Fennel Pork Meatballs


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These juicy pork meatballs are every bit good as they are easy to make! They’re filled with simple yet flavorful ingredients like ground pork, fennel, onion, and fresh herbs, then quickly seared until golden brown, all in one pan. 

A white pan of fennel pork meatballs next to a napkin
Photo: Gayle McLeod

Homemade meatballs are simply the best thing ever. If you’ve made my classic beef meatballs, baked tuna meatballs, or maple mustard turkey meatballs – you know exactly what I mean. They’re bite-sized and oh, so easy to pop in the mouth, making them well-suited for lunch, dinner, or even an afternoon snack. 

And if you’re a fan of ground pork, I’m confident you’ll be making these pork meatballs often. The fennel, onion, and herbs packed inside the meatballs give exceptional flavor! Plus, they’re simple enough to be served in so many ways. From a nibbly appetizer to a complete meal with sauteed greens, I’ll show you just how great this pork meatball recipe can be!

Ingredients for fennel pork meatballs on a table

Pork Meatballs Ingredients

Meatballs typically don’t require many ingredients. But it’s the combination of veggies and herbs that will make or break the recipe. So let’s walk through what you’ll need and how each ingredient impacts the flavor and texture. 

  • Ground Pork: The bulk of this recipe is ground pork, so make sure to choose good quality ground pork! And compared to other types of meat, pork lends a savory yet slightly sweet balance of flavor. 
  • Vegetables: Most of the flavor comes from the fennel bulb, which imparts a savory, licorice flavor. Then dice up half an onion for extra flavorful bits!
  • Eggs: Since this is a gluten-free meatball, the only binder you need is eggs. But don’t worry, they’ll hold together just fine!
  • Herbs & Aromatics: Fennel seeds and fresh parsley add a more profound, herbaceous touch. If you can’t find fennel seeds, just use a bit more fresh fennel or a dash of cumin instead. 

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

How To Make Pork Meatballs

First, cook the veggies. Saute the fennel and onions until softened, then set that pan aside to let them cool.

A white pan with cooked onions for pork meatballs

Second, make the meatball mixture. Mix together the sauteed fennel and onion, pork, eggs, parsley, fennel seed, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

Ingredients for pork meatballs in a glass bowl

Roll up the balls. Pro tip – I always use a medium-sized cookie scoop to make evenly shaped meatballs! Then arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Raw pork meatballs on a sheet pan

Sear the meatballs. Wipe the pan you used previously, add some oil, and cook the first batch of meatballs that will fit without overcrowding. They’ll need about 2 to 3 minutes on each side before rotating before moving on to the next batch.

Seared pork meatballs in a pan

How to Serve Meatballs

A batch of these pork meatballs means endless types of meals! Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy them.

  • Serve as an appetizer: Poke them with toothpicks and serve on a platter with a creamy dipping sauce such as marinara sauce or tzatziki!
  • Complete a plate with veggies: Treat this as an entree where you can serve whatever vegetable side dish you want. And if you have leftover fennel and onion, I love to sauté that with garlic spinach for a quick and easy side!
  • Add a hearty base: You can serve this over lentils, rice, or a large spoonful of creamy mashed potatoes. But for something a bit lighter, toss the meatballs with basil pesto and top on a bed of fresh zucchini noodles
Pork meatballs with sauteed spinach on a plate

Storage Tips

  • To store: These pork meatballs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
  • To freeze: If you love meal prepping as I do, I say make a second batch and freeze them! Store in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. 
  • For reheating: Don’t forget to let them thaw overnight in the fridge! Then when you’re ready to reheat, you can cook them back on the stovetop or microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until warmed through. 

More Pork Recipes

Whether you’re a pork fanatic or not, these dinner ideas are worth trying. Who knows – they might just change your mind!

If you’ve recently made this pork meatball recipe, let me know how it turned out in a comment below! Your reviews will greatly help this community. 

Pork meatballs in a white pan

Fennel Pork Meatballs

4.95 from 18 votes
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 10 servings (of 4 meatballs)
Author: Lisa Bryan


These juicy pork meatballs are every bit good as they are easy to make! Just give them a quick sear in one pan for a delicious dinner.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Heat one tablespoon of oil in large saute pan on medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly softened. Remove from the heat to cool.
    Cooking onions in a pan for fennel pork meatballs
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the pork, eggs, parsley, fennel seed, salt and pepper. Once the sauteed onions and fennel have cooled slightly add them to the mixing bowl and use your hands to mix all ingredients together.
    Fennel pork meatball ingredients in a bowl
  • Shape the pork mixture into small meatballs, approximately 1 ½ inches in diameter. See the notes below for the cookie scoop I use to make evenly sized meatballs. Make all the meatballs and place on parchment-lined baking tray or large plate.
    Rolling fennel pork meatballs onto a sheet pan
  • Wipe your previously used large saute pan clean, then add 3 tablespoons of oil to the pan over medium heat. Place the first batch of meatballs in the pan, being careful not to crowd the pan (this should be about 20 meatballs). Cook the meatballs 2 to 3 minutes on one side, then rotate them, so that all sides are browned. The meatballs should cook for 10 to 12 minutes total, or until the inside is no longer pink. When the first batch is done, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate and start the next batch.
    Cooked fennel pork meatballs in a pan with a spatula
  • Discard any fat from the pan and add all of the meatballs back to the pan to warm through before serving.

