Orange Chipotle Turkey Meatballs

Sweet, Smoky, Spicy Turkey Meatballs 


I’m not sure how I arrived at this recipe. I started out looking at various recipes for “Russian” Chicken, which is not Russian at all, but it got its name because it usually uses bottled Russian Dressing with Apricot Preserves and onion soup mix. Since I would rather not use bottled dressing and onion soup mix, I was contemplating some alternatives.

Next, I was having a conversation with my wife about Orange Chicken and somehow the Apricot preserves became Orange Marmalade. As for the Chipotles, I guess that is because I live on the west coast. Much like the tech industry, whenever they contemplate how to improve their products, the answer is always “Add Bluetooth!”, so it goes in SoCal that whenever you want to improve a recipe, the answer is inevitably “Add Chipotles!”


You can use any tomatoes for this, but I say you are doing yourself a disservice if you do not use fire-roasted. It adds another layer to the flavor, and a rather tasty layer at that.

Please promise me that you won’t use 100% ground breast meat for this. I haven’t tried it, but only because I am fairly certain it would not turn out well. What they just call “ground turkey” is fine. It is usually a mixture of white and dark meat.


I am not sure why I decided to use ground turkey for this recipe, I was a little afraid it would turn out kind of dry, but currently these turkey meatballs are my favorite meatballs I have ever made of any kind.

Or course, that can be partly attributed to the sauce. It has the sweetness of Chinese Orange Chicken, balanced out by the spiciness of the chipotle chilis and the smokiness of the tomatoes (I added a bit of liquid smoke also, but you can leave it out if you are using the fire roasted tomatoes).


So, let’s make those meatballs:

Mix together 2 pounds of ground turkey (not all white meat), Italian seasoned bread crumbs (unseasoned are probably fine, but I like Italian for this dish), 2 eggs, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon dried parsley.

Form into balls about 2 inches in diameter. I ended up with 19 meatballs.


Heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs in batches and remove to plate.

Ok, sauce time:

In blender or food processor, add a can of fire roasted tomatoes, 1 cup of orange marmalade (I used a 13 oz. jar and it came out to exactly a cup. I prefer to use one without corn syrup.), 2-3 canned chipotles (use more or less, depending on how hot you like it), 1 tablespoon of the sauce from the chipotles, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Pulse until smooth.

Chipotle_Sauce Blended

In the oil from the meatballs, sauté the onion until it turns translucent.

Add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.


Return the meatballs to the pan on top of the onions. Pour the sauce over the meatballs. Toss a couple of bay leaves in and lock the cover on the pressure cooker and bring to high pressure.

When high pressure is reached, adjust heat to maintain pressure and set the time for 7 minutes.


When time is up let the pressure come down naturally.

Serve with couscous (which is how I made it), rice or mashed potatoes.


Spicy Apricot Chicken
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-5 servings
For The Meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (not all breast meat)
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3 tablespoons oil
For The Sauce
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 2-3 canned chipotle chiles (I used 3, you can use 2 if you like it milder)
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle sauce (from the can)
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 bay leaves
For The Meatballs
  1. In a bowl, mix all the Meatball ingredients except the oil
  2. Mix gently with hands, do not over-mix
  3. Form into balls approximately 2-inches diameter (I got 19 meatballs)
  4. In 3 tablespoons oil, brown meatballs working in batches
  5. Remove meatballs to plate
For The Sauce
  1. In blender or food processor mix first 12 ingredients (the tomatoes through the black pepper)
  2. Pulse until smooth
  3. Over medium-high heat, in the oil from the meatballs, sauté the onions until they are translucent
  4. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes
  5. Place meatballs in pressure cooker on top of onions
  6. Pour sauce over meatballs
  7. Toss two bay leaves on top
  8. Put top on pressure cooker and bring to high pressure
  9. When high pressure is reached, lower heat to maintain high pressure
  10. Set time for 7 minutes
  11. When time is up, remove from heat and let pressure come down on its own
  12. Serve with rice, couscous or mashed potatoes


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