Healthier Meatballs in a Snap

October 9, 2013   22 Comments

Does Snack Girl look like she has time to make meatballs? Look at me up there! I look busy.

Healthier meatballs recipe

My children happen to love meatballs, and I have been known to buy packaged ones. But packaged meatballs are expensive and tend to be sodium filled.

What I hate about making meatballs is cooking them in a frying pan in batches. It seems to take FOREVER. When I found this “bake on a rack” method, I was psyched to try it.

See here:

You put your preformed meatballs onto a grate that lets them drain off fat and helps them become a little crunchy (like pan fried). This works! I should have chopped my onions finer, but other than that, my meatballs came out great. I would say that it is important to:

  1. Spray the grate with non-stick spray.
  2. Toss grate into sink with warm, sudsy water immediately after finished.

The clean-up nightmare that would be this grate covered with baked on meat is enough to keep me awake so just avoid it.

This is a very standard recipe with no particularly brilliant angle. Serve these as an appetizer, in tomato sauce on spaghetti, in a pita with lettuce and tomato, etc. Make a bunch and freeze them for later consumption.

How do you make meatballs and what do you put in them? Please share.

Easy Meatball Recipe

1.6 from 24 reviews

Makes 20 meatballs

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8 ounces lean ground beef
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 small stalk celery, very finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a baking rack on the sheet. Spray the baking grate with non-stick spray on both sides.

In a large bowl, mix beef, onion, celery, garlic, egg whites, oregano, salt, and breadcrumbs until combined. Form 1 inch balls with your hands and place on baking grate until you have 20 balls.

Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Serve immediately or store until later. These store in the freezer for one month.

Nutrition Facts

For one meatball = 52 calories, 1.1 g fat, 5.3 g carbohydrates, 0.8 g sugar, 4.8 g protein, 0.8 g fiber, 123 mg sodium, 1 Points+

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 22 )

I roast my meatballs. I put them in a 13x9 pan in the oven. When I take them out I immediately take them out of the pan and put them on a tray with paper towels to absorb some of the fat.

The thought of trying to clean that grate with little bits of meatball stuck to it gives me the shivers ... and not in a good way.

I also bake my meatballs (used to fry them, but too much work & added oil.). It really does make a difference to have some fat in the ground beef. 90% lean is OK, but 85% is better - a lot of the fat drains off. Also, you need some salt, as you've indicated - I always try to go light on the salt, but meatballs need some. Make them small - I find that a pound of ground beef will make enough meatballs for 2 meals - one with pasta, the next day for a sandwich. Yum!

Humm... Wonder if this would work with meatloaf...

I use a 9X13 pan and cook my meatballs in the microwave for 6-8 minutes. Rearrange meatballs and drain liquid once after 3-4 minutes. Spray the pan for easy cleanup.

My mom has always just baked her meatballs, on foil-covered jelly roll pans. And then you can drain them on paper towels after baking if you want, but they really don't end up super greasy this way. Yum!

I definitely will try roasting my meatballs the next time. I make my meatballs with turkey, even my meat eating husband likes them. Using the turkey you also need to add extra seasonings so I also add some garlic powder and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese to the mix.

I tried roasted them without the rack and they didn't have that light crunch on the outside of them. Perhaps I did it wrong - they also weren't cooked through. This method solved my problems.

My family has baked their meatballs for years! Snack Girl - to get the "crunch", spray the meatballs with non-stick oil spray as well as spraying the pan; bake 15 min. at 400, turn and bake another 15. No need for the grate. :-)

Snack girl, I like the idea of using a rack under the meatballs for an extra crunch.

I dabbled with making mini-meatballs which totally entices younger kids and bakes much faster. Forget the canned Spaghetti-Os...just make your own which is much more tasty and healthier!…

Because It Is Snack Girl In The Interests Of Expediency (Like To Point Out Mama Lucia's Frozen Beef Pork Turkey Italian Meatballs 1 Meatball ~57 Calories Sodium ~6% Not Much Difference)

Anyhow When She Was Younger My Mom Used Fractally Roast Them Turn Them During Roasting.

If She Had An Available Frying Pan (For Example From Sauteing Onions)

Then The Procedure Was To Not Mix The Meat Before Sauteing The Onions

Saute The Onions.

Place The Frying Pan On Reserve.

Place The Sauted Onions Into The Meat Mixture. Fsbricate (Shape) The Meatballs.

Roast The Meat Halfway Through Then Turn Them

In Order To Complete Roasting Them.

Then Return The Meat Onion Mixture Into The

Frying Pan In Order To Brown Them.

Needless To Say It Is A Complicated Procedure.

In Her Later Years She Would Simply Fry Them.

I make healthy meatballs by the dozens w ease!

I use ground turkey which is low in fat. I put the ground turkey in my mixer with paddle attachment. Then I add Progresso Italian bread crumbs & about 1 whole egg per pound of ground turkey. The mixer with paddle stirs it around for me so that I don't have to get my hands into it. Then I use a medium scoop, (like for cookies) & I scoop & drop them on to a greased jelly roll pan. I bake them @ 350 degrees for 45 min. They bake up nice & crispy on the outside with a delicate nutty flavor from using the turkey meat. the Italian bread crumbs give the meatballs all the seasoning my family desires. However, one could certainly add more stuff to the ground turkey if one desires! Oh, & as far as how much bread crumb to use: I pour it into the turkey mix until I am satisfied with the tightness of the texture.

My husband makes easy meatballs: 1 lb. extra lean hamburger mixed with 1 egg, 3/4 C Italian bread crumbs. Shape into balls and cook on stove top right in the marina sauce (covered). Within 20 minutes you have cooked, awesome meatballs!

Jennifer Y - Our favorite way to make meatloaf is in a muffin tin. We sit our muffin tin on a scale and portion out into identical servings. This provides great portion control as each person gets one meatloaf... there is no grazing on what is left. We freeze them, bringing them out of the freezer for a quick microwave thaw and a reheat in the toaster oven to can't tell they were just made perfection!

Gayla, I think the muffin tin is a great idea!

my grandma muzzie used to make them adding rice and campbells concentrated tomato soup - she called them porcupine meatballs, a family treat!

I make meatballs and put them in clear soup using any kind of stock, add vegetables. You can eat it with rice, or noodles, or pasta. Beats cleaning the grill!

I agree with Susan- adding parmesan or Romano makes meatballs so tasty!! That's my mom's secret ingredient!

I also use Parmesan or Romano cheese, makes for really tasty meatballs ! I have been broiling them for years ! Makes them nice and browned which my family loves. You can replace breadcrumbs and use oatmeal instead ! I never add salt and they are great !!!

I've been baking meatballs for a while. Swap out whole wheet crumbs with Italian whole wheat, add a handful of parmesan cheese, fresh basil chopped and fresh garlic, roll them small and make a great Italian wedding soup with spinach or kale, low sodium chicken broth, carrots, canned white beans rinsed, onions, celery, and some healthy small pasta. Mmm good!

I've been making vegetarian meatballs with little mozzarella balls tucked inside of them. My kids love them (and I do too).

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