Turkey and Rice Meatballs (Albondigas)


As these turkey and rice meatballs simmer in the sauce, the rice absorbs moisture, swell ups, and creates a relatively tender, moist meatball. I didn't intend this recipe to be a Thanksgiving dinner alternative, but now that I think about it, these could actually work. These are delicious served over saffron basmati rice.

Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
2 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 25 mins
20 to 24 small meatballs


  • 1 pound ground turkey thigh meat

  • 1 cup packed, cooked white long grain rice

  • 3 cloves crushed garlic

  • ¼ cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano

  • teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • 2 ½ cups prepared tomato sauce

  • 1 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed

  • cup creme fraiche

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and oil the surface lightly.

  2. Mix ground turkey, cooked rice, garlic, parsley, egg, salt, paprika, cumin, pepper, oregano, cayenne, and olive together in a bowl using a fork. Portion mixture with a small scoop (between 1/4 and 1/3 cup) and place on prepared foil-lined baking sheet. Use your (wet) hands to form into round meatballs. Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 15 minutes.

  3. Pour chicken broth and prepared tomato sauce in a saucepan. Whisk in creme fraiche, sherry vinegar, and paprika. Transfer meatballs to tomato sauce. Set heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, 60 to 90 minutes. If sauce gets too thick, add a splash or 2 of broth or water. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper.

    close up view of Turkey and Rice Meatballs (Albondigas) garnished with fresh herbs over rice, in a brown bowl
    Chef John

Chef's Note:

You can also add cooked, softened chopped onion, chopped almonds, or currants to the turkey mixture.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

258 Calories
14g Fat
15g Carbs
19g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 258
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 106mg 35%
Sodium 1423mg 62%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 13mg 67%
Calcium 49mg 4%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 562mg 12%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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