That’s a Spicy Meatball: Buffalo Turkey-Zucchini Meatball Recipe

Happy Sunday, friends! Hopefully the weekend brought you some well-deserved relaxation with a side of fun. We got rained out of our original farmer’s market-then nature trails plan yesterday, so we rolled with the punches and hit a movie instead. Those who know us well know me and the husband love going to the movies. Its kind of our thing. We saw a movie called Ex Machina, which was all about Artificial Intelligence and had some cool twists.  As for today, just the usual Sunday antics: dog-walking, errand-running, lounging, and of course a little meal planning. We’ll be hitting the gym in the afternoon/early evening, so I am being proactive about dinner by making a little something in the crockpot- Buffalo Turkey-Zucchini Meatballs! It’s a fun little twist on the classic meatball, in more ways than one. I love adding shredded zucchini to chicken or turkey meatballs to help keep them moist. With lean meats that need to be cooked all the way through, its awfully easy to dry them out. Instead of loading them up with eggs & lots of breadcrumb, its zucchini to the rescue. This is also a great way to stretch a buck! Let’s be honest, meat can get expensive. By bulking it up with veggies (I also love to add steamed spinach or grated carrots), you help stretch your protein and get the added benefit of fiber & vitamins. Also, it’s no secret we love spicy food in this house, so of course it has a buffalo twist.

As you’ll see from the recipe below, these can be made on the stove top for quicker preparation, or transferred over to a crockpot after browning for hands-free cooking. We’ll serve ours on a bed of spinach with some brown rice (Tip: I’m cooking a big batch today to have on hand all week).

Buffalo Turkey-Zucchini Meatballs


For the Meatballs

  • 1 (1 1/4 lb) pkg lean ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1/2 1 large squash)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce (or coconut aminos or soy sauce)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • For the Buffalo Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp butter (or coconut oil or olive oil)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 c buffalo sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/4-1/2 c Greek yogurt (not fat-free), depending on desired heat
  • ~ 2 tbsp olive oil for cooking
  • Brown rice, pasta, or zucchini noodles for serving



  • Remove all moisture from zucchini by placing it in a clean kitchen towel (or cheese clothe) and squeezing well.
  • Combine all ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl, and mix well to combine.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, then brown meatballs on all sides, about 3-5 minutes, working in batches in necessary. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • At this point, these can be finished in one of two ways: 1) to make them on the stovetop, simply see below. 2) If you’d like to finish these off in the crockpot for hands-free cooking, heat your crockpot on low. Melt the better or oil in the crockpot, then whisk in your hot sauce & yogurt {*see note below}. Add in meatballs; toss to coat; cook on low 3-4 hours.
  • In the same skillet, melt the butter or oil. Add garlic and sautee until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add hot sauce, the yogurt, whisking continuously until well combined. (*note: The amount of yogurt will depend on how spicy you like it. Dairy tames the heat of spicy foods, so add more or less to your liking, tasting as you go.)Add meatballs back to the pan, tossing to coat, then simmer for about 15 minutes until cooked through.
  • Serve with brown rice, your favorite pasta, or zucchini noodles.
Just look at those beautiful flecks of zucchini!

Just look at those beautiful flecks of zucchini!

This recipe is super versatile, so feel free to mix it up. Add some pesto or fresh basil to meatball mix, and serve with marinara; add a little ginger & fish sauce, then serve with a coconut-curry sauce. The options are endless, and I can’t wait to hear what you creative cooks come up with!

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