Homemade Meatballs – Downshiftology


by Sil Pancho



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, 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

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

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

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

©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.

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