Perfect Baked Meatballs (Whole30 + Paleo)

Posted by Karin on April 16, 2020
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Baked Meatballs close up

Made with simple ingredients and baked in the oven these Whole30 Meatballs are an easy comfort food recipe perfect for weeknight dinners, special occasions, and everything in between! Serve them with pasta sauce for a low carb dinner. 

The Best Meatball Recipe

Who doesn’t love a good meatball? No, seriously. WHO? I wanna talk. Haha just kidding! In all honesty, though, I’ve never come across someone who declines a good meatball. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good beef recipe. Ground Beef Taco Meat, Spicy Beef & Asparagus Stir Fry, and The Perfect Burger make frequent appearances in my dinner rotations. However, there’s just something so special about meatballs. Do you agree? Warm and covered in sauce, they remind me of my childhood and never disappoint. Luckily, my boys feel the same! 

However, once I started the Whole30 Diet, I quickly realized that not many…well, practically no meatballs meet the requirements. I searched every store and spent hours searching recipes to my avail. Some came close, but none held that classic Italian flavor I was craving. So, unwilling to give up, I decided to take matters into my own hands and headed to the kitchen! After a few trials and errors, I created this meatball recipe. Simple, baked, and delicious, I couldn’t be happier with the results and can’t wait to share them with you, too! 

Ready to get cookin’? Let’s go! 

Simple Ingredients for Whole30 Meatballs

Unlike traditional meatballs made with breadcrumbs, eggs, and dairy, this recipe is completely gluten,dairy free, and Whole30-approved thanks to a couple of simple swaps! Take a look below to find everything you’ll need. 

Beef – I typically opt for 80/20 beef for added flavor and moisture, but feel free to use whatever you like best! 

Pork – Not only does pork add flavor, but it also adds extra fat for juicy meatballs. 

Egg – Crucial to this recipe, eggs add tons of flavor and act as a binder to help hold all of the ingredients together. 

Onion – Onions add a nice hint of flavor and texture. I recommend opting for white onions and dicing them into small pieces for the best results. You don’t want to make the pieces too big or the meatballs will fall apart!

Nutritional Yeast – The perfect dairy alternative, nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavor as well as essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12! 

“Breadcrumbs” – For a Whole30 alternative, I used Nutcrumbs, but you can use any bread crumbs you have on hand. Or, substitute it for almond flour!  

Marinara Sauce – Marinara sauce is the secret to incredible Italian flavor and locks in the moisture to prevent them from drying out. 

Tomato Paste – Tomato paste is used in the meatballs themselves to match the flavor of the marinara sauce and provide substance to the balls. 

Herbs & Seasonings – I used garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and parsley, but feel free to get creative with your favorite combinations! 

How to Make Baked Meatballs

Before I made them, I assumed homemade meatballs had to be super complicated, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! This recipe comes together in no time with just a few easy steps. Take a look below to see how it’s done! 

Combine ingredients. Add all of the ingredients except for the marinara sauce into a large bowl, and mix thoroughly until they are well combined. Don’t be afraid to use your hands for this step. 

Make meatballs. Once combined, use an ice cream scoop to make evenly sized balls. You should have about 15 by the time you’re done. 

Bake. Leaving them uncovered, bake the meatballs for 20 minutes in the oven. 

Add sauce. After 20 minutes, remove the meatballs from the oven, reduce the heat, and pour the sauce over them making sure to coat them completely. Then, place them back in the oven for 45 minutes to finish baking. 

Enjoy! Remove the meatballs from the oven, garnish them with fresh seasonings, and dig in! 

What Temperature Should Meatballs Be Cooked?

For the best results, I bake my meatballs at two temperatures starting at 425 degrees Fahrenheit to help them brown. Then, after about 20 minutes, I reduce the heat to 325 degrees to let them finish baking without burning the crisped outsides. 

Do I have to Use Beef? 

No! Traditional meatball recipes are made with a combination of ground beef and ground pork. However, you could also use ground chicken or turkey! 

How Long Do Whole30 Meatballs Last? 

If stored in an airtight container in the fridge, baked meatballs will stay fresh for up to 3-4 days. 

Can I Freeze Baked Meatballs? 

Yes! You can store this meatballs recipe in the freezer either cooked or uncooked for up to 2 months. Then, just pull them out to thaw, and pop them in the oven to bake or reheat. 

Serving Suggestions

Personally, I like to eat these baked meatballs as they are. However, you could pair them with zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, or regular pasta noodles. Or, put them inside a bun for a meatball sub! 

More Italian-Inspired Recipes

  • Mama Mia’s Whole30 Sausage and Peppers
  • Whole30 Zuppa Toscana
  • Paleo Ricotta and Tomato Baked Eggs
  • Whole30 Caramelized Mushroom and Onion Breakfast Frittata
  • This recipe is by far my favorite comfort food to make! I like to make a big batch of meatballs to enjoy as leftovers the next day, and highly recommend popping them in the freezer for easy meals on busy weeknights! It’s seriously a lifesaver from time to time. Do you have any go-to meals inspired by childhood favorites? Let me know in the comments below! 

    Also, of course, if you make this or any of my other recipes, please tag me on Instagram! I’d love to see your creations, connect, and share your page. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. Stay tuned for new recipes, easy meal plans, decoration tips, and more every week! 

    In the meantime, enjoy!

    Karin

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    Perfect Baked Meatballs

    Course: Main Course

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 lb ground pork
    • 1 egg lightly beaten
    • 1 cup yellow onion diced
    • 4 cloves garlic minced
    • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
    • 1/2 cup compliant breadcrumbs I used Nutcrumbs (Italian), but you can sub almond flour, and add 1T Italian seaning and 1/2 t salt 1/4 t black pepper
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 1 32 oz jar marinara sauce I like using Rao's, but whatever you choose, be sure to check the labels
    • 2 tbsp fresh parsley minced; 1/2 T dried
    • 4 tbsp tomato paste

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
    • Using either a nonstick cooking spray, or olive oil (1 t or so), grease a 9×12 baking pan
    • Add all ingredients (minus the jarred marinara) to a large bowl, and mix thoroughly until combined
    • Using an ice cream scoop, make evenly sized meatballs, you should have about 15
    • Bake meatballs for 20 minutes (uncovered), this helps to brown them
    • Remove meatballs, lowering heat to 325 degrees F, pour sauce over meatballs, ensuring they are evenly covered, place back in the oven for 45 minutes
    • Carefully remove from the oven (they will be hot), garnish with basil or fresh parsley, and serve as desired. My favorite is with baked spaghetti sauce 😉

    P.S. This page may contain affiliate links. Of course, you’re not obligated to use them, but I appreciate the love if you do!

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    Karin with her first 2 boys

    I’m Karin (Ka-Rin), a cooking, photography and interior design enthusiast sharing my love of delicious food, humor, pretty things and capturing beauty in everyday moments.

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