When I gave up grains I thought spaghetti and meatballs would be off the menu. Turns out you can have your grain and gluten-free meatballs and eat them too! This gluten-free meatball recipe is simmered in a delicious tomato sauce and works great with gluten-free spaghetti or spaghetti squash.
The Best Gluten-Free Meatballs
It depends on personal preference of course but I do think these are pretty darn good meatballs. They work well as an appetizer, especially if you roll them into a smaller size. It’s an easy gluten-free recipe for Italian meatballs your whole family can get behind! They’re similar to the Swedish meatballs in my cookbook, but of course, the sauce is different.
These beef meatballs are grain-free, gluten-free, and can be dairy free. Some gluten-free beef meatball recipes use gluten-free breadcrumbs (like Panko) to give them the right texture. I’m not a fan of some of the processed grains and vegetable oils in them though. Another popular option is gluten-free oats. We don’t eat a lot of oats in our home, and they’re soaked steel cut oats when we do.
Instead, I use almond flour to mix in with the meat. I also use Parmesan cheese for added flavor, but you can omit it if desired. This makes it suitable for those with celiac disease or those on the paleo diet.
To keep the seasoning simple, I use a blend of garlic powder and Italian seasoning. My homemade version includes herbs like oregano and thyme. You could also add other herbs, like dried parsley or onion powder if desired.
What’s the Best Meat for Meatballs?
There are a lot of different options and combinations here. Ground turkey is lower in fat and can easily become dry when cooking. Then there’s ground pork, chicken, or lean ground beef. For these meatballs, I use a blend of regular ground beef and ground Italian sausage. It has enough fat to keep them moist and flavorful and it’s higher in iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
If you want to make extra for later, these also freeze well. You can make raw, frozen meatballs to cook later. Another option is to cook the meatballs, let them cool, and then package them in a silicone freezer bag to reheat for a quick meal. I like to prep my proteins for the week ahead of time. This makes it really easy to throw together a quick, weeknight meal that’s also a hit with the kids!
Meatballs in Zucchini Marinara Recipe
For the meatballs:
Make the Meatballs:
- To make the meatball mixture, combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. If you're making dairy free meatballs, omit the Parmesan cheese. You might need to add a little extra almond flour to get the right consistency.
- Form the meat mixture into golf ball-size balls.
- Cook the meatballs in batches in a large skillet over medium heat on the stovetop until browned on all sides.
Make the Sauce:
- In a medium-sized pot heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
- Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and salt.
- Bring to a boil then immediately reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes to let flavors meld.
- Add the diced zucchini and the meatballs to the sauce.
- Cook and stir over medium-low heat until the zucchini is slightly softened and the meatballs are cooked through. They should have an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
- Serve over gluten-free pasta or spaghetti squash and enjoy!
Slow Cooker or Baked Meatballs Recipe
Want to make these in the slow cooker? Make the meatball mixture as described above. Add the sauteed garlic and onion to the slow cooker along with the sauce ingredients. Place the meatballs in the sauce and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Add the zucchini during the last hour of cooking.
If you prefer to cook the meatballs in the oven, here’s how: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the meatballs on the sheet so they’re not touching. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until they’re 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.
What are your favorite foods to pair with meatballs? Leave a comment and let me know!