"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
July 21, 2015
Skillet Turkey Meatballs with Lemon Rice
by Melanie Gunnell

Just as not all of us are cut out to be Ina Gartens in this world, not every meal served out of our kitchens is going to be five-star restaurant worthy. (Unless you are some serious kind of overachiever, that is, for which I'll give you one million rock star points and proceed to bury my real-life, underachieving face in meatballs and rice.)

But that doesn't mean you have to settle for bland, tasteless food for the rest of forever. This meal is a prime example. It's simple. And it's made start to finish in one skillet where all the goodness of the lemony rice and tender meatballs cooks together leaving you with maximum flavor and minimal cleanup.

I mean, there's really not much else to say. This one-skillet wonder is quick. And easy. And terribly delicious. Plus, you get meatballs out of the deal. Which is basically a huge win for all of mankind.

Skillet Turkey Meatballs with Lemon Rice

Yield: Serves 6

I used about 2 medium lemons for the recipe (zest the lemons before juicing them). Also, if you are curious about using brown rice, I haven't tried it in this recipe but you could try upping the liquid just a bit and adding additional cooking time based on the type of brown rice you are using.

I use ground turkey for this recipe but you could probably get away with using ground beef or ground chicken or a combination (maybe even a little sausage, too?).

I've mentioned this before in other recipes but the ground turkey in the tubes (packaged kind of like Jimmy Dean sausage tubes) is terrible and awful in my experience and makes the meatballs mushy. I prefer the ground turkey in the trays (I usually buy the lean ground turkey at Costco but have also used the Jennie-O brand in the trays with good results, too).

If you want to pack a little more punch into the lemon flavor, consider serving lemon wedges alongside. Finally, depending on the salt content of your chicken broth, you may want to add additional salt to taste.



  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (panko, regular store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • 1 1/2 cups long grain or basmati white rice (see note above)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste if needed
  • 3 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1. For the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, milk, bread crumbs, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and parsley until well-combined. Roll into about 16 meatballs (about 1-2 inches in diameter).

2. Heat the tablespoon olive oil in a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the meatballs in a single layer and brown on each side. No need to cook through here as they will finish cooking with the rice -- just get them nice and golden.

3. Carefully scoop the meatballs out of the skillet onto a paper towel-lined plate and return the skillet to medium heat (wiping out any excess grease -- leaving just a tiny bit for the rice).

4. Add the rice to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the edges of the rice start to turn translucent. Add the garlic and salt and cook for another minute. Stir in the broth, lemon juice, and lemon zest and bring the mixture to a simmer.

5. Gently nestle the meatballs back into the rice mixture and cover the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the rice is tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 18-20 minutes.

6. Remove the skillet from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 5 or so minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with Parmesan and additional fresh parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: inspired by a recipe in Cook's Country April 2015 (used my own meatball recipe and adapted the rice slightly)

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About Melanie Gunnell

Melanie Gunnell is a food-loving, chocolate-obsessed mom who has a desperate need to share her favorite tried-and-true recipes with the world. In a past life she graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in public health, but for the past ten years, stay-at-home motherhood has been her job along with blogging-from-home for the past five.

She resides in the brilliantly cold tundra of Northern Minnesota with her husband and their brood of five children: four boys and one tiny, bossy girl. Dark chocolate (particularly the act of shoving chocolate chips in her mouth whilst hiding in the pantry) is her coping skill of choice for both the never-ending winters and the never-ending wrestling matches in her front room.


Calling(s): Primary pianist, CTR 6/7 Primary teacher, Activity Day leader

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