Apple Fennel Turkey Meatballs

Ever since I first tried fennel seeds on warm, fresh, green olives at Uccellino Italian restaurant in Edmonton, I was hooked! The next day I picked up a bag of the seeds at Silk Road Spice Merchant and was on my way to experimenting in the kitchen!

fennel seeds
Turns out fennel seeds have long been used as a digestive aid. Not only are they delicious, but they are also good for you! When using them whole, the key is to crack them open to release the fragrant oils. This can be done by crushing them with the side of your knife, the bottom of a pan, or smashing them with a rolling-pin.

I love adding fennel seeds to sauces and soups, and this past summer discovered how tasty they are with poultry. The subtle sweet and liquorice flavour of the seeds pairs nicely with apple and parmesan in this turkey meatball recipe. These are a great snack after work (dipped in my favourite- Heinz Chili Sauce. I am a big Heinz fan!), or pulled out of the freezer for a quick pasta dinner with marinara sauce. These are also easy to make gluten-free by using gluten-free crackers or oats in place of breadcrumbs.


Apple Fennel Turkey Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (can use panko, crushed crackers/gluten-free crackers, or ground gluten-free oats)
  • 1/2 apple, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan or asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with fork
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped (flat-leaf)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, cracked open (using side of knife, bottom of pan, or rolling-pin)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients and mix until combined with a wooden spoon. If you have a food processor, you can pulse your breadcrumbs, apple, parmesan, shallot, parsley, garlic, and spices together first, and then transfer to a bowl and mix in the turkey and egg with a wooden spoon.


If too sticky, add a tablespoon more of breadcrumbs at a time. Depending on the type of gluten-free oats/crackers, I sometimes have to add a bit more breadcrumbs.

Use a spoon to scoop the mixture, and form 1″ balls. I like mini-meatballs, but feel free to make yours larger! Just add more baking time.


Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with Heinz Chili Sauce for dipping or with marinara sauce on pasta. Yum!

What’s your favourite kind of meatball? Let me know in the comments!

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