These oven baked meatballs are as easy to make as they are juicy and flavorful. You know I love skipping unnecessary steps in recipes, and this recipe is no exception.
Instead of hovering over a hot pan of oil and cooking a few meatballs at a time, I just mix everything together, form the mixture into balls, and pop them in the oven for evenly-cooked deliciousness.
The 20-30 minutes that would normally be taken up by frying is then available to make up a batch of homemade marinara sauce, gluten-free pasta, and an easy salad.
They’re good for so much more than just pasta, though. I sometimes toss them in teriyaki sauce or serve them on top of cauliflower mashed potatoes and gravy. Here are some of my favorite ways to use them . . . .
Way To Serve Oven Baked Meatballs
- By themselves or dipped in homemade BBQ sauce
- With homemade marinara sauce and pasta or spaghetti squash “pasta”
- On a meatball sandwich with gluten-free crusty bread, marinara and melted cheese
- Tossed in this quick teriyaki sauce (I usually leave the Italian seasoning out if I’m planning to use them this way)
- In Italian Wedding Soup (meatball soup)
- On top of creamy mashed cauliflower with gravy
- Later . . . as in, make a double batch and toss half in the freezer for a quick meal when you don’t feel like cooking.
What’s the secret to tender oven-baked meatballs?
Unlike most meatball recipes, which use panko breadcrumbs, eggs and milk to keep the meatballs from becoming tough, the secret to keeping meatballs moist in this recipe is shredded veggies. As the meatballs cook, the veggies absorb the juices from the meatballs, which helps them retain both flavor and moisture.
Here are two more tips for the tender, juicy meatballs:
- Meats with a higher fat percentage, such as ground pork, yield a juicier meatball. For that reason, avoid extra lean ground beef and go for 80-85% lean instead. That said, we’ve enjoyed lots of tender meatballs made with ground turkey (which is super lean) thanks to tip number two, which is . . .
- Don’t overcook your meatballs. Depending on their size they should be ready in 20-25 minutes. I usually check mine by cutting one in half and checking for doneness at the 20 minute mark, but if you prefer you can use an instant read thermometer. Just place the sensor in the sensor of the meatball – when it reads 165F it’s ready.
Can oven baked meatballs be frozen?
Yes, absolutely. I often make a double batch and freeze half for an easy meal later on. Here’s my process:
1. Place the baking sheet with meatballs directly in the freezer and allow to freeze for about two hours. This keeps them from sticking together.
2. Once frozen, place them in a reusable storage bag and store for up to 3 months.
Easy Italian Oven Baked Meatballs
- large mixing bowl
- 2 rimmed baking sheets
- 2 pounds ground turkey, ground pork, ground beef or a mixture of ground meats (buy high-quality meats here)
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1 cup minced onion
- 1½ cups shredded zucchini
- ½ cup finely chopped kale (de-stemmed)
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- chopped fresh parsley for topping (optional)
- parmesan cheese for topping (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the veggies, spices, salt and pepper. Add in the meat and mix everything together with clean hands.
- Form the meat mixture into 1 – 1.5 inch balls and place meatballs on two rimmed baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper. Make sure there is a little space between each one so that they can cook evenly.
- Bake meatballs for 20-25 minutes, or until inside is no longer pink. If you're using ground turkey and want them to be a little golden brown on top, you can turn on the broiler and for a few minutes to brown just before you remove them from the oven.
More Italian Inspired Comfort Food Recipes
Spaghetti Squash Alfredo – This creamy dish is always a huge hit at my house. It’s filling, simple to make, and can easily be doubled so you can spend less time in the kitchen making side dishes throughout the week.
Zucchini Pasta Carbonara – Made with zucchini noodles, this pasta is amazing with fresh herbs and cheese and can be adapted based on whatever you have in your kitchen.
Risotto alla Milanese – Creamy, bright and infused with delicious aromatic herbs, this Risotto alla Milanese recipe is a total crowd pleaser.
Copycat Olive Garden Salad Dressing – This recipe from my friend Renee is a staple in my kitchen. It’s so delicious!