Spiced with chili powder, cumin and cilantro, these southwestern gluten-free turkey meatballs can be served with salsa, tomato sauce or romesco. They are an easy dairy-free weeknight dinner made completely on a sheet pan in the oven, and can be adapted to be egg-free or low FODMAP!
In my new cookbook CARBIVORE, I share a lot of methods for making gluten-free meatballs. I have a few go-to formulas that can be applied to any flavor or meat base, including these ground turkey gluten-free meatballs.
A classic Italian meatball will use either dried breadcrumbs or stale torn bread soaked in milk (the Marcella Hazan technique), egg, and usually a good helping of shredded parmesan to help the meat mixture stay together when pan-fried.
For those who don’t really tolerate any of these things: don’t worry. I’ve made gluten-free and dairy-free meatballs a half dozen different ways and they always turn out fantastic.
One way to make gluten-free meatballs with ease is simple to bake them on a sheet-pan in the oven instead of trying to cook them stove-top. If you don’t have to flip or disturb them, you really give the binder an ability to do its job.
In these gluten-free beef meatballs and these classic Italian gluten-free chicken meatballs, my binder of choice is ground whole oats. They add more fiber and nutrients than regular gluten-free breadcrumbs and essentially disappear in the balls. Since they are fairly dry, this technique works best with egg.
But my second favorite option, and the one I use in this gluten-free turkey meatball recipe, is chia seeds. When combined with liquid, chia seeds soak up the moisture and become plump and gelatinous. If you’ve had chia pudding or made gluten-free overnight oats with the addition of these super seeds, you know what I mean.
The chia seeds work wonderfully with egg for this reason. It’s just enough liquid to plump them and they melt away in the oven, while keeping all their nutrients and fiber in the mix.
Making gluten-free egg-free turkey meatballs
If you’re egg-free there are plenty of work arounds that work well with the chia seeds. One of my go-to’s that I use in these gluten-free ground turkey burgers, is thawed frozen spinach. You want to get most of the moisture out, but the greens will still retain enough water to plump up the chia seeds, plus you’ll get the added plant power in your gluten-free turkey meatballs.
The same trick could be done with shredded zucchini and chia seeds, which is the technique I use in my low FODMAP turkey meatball recipe in my book SIBO Made Simple.
How to freeze gluten-free turkey meatballs
Meatballs are a terrific option to freeze for later. Simply transfer them to an airtight container. You can separate the rows with parchment if you want to avoid sticking. If you have room, you can always transfer the parchment-lined sheet pan directly to the freezer, then pop the balls into a container once already frozen.
How to make Low FODMAP meatballs
Since this recipe is already gluten-free and dairy-free, you’re halfway there on the low FODMAP front. Simply omit the garlic and onion, and you’ll be set. Since there is chili powder, cumin and cilantro, they will be sufficiently flavorful.
How to serve these gluten-free southwestern meatballs
Since these gluten-free meatballs are flavored with warming Mexican-inspired spices, you can be creative with how you serve them. I love adding them to a grain bowl with rice, avocado and salsa on top. But you can also serve them the traditional way tossed in gluten-free tomato sauce over spaghetti.
My gluten-free romesco sauce, made from a jar of roasted red peppers, is also a quick and easy option that doesn’t require any cooking. It can easily be made low FODMAP too.
Lastly, if ground turkey isn’t your thing, you can easily substitute ground chicken (try to find dark meat), ground beef, or even ground lamb. As you can see in this gluten-free lamb meatball recipe, cumin and lamb are an excellent combo.
More gluten-free meatball recipes:
- Sheet Pan Paleo Low FODMAP Meatballs with Root Vegetables
- Ginger-Sesame Low FODMAP Meatballs
- IKEA-Style Swedish Gluten-Free Vegan Meatballs
- Easy Chicken Tikka Masala Gluten-Free Meatballs
- Gluten-Free Vegetarian Meatballs with Quinoa
Read on for these southwestern turkey gluten-free meatballs!
With health and hedonism,
Southwestern Gluten-Free Turkey Meatballs
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- To medium mixing bowl, add the turkey, egg, chia seeds, cilantro, salt, smoked paprika, cumin and chili powder. With clean hands, mix the turkey until well combined, making sure not to overly break apart the meat. Allow the mixture to rest for at least 10 minutes at room temperature, or longer in the fridge, to give the chia seeds time to activate.
- Form the meat into roughly 16 equal balls, about 2 tablespoons of meat in each (I like using an ice cream scoop to portion). Arrange on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven until lightly browned on top and cooked through, about 25 minutes.
- Serve the meatballs warm over your favorite gluten-free pasta, zoodles, rice or all by themselves “naked” with salsa, romesco sauce, or kicked up marinara on top.