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pesto pasta with turkey meatballs in large white serving bowl

Pesto Pasta with Turkey Meatballs

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


This Pesto Pasta with Turkey Meatballs recipe is weeknight-friendly goodness while being flavor-forward all the way. Perfect al dente pasta, tender turkey meatballs, gooey mozzarella pearls, and broccoli all tossed together in basil pesto sauce. It’s such a highly customizable recipe that you’ll keep coming back to!



For the turkey meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup [55 g] bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup [120 g] whole milk
  • 1 lb [455 g] ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup [30 g] chopped fresh basil leaves, or 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed through a press, or 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/23/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as avocado or canola

For assembling & serving pasta:

  • 12 ounce [340 g] dried pasta
  • 23 cups [300 g] broccoli florets
  • 7 ounce store-bought basil pesto, plus more to taste
  • 1 bunch basil, stemmed, or 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 8 ounce mozzarella pearls or large-diced buffalo mozzarella 
  • finely grated parmesan cheese, for serving- optional


  1. Put the bread crumbs and milk in a medium mixing bowl and let soak for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the turkey, basil, garlic, and pepper to the softened bread crumbs and mix everything together until evenly distributed. Shape into 25 to 30 meatballs (about 1 heaping tbsp [20 to 25 g] each) and then season their surfaces evenly with the salt. *Kathryn’s note: Do not put salt in the mixture, or they will be tough.
  3. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron sauté pan or skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Once hot, add the oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the meatballs and allow them to brown on one side before turning. Carefully turn each meatball 3-4 times, until browned all over, about 10-12 minutes total.
  4. Once browned more or less evenly, add about 1/4 cup [60 g] of water to the pan and immediately cover. Let steam to cook all the way through, about 3 minutes more (cut one open to check).
  5. Once they’re done, continue cooking, uncovered, shaking the pan to toss them around gently while the liquid reduces. They should end up coated in a thin brown sauce, with no more liquid left at the bottom of the pot (about 3 minutes more). Then remove from heat and set meatballs aside.
  6. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil and salt somewhat liberally. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the package instructions. Once there is about 2 minutes left, add the broccoli florets so that your broccoli and pasta are al dente at the same time.
  7. Drain the pasta and return to the stockpot. Add the cooked turkey meatballs to the pot, along with the pesto sauce and basil. Fold together until evenly distributed (feel free to use more basil pesto to suit your desired preference). Add the mozzarella pearls, fold together a couple of times just to distribute, and immediately transfer to a serving bowl so the mozzarella doesn’t melt onto the pot.
  8. Serve this pesto pasta with turkey meatballs dish in individual servings with a topping of grated parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!


  1. Recipe is from A Dish for All Seasons by Kathryn Pauline.
  2. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.