I’m sure meatballs aren’t the first thing you think of when you are looking for gluten free options, but surprisingly they are incredibly easy to make gluten free! These healthy turkey meatballs are going to be your go to gluten-free meatballs. Other than forming them, they are pretty hands off too because you cook them in the slow cooker. So here we go Slow Cooker Gluten free Turkey Meatballs! Be sure to bookmark this one for later 🙂
Slow Cooker Gluten Free Turkey Meatballs Tips and Tricks
Although you’re making these in the slow cooker, I like to brown them first. My favorite way to do this is in a skillet with olive oil. If you are just using the slow cooker to keep them warm and prefer to bake your meatballs, you could do that on parchment paper and then place them in the slow cooker for later. You aren’t going to be cooking them the whole way through in the skillet. This is just for browning.
You want to use a large skillet so that they have plenty of room. A crowded skillet will lead to steamed meatballs instead of browned. A well seasoned cast iron skillet will get you awesome results.
The meatballs will reach their internal temperature of about 165-170 degrees in the slow cooker just fine. This is for that golden brown exterior. You’ll gently place meatballs into the slow cooker with the sauce where they will finish cooking. This is such an easy dinner because you front load the prep and then walk away!
One major tip I have for the meat mixture is not to over mix. I usually mix all the ingredients except the turkey in the large bowl before I add the meat. When I do add the meat I just use my hands and give it a quick mix. Over mixing makes for tough meatballs. Make sure you’re using a large mixing bowl so you can mix well.
The parmesan cheese should be real deal parmesan cheese. Don’t be using the stuff in the can. It will be far too salt and some have gluten in them to prevent the mixture from caking. If you truly want gluten-free turkey meatballs, all of your ingredients need to be gluten free.
Gluten Free Meatballs Substitutions/Variations
Gluten free breadcrumbs are pricey, so I’ve opted for oats in this recipe. All you have to do is be sure the oats are certified gluten free. I find that they make for a fluffier meatball that actually holds together. I use this trick for meatloaf as well. If you prefer bread crumbs feel free to use whichever ones you enjoy.
These are simply seasoned with Italian Seasoning, but a nice addition would be garlic powder, onion powder and/or oregano. If you don’t have Italian seasoning for your meatballs, these are great substitutions! Fresh basil would also be a nice addition.
I also call for jarred pasta sauce to keep this simple. Feel free however to make your own tomato sauce or use your pasta sauce of choice. The sauce here is a matter of taste!
Turkey keeps things very lean, but ground chicken or ground pork are great too. Lean ground beef is a another nice alternative. Don’t stress about it, but do be sure you use a ground meat with a moderate amount of fat. Too little fat and you get dry meatballs. This is why I advise against lean ground turkey. Too much fat and they fall apart and don’t taste very good.
I recommend a corn and rice blend pasta. In terms of gluten free these tastes close to the real deal for me. Gluten-free pasta is known for falling apart, so be sure to cook it according to the package directions and do not over cook it! You could also use zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
Storing Leftover Meatballs
These slow cooker gluten free meatballs are a great idea for meal prep. This recipe is a great source of protein. They will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days and they even freeze well for up to 3 months. This is a great way to prep ahead!
Just toss your raw meatballs in a freezer bag after you make them up. The night you want to serve, brown them and then toss them in the slow cooker to finish up.
Meals to make with Meatballs
Meatballs aren’t just for spaghetti anymore. Meatball subs are an awesome way to enjoy, meatball sliders and honestly on their own along with a salad. One of my favorite ways to enjoy meatballs is with spaghetti squash in the fall.
While this recipe in particular is for Italian Turkey Meatballs, you can switch up the seasonings and sauce to suit whatever your tastes may be. This is a great base recipe and if you aren’t gluten free feel free to use any oats or those regular bread crumbs.
Equipment Needed for this Recipe
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I love this slow cooker. It’s a great price point and has never let me down! It also has that fabulous feature where the lid locks down in case you want to take it with you!
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I really hope you make this super simple family recipe If you happen to have those in your family who are following a gluten-free diet, it can be daunting to feed everyone. Recipes like this have simple pantry ingredients that make everyone happy. Your comments, ratings, reviews and shares help support Freshfitkitchen.com and I truly appreciate it!
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Post Updated on 10/3/23
Slow Cooker Gluten Free Turkey Meatballs
- 1 lb. Lean Ground Turkey I recommend 93% Lean. I don't recommend the 99% fat free.
- 1/3 cup Quick Cooking Oats If you are Celiac use certified gluten free.
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 2 tsp. dried italian seasoning I recommend McCormicks
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Optional
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 cups Pasta Sauce I like Rao's Brand. Use your favorite and watch for added sugars.
- 1 lb. Gluten Free Penne There are lots of options for gluten free pasta. The one I use is a corn and rice blend and it's very close to regular pasta.
- In a large bowl mix together the ground turkey, oats, egg, Parmesan Cheese, Dried Italian Seasoning, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and milk. Roll into 1.5 inch balls.
- In a skillet heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil. If you have a slow cooker or an Instant Pot where you can saute first, you can brown the meatballs right there. If not, use a skillet. Brown the outside of the meatballs. They do not need to be cooked through.
- When all the meatballs are browned, transfer them a slow cooker. Pour over your favorite pasta sauce. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
- I have an Instant Pot and I use the saute/slow cook function for this recipe. I have not pressure cooked this recipe yet, but when I do, I'll make an update.