These gluten-free meatballs are baked and layered with garlic, onion and several different herbs. For perfect meatballs, getting the flavor just right is important. But just as important is the rolling technique. I’ll show you how to do both!
The bread crumbs are soaked with a dairy-free milk or chicken broth. The bread crumbs hold onto the liquid and make the meatballs light and moist.
You may be a little puzzled by the mint in these meatballs, but the bright, fresh flavor of mint is a great balance to a savory meat recipe.
Meat – I use ground dark meat ground turkey because I prefer the flavor over ground beef. But ground beef will work with this recipe too. I highly recommend dark meat turkey because using all white meat turkey makes for very dry meatballs. To add some extra flavor and fat I include a little ground pork (not lean). It makes these meatballs melt in your mouth delicious. If you avoid pork, replace it with an equal amount of turkey or beef.
Bread crumbs are what make meat balls juicy, light and fluffy and helps them to bind together. The bread crumbs absorb and hold onto the liquids while they cook.
How to Make Moist, Tender Meatballs
Flavorful, tender and light makes for good meatballs. Here’s how you do it.
Once all the ingredients are mixed together, tasting is crucial before they go in the oven. But of course you can’t taste raw meat! So put a small skillet on the stove, heat it up and drop in a small piece of the meat mixture. Cook it through and taste. It may need more salt. If so, add a few pinches. You should be able to taste the mint and oregano, if not add a few pinches more of each. Gently combine again and cook another small piece to taste.
When you’re satisfied with the flavor it’s time to make meatballs. Again no dense meatballs. So try not to be too concerned about them being perfectly round. Cup both of your hands and roll gently. The less you roll them around, the better.
How to Bake Meatballs
I cook my meatballs in a mini muffin tin or a donut hole pan because I don’t like to babysit my food. With the donut hole pan the meatballs will retain their spherical shape. A mini muffin tin will work too, you’ll just have a flat bottom on the meatballs. The pan goes in the oven for 25 minutes and that’s it. No flipping no stirring. Better yet, I can prepare the rest of the meal while they’re cooking.
If you prefer to cook them on the stove top, bring your favorite sauce to a simmer, add the meatballs and keep at a simmer for 30 minutes.
How to Serve Meatballs
- Add spicy tomato sauce with pasta or spaghetti squash and you have a perfect dish. I have included a recipe for a spicy tomato sauce in the recipe card below.
- Serve these meatballs over quinoa or brown rice for a change of pace,
- These gluten-free meatballs also make a fantastic appetizer in a barbecue sauce instead of tomato sauce. The fresh mint flavor in these meatballs is wonderful with a sweet and smoky BBQ sauce.
- 1 lb dark meat ground turkey
- ¼ lb ground pork not lean
- 1 small onion minced or 2 tsps granulated onion
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp dried mint
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp+ kosher salt
- ¼ tsp finely ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup gluten-free bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup milk dairy-free is fine too
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp granulated garlic or 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tsp granulated onion or ½ onion minced or grated
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetarian broth
- 2 Tbsp dried Italian herbs 1/4 c fresh herbs
- 1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
Make the Meatballs
- Heat the oven to 400°F
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the meat. Beat until well combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the meat. Now take your time because one key to a good meatball is to keep it fluffy. If you mash, the meatballs will turn out dense. So use your fingers to break up the meat and gently combine it with the herb and bread crumb mixture.
- The next key to a good meatball is to make sure the flavors are right before cooking. But of course you can’t taste raw meat! Tasting it before cooking all the meatballs is crucial. So put a small skillet on the stove, heat it up and drop in a small piece of the meat mixture. Cook it through and taste. It may need more salt. If so, add a few pinches. You should be able to taste the mint and oregano, if not add a few pinches more of each. Gently combine again and cook another small piece to taste.
- Cook it through and taste. It may need more salt. If so, add a few pinches. You should be able to taste the mint and oregano, if not add a few pinches more of each. Gently combine again and cook another small piece to taste.
- When you’re satisfied with the flavor it’s time to make meatballs. Spray a mini muffin tin or donut hole pan with oil.
- Again no dense meatballs. So gently form them and try not to be concerned about them being perfectly round. The less you roll them around, the better. Cup your hands as you roll them to prevent pushing too hard.
- Place in a greased donut hole pan or mini muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile . . .
Make the Sauce
- Heat a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, granulated garlic and onion. Swirl the pan for 15 seconds. If you’re using fresh onion and garlic cook the onion for 5 minutes then add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato paste and stir with a whisk. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. You will need to add the salt to taste. The saltiness of your tomato paste will determine how much you will need. Add a pinch or two and taste until you like it.
- Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Taste again and adjust the seasoning to your taste.