Here’s the dependable, quick to throw together, hard to get wrong, sure to please the husband and fill the teenager, simple to store and reheat, ideal to have stashed in the freezer, easy meatball recipe that will even work for your gluten-free diet.
Seriously, I could cook this easy meatballs recipe every week and not hear any complaints – first of all, there are different sauces…meat-flavored sauce, extra garlic and basil sauce, three-cheese sauce, mushroom sauce, etc. Lots of choices! Then there are also options to serve with them such as spaghetti (of course!) and other kinds of pasta.
There are also vegetables to serve with them like sautéed shoestring-cut zucchini, or baked spaghetti squash, or shredded cabbage (cooking is not even required for that last one since the hot meat and sauce spooned over it is enough to cook it).
If you want a simpler meal than that, you can serve the meatballs on a split, toasted bun or roll for a filling meatball sandwich.
Here’s an important note when cooking ground beef in meatballs or patties: When the internal temperature of the meatball has reached 160 F., it’s safe to eat. It turns out that color is not a reliable indicator of whether ground beef is done (see this USDA article for more). A good meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer is the best way to tell. Usually there is no pink remaining at this point, but sometimes there might be due to pH factors and more. Also, sometimes the pink is gone before the meat is actually cooked enough to be safe from foodborne illnesses.
- 1 Large Onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 Cup GF Breadcrumbs, Garbanzo Flour or Almond Flour (for low-carb)
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 2 Tablespoons Parsley, chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Pepper, freshly ground
- 2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef
- 2 Quarts Spaghetti Sauce, GF, like Ragú® (see Note 1 below), Classico® (see Note 2 below) or your favorite brand or homemade recipe
- 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated, or shredded Mozzarella
- Pasta Prepared According to Package Directions, or
- Shredded Cabbage, or
- Shoestring Zucchini, Sautéed, or
- Split Toasted GF Buns or Rolls
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl or food processor, mix the first nine ingredients (onion through meat) in order listed.
Press mixture evenly on a cutting board. With a large knife, cut into 24 even squares. As you pick them up, you can smooth out the corners some, if you like. Or, you can use a scoop instead, if you like.
Place on a foil- or parchment-covered baking pan, at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake until done as described above, approximately 30 minutes. Cooking time depends on how thick you've made the meatballs.
Meanwhile, begin preparing the pasta, or whatever you'll be serving with the meatballs, according to package directions.
When the meatballs are done, remove them from the baking pan to a large casserole dish, saucepot or preheated slow cooker (preheat with sauce in it -- not empty). Cover with spaghetti sauce.
Cover with lid; return to a 350 degree F. oven if a casserole dish, OR move to a stovetop burner on low heat if a saucepot, OR put in a slow cooker set according to manufacturer's instructions. Gently heat through.
Keep warm until serving time. Add more sauce as needed.
Serve over pasta, sautéed shoestring-cut zucchini, shredded cabbage or split toasted buns.
Top with Parmesan or mozzarella cheese.
Serves 8 (about 2 dozen meatballs, or 4 per person). You can easily halve the recipe to make fewer, or double it to feed a crowd (or fill your freezer).
Remember: If the label doesn’t show clearly that something is gluten-free, check with the manufacturer. That may seem rather obvious, but it’s easy to overlook. The manufacturer doesn’t actually have to state that gluten is in the ingredients. They only need to state if there is wheat or any of the other seven common allergens. (I discuss this in more detail in my ebook, Eating and Living a Gluten-Free Diet…The Official Guide.) That means that barley, rye and some other less common gluten-y grains can actually be in the ingredients in amounts too small to require being listed by name. For example, the all-inclusive, commonly seen “flavorings” covers a lot of ingredients, some of them gluten-y.
(Note 1) At Ragú®’s website - I entered the question, “Is Ragu sauce gluten-free?” and was given a list of related topics which included “Gluten information.” I took that link and found this:
“Common ingredients that may contain gluten are rye, wheat, oats and barley, and noodles and pasta prepared with any of the previously mentioned grains. HVP, TVP, flavorings, are likely to contribute gluten as well, however, if they contain any gluten, the source would always be listed in the ingredient statements.
“Since product formulations change from time to time, we do not have a printed list of products that identifies those products that contain specific allergens or gluten. The best advice we can give you is to check the ingredient list on the label. Ingredient allergens as defined by FDA: peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, seafood, wheat, eggs, and milk or dairy, as well as any ingredient that may contain gluten are always listed on the label. If gluten is present, it is clearly listed in plain language on the ingredient label (i.e., wheat flour, rye, barley, oats, and malt). Malt is a barley based ingredient.
“We do not publish a list of gluten-free flavors. Therefore, we suggest reading all ingredient labels carefully. As always, if you cannot determine whether the product contains the ingredient in question, we recommend that you don’t use it. “
(Note 2) At Classico®’s website (a Heinz company) I found this in the FAQs:
“Which of the Classico® sauces are gluten-free?”
Answer: “All of the Classico® red and white sauces are gluten-free.”
This gluten-free recipe for easy meatballs is designed for those with gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease, but I’ve found that people who have no food allergies like it, too. It is wheat-free, barley-free and rye-free. Also, it is nut-free and refined sugar-free.
One Creative Mommy’s Gluten-Free Monday
Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
The Gluten-Free Homemaker’s Gluten-Free Wednesdays
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday
Frugal Follies’ Frugal Food Thursday
Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten-Free Fridays
For more gluten-free ground beef recipes: