Crockpot Spicy Turkey Meatballs in Pumpkin-Tomato Sauce


“I see the turning of a leaf dancing in an autumn sun, and brilliant shades of crimson glowing when the day is done.”

Hazelmarie Mattie Elliott

These low fat turkey meatballs, simmering a whole fall afternoon in their spicy sauce, filled the house with their enticing aroma while I enjoyed a walk to see the turning leaves. I love pumpkin and after reading in Runner’s World magazine that canned pumpkin packs three times as much beta-carotene as fresh pumpkin, I have been sneaking it in all kinds of dishes.  Added to the tomato base of this spicy sauce, it was indiscernible yet added a rich silkiness to the sauce’s texture as well as a ton of fiber.  The sauce is nice and thick and coats the meatballs densely.   The meatballs can be served as an appetizer, in a roll or with pasta.  The sauce is nippy so if you want to lower the heat, reduce the chipotle peppers in half.  I freeze any leftover chipotle peppers with sauce in mini portion bags in the freezer for future use.


Crockpot Spicy Turkey Meatballs in Pumpkin-Tomato Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 lbs of ground turkey

1 c panko bread crumbs

1/4 c milk

2  large eggs, lightly beaten

1 T chili powder

1 t garlic powder

1 t kosher salt

2 t ground cumin, divided

1 28oz can of marinara sauce

1 15oz can of pumpkin puree

2 T molasses

1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 c low sodium, fat free chicken broth

3 garlic cloves, minced

7 oz can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, chopped finely ( use half if you want to lower the heat level of the sauce)

chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish

Optional lime crema:  1/4 c of sour cream whisked with the juice of 1/2 a lime.

Preheat oven to 400F

In a large bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, milk, eggs, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and 1 teaspoon of the cumin.  Roll into tablespoon-sized balls.  Rest a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray on both sides.  Line your meatballs on the rack, keeping a bit of space between each one, and bake for 10-12 minutes to brown. You can brown the meatballs in oil in a skillet, in batches, if you prefer.

In the bowl of your crockpot, combine the marinara, pumpkin, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce,  garlic, broth, cinnamon  and 1 teaspoon of the cumin.  Add the meatballs and coat with the sauce.  Cook on low for 3 hours.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with crusty rolls or on pasta.  If using the lime crèma, drizzle over the meatballs. The coolness of the sour cream toned down some of the heat of the sauce.

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12 thoughts on “Crockpot Spicy Turkey Meatballs in Pumpkin-Tomato Sauce

    • Glad you liked this recipe Caroline! Now here’s a party you can throw right from a crockpot, with rolls and pumpkin beer:-)!!! I had a chili last year with pumpkin pieces and purée in it. You can’t tell it’s in there but so good for us! Thanks for stopping by! Enjoyed your recent piece on India Hicks’ visit at The Blue Octagon, my neighbor Krissa’s store. Was out of town and had to miss it but love her!

      Johanne Lamarche


  1. What an interesting idea! I’m hearing more and more about pumpkin as a healthy food recently – I even have a friend who gives her dog a heaping tablespoon with her food every day. Thanks for bringing this by Throwdown Thursday, btw! 🙂

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