Tasty baked meatballs are ready fast. Made without breadcrumbs, they are low carb, gluten-free, and one of my go-to weeknight dinners because everyone loves them.
Whenever I'm short on time, or not sure what to make for dinner, I take a package of vacuum-sealed ground beef out of the fridge - I always have a few since they keep for so long - and make these tasty and easy meatballs.
I'm a big fan of baking. It's a hands-off cooking method that requires far less attention and vigilance than frying. I quite detest frying and try to do it as seldom as possible. So these no-breadcrumbs meatballs are perfect.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need
For the meatballs:
Lean ground beef: I use a mixture of 85% lean meat and 15% fat. Leaner than that is too dry, in my opinion.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use, or the meatballs could turn out too salty.
Spices: Garlic powder and onion powder. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Grated Parmesan cheese: Make sure you use finely grated parmesan and not coarsely shredded.
For the sauce:
Unsweetened ketchup: Product link included in the recipe card below. I get it either at Whole Foods or on Amazon.
Maple syrup: Or use a sugar-free alternative if you prefer.
Soy sauce: I use reduced-sodium soy sauce in most of my recipes. I find that traditional soy sauce is too salty. Obviously, you can also use a gluten-free alternative.
Spices: Garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
How to make meatballs without breadcrumbs? It's so easy. Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Mix together the meatball ingredients and form into meatballs.
Bake them for 15 minutes at 400°F. For juicy meatballs, make sure you don't overbake them.
Gently heat the sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Add the meatballs to the sauce and toss to coat. That's it!
Variations and substiutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- You can use extra-lean ground beef if you'd like, keeping in mind that the meatballs won't be as flavorful.
- You can also try experimenting with ground chicken, pork, or turkey.
- Tasty spices you could add include paprika and dried thyme - try 1 teaspoon paprika and ½ teaspoon of thyme.
- Instead of the parmesan, you can use ¼ cup of almond flour.
Recommended side dishes
These meatballs are so versatile, you can serve them with any side dish you can think of. I like to serve them on top of cauliflower rice, to absorb the yummy sauce. And then I like to add a green veggie, such as any of the following:
Leftovers of this recipe are great, gently reheated in the microwave on 50% power, or even cold. You can keep them in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. They also freeze well.
I actually enjoy them cold. One of my favorite lunches is a plate of cold leftover meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, Dijon mustard, fresh-cut veggies, and quick pickles.
Frequently asked questions
You can actually make them with no filler at all - similarly to how you would make a burger patty. If you'd like to use a filler, you could try crushed pork rinds, almond flour, or grated parmesan cheese. But it's not mandatory. I add the cheese here mostly for its flavor.
Not at all! In fact, if you add too many breadcrumbs, that's when you risk them falling apart. But when you make them with just ground beef and seasoning, they'll be perfect.
Absolutely! Baking is easier than frying - it's a hands-off approach to cooking which I really appreciate. The meatballs cook beautifully in the oven.
These meatballs are very good served plain, without any sauce or glaze. They are tasty and well-seasoned. But the glaze is so quick and easy, that I usually do make it. It does add a nice flavor to the dish.
Absolutely! If you need to feed a crowd, this recipe scales beautifully. I often double it to ensure I have tasty leftovers for several days.
I LOVE meatballs. Who doesn't? They're fun to make and fun to eat. Here are a few more meatball recipes that I make often:
- A nice variation on this recipe is these cheese-stuffed meatballs which are fabulous, but admittedly not as easy to make.
- Juicy pork meatballs are a crowd-pleaser. Baking them in the oven is super easy, so I make them quite often for dinner.
- Well-seasoned Asian meatballs are coated in a marvelous sauce – sticky, with just a hint of sweetness, and very flavorful.
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Meatballs without Breadcrumbs
- 1 lb. 85% lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (not shredded cheese)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened ketchup
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce (or use a gluten-free alternative and add salt as needed)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, use your hands to mix together the meatball ingredients.
- Form the mixture into 20 meatballs. I find it easiest to shape the mixture into a log, slice it into five slices, then divide each slice into four.
- Place the shaped meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, not touching each other. Bake 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, whisk together the sauce ingredients. 5 minutes before meatballs should be done, heat the sauce gently over medium-low heat. If the sauce seems too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water.
- When meatballs are done, use tongs to transfer them to the sauce. Gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.