One of my favorite sauces on earth happens to be enchilada sauce. GIVE ME A SPOON AND A BOWL OF IT.
Of course, enchilada sauce is best when it’s homemade with dried red chilies, but when you don’t have time, nor really care, then I vote for store-bought! Simply slide down the aisle of your local grocery store like you’re Bruno Mars, pick up a can of your favorite enchie sauce (that’s what we call it), plop it in your cart, grab the remaining ingredients in this recipe and be on your way.
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Since my one pan meals are ridiculously popular with you kids, I decided it was time for another one. And what better excuse to use zucchini than in a flavorful little cozy turkey meatball? Even better when they are nestled into enchilada sauce, fluffy rice and veggies. These enchilada zucchini turkey meatballs are about to be a family fav.
What I love about using zucchini in this recipe is that it helps to keep the meatballs extra moist, and also adds a healthy dose of fiber. Meaning that these are once again perfect for both kids and adults!
Ingredients in zucchini turkey meatballs
These easy, one pan zucchini turkey meatballs just use turkey, a bunch of delicious spices & veggies, some yummy sauce and cheese. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Lean ground turkey: I like using about 93% lean so that the meatballs are still nice and juicy. Feel free to use ground chicken if you’d like.
- Zucchini: the secret veggie ingredient to keep these meatballs perfectly moist.
- Egg: to help hold the zucchini turkey meatballs together.
- Panko breadcrumbs: breadcrumbs will further help them stick together, but you can also use a fee tablespoons of coconut flour to keep them gluten free.
- Onion, jalapeño & cilantro: for bites of freshness and a little heat in the meatballs themselves.
- Spices: we’re packing these babies with flavor from garlic, cumin, salt & pepper.
- Olive oil: a little olive oil for browning the meatballs in your pan first.
- Veggies: we’re using poblano pepper, red bell pepper & frozen sweet corn.
- Enchilada sauce: use your favorite brand or my homemade recipe!
- White basmati rice: this rice cooks up nice and fluffy in the pan. Do not use brown rice as it will take too long to cook.
- Cheddar cheese: is there anything better than layers of gooey cheese with enchilada flavors?
I love serving it with creamy avocado slices, cilantro for a burst of fresh flavor, green onion and even sour cream or plain greek yogurt to cool it down. Also, if you LOVE spicy foods, I suggest using a HOT enchilada sauce instead of mild or medium.
How to make zucchini turkey meatballs
These healthy zucchini turkey meatballs only take about 35-40 minutes from start to finish and are incredibly easy to make, especially since everything is cooked in one pan! Here’s how you’ll do it:
- Assemble the meatballs. Use clean hands to mix together the zucchini, turkey, egg, panko breadcrumbs (or coconut flour), onion, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 16 balls.
- Brown the meatballs. Next, place olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add meatballs; brown on all sides, then transfer to a plate.
- Cook the veggies & rice. Add your poblano, red bell pepper and corn to the same skillet; saute for a few minutes then pour in the enchilada sauce and stir in the rice. Place meatballs on top and bring sauce to a simmer, then cover the pan, reduce heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes.
- Add cheese & serve! After the meatballs and rice are done cooking, remove the lid and sprinkle cheese on top. Cover again and cook for 2-3 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Garnish with cilantro, avocado and green onion and serve. This is also delicious with plain greek yogurt or sour cream on it!
Looking for a lower carb version?
- Instead of white basmati rice, you can use 3/4 cup quinoa or even cauliflower rice to keep it low carb. You decide!
- You can also make these zucchini turkey meatballs without breadcrumbs by simply using 2-3 tablespoons of coconut flour.
Prep these zucchini turkey meatballs ahead of time
These one pan zucchini turkey meatballs can easily be prepped ahead of time for ease!
- Mix and form the meatballs as directed in the recipe.
- Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and then tightly cover the meatballs with plastic wrap.
- Put the meatballs in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. You can prep these meatballs up to one, or even two days ahead of time.
- Once ready to cook, simply follow the recipe as written.
My best tips for cooking with zucchini
- Use the small side of your grater so that you get little shreds of zucchini. No one will be able to tell there’s a veggie rolled right into their meatballs!
- Squeeze out your zucchini shreds as much as possible to get all of the excess liquid out.
- Measure the shreds before you squeeze the moisture out.
- Feel free to shred a bunch of zucchini and freeze it for later! Follow my tips and tricks here.
How to store and freeze zucchini turkey meatballs
- To store: once completely cooled, portion out the meatballs and rice into glass meal prep containers and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Simply reheat them in the microwave.
- To freeze: once completely cooled, portion out the meatballs and rice into freezer-friendly containers and store them in the freezer for up to 2 months. To reheat simply allow the meatballs and rice to thaw in the refrigerator before microwaving them until they’re hot.
