The Best Italian Meatballs
These are truly THE BEST Paleo Meatballs ever. Incredibly moist and flavourful, they are just like the meatballs that my Italian grandma used to make, but thanks to a few simple tricks they are also Paleo and Whole30!
Growing up in an Italian family, and spending quite a bit of time in Italy over the years, I like to think that I have become a bit of an expert in the world of meatballs. I have learned the difference between a good meatball and an average meatball. For me the key is not only flavour, but also texture. Ideally they should be super moist and fall apart tender.
There are a few secrets to getting THE BEST Italian Meatballs just right. First up is the meat and a combination of types is key. Traditionally the mixture should be a blend of beef, pork and veal, but ground veal can be expensive and often hard to find, so I have included in the recipe the option of simply doubling the amount of pork.
The other secret to super tender and moist meatballs is bread and milk. To keep this recipe grain free I had to skip the traditional method of soaking bread in milk, and instead added a combination of almond flour and almond milk, for very similar results. Although 2 cups of almond milk seems like a lot, it quickly gets absorbed into the meat and flour and will make the meat incredibly tender when cooked.
Another secret to the perfect meatball is the tomato sauce. I add a handful of the raw meat mixture to the sauce while cooking. This results in a really flavourful chunky sauce with delicious bits of crumbly meat in every bite.
Please note that this recipe makes a large amount of meatballs (50+ to be exact), but I think that the texture and flavour only improves when you freeze them in batches once cooked. They will last for over 6 months in the freezer, and they are a great easy dinner you can have ready in under 5 minutes.
Here are a few of my other favourite Italian recipes:
- Chicken Cacciatore
- Bolognese Sauce
- Eggplant Polpette (aka Meatless Meatballs)
- Italian Wedding Soup
- Butternut Squash Ravioli with Kale Pesto
- Braised Lamb Ragu
- Classic Beef Lasagna
If you make this recipe let me know in the comment section below, I would love to hear what you think or take a photo and tag me (@everylastbite_) on Instagram, I love seeing your photos!
The Best Italian Meatballs
- 750 grams ground beef
- 500 grams ground pork or 250grams of pork and 250grams of veal
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 tbsp chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 3/4 cups almond flour
- 1 3/4 cups almond milk
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan optional*
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 onion finely diced
- 3 28 oz cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tsp dried basil
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
- In a bowl combine the ground meats, garlic, parsley, chilli flakes, salt and pepper, if using parmesan, add it in at this point too. Using your hands blend everything together so the meat is well mixed. Stir in the almond flour and then slowly add in the almond milk, half a cup at a time. It will quickly absorb into the meat. Continue mixing with your hands until all of the almond milk has been added in.
- Roll the meat into balls approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Save 1 large handful of the meat mixture which will be added to the sauce later.
- Bake the meatballs in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, flipping half way through to ensure they brown evenly.
- While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce.
- In a large pot sauté the minced garlic and onion in olive until the onion becomes translucent. Add in the saved meat mixture and using a wooden spoon break it up into a crumbly consistency. Once the meat has begun to brown, add in the canned tomatoes.
- Allow to simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 2 hours (the longer you leave it to simmer the richer the flavours will be)
- Add the meatballs into the sauce to coat. Freeze the sauce and meatballs together in containers. Enjoy the meatballs on their own or with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. Sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving.
This looks totally yum! I might have to invest in a chest freezer if this keeps up LOL – my fridge freezer is way too small for all the goodies I keep finding on this site! I love meatballs, and have been on a spaghetti squash binge lately, and now that I have translated the grams to pounds (US resident, not quite up on the metric measurements – my problem, not yours) I am seeing this in my near future. My dairy allergy (and pre-allergy preference) means subbing Pecorino Romano, but otherwise this sounds right up my alley.
While I do not technically have gluten issues I have been avoiding grains since I tried on Paleo and found it (mostly) fit. Eventually I found that it wasn’t as good a fit as I thought, and remembered that no two bodies are exactly the same, and no diet will suit all. Now I am just eating what my body tells me is right for me, which means little to no wheat and gluten-bearing grains, no cow-milk based dairy, limited dairy from goats and sheep, good quality meats in severe moderation, and gimme all the veg I can glom onto, especially if I can find them at my local farmer’s market – local, organic and seasonal rocks 🙂
I want to start by saying that I am an Italian, so I grew up eating authentic meatballs my Nonna would make and these tasted exactly the same! They were fantastic!
Wow what a compliment!!! I feel honoured, thank you!
Are chopped tomatoes legal with calcium chloride?
This is a tricky one, as over the years I have struggled to find a definitive answer. I try to only buy Italian canned tomatoes because they do not contain calcium chloride. That being said, calcium chloride is simply a form of salt, so if you are in the very early stages of the diet I would avoid it if your stomach is very sensitive, but after that try consuming a small amount, if you do not have a reaction then using canned tomatoes with calcium chloride in recipes isn’t a problem. Sorry for the long winded answer!
Holy meatballs! I have one batch out of the oven, and one baking now. Sauce is simmering away. These are incredible. I’ve always searched for a great meatball recipe and never found what I was looking for. I’ve been looking for authentic, a specific tender texture, baked not fried, and grain free. These are it. Authentic, perfect texture, perfect.
Yeeaa!! So happy to hear that you like them. They freeze incredibly well and become even more tender when frozen and then thawed so definitely worth doubling the recipe next time 🙂
Yummy! So easy to make. I have made these twice so far and used them in your tomato sauce and made hemmwith a pesto sauce.
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Hi! The ingredient list says chopped tomatoes, but the amazon link shows strained tomatoes. Which is it? Thanks 🙂
Either one works! I have included the link for anyone looking for Specific Carbohydrate Diet Legal canned tomatoes but if you are not on that diet then regular chopped tomatoes works well.
So easy to make and so incredibly tasty delicious!! Family, friends and kid-approved!! I’m making these forever!!!❤️
Thanks for making paleo, keto cooking such a wonderful experience!!
Help! I bought all the ingredients to make this today but I am confused about the almond milk and almond flour for the meatballs – these are part of the ingredients but not part of the instructions
Amazing recipe! Found the rest of the instructions. Super delicious and the meatballs held their shape perfectly. My family loved it and my son who is on the SCD diet asked if there were leftovers for lunch.
I am having such difficulty finding SCD recipes. This blog is great! Thank you Thank you Thank you
Hey Carmen, I made a big batch of these again for the zillionth time this weekend and I just wanted to say that if you ever make a family-friendly category/tag, make sure to include these! My pasta-monster toddler will dig through her pasta to pull out the meatballs first as she loves them that much. And my 5 year old who categorically does not like pork or beef, and only likes chicken, also gobbles them up. (I do call them “chicken balls” – small white lies ) It’s so easy to boil up some quick pasta for the kids while mum/dad have a healthier base, so definitely a perfect family option.
, and first, thanks for all your recipes.
I would like tot ry the meatballs, but 35-40 minutes at 175°C sounds like a lot, to cook so little pieces of meat….
I’m afraid they’ll trun dry. Have you tried only 15 minutes ?