Gluten-Free Recipe of the Week #2: Quinoa Turkey Mini Meatballs

If you’ve read my Monthly Meal Plan posts, you know I like to experiment with new recipes. Sometimes these experiments work out really well…and sometimes they don’t. Whenever I modify a recipe, I take lots of notes so that I can recreate it in the future if it turns out well.

For my reference and yours, I’ve decided to post my recipe experiments on this blog. I plan to post at least one recipe per week. I will include a link to the original recipe as well as allergen/special diet information, notes about my changes and lessons learned, pictures from various stages of cooking, and my overall impression of the dish. Most recipes will be main dishes, but I may also include desserts or snacks as well.  

Leave a comment below if you think there’s a recipe I might like to try for a future post!

This week’s recipe is How Sweet It Is’s
Easy Crockpot Quinoa Turkey Mini Meatballs (served with Zoodles).

*Please click HERE for a printable copy of this recipe*

Information for Top 8 Allergens

  • Dairy-Free (with substitutions below)
  • Egg-Free (with substitutions below)
  • Free From:
    • Gluten
    • Fish
    • Crustacean Shellfish
    • Tree Nuts
    • Peanuts
    • Soy (check labels on cooking oil, stock, spices, and cheese)


  • This dish would work with whatever meat you have on hand. I like to follow the recipe the first time I make a dish, but I think I will try a combination of ground chicken and ground pork next time.
  • I found I needed to add red pepper flakes and more parmesan to the finished dish because the crushed tomatoes were fairly bland on their own. If you don’t have crushed tomatoes, I think marinara sauce would be a fine substitute. Use what you already have in your pantry!
  • I highly recommend preparing this meal over a few days or throughout the day. It takes a lot of time to prepare at once, but it could be easily broken into several different steps. These were the steps that worked best for me:

1) Make quinoa – up to 2 days in advance

2) Prep mise en place for meatballs


3) Roll meatballs

4) Sear meatballs (1 min on top and bottom) – Steps 2-4 can be done in advance (store in fridge or freezer after meatballs are seared)

5) Prep onions and tomatoes for slow cooker – you could slice the onions in advance and store them in the fridge if you’re prepping other veggies for the week

6) Add ingredients to slow cooker in this order: onions, tomatoes, meatballs, tomatoes → cook on low for 6 hours

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7) 15 minutes before serving, prep and saute zoodles until just tender (I added salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the zoodles while they were cooking)

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  • Dairy-Free:
  • Egg-Free
    • Many options listed here (alternatives may contain dairy, flax, meat, salt, etc.)
  • Vegetarian:
    • Use vegetable stock to cook quinoa
    • Substitute Vegetarian Meatballs for turkey meatballs (substitute recipe contains soy and tree nuts)

Additional Meal Components

I chose to add zoodles (zucchini noodles), but you could serve this over GF pasta or another veggie. Get creative!


This dish was really good. I plan to make it again, but I will most likely change out some of the components to experiment with different flavors. There were a lot of steps, but my 3 year-old ate every bite without argument or coaxing—that made it worth all the time it took to prepare this dish! It makes good leftovers, too!