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Foodie Friday: Kid-Friendly Lemon Herb Turkey Meatballs

Food & Drink >

This week’s Foodie Friday focuses on a kid-friendly recipe that even the most finicky of tots can enjoy. Both I and our resident food expert Patrick are parents to 1.5 year olds, and as many of you parents out there know, finding meals that the whole family can enjoy together can be challenging at this age.

As a first time parent, this stage in development has introduced my wife and I to many new challenges:  my boy is getting more active and therefore more prone to minor disasters. Valuables are going on higher and higher shelves, scraped knees are becoming commonplace, and tantrums are getting louder and more dramatic. Another recent development has been a sudden pickyness when it comes to food. Every day it’s an experiment on what’s he’s going to eat. So, for this week’s recipe, Patrick is sharing a recipe that his toddler loves every time and one that parents can enjoy as well.

I, personally, love using turkey instead of beef for meatballs. It’s lighter, healthier, and I think has more flavor when mixed with Italian herbs. In fact, I substitute turkey every time I make a bolognese, lasagna or any other recipe that calls for beef. Who would have thought that lowering your cholesterol would be so delicious? This is a great recipe and can be made in advance, so all you have to do is heat it up for a quick meal for the family.

We also are featuring three events in California, Massachusetts and New York that teach your children about cooking and eating healthier food.

If you’re dying to find alternatives to cheese sticks, crackers and juice, look no further. Patrick has thrown together a great recipe and found three great events that will teach your kids more about cooking and get them headed on the right track to a healthier life.


Lemon Herb Turkey Meatballs

These meatballs are mild for toddler pallets, but flavorful enough that parents love them too. Lean turkey is a healthy alternative to red meat or pork and the meatball form is a mess free way to feed the kids. Serve with potato or pasta. Add some grated zucchini or carrots to the sauté and you’ve got all 4 food groups in one dish. Thyme can also be used instead of the rosemary if you prefer.
1 medium onion diced small

2 large cloves garlic minced

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, basil or a blend of your favorite herbs.

1 pound ground turkey breast

3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 ½ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon butter

black pepper to taste if desired



Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil. Add 1 tablespoon fresh herbs and lemon zest. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and gently mix in turkey, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper until combined. Use a generous 2 tablespoons each to shape the mixture into 12 meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Place flour in a shallow dish and roll the meatballs in it to lightly coat. (Reserve the remaining flour.)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add meatballs and cook, turning once, until brown, 3 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

To deglaze, add 1/2 cup broth to the pan, increase heat to medium-high and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until almost evaporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Add remaining broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and return the meatballs to the pan along with the remaining fresh herbs. Cover and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to a serving bowl.

Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 1 cup, 4 to 8 minutes. Whisk lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the reserved flour in a small bowl; whisking constantly, add the flour mixture to the sauce along with butter and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer, whisking, until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the sauce over the meatballs.


Want your kids to learn more about cooking? Here are some fun looking cooking events for parents and kids on the Brown Paper Tickets website:

Saturday, August 25 | Back To School Cooking ClassHastings on Hudson, New York

Wednesday, August 29 | KITCHEN KIDSPasadena, California

Saturday, September 8 | Ewww! Gwoss! Cooking Local Veggies with your ChildrenSomerville, Massachusetts