Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles on www.virginiawillis.com

Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles

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Healthy Turkey Meatballs: Keto-Friendly, No-Salt, and Perfect for Weeknight Summer Supper

Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles on www.virginiawillis.com

Summer is great for grilling and barbecues, but in the height of summer when it’s as hot as blue blazes, it’s nice to lighten things up with fresh flavors, more vegetables, and lighter proteins. (Hey, you’ve gotta balance out all all those racks of ribs!) Ground turkey is a go-to in my kitchen. It’s incredibly adaptable, making it an easy choice for weeknight dinners. Not to mention, it can be the base for almost any kind of cuisine. I use it for meatballs, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, tacos, burgers, and more. There are few limitations to what you can do with a package of ground turkey. It’s also one of the most affordable proteins out there, so if you see it on sale or a “BOGO”, you can easily store it in the freezer — it will keep for about three months.

Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles on www.virginiawillis.com

Seasoning Blend

Seasoning blends are like having an ace up the sleeve in the kitchen and can be helpful for making good food, fast. It’s just as simple as giving a shake from one container, not a handful. It’s no secret I am a huge fan of Tony Chachere’s Seasoning Blend. I grew up in Louisiana and my Mama always had a container in her pantry. I grew up eating Seafood and Duck Gumbo, Chicken and Tasso Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, and Crawfish Étouffée — all lovingly prepared with a hearty dose of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning Blend.

Last year, the entire family became big fans of the Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend when I developed these Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso. Salt is an essential part of a balanced diet. However, too much salt can be detrimental. Sodium causes water retention, which puts extra pressure on your blood vessels and forces your heart to work harder to pump blood. It only make sense to use salt wisely, and when you can use a great no salt or reduced salt blend, I say go for it! 

Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles on www.virginiawillis.com

Zippy Zip Zip

The ingredients in the Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning include brown sugar, onion, garlic, chili pepper, bell pepper, lemon powder, paprika, and other spices. It’s slightly less spicy than their traditional Creole Seasoning Blend. And, while it certainly can be used as a Creole spice blend, the No Salt version is tremendously adaptable and can be used in recipes other than Creole.

Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles on www.virginiawillis.com

Pucker Up

A burst of lemon make the flavors pop! Using lemon juice and lemon zest is a great way to enhance flavor in food, especially if you are trying to reduce the sodium content.  With this in mind, I wanted to amp up the fresh lemon zest and herbs to create layers of bright flavor for my weeknight summer supper.

Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles on www.virginiawillis.com

Rack ’em!

If you can, I suggest you bake these meatballs on a wire rack above a foil-lined baking sheet. A stainless steel rack is one of the most useful tools in the kitchen. Sure, it’s great for cooling cookies, but it’s equally useful when heating things up! When you cook meat or vegetables on a rack it allows the hot air to circulate evenly around the food. I prefer this to standing over a sizzling skillet and having to cook the meatballs in batches. That makes me hot just thinking about it.

Oodles of Zoodles

Ok — so zoodles look like pasta, but aren’t pasta, don’t taste like pasta, and will never ever replace the luxurious seduction of actual pasta bathed in extra virgin olive oil and doused in parmesan. But, pasta can be heavy and too filling, especially in the summer. (See oil and cheese.) Don’t let the summer’s bounty of zucchini spiral out of control — spiralize it instead! If it am busy, I admit to purchasing already prepared zoodles. If you do the same, make sure to tip them into a colander to remove excess liquid.

turkey meatballs with zoodles on www.virginiawillis.com

Keep it Simple

Zoodles will fall apart if cooked in water. They simply need a minute or two in a hot skillet. In summer, zucchini and tomatoes are a perfect marriage of flavors. A quick toss in the pan with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and herbs with ripe and juicy tomato is all that’s needed. Once the meatballs are cooked through it’s just as simple as combining them with the wilted zoodles and tomato, topped of course, with another fresh sprinkling of Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy this recipe for Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles as much as we did!

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Virginia Willis

Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles

Tony Chachere's Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles

Healthy, lean ground turkey is combined with No Salt seasoning and served with crisp zucchini zoodles, lemon, herbs, and fresh cherry tomatoes.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Servings: 4


  • ½ sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped, divided
  • 2 teaspoons Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning, more for serving
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 medium zucchini, cut into noodles with a spiralizer or 32 ounces prepared zucchini zoodles
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Handful whole flat-leaf parsley leaves, for serving
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving


  • Heat the oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set an ovenproof rack on top. (If you don’t have a rack you can skip it and cook the meatballs on the foil, parchment paper, or a nonstick silicone baking mat. The rack simply allows the meatballs to cook more evenly.) Spray the rack or the foil with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Place 
the onions in a ramekin or microwave-safe bowl and microwave
 on medium power until soft and translucent, about 45 seconds. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the turkey, onion, chopped parsley, 1 clove of garlic, Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning, and lemon zest. Stir to combine with a rubber spatula. (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-ounce ice cream scoop or a tablespoon measure, scoop out the meat mixture. The meatballs should be about the size of a walnut. Place onto the prepared rack. Repeat until all the meat mixture is used. (You should have 24 turkey meatballs.)
  • 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.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini zoodles, remaining clove of garlic, and halved tomatoes. Cook until just tender and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid. Add the cooked turkey meatballs and parsley leaves; toss to coat. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Disclaimer: When there’s an appropriate mutually beneficial opportunity I partner for sponsored blog posts. In full disclosure, I was provided product to work with by Tony Chachere’s for recipe development and compensated for this blog post and its social media promotion.

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Please note that this post may contain affiliate links.

Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 2 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

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