Oven Baked Meatballs - These delicious meatballs hide a secret ingredient that helps hold them together and give them a moist and flavorful texture!
Growing up, my mom made meat sauce in lieu of meatballs to serve with spaghetti.
Despite that fact, I've been making them for my kids now for over ten years.
I've tried many a meatball recipe, including ones with ground beef, turkey, and even chicken. My main angle in making them is that I don't use breadcrumbs.
My husband, Jade, and I all have trouble with gluten, so we generally don't eat it much, save for the occasional pizza or batch of healthy cookies.
I've tried some interesting substitutes over the years, not the least of which is today's secret ingredient: pumpkin!
I first saw this idea on The Kitchen and had to try it. Lo and behold, pumpkin makes the meatballs soft and juicy; it's a great, nutritious alternative to breadcrumbs!
Ingredients and substitutions
Ground beef - I typically make these with beef, but they work very well with ground turkey or chicken as well.
Pumpkin puree - Make sure you don't get the pumpkin pie puree or you'll have sweet meatballs, ick!
Onion, garlic, parsley - I like yellow onion best, but red and white also work. Fresh basil works well in place of parsley. I think fresh sage might be nice with the pumpkin, but I haven't tried that yet!
Salt and pepper - One teaspoon of salt to each pound of meat is the rule I usually follow.
Parmesan - This is optional; I very often leave it out, but am including it the recipe because it does add a nice flavor.
Mix together all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
Shape the mixture into balls, making each about 1 1/2 inches in size. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake about 12-14 minutes or until cooked through.
You'll read different opinions, but I err on the side of more done and try to make sure they are at least 165 degrees F.
An egg helps to bind the mixture, and it keeps the meatballs from falling apart. Because this recipe doesn't use breadcrumbs, it isn't an issue, and there isn't a need for eggs.
Over cooking or over mixing are typically the reasons for tough meatballs. When mixing, use your fingers just until the ingredients are combined. When cooking (baking, in this case) be sure to use a thermometer to monitor the internal temperature.
How to serve
While you probably already have ideas of how you'd like to serve your meatballs, here are a few extra!
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Meatball Subs
- Meatball Sliders
- Meatball Soup (Italian Wedding Soup)
- Swedish Meatballs
You could also mix them with a good marinara sauce, top with mozzarella cheese, and bake until golden for a tasty low carb option.
Egg-Free Meatballs (If the addition of pumpkin is too wild for you, you might like this recipe!)
Beef and Quinoa Meatballs (Try mixing in some quinoa for extra protein AND fiber.)
And if you need even more ideas, check out this list of meatball recipes!
Oven Baked Meatballs (NO Breadcrumbs!)
- 1 pound ground beef, turkey, or chicken
- ⅓ cup canned pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley or basil chopped
- ¼ cup grated parmesan optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine meat, pumpkin, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, and parmesan (if using) together in a large bowl. Mix gently with your fingers to combine.
- Form meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (I get about 15 total), and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees F.
If you have a chance to try this recipe, please leave a star rating and a comment below letting me know how you liked it!