Growing up, my favorite dinner nights were always when my mom made meatballs for our spaghetti. Now, continuing the tradition, I see the same excitement in my son’s eyes whenever gluten free meatballs are on the menu. These aren’t just any meatballs; they’re specially crafted to be moist, tender, and bursting with Italian spices.
Not only are these gluten free meatballs a perfect match for your favorite spaghetti sauce, but they are versatile enough to be used in all sorts of dishes. Whether it’s a hearty meatball sub, a comforting meatball stew, or simply atop a plate of spaghetti, these gluten free delights are ideal. Plus, they're great for meal prep as they freeze beautifully. Trust me, you'll want to make a double batch of these gluten free dairy free meatballs – savor some today and stash the rest for your future cravings!
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Why You 'll Love This Gluten Free Meatball Recipe
- Versatile - These meatballs can be used in a number of dishes from stew to subs to casseroles.
- Easy - Making homemade meatballs is a little messy but so easy to do.
- Flavor - These meatballs have a delicious Italian flavor thanks to the seasoning, but you can customize the flavor however you like. We like to add a pinch of red pepper flakes to make them a little spicy!
- Allergen friendly - This recipe is both gluten free and dairy free as written.
- Gluten Free Bread Crumbs - Bread crumbs are used in meatballs to add a little starch to absorb the juices from the meat as they cook. It keeps the meatballs from becoming too dry. I like to use the Schar brand of gluten free bread crumbs. I have also tried this recipe with Aleia brand and Gillian's brand bread crumbs. Any gf bread crumb should work here, just avoid panko as it is too crunchy.
- Non-Dairy Milk - I've used unsweetened coconut milk to moisten the bread crumbs. Any non-dairy milk will work. If you're not dairy free, use regular milk in the same measure.
- Olive Oil - I use extra light olive oil for all of my cooking. Any light cooking oil will work as we are just using it for sauteing the onions and garlic.
- Onions and Garlic - Provide a nice savory flavor base for the meatballs.
- Ground Beef - I find 85/15 ground beef works best to make a nice tender meatball. Make sure to use fresh beef (that hasn't been frozen and thawed) as it is easier to work with and combine.
- Ground Pork - Similar to the beef, you want fresh ground pork that has not been frozen. You're looking for plain ground pork, not sausage which already has seasoning added.
- Salt, Black Pepper, Onion Powder and Garlic Powder - All enhance the flavor of the meatballs.
- Egg - One egg is used to bind the ingredients together. If you're egg free, you might try a flax egg in place of the regular egg.
- Fresh Parsley and Italian Seasoning - These two ingredients round out the Italian flavor, making these meatballs perfect for spaghetti or meatball subs.
See recipe card for full ingredient list and quantities.
Substitutions & Variations
- Not Dairy Free: Use dairy milk in the same measure.
- Make Egg Free: Use a flax egg to make egg free meatballs.
- Spicy: Add ¼ teaspoon or more of Red Pepper Flakes to add a little kick.
- Cheesy: Add ¼ of grated Parmesan cheese to your meatball mixture.
- Gluten Free Meatballs with Hidden Veggies: Finely grate vegetables like zucchini or carrots and mix them into the meatballs for added nutrition.
- Asian Style Gluten Free Meatballs: Use ingredients like ginger, garlic, and soy sauce (ensure it's gluten free) for an Asian twist.
- BBQ Gluten Free Meatballs: Glaze the meatballs with a gluten free BBQ sauce for a sweet and smoky flavor.
- Gluten Free Turkey Meatballs: Substitute ground turkey for a leaner option.
How to make Gluten-Free Meatballs
Be prepared to get your hands dirty for this recipe. Everything is done by hand, no mixer is required.
STEP 1: Combine the gluten free bread crumbs and milk in a small mixing bowl.
STEP 2: Mix the bread crumbs and milk together until smooth. It will resemble a paste texture and it will thicken as it sits. Set aside.
STEP 3: Add the olive oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and garlic. Saute until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.
STEP 4: Combine all of the ingredients together with the wet bread crumbs and cooked vegetables in a large bowl.
