Made with a mix of beef and pork, fresh basil, aged parmesan, and plenty of seasonings, My Favorite Meatballs are a delicious, make-ahead dinner that is just as good to serve to company as they are for the weeknight family meal. Best of all, this easy recipe is both Low FODMAP and Gluten Free!
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I absolutely love Italian-style meatballs. Whether they top a pile of spaghetti or are tucked into a toasted roll, I’m interested. After years of experimentation with the “very best” recipes I could find in order to make a meatball that fits into my food sensitivities, I can tell you – calling these meatballs my favorite isn’t an exaggeration. They are so good that I’d be just as comfortable serving them to company as I am grabbing a handful out of the freezer for a quick weeknight dinner.
Making My Favorite Meatballs
My Favorite Meatballs start with a base mixture of ground beef and pork. If you don’t eat pork, try substituting dark meat turkey. The fat content will change, but overall the seasonings are going to be what makes the flavor. My Favorite Meatballs are full of fresh basil, dried Italian herbs, plenty of salt and black pepper, and plain gluten-free bread crumbs (I prefer the brand 4C). Even if you don’t follow a gluten-free diet, I still recommend using the gluten-free bread crumbs. After trying a variety of options, I’ve found they keep the meatballs moist and succulent. Other options tend to dry out the texture.
Some beaten eggs are added to bind it all together, and of course, we add the truly best part: a heaping portion of freshly grated aged parmesan cheese.
Mix all the ingredients, form them into little balls, and cook them up in the oven. The recipe is large, allowing you to make more than you (likely) need on a given night so that you can freeze them, giving future-you a wonderful gift of a delicious dinner when you need it most. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce over pasta or in a bun as a sandwich; or just eat them plain like little appetizers.
Personally, I have trouble not just pulling the scalding hot morsels straight from the baking sheet and eating them by the handful as I finish preparing the rest of the meal.
Maybe that’s just me? Let me know.
A Simple Marinara Sauce
These will pair wonderfully with any traditional marinara sauce you might have under your belt (or in your pantry). I’d never really call it a recipe, but I can certainly share what I do on a regular basis:
My simple marinara sauce uses only a handful of pantry ingredients: Start with one can of tomato sauce and one can of roasted chopped tomatoes (my go-to brand is Muir Glen Organic, as it doesn’t contain any onion and garlic as some other brands do); Stir in a heaping pinch of salt, black pepper, some Italian seasonings, and optionally a pinch of crushed red pepper to taste; Let cook and reduce for a good 10-15 minutes on the stove. Right before I’m ready to take it off the burner, I add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream and a big handful of chopped fresh basil if I have it on hand. This method makes about 6-8 servings, so I use half with the meal and freeze half for later. And that’s it. Done.
I’ve talked about my experiences with the Low FODMAP Diet in the past, but it seems worthwhile to touch on one aspect of it here: Garlic-Infused Oil.
Anyone familiar with the Low FODMAP Diet knows that garlic and onion are considered the most taboo ingredients, as they seem to universally trigger the gastrointestinal issues the diet is designed to help manage. Because of this, I personally avoid them in all of my home cooking. Speaking as a foodie and a cook, it’s not an easy endeavor. I’ve had to figure out a lot of work-arounds to replace or substitute flavor that would normally be added easily through the otherwise simple inclusion of these two common ingredients.
One huge help in that area is the ability to use garlic-infused oil.
When my doctor first recommended trying a Low FODMAP diet, I was at a loss and overwhelmed. One of the cookbooks that has really helped me figure out how to navigate this new eating lifestyle is The Low FODMAP Diet Cookbook by Dr. Sue Shepherd. Here I learned I could use garlic-infused oils without triggering symptoms. It’s the perfect way to add a little extra flavor, especially to Italian-style dishes.
As an additional note, many Low FODMAP recipes are also appropriate for people on low lactose diets, and hard ripened cheeses like parmesan are low in lactose. Please consult your doctor or specialist for a professional opinion, however, if you have any concerns about the ingredients in this recipe.
Be good to your future self and include a big batch of My Favorite Meatballs in your meal planning for a quick and delicious dinner! You’ll thank yourself later when you need a filling meal for family or friends on the fly. With any luck, My Favorite Meatballs will become your’s as well.
Need some great accompaniments for your meal of meatballs? You could go the extra mile and make some homemade semolina pasta (if you aren’t gluten-free) or maybe even make some delicious gluten-free rolls. Or, if you are gluten-free and vegan, I definitely suggest you check out this recipe for vegan meatballs from one of my food blogger friends, Annie over at Kitchen Window Clovers!
My Favorite Meatballs with Fresh Basil & Parmesan
Inspired by recipes from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking & The Low FODMAP Diet Cookbook.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups gluten-free bread crumbs, plain (I like 4C Crumbs brand)
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp crushed dried rosemary
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- ½ cup aged parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 2 tsp garlic-infused oil
Heat oven to 400°F and prepare a baking sheet with a large piece of foil.
Combine all ingredients except for the garlic-infused oil in a large bowl. Gently fold the ingredients into each other with your hands, but be careful not to over-mix. Stop once things are mostly incorporated. If you’d like, fry off a small piece in your skillet and check that everything is seasoned to your liking. Form the meat mixture into balls one-inch to one-and-a-half inch in diameter.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic-infused olive oil and allow it to heat up. Brown the meatballs in the skillet in batches, about 2 minutes on each side. You aren’t cooking them through, just getting a nice sear on the outside. You can skip this step if you’d like, and in that case just add another 5-8 minutes to your oven time.
Transfer the meatballs to the foil-lined baking sheet. Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes, then flip all the meatballs and cook for another 10-12 minutes. Test for doneness with a meat thermometer (they should be at 160°F when cooked) or cut one open to check.
Serve My Favorite Meatballs plain, covered with marinara sauce, over spaghetti, in buns as a sandwich, or however else you desire!
Make Ahead and Freeze: For best results, freeze the meatballs individually. Allow the meatballs to cool slightly, and then arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving some space between. Freeze for 2 hours, and then transfer to a freezer-safe container (I use a gallon-size Ziploc bag). Next time you need a quick, delicious meal, pull out as many as you need, place them on a foil-lined baking sheet, and reheat in the oven for 15 minutes at 375°F. Frozen meatballs should be enjoyed within 2-3 months.