This easy meatball recipe is budget-friendly and gluten-free. They’re healthier and use a mixture of lentils and ground beef as the base. I like to meal prep meatballs and store them in the freezer for dinners and lunches.
Meal Prep Meatballs
Keep this easy meatball recipe in your backpocket for later. It’s one of my favorites because it uses less meat, no breadcrumbs, and simple substitutions that are family friendly.
I love making a big batch of meatballs on meal prep day. They’re easy to save in the freezer for upcoming meals. You’ll love this recipe because of its versatility.
Meatballs Secret Ingredients
These are classic meatballs but with a healthier twist. This recipe uses not one, but two secret ingredients.
- Rolled Oats: Most traditional meatball recipes use breadcrumbs which are made with refined flour. This meatball recipe uses rolled oats instead. Rolled oats are gluten-free and whole grain!
- Lentils: Another secret ingredient is lentils. Lentils are perfect to add to meatballs, homemade burgers, and meatloaf as a “filler” that also happens to be an excellent plant-based protein source. As meat prices continue to rise, using beans and legumes in recipes is an easy (and healthy) way to use less meat. I love lentils because they tend to be the easiest on the digestive system.
Meatballs Without Breadcrumbs
You can make meatballs gluten-free by skipping the breadcrumbs (or panko crumbs). Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy budget-friendly meatball recipe:
- Lean Ground Beef – You’ll need 1 lb of lean ground beef. Most meatball recipes use extra ground beef, but because we’re using lentils as a filler, we don’t need as much. It’s nice to save some money at the grocery store!
- Lentils – You’ll need one can of lentils, drained and rinsed.
- Egg – The egg helps to hold the meatballs together as you roll them into balls.
- Old fashioned Rolled Oats – Instead of breadcrumbs, this recipe uses gluten-free rolled oats. I use sprouted oats that are gluten-free and just love ’em! (they’re also made in a peanut-free facility for anyone with nut allergies)
- Parmesan Cheese – Freshly grated parmesan cheese adds lovely flavor to the meatballs.
- Spices – You’ll also need Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
How To Make Meatballs
This recipe comes together in 5 simple steps:
- Add all the ingredients to a large bowl. Break the ground beef apart into smaller pieces with a large wooden spoon or spatula. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.
- Grab a spoon or cookie scoop and place the meatballs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- At this point, you can either freeze the meatballs raw or bake them for dinner.
- Freezing: To freeze, place the rolled raw meatballs on a baking sheet in the freezer for 1 hour. Doing this will help prevent the meatballs from sticking together. After 1 hour you can place the meatballs in a Ziploc freezer bag, remove excess air, seal tightly and store for up to 3 months.
- Baking: Bake at 425°F for 18-20 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or until ground beef is no longer pink inside the meatball. If the meatballs are frozen, they will take a bit longer to cook.
Yes! I recommend making a large batch of these in advance and freezing half for later. I’ve included freezing and baking instructions in the recipe card below.
You can serve these with pasta (I use brown rice pasta), quinoa, rice, and with roasted vegetables. You can also add a couple to a salad for a protein burst.
Health-wise, it’s better to bake them as you are avoiding excess oil. I also like to bake them because it’s pretty easy. Laying them on a baking sheet is not a lot of fuss and easy clean up.
All meatballs require a binding ingredient to help hold them together. Most recipes use breadcrumbs or panko crumbs with refined flours. You can substitute with rolled oats instead which are gluten-free and whole grain.
More Ground Beef Recipes
Ground beef is budget-friendly and great for family meals. Here are some more recipes you can create with ground beef that I just love:
- Pizza Pasta Bake – Easy, gooey, cheesy, and oh so delicious. Made with pasta, ground beef, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.
- Sheet Pan Nachos with Ground Beef – This sheet pan nacho recipe can be eaten as a meal – perfect for Taco Tuesdays or Fun Friday themed nights! And the nachos can be eaten straight from the sheet pan.
- Taco Salad Casserole – Loaded with delicious vegetables, ground beef, rice and shredded cheese to create a fun dinner.
- Healthy Hamburger Soup – This is my healthier version of the classic hamburger soup that you can make in either the slow cooker or on the stovetop.
- One-Pot Taco Pasta – So easy to prep and dinner is served in 30 minutes. There’s not a lot of fuss here and kids usually love this recipe.
- Add all the ingredients to a large bowl. Break the ground beef into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon.
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Use a spoon or cookie scoop to roll meatball mixture into balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Freezer Instructions: Place raw meatballs on baking sheet into the freezer to flash freeze for 1 hour. Remove from freezer and place in a Ziploc freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. Label the front with name, date, and baking instructions. These can be frozen raw for up to 3 months.
- Baking Instructions: Bake at 425°F for 18-20 minutes or until ground beef is no longer pink inside the meatball. Frozen meatballs will take longer to cook.
- This recipe will make about 30 meatballs.
Nutrition Info Note: The actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes and the size and number of what you make. The nutritional values provided above are just an estimate. Actual numbers will vary based on brands you choose and the ingredients you use.
If you’re looking for more specific details (for example, to track your macros) then I recommend adding specific brand ingredients and this recipe to a food tracker app on your phone.