More zucchini recipes you’ll love
- Zucchini Mac and Cheese
- The BEST Zucchini Lasagna Recipe (low carb!)
- Buffalo Zucchini Chicken Burgers
- One Pan Sazon Skillet Chicken
- 30 Minute Brown Butter Goat Cheese Grilled Veggie Orzo
Get all of my amazing zucchini recipes here!
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I hope you love these healthy one pan enchilada zucchini turkey meatballs! If you make them be sure to leave a comment and rating so I know how you liked them. I greatly appreciate it – xo!
One Pan Enchilada Zucchini Turkey Meatballs and Rice
- For the meatballs:
- 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey (or lean ground chicken)
- 1 cup shredded zucchini, that’s been squeezed of ALL excess moisture with a paper towel
- 1 egg
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs (or if GF sub 2-3 tablespoons coconut flour)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- ¼ cup finely diced cilantro
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- For the veggies, rice and sauce:
- 1 small poblano pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 3/4 cup frozen sweet corn
- 3 cups red enchilada sauce (mild or medium)
- 1 cup white basmati rice (do not use brown rice as it takes too long)
- For the topping:
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- To garnish:
- Diced green onion
- Fresh cilantro
- Diced or sliced avocado
In a large bowl, add the ground turkey, shredded zucchini, egg, breadcrumbs, onion, cilantro, diced jalapeno, garlic, cumin and salt and pepper. Use clean hands to mix and form into 16 golf ball sized meatballs.
Place a large deep 10 inch skillet (or large pan) over medium heat and add in olive oil. You can also use a large pot, but I prefer a skillet. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, using tongs or a fork to flip. They should cook for about 5-6 minutes total. You may need to do this in batches, depending how many meatballs you can fit in your skillet without overcrowding them. When meatballs are done browning, transfer to a plate and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add in the poblano pepper, red bell pepper and frozen sweet corn. Saute for a minute, then add in the enchilada sauce. Bring enchilada sauce to a simmer, then fold in the rice, making sure it is evenly distributed. Add the browned meatballs on top. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
After 20-25 minutes, remove the lid and sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Cover, cook for 2 more minutes to melt cheese, then serve immediately with cilantro, green onion and avocado, if desired. Serves 4.
Make a low carb version: Another option is to use 3/4 cup quinoa or even cauliflower rice to keep it low carb. You decide!
See the full post for easy storing & freezing instructions!
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
I’m currently trying to use up all of my zucchini so this sounds PERFECT! Love this fun twist on an enchilada!
Perfect way to use up that zucchini! The flavors in here are amazing – let me know if you give it a try!
Made these tonight with cali rice, so easy and so good!! Thank you for another great recipe!
Delicious!! Glad you enjoyed 🙂
How many zucchinis typically will make 1 cup shredded?
It’s usually 1:1!
making these tonight! I always sub GF quick oats for the breadcrumbs….just another option 🙂
love the blog!
Great tip! Hope you love these!
The meatballs were excellent, so flavorful and moist, but the rice came out feeling a bit greasy and heavy to me, I’m guessing because of the enchilada sauce I used. Do you have a go-to enchilada sauce that you would recommend? I always have all your one pan meat and rice recipes on my meal prep rotation, and this one will definitely go on there too once I find the right sauce.
Monique’s enchilada sauce from the “Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas with Avocado Lime Crema” recipe is actually my favorite one to make from scratch. It’s quick and I think makes ~2 cups, so you could just double that recipe. At least that’s what I plan to do when I make this recipe this week!
Hmmm it may be from the sauce you used, as it shouldn’t feel too heavy! As someone mentioned above, I have a great homemade enchilada sauce here that will be perfect. Let me know if you make these again!
I made this for dinner last night and my husband and I both loved it! Ate the rest for lunch today and I can’t wait to make it again! Such a healthy, delicious dinner option that will definitely be added to our rotation.
Can someone tell me how many carbs would be in this without the rice?
Feel free to look up the # of carbs in 1/4 cup of the rice you’re using, and then subtract from the nutrition info 🙂
This recipe turned out so much better than I even hoped for! I didn’t realize how much enchilada sauce this called for so I only had a 12oz bottle from Trader Joe’s. I used about 8oz of water to rinse out the bottle and put that in the recipe to make up for the rest (i didn’t do a full 12oz of water bc I was worried it would thin it out too much). It turned out PERFECT and I would make it the same way again.
I’m glad the additional water helped out! Such a great dinner 🙂
I love this recipe!
YUM! I made this for dinner tonight and I was blown away by how flavorful it was. Unfortunately, I burned the rice, but I will definitely make this recipe again (I’ll keep a closer eye on it next time!). Thanks for another great recipe!
