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Meatballs without breadcrumbs stacked high in a bowl and covered with parmigiano cheese.
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5 from 1 vote

The Best Meatballs without Breadcrumbs (Gluten-Free)

My favourite recipe for meatballs without breadcrumbs. Braise them slowly for an extra soft texture or cook them quickly for a speedy weeknight meal. Gluten free.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 598kcal
Cost $10/ 7€


For the Meatballs

  • 488 g ground beef and ground pork mix
  • 125 g bacon
  • 44 g white onion (about ½ a medium onion)(leave out for keto)
  • 10 g fresh parsley + some for garnish (½ bunch)
  • 20 g Parmigiano cheese + some for garnish, grated (1 handful)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 g dried oregano (use more if using fresh oregano) (3 tsp)
  • 3 g garlic powder (1 tsp)
  • 2.5 g Aleppo chili flakes (1 tsp) (or ½ tsp for regular chili flakes)
  • 2 g ancho chili powder (optional) (1 tsp)
  • 0.5 g cayenne powder (¼ tsp)
  • 12 g tomato paste (1 tsp) (leave out for keto)
  • 5 g soy sauce (1 tsp) (may contain trace amounts of gluten)
  • 1.5 g Worcestershire sauce (10 dashes)
  • 4 g sea salt (¾ tsp) (start with this and add more if needed)
  • 1 g black pepper (½ tsp)

For the Sauce

  • 700 ml tomato passata
  • salt and pepper to taste

The Rest

  • 14 g vegetable oil for searing (1 tbsp)
  • fresh Parmigino cheese for garnish
  • fresh parsley for garnish
  • fresh black pepper for garnish


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C.
  • Chop the onion into a small dice and slice the parsley finely (chiffonade).
    Small brunoise of onion.
  • Cut the bacon into small pieces with your knife (if you're grinding your own meat, grind the bacon together).
    Chopping the bacon on a cutting board.
  • Measure out the rest of your ingredients (measure everything in one bowl to save dirty dishes).
    All the ingredients ready to go for these meatballs without breadcrumbs.
  • With clean hands or using latex gloves, mix thoroughly until combined.
    The more you work the meat, the more it will stick together.
    It's also important to keep the meat as cold as possible and finish this step quickly as possible.
    Mixing the meatball mixture.
  • Test a small piece of the mixture by zapping it on a plate in the microwave for about 1 minute or until it's fully cooked. Alternatively, you could also cook a small piece in a little oil in your cast iron pan.
    Check for the spiciness and saltiness. Does it need more? Now is the time to adjust the seasoning before you roll them all.
  • Roll into balls using your hands. I weighed mine to 45g balls which were a little bigger than ping pong balls. You can make the size larger or smaller depending on your preference.
    Rolling the meatballs without breadcrumbs.
  • Sear the meatballs in a hot cast iron pan with the oil.
    They'll burn pretty quickly, so start with a high heat then reduce to a medium heat and watch them carefully.
    The browned meatballs in the cast iron pan.
  • Once the meatballs are golden all around, add the tomato passata and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper until it tastes good.
    Adding the tomato passata to the meatballs.
  • Choose your own adventure:
    For soft and tender meatballs: Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and braise in the oven for 45-minutes to 1 hour (larger balls take longer).
    If you're in an I-NEED-DINNER-RIGHT-NOW moment: Simmer on the stove for 5-10 minutes uncovered or until meat is fully cooked on the inside (160°F/71°C on a digital thermometer or cut into one and make sure it's not pink).
  • Once the meatballs are finished, skim off any fat from the top with a spoon.
    Stack them high on a plate, and spoon lots of sauce over top. Garnish with lots of cheese, black pepper and fresh parsley.
    Meatballs without breadcrumbs stacked high on a plate.


To make this recipe keto: leave out the onions and tomato paste and double the cheese. Note that adding more cheese will make the meatballs more salty so you may want to reduce the salt also.
Soy sauce may contain a very small amount of gluten which may not be suitable for celiacs. 
Always wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after handling raw meat. Clean down your cutting board, work surface and tools after making the meatball mix to prevent cross-contamination. 
If the sauce is too thin after cooking, transfer the meatballs to another plate and cook the sauce over the stove over a low heat until thickened. Use a spoon to prevent the bottom from sticking.


Calories: 598kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 763mg | Potassium: 1274mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1585IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 127mg | Iron: 7mg
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