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Hawaiian Turkey Meatballs Recipe

Gosh, I love these meatballs. Made with ground turkey, which is a little lighter in calories, they are filled with flavor and bathed in a sweet-savory sauce. Over rice, the whole concoction is just awesome.

The first time I made these meatballs, Paige was a newborn who counted her age in weeks. She was tiny and sweet. A few weeks ago, we celebrated her second birthday. Now, she is a sweet and fierce little girl. Doesn’t time fly? It feels like yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital. Sigh.

Back to the meatballs. I came across this recipe recently while looking through my archives and realized that it’s been a long time since I made it. So long, in fact, that Paige has never had it. Knowing that Will, Shawn and I love it, I made it — and Paige loves it too.

I can’t tell you how fast Will and Paige cleaned their plates … and that’s a big thing. We don’t belong to the clean plate club here, instead insisting only that the kids eat until their bellies are full and they’ve tried a little of everything on them. So clean plates? That’s a good and significant sign.

Now, I know the ingredients list is long. But I swear, it comes together quickly and has a ton – a TON – of flavor. As for the special ingredients: rice vinegar and fresh ginger. Rice vinegar can be substituted with a mild vinegar, if it’s not something you normally use. As for the ginger, do buy fresh. It costs pennies for a small nob.

Earlier this year, I picked up a good tidbit about fresh ginger from Melissa D’Arabian of Food Network’s $10 Dinners. When you purchase fresh ginger, peel the whole thing right away. Then stick it in a resealable bag and freeze it. It will last a long time and be easier to grate.

Don’t you just love little tricks like that? I do!

Hawaiian Turkey Meatballs

Hawaiian Turkey Meatballs

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour



  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 small onion, finely minced or processed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp packed brown sugar


  • 1 20 oz can pineapple tidbits with juice, separated
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 red pepper, sliced


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

    Mix together the ground turkey, onion, garlic, ginger, egg, panko, salt, pepper, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Knead with your hands to combine well.

    With your hands, grab meat and roll into 1-inch meatballs. Place on the baking sheet. Don’t let them touch, but they can be close together.

    Place the meatballs in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Set aside.

    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the pineapple juice, water, brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce until sugar is fully dissolved. Whisk in the cornstarch and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously.

    Stir in the pineapple bits and the peppers. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Add meatballs and re-cover. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

    Serve with rice.

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