I think this might be the best recipe to ever bless my kitchen!!! I’ve made countless ambitious kitchen recipes and each time I’m blown away by how absolutely perfect they all are. I left out the zucchini in this one because I didn’t have any, and still they were the best meatballs I’ve ever had. I used the enchilada sauce recipe from your vegan butternut squash enchiladas and it was delicious. Thank you for so many amazing recipes and keeping me inspired in the kitchen!
Amazing!! So happy to hear that, Katie 🙂 I hope you keep finding recipes here that you love!
Made this tonight, so so so good! Thank you for yet again an amazing healthy and delicious recipe!
So glad you enjoyed!
I have a quick question about the low carb versions. If I make it with quinoa or cauliflower rice is it the same cooking time as the white basmati rice?
Hi! Yes, it should be the same time 🙂
These are delicious! For some reason it takes me too long to get the meatballs cooked all the way through so i usually end up just cooking it all in the pan together but it’s still so good!
Hmmm not sure why they don’t cook up all the way through, but glad it works well in the pan together. Such a great dinner!
This was an absolute hit with out entrie family even my other half who is fussy said he wants ir again. This will be going into out monthly rotation of foods.
Amazing! So happy to hear that.
Definitely took me a little longer than 35 mins start to finish but this was SO delicious & fairly simple. Ambitious Kitchen never disappoints 🙂
So happy you loved it! The first time making a recipe can always take a bit longer, but I’m sure it’ll be even faster the next time you try it 🙂
Amazing! Made this for the second time, and was impressed with how much flavor it had. The only suggestion I would have would be to increase the prep time from 10 minutes to 20-25 minutes…. It took a longer time to roll the meatballs and cook them, etc.
So glad you enjoyed! And thanks for the tip 🙂
Yum! This meal felt satiating and healthy (hard combo to find sometimes) due to all the veggies included. Also, who knew $1 cans of enchilada sauce could be made so tasty?! I managed to use brown rice – I cooked 1 cup dry brown rice about halfway (in a separate pot) before adding it to the sauce to simmer. I think it made my end result a bit saucier since the rice needed to absorb less liquid but regardless the dish was still great! Thanks Monique!
Perfect! Glad you enjoyed!
I am going to try this recipe tonight and I was curious if I could make the meatball mixture prior to cooking and just refrigerate or if they need to be made immediately before cooking? I’ll update with how the recipe turns out; I’m excited to try!
That should be just fine! Let me know how it goes 🙂
This recipe is incredible! Meatballs are super moist and recipe is all around flavourful and filling! Will definitely make this one again.
So happy you loved these!
This recipe is incredible! The meatballs are super moist and overall the meal is packed with flavour! It’s super satisfying too. Will definitely be making this again! Thank you!
So happy you loved these! One of my favorite dinners, too 🙂
I made this for dinner last night and it was so easy and tasty! I love the addition of the zucchini to the meatballs – it keeps them moist and I love the added nutrition!
Amazing! So happy to hear that, Alexis!
We have a surplus of zucchini from our garden so I made this tonight and it was SO GOOD! We used store bought enchilada sauce and regular white rice and the flavor was perfect. Our rice did take closer to 45 min to cook so I added some chicken stock a few times to keep the dish from drying out and it worked great. It will definitely become a regular meal in our household (I’ll just give myself more time if I do t have basmati rice).
Amazing! I’m glad it worked out with the regular rice – perfect dinner!
Absolutely AMAZING! My 8 and 10 year old kids were lured into the kitchen by the wonderful smells as everything simmered! The meatballs were packed with amazing flavor and my kids “mmmmed” as they ate! The rice was so good since it cooked in the enchilada sauce with the meatballs. I was slightly worried this meal might be spicy with all the peppers, but everything was balanced and flavorful, not spicy. And it all cooked in one pan, my favorite way to cook! We’ll be making this recipe again soon…and I shared it with all my friends 🙂
Amazing! So glad it was a hit with the family 🙂
Love this!!! Very easy to follow recipe, it takes me a little longer to chop and get the meatballs together but it’s faster each time I make it. Week night favorite in my house for sure
You’ll get faster and faster as you go! Glad you enjoyed 🙂
I made this for my fiance and I for dinner last night and we could not have been happier with the way it turned out! The recipe was so easy to follow and will definitely become a staple in our house – it is just SO good! We already can’t wait to dive into the leftovers for dinner tonight!
Amazing! So happy to hear that!
This is the actual best. I omitted the jalapeno for my 10 year old (though I bet it would be amazing with it). I also added a can of kidney beans. I only had a small can of enchillada sauce so I did one cup of enchillada sauce and the rest of the liquid in chicken stock. Everyone in my household devoured it!
Perfect! So glad it was a hit!
So delicious!!’ I’ll be making this on alot in the future. Thanks momma
So happy to hear that!
I love all the AK one pan meatball recipes, but this one might be my favorite. The meatballs were so tender and not at all dry. The whole family loved this one!
