This one-skillet wonder is quick and easy and terribly delicious. Tender skillet turkey meatballs cook together with lemon rice and the result is perfect.

Just like not all of us are cut out to be Ina Garten’s 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.

A skillet full of rice and meatballs, with a plate of roasted broccoli in the background.

These skillet turkey meatballs with lemon rice are a prime example. The recipe is so 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.

I have loved reading all the comments that have poured in on this skillet turkey meatball recipe! So many of you have loved this meal, and that makes me very happy.

I know I’m not the only one fighting the good fight to get dinner on the table for a hungry, busy family.

And it makes me feel very connected to all of you doing the same when we can unite over a family-friendly, weeknight recipe like this that is delicious and easy.

Cooking for a family doesn’t have to be a drudgery! This meatball and lemon rice number is a great reminder of that.

A plate of rice and meatballs with a side of broccoli.

What to Serve With This

One Year Ago: Brookies {Brownie + Chocolate Chip Cookies}
Two Years Ago: Chopped Taco Salad with Homemade Catalina Dressing
Three Years Ago: Fudgy Brownies {Think: Homemade Brownies Like The Boxed Mix!}


Skillet Turkey Meatballs with Lemon Rice

4.63 stars (214 ratings)



  • 1 ½ pounds ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs, panko, regular storebought or homemade
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • 1 ½ cups long grain or basmati white rice (see note)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste if needed
  • 3 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Lemons: I used about 2 medium lemons for the recipe (zest the lemons before juicing them).
Brown Rice: 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.
Meat: 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).
Lemon Wedges: if you want to pack a little more punch into the lemon flavor, consider serving lemon wedges alongside.
Salt: finally, depending on the salt content of your chicken broth, you may want to add additional salt to taste.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 393kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 68mg, Sodium: 753mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g

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