Classic Italian Gluten Free Meatballs

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Italian gluten free meatballs
Italian gluten free meatballs photo by Oksana Charla
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Calories: 417

I started making this recipe for my son and his high school swim team mates, preparing double and triple batches and freezing them in case of unexpected drop-ins. Baking meatballs in a hot oven saves lots of time and mess. It also makes them crispy on the outside. To keep them moist, add chicken or beef broth to the pan before baking; remove them from the liquid after baking so they don’t get soggy. For a leaner version, replace the ground beef with ground dark meat turkey.

For Egg-Free Classic Italian Meatballs, omit 2 eggs. Combine 2 tablespoons golden flax meal with 6 tablespoons hot water. Let cool. Use this mixture to replace the eggs in step 2.

Meatballs 101

Reduce Calories & Add Fiber

  • Replace ground beef or pork with ground dark meat chicken or turkey.
  • Replace heavy cream with half-and-half and plain yogurt.
  • Replace rice or corn noodles with spaghetti squash or spiralized veggies, such as zoodles (zucchini noodles) or butternut squash.

Juicy Meatballs (Crispy Outside with a Flavorful Center)

  • For delicious texture, add gluten-free breadcrumbs (panko crumbs are best) and egg or egg replacer to the meatball mixture.
  • To cook, place meatballs in a lightly oiled baking pan. Add a small amount of chicken or beef broth to the pan and bake meatballs in a 425°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Alternatively, brown meatballs on both sides in a skillet; cover and let steam about 5 minutes.

Versatile Meatballs

  • Hoagie-style Place meatballs on the bottom half of a gluten-free bun. Top with marinara sauce and cheese of choice. Close the bun and enjoy!
  • Hors d’oeuvres Make bite-size meatballs (reduce cooking time accordingly). Serve mini-meatballs with a flavorful dipping sauce. Don’t forget the toothpicks and napkins.

Make Ahead

  • Cooked meatballs freeze well. (Don’t freeze raw meatballs.) Make a triple batch and freeze extras in zip-top bags for quick meals.
  • To freeze, place meatballs on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. Then transfer to zip-top bags and store in the freezer. Reheat by simmering meatballs in sauce 15 to 20 minutes; alternatively, warm them in a covered pan in a 350°F oven until hot.
  • Frozen beef meatballs are good up to 3 months. Frozen chicken and turkey meatballs are good up to 6 weeks.

Food editor Beth Hillson is a chef and cooking instructor. She is founder of Gluten-Free Pantry, one of the first gluten-free companies in the United States, and author of Gluten-Free Makeovers and The Complete Guide to Living Well Gluten Free (Da Capo Lifelong).

Yields 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese of choice
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free beef broth (chicken broth, if using ground turkey), divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds 90% lean ground beef or ground dark meat turkey

Directions

1Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a large baking pan with nonstick spray.

2Place eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, ¼ cup broth, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes in a large bowl and combine. Add meat and mix gently just to combine. Do not over-mix.

3Roll mixture into 1-inch meatballs and set them in prepared baking pan. Pour ½ cup broth around meatballs.

4Place in preheated oven and bake 25 minutes.

5Remove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes. Then transfer meatballs to a serving platter. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce, pasta and grated cheese. For lower carbs and higher fiber, serve over spaghetti squash or zoodles.

6 meatballs contains 417 calories, 20g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 203mg cholesterol, 885mg sodium, 12g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 0g sugars, 44g protein.