Love that! One of my favs, too 🙂
This recipe was horrible. First of all 45 minutes was not the amount of time I spent trying to make it. After waiting the 25 minutes for it to finally cook the rice was hard a a rock and I couldn’t eat it want a disappointment. I would probably never go on your site again. .it was more work than what you lead us to believe and couldn’t eat it in the end. 👎👎
Hi Linda! So sorry to hear you had trouble with this recipe – I wish I could help troubleshoot what may have gone wrong. The 3 cups of enchilada sauce in this recipe should cook the rice perfectly – did you measure out the ingredients exactly? Was all of the rice covered with sauce?
Im sure it wotn mind if I use ground cow meat, right? Can I skip the rice but still use the rest of the ingredients like the sauce and cheese and corn, etc?
Ground beef will work, too! And absolutely! They just will be extra saucy meatballs.
Hands down a 5-star recipe! I used Monique’s homemade enchilada sauce from this site. Amazing!
Woohoo!! Glad that you loved it!
I really liked the flavor but my meatballs didn’t stay together very well. The end result looked more like an enchilada stew. Like I said, I liked the flavor so maybe I just needed to do a better job of squeezing the water out of the zucchini?? Thanks!
Hi, Gena. Yes, could be too much moisture in the zucchini for sure! Feel free to squeeze out more moisture and add extra breadcrumbs next time.
According to my slightly picky 6 year old, “Mommy, these meatballs are excellent!” And the 8 year old beat dad to the leftovers for lunch! I did use canned medium enchilada sauce (2 cups + 1 water) and it was a little spicy but added sour cream to the rice for the kids. Also skipped the poblano and used 1/3 of a jalapeño to tone down the heat. Next time I’ll make my own sauce from the AK recipe and skip the cayenne for the kids but overall a winner!
Thanks for sharing, Amanda! I’m so happy that you guys are loving these! ❤️
This was seriously one of the best recipes I’ve ever made from AK. I ate it for 5 days straight and enjoyed every minute of it! As always, Monique outdid herself. It was beyond delicious.
Whaaaaat omg I’m so happy to hear that! Yay!!
Super easy and toddler friendly. Easy to throw in any veggies you have in the fridge you want to use up. Also reheats great so good for meal prep
SO GOOD! And surprisingly easy to make. Live!
Made this for dinner the other night, super flavorful and delicious! It reheats just as well the next day! Thanks for all the great meatball recipes!
Wonderful flavors! My family of four loved it, no leftovers. Will definitely make it again.
Was looking for ways to use up my zucchini from my garden in creative ways, this recipe was delicious!!!
Awesome, so happy you found this recipe! And glad you loved it 🙂
I was looking for something easy to spice up our weeknight meals, and this hit the spot! The meatballs were absolutely perfect, and I loved the zucchini for some added veggies. Also love that this was a 1 pan meal. My husband and I both loved all the flavors and I’ll definitely be making this again!
Yay!! So happy to hear you loved these, Shannon!
My husband said this is one of the best meals he’s ever had when I made this. It was so easy and delicious, I’m definitely making it again.
Flavourful, healthy and yummy!
Yay!! So glad you loved these 🙂
My family loved this recipe. The meatballs were so tender and delicious. Healthy, delicious and easy.
Already saved under tried and true!
Yay! SO happy that you guys loved these 🙂
Very tasty, Incredibly filling. Will make next time with more veggies & more sauce as I found the rice sucked up a lot of moisture. Great for meal prep for sure!
Glad you enjoyed them! And thanks for the feedback. Good idea!
This recipe was great—awesome flavor, filling, and nutritious. I accidentally used too much meat (1.5 lbs, thanks Costco!) but quickly realized when the meatballs weren’t forming. Adding more panko helped. I was worried they wouldn’t have enough flavor because of this, and still they were great. My 13 month old had three meatballs! I left the jalapeño out because we didn’t have one on hand.
Oh YAY, I’m glad it all worked out and that you guys enjoyed them! Thanks so much for the review 🙂
DELICIOUS!!! Another Ambitious Kitchen win, as usual! Only had 2 1/2 cups of enchilada sauce and I do suggest following the recipe to a T, liquid wise, because my rice got quite crispy! It honestly reminded me of a paella so it was still very good. Also I used fresh corn and leftover onion from the meatball ingredients in my rice. I think you could put any veggie in this rice and you wouldn’t go wrong.
I made these for dinner and my BF inhaled them in about 5 seconds – he is Latino and loved the flavors! Going into our rotation immediately – love that it’s also a great way to use up whatever veggies we have on hand!!
I’m SO happy you both loved these! Yay!!
Delicious! This was a big hit with the whole family. The enchilada sauce can I purchased ended up being about 2 1/2 cups but it still turned out ok.