.
Buffalo Turkey Meatballs
- For the Buffalo Hot Sauce:
- 1/2 cup hot pepper sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- For the Meatballs:
- 1 pound ground turkey breast
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 tablespoons reserved Buffalo Hot Sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Baby carrots and celery sticks for serving
- Blue cheese crumbles for serving
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a cooking rack. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a small bowl combine the hot pepper sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder. Reserve 2 teaspoons of sauce. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the ground turkey, quinoa, onion, reserved hot sauce, and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper. (To taste and adjust for seasoning, simply cook a teaspoon or so of the mixture in the microwave.)
- To form the meatballs, using a 1/2-ounce ice cream scoop or a tablespoon measure, scoop out the meat mixture and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the meat mixture is used up.
- Transfer to the oven and cook until firm and the temperature reads 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. (These can be made ahead up to this point and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
- Using a spatula, transfer the meatballs a large bowl. Drizzle with enough Buffalo Hot Sauce to coat. Stir to combine. Serve immediately with toothpicks or skewers, baby carrots, celery, blue cheese crumbles, and remaining hot sauce on the side.
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