Everybody needs a great meatball recipe; one that will take you from busy weeknights to easy weekend entertaining. This recipe for baked meatballs will do just that - tender and tasty little morsels that become your meal-planning friend. Make up a big batch for your freezer while you're rolling them anyway, and you'll have the basis for countless dishes. Toss them into your favourite pasta sauce, or into the creamy sauce of the Meatball Stroganoff recipe included below. (Skip to recipes.)
Holy moly, marvelous meatballs!
Having a stash of them in the freezer is culinary gold. Just think how wonderful it is to come home from a long day of work, cook up a pot of spaghetti, heat up a potful of rich pasta sauce (and if that one come from your freezer, even better), and plop in a bunch of your frozen meatballs. Aaaaaah, put up your feet and maybe even pour yourself a vino while you wait. Or steal away to a closet for a few minutes to read by yourself while the kids play and before you have to run them off to dance practice and swimming lessons.
And if you've had tomato sauce with your meatballs the last five times, why not try this luscious version of meatballs in a tangy, creamy stroganoff sauce?
These are basic meatballs with a whole depth of umami flavour. They're soft and tender, beautifully moist, yet hold together well in sauces. They're loaded with flavour from a handful of parmesan cheese, finely minced onion, garlic, and a few choice seasonings. They can stand up to being served on their own - perhaps with your favourite dipping sauce - or doing a double dunk dive into your favourite sauce or gravy.
AND they're baked!
15 minutes in the oven. Plus no messy greasy stovetop splatters as you chase the little devils around the frying pan trying to turn them over and get them to brown while staying nicely rounded at the same time. Bake them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for a no-fuss, no-muss cooking experience. That's reason to celebrate!
Plop your delicious baked meatballs into a pot of :
- your favourite jarred commercial pasta sauce
- your own homemade marinara sauce
- this simple buttery tomato sauce
- this rich sage and onion gravy
- the luscious stroganoff sauce recipe below
- hearty sausage, kale, and bean soup - instead of the sausage
- Mediterranean fried rice - instead of the sausage
- or pile them on a pizza
- into a meatball sub
- a meatball wrap
- or stuff 'em into a pita sandwich
The sky's the limit when you've got a bag of boom-chicka-wow basic baked meatballs in your fridge or freezer.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: Make a double or triple batch of these baked meatballs while you're at it, and freeze some for future use. You will thank yourself when you pull them out of the freezer on a busy night. Use a small scoop (1½ tablespoon size) to make quick work of these meatballs. Just scoop and roll.
*You can use any ground meat of choice. If using ground chicken or turkey, omit the water as the meat is already so moist it's difficult to shape nice meatballs.
**To make sure the onion is very finely chopped, after finely dicing it, scrape the onion into a pile on the cutting board and run the knife over it several more times to make sure there are no big bits left and it is as fine as can be. Big chunks makes it hard to roll neat meatballs.
For dairy-free meatballs, replace the Parmesan cheese with 2 tablespoons of ground almonds + 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, or with all ground almonds.
- ¼ cup (35gms) gluten free bread crumbs, rolled oats, or ground almonds
- ¼ cup (60ml) water
- 1 lb (454gms) lean ground beef (or other ground meat of choice* - see notes above)
- ¼ cup (30gms) finely grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup onion, very finely chopped**
- 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (or for gluten free: 1½ teaspoons g.f. tamari soy sauce + 1½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder (or substitute with dry oregano)
- ½ teaspoon pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°C (220°C).
Put the bread crumbs, oats, or ground almonds in a large bowl and pour the water on top of them to start the softening-up process. Plunk the ground beef on top, and add the rest of the ingredients.
Mix everything lightly and gently together with your hands just until you can see that all the ingredients are evenly combined. In order to keep the meatballs light and tender, make sure not to overwork the mixture.
Scoop up spoonfuls of the meatball mixture (a scant 2 tablespoons) and roll them between your palms into 1½ inch (3.8cm) balls. Makes about 24 meatballs. Lay them, not touching, onto a baking sheet.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until cooked through. You can check by cutting one meatball in half and if it is no longer pink in the middle, they are done.
If you are serving the meatballs plain, you can use a butter knife to scrape off the cooked protein from meat & cheese that sometimes collects around the base of each meatball. It's just for aesthetic reasons, so if the meatballs will be tossed into a sauce, I wouldn't bother.
ALTERNATE COOKING METHOD: You can also drop the formed meatballs directly into a pot of simmering sauce. Cover with a lid, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Stir them gently into the sauce so as not to break the meatballs up.
TO FREEZE MEATBALLS: Lay the cooked and cooled meatballs onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and freeze them until solid. Pop the frozen meatballs into a heavy duty zip top freezer bag or a freezer container and store them in the freezer. Remove as many frozen meatballs as needed for recipes. Add them (frozen) directly to simmering pasta sauces or reheat them briefly in the oven if using them plain. Frozen meatballs will keep well for three months in the freezer.
Serve the meatballs in your favourite pasta sauce or try the following recipe for Meatball Stroganoff:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 4 cups (350gms) sliced mushrooms
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (or regular flour for non gluten free)
- 2 cups (480ml) beef broth
- 24 small baked meatballs (1 batch of the recipe above)
- 1 cup (240ml) full-fat sour cream (do not substitute with yogurt, or the sauce may curdle)
Heat the butter and oil in a wide skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat heat. Add the onions and cook for five minutes. Then add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook until the mushrooms have released their juices and the juices have cooked off, 5 to 10 minutes more.
Sprinkle the thyme, nutmeg, and sweet rice flour (or regular flour) over the mushrooms and stir until the flour is all moistened from the oil. Add the beef broth, half a cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until a smooth gravy forms.
Add the meatballs, scraping in any pan juices if you've just baked them, and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for a few minutes until the meatballs are heated through (a few minutes longer if the meatballs are frozen).
Turn the heat to the lowest setting and push the meatballs to the sides of the pan. Add the sour cream to the middle, stirring it into the sauce, then gently move the meatballs around to incorporate the cream into the rest of the dish.
Serve over egg noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes.
Serves 4 to 6.
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