Turkey meatballs in tomato & fennel sauce

Turkey meatballs in tomato & fennel sauce

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(54 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 25 mins


Serves 4
This quick, tasty and economical supper is a healthy way of getting the family fed

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal216
  • fat8g
  • saturates1g
  • carbs12g
  • sugars6g
  • fibre2g
  • protein26g
  • salt0.46g
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  • 400g turkey mince
  • 25g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 1 onion, chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 1 carrot, diced



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
    Fennel seeds

    Fennel seeds

    feh-nell seeds

    A dried seed that comes from the fennel herb, fennel seeds look like cumin seeds, only greener,…

  • 400g can chopped tomatoes



    A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…

  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g spaghetti, cooked, to serve


  1. Put the mince in a mixing bowl with the breadcrumbs and half the garlic. Season and mix well to combine. Using your hands, shape the mixture into 12 balls, then chill for 10 mins.

  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add the onion, carrot and remaining garlic. Cook for 5-6 mins until softened. Add the fennel seeds and cook for a few secs. Tip in the tomatoes with half a can of water, then stir in the tomato purée. Season and simmer for 15 mins until thickened. Using an electric hand blender, whizz until roughly smooth.

  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the meatballs for 8-10 mins until cooked through. Transfer to the sauce and simmer until piping hot. Serve with spaghetti.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Powerserge100's picture
3rd Nov, 2019
My kids really enjoyed this. For added interest, I used chopped fresh fennel as well as onions and carrots suggested. I also deglased the turkey meatball pan with a splash of white wine, and added the resulting sauce to the tomato mix. I also found it easier to transfer the tomato and vegetable sauce to a separate deep container before blending rather than doing it in the pan and splattering the walls. But this is just common sense I guess. Some of the posts here are moaning about the calorific element of the spaghetti. Using less pasta and switching to wholegrain will help improve the healthiness of this meal obvs.
22nd Jan, 2018
I loved this dish - the fennel is the ingredient that makes it so special.
20th Jan, 2016
I'd like to know which spaghetti this recipe is based on - how can the meal be 216 Calories in 1 serving when 100g of spaghetti is approx 356Kcal? I use myfitness pal and when I have imported this recipe it come back with 500+ calories.
3rd Jul, 2015
I agree with some there was not enough seasoning looking at the original recipe so I tailored this by adding a beaten egg to the mince, tsp cumin, tsp parika, tsp ground fennel, tsp of cayenne sprinkle of cinnamon. I also added glug of wine to the sauce. We loved this and agreed we will be doing this again.
Mazi's picture
27th May, 2015
Handy midweek meal. I followed the recipe however made some additions as previous comments noted it was bland. Used an egg to bind the meat balls & seasoned with salt, pepper, fresh basil, fresh rosemary, paprika & parsley. Added 1 birds eye chilli to the sauce with extra garlic. Turned out very nice!
24th Nov, 2014
Add grana padano to the meatballs with double garlic. Thigh mince is twice as nice. Add fresh thyme and dried oregano, with a splash of red wine. Don't over - engineer the meatballs or they'll go a bit tough. Thank me later!
3rd Jul, 2014
Really tasty meal. However, after the first time I've given up on the actual meatballs (such a faff!) and simply use the ingredients (minus the breadcrumbs) to make it as an alternative bolognese.
michelle_30's picture
21st Mar, 2014
this was the 2nd time i made this, the 1st time, i didnt think much of it. But just made this again tonight & is was quite nice. The only thing is the meatballs dont hold together very well when frying so i just fryed them quickly and put them in the sauce to finish cooking through for another 20 minutes and they tasted just as nice. So next time will add more breadcrumbs and an egg to hold them better together and perhaps cook them in the oven. Easy dish which is cheap, worth trying
19th Oct, 2013
Thoroughly enjoyed this, but would add chilli to the sauce next time. I used Chia Seeds instead of breadcrumbs, so they looked a bit odd, but still nice. I did add more garlic than suggested.
8th May, 2013
A great midweek meal, cheap and easy to make and really tasty....it's only flaw was I could have done with more sauce! Would add some passata to the recipe next time I make it. And I did put a sprinkle of chilli powder in it for a bit of a kick!


21st Jan, 2016
can you freeze this recipe
goodfoodteam's picture
21st Mar, 2016
Yes, you can freeze the meatballs in the sauce. Use within 6 weeks and thaw before reheating to make sure that the meatballs stay whole. Add a dash of water or stock if necessary to thin the sauce as it reheats.
3rd Jul, 2015
Add, tsp ground fennel and cayenne with a beaton egg as a minimum to the
19th Oct, 2013
Don't put fennel seeds in, it makes the sauce very minty.
3rd Jul, 2015
I disagree it gives it a depth of flavour but I did grind them in my pestle and mortar
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