Chris Cooks

Grilled Turkey & Beef Meatballs with Smoked Marinara

August 16, 2020

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Flavors are starting to shift as we head into summer’s back nine, so let’s take advantage of all the fresh produce popping up (lookin’ at you, tomatoes) and make the freshest meatball dish you’ll ever consume.

These are entree-sized meatballs, served on their own – no noodles or sandwich. Just a fork and some of your favorite sides. Gluten-free, dairy-free, lower in red meat but super delicious.

Print Recipe
4 from 1 vote

Grilled Turkey & Beef Meatballs with Smoked Marinara

Giant, smoked meatballs with a tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes and herbs...this will totally change your grill game.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Keyword: basil, dairy free, gluten free, grilled, herbs, meatballs, tomatoes
Servings: 10


For the Spice Mix

  • 1 tbsp coriander seed roughly ground
  • 1 tsp fennel seed roughly ground
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika

For the Meatballs

  • 2 lbs Italian-seasoned turkey sausage
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 2 large eggs whisked
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp spice mix recipe found above
  • 1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the Marinara

  • 6 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 6-8 cloves garlic smashed, peeled
  • 2 sprigs thyme fresh
  • 2 sprigs rosemary fresh
  • 2-3 sprigs oregano fresh
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 large sweet onion whole - not chopped up
  • 1 cup chopped basil fresh


  • Preheat the grill to 400 and lay a layer of tinfoil over part of the grate. In a large glass bowl, mix together all the meatball ingredients except the olive oil. Be careful not to make it a paste - don't overmix. But the two meats do need to be combined evenly. Once mixed, cover with tin foil and set aside at room temperature.
  • In a small cast iron pot, add all of the marinara ingredients except the onion and basil. Score the bottoms of the tomatoes before adding them. Put the pot on the grill (to the side of the foil) and the half onion directly on the grill grate as well. Good for 30 minutes, move the onion to the pot, and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  • As the sauce smokes, add the olive oil to the meat and mix evenly. Form into large balls (should end up with about 10 meatballs), set on a pan, and chill in the fridge until ready to cook.
  • Once the sauce has cooked for about 45 minutes, add the meatballs onto the foil on the grill and cook for 20-30 minutes, until internal temp is 163-165.
  • After one hour of cooking, remove the pot from the grill grate. Pull the peels from the tomatoes. Take out the herbs and bay leaf, remove any tough parts of the onion and discard. Chop the onion roughly and add back to the pot. Using an immersion blender, blend it all together to desired consistency. Add the herbs back in, put on the stove and simmer until the meatballs are finished cooking.
  • When the meatballs are done, remove from the grill. Remove the herbs from the sauce, add the fresh basil, stir and ladle some over the meatballs. Put the remainder of the sauce in a bowl and serve on the side. Enjoy!

What do you think?

  1. Natalie McGehee says:

    4 stars
    We made these today and they were wonderful! So delicious and super filling. Used our Memphis grill to get some wood smokiness. Thanks for the goodness. I’ve made many meatballs but these were the tastiest. I think the using Italian sausage is genius along with the fresh ground spices/seeds. Keep the good recipes coming.

  2. Gigi says:

    Believe it or not I jumped right on it and made this for our family of 6 and our 4 littles loved it!!! I opted to add angel hair because ….I have littles need I say more??!!! My only challenge is some of the meatballs broke apart. Any tips on maybe why?

    Love this recipe and it will be a regular in our home.

  3. Megan says:

    I think we might try this next weekend!

  4. Jennifer says:

    I’ve been loving trying all of Chris’ recipes this summer! Can’t wait to make this one.

  5. Brenda says:

    Those look delicious!!! Eager to try them.

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We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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