Apple Butter Crockpot Turkey Meatballs

Looking for a party meatball that's a little bit healthier? Try these ground turkey and apple butter crockpot meatballs to lighten things up.

Here’s the thing about healthy eating; sometimes it’s just not all that great. Sorry y’all, just being honest. For my final #RecipeMakeover recipe, I was determined to make a healthier crockpot meatball recipe. One with far less fat and more flavor, that would be destined to become a favorite Crockpot Monday recipe. Well, I accomplished one of those things at least. These ground turkey meatballs certainly have less fat than most other cocktail meatballs. Who would have thought I would end up remaking my own recipe for #RecipeMakeover week?

So what went wrong? Well, first of all, I bought ground turkey breast instead of just ground turkey meat, which really wasn’t the smartest idea. Without any fat at all in the meatballs, they were pretty gosh darn dry. I’m not talking kinda dry either, those little suckers were dryer than the Sierra Desert on a July one hundred twenty degree afternoon during a thirty-year drought. They were absolutely awful ya’ll.

To make matter worse, I’m also pretty sure that I could have gotten by without using so many steel-cut oats in the mixture as well. Adding too many of them sucked any moisture out of the meatballs that might have actually been there to begin with. If I could do things all over again, I would definitely add half the amount and swap in finely shredded carrots instead, which would help to plump the meatballs up a bit.

What else was wrong? Well, let’s just say that there’s a good reason to toss a bottle of beer into a pot of meatballs. It makes them all happy happy, adds to the flavor, and also helps everything come together. While trying to develop a healthier meatball recipe, I nixed the beer and with it a lot of the flavor. Instead, I added water, which was a big mistake. I would have been much better off adding apple juice, chicken stock, or just giving in and pouring a bottle of beer into the mix.

Why even share this recipe? Well, first of all, I’m not sharing my exact recipe with all of its flaws. No way, no how, not happening. What you’ll find below is the recipe to make these meatballs without them being little round bricks of dried nothingness. In all honesty though, I’d ditch the ground turkey in favor of ground pork or ground Italian sausage, add a bit of hot sauce, and most certainly pour in a beer. Beer makes everything better.

Looking for a party meatball that's a little bit healthier? Try these ground turkey and apple butter crockpot meatballs to lighten things up.

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

  • 2 Pounds Ground Turkey
  • 1/4 Cup Steel-Cut Oats
  • 1 Carrot, Peeled & Grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley
  • 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

Sauce:

  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, Peeled & Finely Diced
  • 1 Medium Sweet Yellow Onion, Peeled & Finely Diced
  • 1 Cup Apple Butter
  • 1 Cup Apple Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Looking for a party meatball that's a little bit healthier? Try these ground turkey and apple butter crockpot meatballs to lighten things up.

Directions:

Meatballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the meatball ingredients with your hands in a large bowl until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Use a cookie scoop to measure out even amounts of ground turkey and then use your hands to roll each scoop into a meatball.
  4. Place the meatballs on a large baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.

Sauce:

  1. Add all of the sauce ingredients to a crockpot and stir to combine.
  2. Gently fold the cooked meatballs into the sauce.
  3. Bake for 8 hours on low.

Looking for a party meatball that's a little bit healthier? Try these ground turkey and apple butter crockpot meatballs to lighten things up.

Suggestions:

  • Do not overwork the meatball mixture or the meatballs will become tough.
  • Using a cookie scoop to measure out the meatball mixture ensures that the meatballs are all roughly the same size.
  • If you don’t have steel-cut oats on hand, you can replace them with quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats. The steel-cut oats merely lend extra texture.
  • Do not use ground turkey breast in this recipe, use ground turkey instead. It has a little more fat and will help lend extra moisture to the meatballs.
  • If you plan on making these meatballs during the work week, bake the meatballs the evening before to save time.

Looking for a party meatball that's a little bit healthier? Try these ground turkey and apple butter crockpot meatballs to lighten things up.

Improvements:

  • Add a few teaspoons of hot sauce to the meatball mixture.
  • Replace the apple juice with a bottle of beer instead.
  • Swap out the ground turkey in this recipe for ground pork or ground Italian sausage.

Apple Butter Crockpot Turkey Meatballs

Apple Butter Crockpot Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients:

    Meatballs:
  • 2 Pounds Ground Turkey
  • 1/4 Cup Steel-Cut Oats
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley
  • 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • Sauce:
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, Peeled & Finely Diced
  • 1 Medium Sweet Yellow Onion, Peeled & Finely Diced
  • 1 Cup Apple Butter
  • 1 Cup Apple Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Directions:

    Meatballs:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the meatball ingredients with your hands in a large bowl until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Use a cookie scoop to measure out even amounts of ground turkey and then use your hands to roll each scoop into a meatball.
  4. Place the meatballs on a large baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Sauce:
  7. Add all of the sauce ingredients to a crockpot and stir to combine.
  8. Gently fold the cooked meatballs into the sauce.
  9. Bake for 8 hours on low.
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I’ll be joining the Fiesta Friday Link Party and the Weekend Potluck today. Head on over to see what everyone else is bringing to the celebration.

Don’t forget to enter the #RecipeMakeover giveaway this week for your chance to win over $200 in prizes. Click HERE to find out more information.

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  • thenotsocreativecook

    I love meatballs and of course, the sauce! I haven’t tried any sauce with apples and this looks like something I need to try. Thanks for linking up to this week’s Fiesta Friday party, Colleen! Have fun! 😉

    • Thanks for stopping by…the apples were a great addition. I’m really looking forward to playing around with this recipe to get it perfect!

  • Wendy Klik

    I love reading your posts Colleen….I feel like I say that every time! Maybe old fashioned oats instead of steel cut? The sauce sounds amazing though.

    • Thanks Wendy! I plan on working on this one to get it right. I’m using panko next time.

  • I really need to try making meatballs in my crockpot! I think I still have some apple butter left somewhere! *-*

    • Crockpot meatballs are always a treat, especially when they are juicy and packed with loads of flavor!