STEP 5: Use your hands to combine the ingredients together until it's evenly mixed. Don't overwork the meat or it will get tough.
STEP 6: Scoop the meatball mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball. Form them with your hands, but don't press too tightly. Lay the meatballs on a lined baking sheet. If you're going to cook on the stove top, refrigerate the meatballs for 1 hour. See instructions in recipe card.
STEP 7: To cook on the stove top, place meatballs in a large skillet (you can use the same pan from cooking the onions). Work in batches so the meatballs are spaced apart. Cook until browned, turning several times.
STEP 8: Once the meatballs are browned, add the marinara sauce to the pan. Simmer over medium low heat for about 20 minutes until the sauce is warmed and the meatballs are cooked through.
How to Bake Gluten Free Meatballs
If you prefer, you can bake the meatballs on a lined baking sheet. Once they are fully baked, either add them to your favorite sauce or freeze them for later. It's a great hands off way to prepare the meatballs and no chilling time is required when meatballs are baked.
Meatball Making Tip
Put a little water on your hands to keep the meat mixture from sticking to you when forming meatballs.
How to Freeze Gluten Free Meatballs
Once the meatballs have been completely cooked, cool them to room temperature. Then place the cooled meatballs on a baking sheet and flash freeze for about 2 hours. Once frozen, transfer the meatballs to a freezer bag or container. The flash freeze will keep the meatballs from sticking together. Frozen meatballs can be kept for about 2 months.
Gluten Free Frozen Meatballs are great for making weeknights meals easier. In most cases, you can just use them straight from the freezer like in my meatball stew recipe. Just warm them in sauce or add them to your favorite soup or casserole and they will heat up as the dish is cooked.
Store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat to 165 degrees before serving. I find gluten free noodles aren't great when reheated, so I recommend storing the meatballs with sauce on their own and cooking fresh noodles for leftovers - or serve with rice or on a sub sandwich for variety.
I use gluten free bread crumbs. There are many brands available. If you don't have access to those, you can crush gluten free crackers, use gluten free oatmeal or even cooked rice.
Yes, meatballs are normally made with bread crumbs which have gluten.
Frozen meatballs, either cooked or uncooked, will be good for about 2 months in the freezer.
Other dinner recipes to consider:
If you try this recipe, please leave a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 star rating and let me know how you liked it in the comments below.
Gluten Free Meatballs
- ½ Cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
- ½ Cup Non Dairy Milk
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ½ Cup Yellow Onion grated or finely diced
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 pound Ground Beef 85/15 is best
- ½ pound Ground Pork
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Eggs lightly beaten
- 1 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley
- 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 24 ounces Marinara Sauce optional
- Combine the gluten free bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl. Stir together and set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.½ Cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs, ½ Cup Non Dairy Milk
- Add olive oil to a nonstick skillet over medium heat.2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the onions from heat.½ Cup Yellow Onion, 2 cloves Garlic
- Add the ground beef, ground pork, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, beaten egg, parsley, Italian seasoning and soaked bread crumbs to a large bowl. Pour the cooked onion in with the other ingredients.1 pound Ground Beef, ½ pound Ground Pork, 1 teaspoon Salt, ½ teaspoon Black Pepper, ½ teaspoon Onion Powder, ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder, 1 Eggs, 1 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- Mix everything together well. Then scoop into 1 ½” balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- If cooking on the stove top, cover the meatballs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If baking, the meatballs can be baked right away - no chill time needed.
- Place a skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, place the meatballs in the skillet leaving plenty of space so they are not crowded. Cook and turn the meatballs until all sides are browned, about 7 minutes per batch.
- Once all the meatballs have been browned, add your sauce to the pan and return all the meatballs to the sauce. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 15-20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through with an internal temperature of 165 degrees.24 ounces Marinara Sauce
Tiffany is the recipe developer, stylist and food photographer behind Well Fed Baker. As a lifelong baker who had to go gluten free and dairy free in 2016, Tiffany strives to share allergen friendly recipes that never feel like they are free from anything.