Lisa’s Tips

  • I always use this cookie scoop to make evenly sized meatballs.
  • If you can’t find ground fennel seed, you can grind whole fennel seed yourself. Just place the whole seeds in a spice or coffee grinder, or place them in a plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin or hammer, until finely ground. 


Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 303mg | Potassium: 342mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 197IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fennel pork meatballs, pork and fennel meatballs, pork meatballs
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally posted December 2015, but updated with new information and photos.

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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


  1. Fennel makes me extremely nauseated. What else can I substitute to make them juicy. Planning out my whole30 recipes.

    1. The fennel is a key ingredient in this recipe, so I’d recommend swapping them with another meatball recipe for the Whole30 meal plan.

  2. I have made these a few times now and they come out delicious every time. It has become a regular in my recipe rotation.5 stars

  3. I’ve now made this recipe 4 times and it’s become a household favourite. If anything I up the amount of fresh fennel in the recipe to make the meatballs even juicier!  I serve them with a tomato/onion/ garlic balsamic reduction sauce, nothing too overpowering so that the deliciousness the balls come through. One batch is perfect for one meal to eat fresh and a couple of servings to freeze. Thanks Lisa, I’d been making fennel meatballs before but only with the crushed seeds, and the fresh fennel soft fried lifts them to a new level. 5 stars

  4. These meatballs are fenn-ominal! Great taste and nice balance in flavour. The kids like them after school or take them to school for a cool lunch. I like chopping them up for additional protein to a soup or salad too. Will definitely make these again. It was my first time working with fennel as a veg and the flavour really was wonderful.

  5. Lovely.  Made my own ground pork in food processor for kicks and giggles–instructions easy to find on web.  This made for a more-lean-than-usual pork mix, but also allowed for a very tender meatball due to the still-loose nature of the pork.  Also allowed me to use heritage pork (flavor).  

    Used processor (before grinding pork) to finely chop fennel.  Did not pre-cook fennel and onion (instead relied on their being finely chopped).  Added 1 cup panko crumbs.  Ground my own fennel seeds with mortar and pestle.  

    Used pan drippings to make a simple marinara:  added one can pureed tomatoes.  (Make your own by using a handheld blender stick: drain one can chopped tomatoes, insert stick into can, and blend tomatoes in can.)  To pan drippings, add pureed tomatoes, simmer to reduce liquid.  Add a pureed garlic clove (finely chop clove, then grind it to a paste using the flat of your knife and a pinch of kosher salt as a grinding agent).  Season with salt and pepper, add a handful of fresh basil leaves.  

    Serve over al-dente spaghetti sprinkled with olive oil, liberal pepper, and a few finely chopped kale leaves from the garden (stealth nutrition for hubby).  5 stars

  6. Is it possible to freeze the second batch fennel pork meatballs raw?
    Or do I have to fry it first before I freeze it in ? Thanks for the lovely recipes
    Greetings Anne Marie

  7. These meatballs were amazing.  I used ground beef for mine and made a dipping sauce with Greek yogurt, lemon zest, fresh dill, fresh chives and a little salt.  This will definitely be in our dinner rotation.  Love all your recipes Lisa!!5 stars

  8. Hello, thanks for this recipe! I love it! I did it twice. Once for a tapas night with friends with a marinara sauce (they loved it too) and once today for the family. My daughter doesn’t like the onions but I mixed the fenel and onions and I think she will love it, still cooking 😜5 stars

  9. this would be amazing for meal prep! is it possible to freeze them? if so, would it be better to freeze them raw or cooked?

  10. Delish!  Cooked and served with the sautéed spinach as per the recipe.  Had leftover meatballs so reheated those for lunch.  Had barbecue sauce for dipping and grilled peach as a side.  This is a keeper.5 stars

  11. I forgot to buy fennel seeds, but this was still very tasty! I added some roasted broccoli as well, which worked really well :)5 stars

    1. Hi Tomo- Wonderful! I’m glad you loved these meatballs. The fennel definitely adds a delicious note to it.

  12. The store was out of ground pork, so I subbed in pork breakfast sausage. These were easy to make & incredible!! Served over mashed potatoes or cauliflower makes a complete & delicious meal5 stars

    1. Hi Cara- So glad you loved these meatballs! Sounds delicious served over mashed potatoes and cauliflower :)

  13. Made these tonight. First time using fennel so I was a little skeptical about how they would turn out. They were excellent!! Definitely a keeper and great for meal prep. Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

    1. Glad you enjoyed the recipe Shannon! These are my favorite meatballs as well. :) x

  14. I just made these… delicious… dont lke fennel too much so i skipped that
    I just added the spinach to pork/chicken and turkey meat mixture and baked…5 stars

    1. Thanks Erica! After I made this batch I ate leftovers for 3 days straight…so be forewarned they’re addictive. Haha. ;) x