For some reason, I seem to have it in my head that foods like meatballs and meatloaf are particularly time and labor-intensive, and so I seldom make them. In reality, they’re pretty much the easiest thing you can do with ground meat, other than just cooking it up and tossing it into a sauce. In fact, the most involved step of making these BBQ chipotle turkey meatballs is cooking the quinoa, which—in case you’re not familiar with quinoa—means bringing to a boil, simmering for a bit, and then you’re done. Suuuper easy.
Using quinoa instead of breadcrumbs is an easy way to keep these meatballs gluten-free, and it also provides an extra element of texture, which is always a plus in my book. Feel free to use whatever BBQ sauce you have on hand, but if at all possible, I highly recommend using a cherry BBQ sauce. Cherries and chipotles go together incredibly well – if you don’t believe me, just give cherry chipotle salsa a try…you’ll thank me later!
While these aren’t really the kind of meatballs you’d want to pair with spaghetti, they’re great as an entrée in their own right or as appetizers. Enjoy!
- 1 cup cooked quinoa, chilled (approximately 1/3 cup uncooked)
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound ground turkey (I used 93% lean)
- 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped chipotles in adobo (use more for spicier meatballs)
- 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce (+ extra for dipping, if desired)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- cooking spray
- Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package. Once cooked, spread out the quinoa on a large plate and chill in the refrigerator until cool.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Sauté the onion for several minutes, until softened.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the ground turkey, quinoa, onion, and the remaining ingredients (except the cooking spray). Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Using your hands or a miniature cookie scoop, shape the mixture into balls (between 1 and 1.5 inches in diameter) and place them on the baking sheet.
- Bake the meatballs for 16-18 minutes or until lightly browned.
- If keeping gluten-free is important to you, be sure to choose a gluten-free BBQ sauce.
Cake Lover says
This recipe looks like a good candidate for a new “comfort food” for our house!
Excellent! Let me know what you think if you try them!
chef mimi says
Meat loaf and meat balls are easy – mostly because a recipe really isn’t necessary! No matter what you do with the ingredients, they pretty much always come out like meat loaf and meat balls! Love that you used chipotle. I could practically use them diced over ice cream!!
Oof, that would be some spicy ice cream! Meatballs certainly are versatile – I’ll have to try out some more varieties 🙂
Dave @ Weight Loss Bro's says
Now these look good! My girlfriend doesn’t eat red meat and sometimes I find it hard to think of new ideas. I have stayed away from meatballs but I think I might try these. Thanks for giving me some inspiration today 🙂
Thank you! I don’t eat red meat either, so please feel free to look around the site – hopefully something else will catch your eye as well!
I had to chuckle when I read your post since I also avoid making meatballs and usually just brown the meat in a pan (the lazy way)! This recipe looks quick and easy and very healthy at the same time, which is always a winner in my book:))
I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one! I was pleasantly surprised at how easy these are – I hope you get a chance to try them 🙂
Great idea to add quinoa to the meatballs, they look delicious!
Thanks Cheri! It’s a little harder to shape the meatballs when using quinoa in place of bread crumbs, but they come together just fine in the end!
I’m loving this flavor! Sounds so refreshing and perfect for the summer!
Thanks! I hope you get a chance to try them 🙂
It’s so funny the things we set in our mind as being SOOO time consuming. I feel that way about quesadillas and enchiladas…and yet they are so simple! Love the spiced up flavors in these!
Yes, these meatballs definitely have some zippiness to them! I feel the same way about enchiladas…which is probably why I haven’t made any in ages. I should change that soon!
Heather @ Sweet Precision says
These sound yummy! I am actually a recent convert when it comes to using quinoa. I tried it once a few years ago and hated it. Just recently I have it a try again and the big surprise was that I loved it! I bet these meatballs taste great with quinoa added!
I too wasn’t a fan of quinoa the first time I tried it. The little tails really bothered me, haha. It’s also quite unremarkable and boring on its own, but it’s a great base for salads…or meatballs, as it turns out! 🙂
Jessica W says
Love the use of quinoa in this recipe! And the flavors of chipotle and bbq sauce – you can’t go wrong! -Kat
Thanks! Gotta hand it to quinoa…that stuff is versatile!
Sweet Tea Sweetie says
These look delicious! I always make mine ahead of time then freeze them so that on busy nights I can pull them out for a quick dinner.
Such a good idea! I’ve got some in the freezer at this very moment 🙂
HomeSweetJones (@HomeSweetJones) says
Yummy yummy yummy! These may not be ideal for spaghetti but they might be a perfect fit for a sloppy, spicy meatball sub. I volunteer to investigate!
Haha, excellent idea! Be sure to report back if you do 🙂
I love this kind of meatball too! It looks like such a great way to spice up your typical quinoa too. (We eat a lot of quinoa in my house.) Happy FF, and have a wonderful weekend. 😀
It really is a great change of pace – quinoa salads are great, but can get a bit redundant after a while. I hope you have a great weekend too!
What a great way to use quinoa instead of breadcrumbs. These meatballs look awesome. Happy FF! 🙂
Thanks! Truth be told, I’m much more likely to have quinoa on hand than breadcrumbs, so I’m quite glad to be able to substitute it in meatballs. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I agree with Jhuls, what a good substitute and another quinoa recipe to add to my collection and make. Love meatballs, chipotle, barbecue – the whole works. Great recipe to share with everyone at Fiesta Friday #73 🙂
I’m glad these meatballs caught your eye! Let me know what you think if you get a chance to try them!
Michelle @ Giraffes Can Bake says
These look so yummy, using quinoa is such a great idea and really good for those who can’t have gluten without taking away any of the yum! I’m so glad you shared these with us at Fiesta Friday, can’t wait to try them!
Thanks! I actually didn’t even set out to make gluten-free meatballs – I just wanted to try using quinoa, and then realized afterward that the ingredients were all gluten-free. Love it when that happens! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
oooh my kids and husband would simply love these, thank you i am going to snatch this away and try it soon !
I have to admit, I’m impressed with any kid who will eat quinoa. The appearance alone would have turned me off as a kid! I hope you get a chance to try these!
The Chunky Chef says
Oooooh delicious!! I have some quinoa in the pantry, might have to give these a try 🙂
I hope you do! I always seem to have leftover quinoa sitting around in the fridge, so this is a great way to use it up 🙂
J Seaton says
These look and sound insanely good – thanks for sharing them over at FF.
Thanks – I’m so glad they caught your eye!
Natalie Browne says
I love that you used quinoa in this recipe. I do the same thing with my turkey sliders 🙂 I never thought of combining cherries and chipotle before. It sounds delicious. Happy FF!
I just checked out your turkey sliders – they sound so unique and delicious! And yes, cherries and chipotles together are a magical thing 🙂
BBQ and Chipotle sound like a great combo!!!! thanks for the lovely recipe 🙂
I hope you get a chance to try them! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
What a perfect way to flavour turkey mince! The meatballs looks great 🙂
Thanks! Can’t go wrong with turkey and chipotle, in my opinion!
Indian Curry Shack (By Anugya Sudan Oberai) says
The meatballs look fabulous! 🙂 Nice to have found your blog through FF!
Have a lovely weekend! Cheers, Anugya
Thank you! I’m looking forward to checking out your blog as well 🙂
Looks great with all those lovely colours!
Beautiful flavors in the dish. I think it can be a new favorite in my home.
I hope it can be too! Let me know what you think if you try it 🙂