Meatballs

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Who doesn’t love a good meatball recipe? This one is baked in the oven for even browning and easy cleanup, then simmered in the best homemade marinara sauce.

Baked meatballs in marinara sauce in a pan
Photo: Gayle McLeod

Meatballs are a staple recipe in the kitchen. Over the years I’ve gotten creative with turkey meatballs (in a heavenly maple mustard sauce), baked tuna meatballs, chicken meatballs, and fennel pork meatballs. But sometimes, classic Italian-style meatballs simmered in fresh marinara sauce are all I need for a dinner that’s simple, comforting, and tastes just like home.

And since you know I love meal prep-friendly ingredients, you should know that these easy meatballs store well in the fridge or freezer. That’s why you’ll find Mediterranean lamb meatballs in my Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. Meatballs, no matter the flavor, are a meal prep winner!

Ingredients for baked meatballs on a table

Baked Meatball Ingredients

These are “meatier” meatballs than classic recipes because there are no breadcrumbs or panade. Instead, we’re swapping those with chopped onions, almond flour, and other ingredients listed below. And with how good they are, you won’t even notice that they’re naturally gluten-free and low-carb. That’s just a bonus!

  • Ground Meat: You can choose your favorite ground meat, but I love a combination of ground beef and ground pork. Pro tip: don’t go too lean on the ground beef. Choose one that’s 80% lean for extra moist meatballs!
  • Egg: Just one large egg is all you need for a binder.
  • Flour: Since I’m gluten-free, I’m using almond flour for this recipe. And while I’m not necessarily low-carb, it does make the meatballs a low-carb recipe!
  • Cheese: Try to use freshly grated parmesan cheese instead of the packaged ones! It’ll make all the difference when it comes to taste.
  • Aromatics: Lots of onion and garlic are a must!
  • Seasonings & Herbs: You can make your own Italian seasoning at home or buy a blend. And for herbs, parsley will give these meatballs a fresh touch.

Fun fact: Eggs actually don’t make meatballs moist, they’re just used as a binder. In fact, too many eggs can actually make meatballs dense!

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Meatballs Without Breadcrumbs

Is it possible to make meatballs without breadcrumbs? It sure is! Classic meatball recipes add breadcrumbs and milk to create a panade (which is sorta like a soft wet paste). But because I’m gluten-free I add a mix of almond flour, diced onion, grated parmesan, and chopped parsley. The onion adds moisture and the other ingredients prevent the meatballs from becoming too dense. I actually think my meatballs are more flavorful!

How To Make Meatballs

Although I’ve pan-fried meatballs in the past, baking meatballs is much easier. You can cook any sauce simultaneously and toss everything together at the end!

Mix the meatballs. Use your hands to combine the ground meat, egg, onion, almond flour, parmesan, parsley, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Just make sure to not over-mix!

Ingredients for meatballs in a bowl

Scoop and roll. I typically like to use this medium cookie scoop to make sure all my meatballs are around the same size. Then roll the mixture into balls and place them evenly on the baking sheet.

Forming meatballs and placing on a sheet pan

Bake until browned. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes at 400°F (200°C), until lightly browned on the outside and just cooked through. If you’d like them a bit more browned, broil them in the last 2 to 3 minutes.

Baked meatballs on a sheet pan

A Few Questions Answered

Can you make these meatballs dairy-free?

Yes, just omit the parmesan or substitute it with dairy-free cheese.

How do you keep the meatballs moist?

I choose an 80% ground beef and mix that with ground pork and diced onion. If you choose a leaner ground meat, they’ll definitely be a bit dryer.

Baked meatballs on a white plate

Ways to Serve Meatballs

My favorite way to enjoy these meatballs is with marinara sauce and freshly chopped parsley on top. But here are a few other ideas to make the most out of this recipe!

  • Serve with other sauces. Toss these meatballs with basil pesto or chimichurri sauce for a fresh summer dish, or romesco sauce for a nutty and smoky flavor!
  • Toss with zucchini noodles. Similar to my zucchini noodle bolognese, you can add fresh zucchini noodles as the base.
  • Serve as an appetizer. Besides it being a great dinner, it makes for an even better appetizer! You can serve these on a platter with sauce, and stick a toothpick in each one for the perfect bite-sized snack.
Close up of meatballs in marinara sauce

Storage Tips

  • Storing for the week: Any leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
  • Freezing for later: These meatballs tend to go fast, so make a second batch while you’re at it! Freeze the other half in a freezer-safe bag or container. They’ll keep for up to 3 months.
  • For reheating: Don’t forget to let them thaw overnight in the fridge! Then you can simply microwave them for 1 to 2 minutes, or until warmed through.

Meatballs Recipe Video

When you see how delicious these meatballs look in the video below, you’ll instantly want to make them!

More Ground Beef Recipes

I have a feeling this baked meatball recipe will become a dinner staple! Once you make it, let me know your thoughts in the comment box below.

A pan of meatballs in marinara sauce

Homemade Meatballs

5 from 22 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

These baked meatballs simmered in the best homemade marinara sauce are a comforting dinner recipe that tastes just like home.

