Classic Italian Gluten Free Meatballs

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


  • 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


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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.