Video

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 ½ pound ground meat (beef, pork, or a combination of both)
  • 1 large egg
  • cup finely diced onion
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup finely grated fresh parmesan
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Optional Sauce

Instructions 

  • Mix the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the ground meat, egg, onion, almond flour, parmesan, parsley, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together until well combined (but don't over mix).
    A bowl of meatball ingredients
  • Scoop and roll. Measure out 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture (or use a medium cookie scoop) and roll the mixture between your hands, forming about 30 meatballs.
    Rolling meatballs with a cookie scoop
  • Bake until browned. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until lightly browned on the outside and just cooked through. If you'd like them more browned on the outside, turn on the top broiler in the last 2 to 3 minutes of baking.
    A sheet pan of baked meatballs
  • Serving ideas. You can serve the meatballs with your favorite sauce, like marinara. Just heat the sauce in a pan on the stove and toss the meatballs in the sauce. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
    A pan of baked meatballs simmered in marinara sauce

Lisa’s Tips

  • I typically make my meatballs with 50/50 beef and pork, or 1 pound beef and ½ pound pork. 
  • The meatballs will naturally ooze a bit of fat while baking. Just scrape that off before serving. You can also bake them on a rack on top of the baking sheet, to let the fat drip below. 

Nutrition

Calories: 352kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 549mg | Potassium: 370mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 302IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Meatball Recipe, Meatballs
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




60 Comments

  1. hi, thank you for your recipes. one of my clients bought me the meal prep book for Xmas and I absolutely loved it and I’m glad I found you…
    to store the meat balls and the marinara for the week, do I combine the meatballs and marinara together in a airtight container?

  2. The best meatballs I have ever made – or tasted
    Pros: easy gluten-free come out perfectly
    Cons: if you don’t make two batches at once, you probably won’t end up with any by the time you finished washing up the dishes from cooking them
    Seriously these are a winner, and everyone who has tried them, agrees and wants to go to the website here and try them5 stars

  3. These turned about fabulous. Nice and tender I can’t believe I made them! First time I’ve ever made meatballs! It was so easy! Wondering if I could sneak in some carrot or broccoli to eat for my 5 year old who won’t eat veggies.5 stars

  4. This is our go-to meatball recipe. So moist and flavorful! Also made the marinara sauce linked above. Super simple and cost effective to boot! We also love Lisa’s chicken meatball and turkey meatball recipes.5 stars

    1. Hi Shirley – I’d recommend freezing them after cooking, and then simply reheating when you’d like to enjoy them.

      1. Hi. I am planning to make this today. But, I am not a parsley fan. Can I use something else instead?

  5. I double the recipe since I was going to be busy with the grandkids and it was a perfect. The kids love it and I had leftover meat balls for another busy day. Last night was that busy day, I didn’t have marinara sauce and I ask my husband to make it since I knew its so easy to make and he’s not a cook.
    And he did it! I’m so proud of him and thank you for sharing your delicious easy and healthy recipes.
    I will never again try another marinara sauce.
    Aminta5 stars

  6. These meatballs were amazing and so simple to make since you just have to bake them! Will definitely be making them again next pasta night.5 stars

  7. Haven’t tried this yet. Getting ready to this weekend. I’m sure it will be out of this world. The recipes I have tried of Lisa’s has me always coming back for more. Such a lovely gifted person! I appreciate her sharing her expertise 😊

  8. These meatballs were so good with so much flavor. My husband & son loved them. I did use italian bread crumbs and just hamburger  meat. Thanks for sharing.5 stars

  9. I made this last night for a potluck party and a famous chef told me she loved it and the sauce too. My son devoured the leftovers . These were a hit – YUM. I did it with ground beef only.5 stars

  10. I made these last night for my husband’s birthday, they were a HUGE success. I put them in a marinara sauce and served over fresh spaghetti. So much better than store bought ones. This is my new go to recipe for meatballs.5 stars

  11. I made these along with your marinara sauce and they were a huge success! Another keeper, Lisa. Thanks!5 stars

  12. Hi Lisa!
    As always your recipes looks delicious!

    Question: if I’m using chicken mince, do I follow the recipe as it is or shall I change something? 

    Thank you in advance Lisa! 

  13. Another winner Lisa!! I made the meatballs and your marinara sauce last night. So good and very easy to make! My husband took the leftover meatballs for his lunch. I’m always excited when you have another new recipe to share. :)5 stars

  14. This recipe is simple, quick & amazing. I knew it would be since the recipe I was given many years ago by the mom of an Italian friend was similar but more complex. I have been making that “gravy” and meatballs for years. But I haven’t made it in a long time, don’t do complex anymore. It’s a snow day today, so i had a choice, make these or do our taxes, lol. No contest. I made them but I did add a bit of water because I have always done that with homemade meatballs, I was afraid not to. The taste of these meatballs are so authentic & wonderful. I used fresh parsley and basil I had, along with 100% ground beef (grass fed/fin from the farm). Also always have almond flour on hand or almonds to make more. Can’t wait to have dinner tonight with my spouse who has begged for my meatballs for a while now. Figured mowing for hours, it was the least I could do :-). We love all of your recipes I have made so far. Many on repeat!5 stars

  15. Hi Lisa,

    Can you advise on the fat content of the pork meat? What cut should I use for grounding, as there can be a big difference in fat content?5 stars

  16. I made the meatballs and marinara sauce tonight. Absolutely delicious. Now I have 4 freezer meals and 1 serving for tomorrow. I really like yoiur serving portions, hits the spot perfectly. P.S. served on zucchini noodles.5 stars

  17. Lisa, 
    I recently added anchovy paste (1 or 2 teaspoon and was pleasantly surprised at the depth that it added to my marinara sauce. I thought you might want to experiment with the idea!

    1. You can always find storage instructions written in the post :) But, just store these in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Then simply reheat in the microwave.