Looking for an easy family-friendly, crowd-pleasing recipe? These baked Italian Keto Meatballs are it… and then some! Flavourful low carb meatballs in a rich tomato sauce topped with melted cheese, what’s not to love?!!
You say meatballs and I say I AM IN.
Meatballs are one of those dishes that are almost universally liked. They are hearty comfort food, fuss free and ridiculously easy to make. Of course, they feature in all kinds of cuisines. But my personal favourite is to prepare them as the Italians do – in a rich tomato sauce, topped with gooey melted cheese.
This recipe stores well in the fridge for up to 3 days and freezes like a dream. I’m known to knock out a quadruple portion during Sunday meal prep and freeze a huge stash for the weeks to come.
We like to eat them with a crunchy green salad or enjoy them with zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice. They also work exceedingly well with this Keto garlic bread, which is perfect for mopping up additional sauce. And yes, I can attest they even taste good cold!
How to make juicy Keto Meatballs – step by step:
1.) Heat 1 tbsp of butter, ghee or oil in a skillet or non stick sauté pan. Add the onion and fry for 3 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for a further 30 seconds. Remove from the pan and wipe out the pan ready for the meatballs.
Place the meat, 1 tbsp dried oregano, half of the cooked onion and garlic mix, 1 tbsp coconut aminos, egg, a good pinch of salt and pepper and 1 tbsp pecorino in a bowl and mix to combine.
Using wet hands roll into meatballs about 3 cm in size.
Heat 1 tbsp of butter, ghee or oil in your skillet or sauté pan and cook the keto meatballs, turning frequently for 5 – 7 minutes until browned. Remove from the heat. (Transfer to an oven proof dish if you’re not using a cast iron pan that can go in the oven or temporarily remove the meatballs from the skillet whilst you make the sauce.)
To a clean skillet / pan, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, remaining garlic and onion, 1 tbsp coconut aminos, 1 tbsp oregano, season and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until thicker in consistency.
Coat the meatballs in the tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella, 2 tbsp pecorino and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until the cheese has fully melted. Top with fresh oregano and cracked black pepper.
How to make fluffy low carb meatballs
Traditional meatball recipes contain breadcrumbs and sometimes even soaked oats to make the meatballs nice and soft (and a bit cheaper!). The idea is to add a binder and prevent the proteins in the mince from shrinking and turning tough. As breadcrumbs are neither gluten free nor low carb, we have to do without. I’m assuming you don’t want to use up your delicious home-baked low carb bread as breadcrumbs – I don’t, for sure!
Here’s my low carb hack: To ensure your meatballs stay soft without bread, choose fatty mince. The fat is where the taste is and it will make the end result nice and juicy.
Also, don’t squash the mix together when you form the meatballs. Be gentle! This way, they’ll be nice and light, with little air pockets. The egg and the cheese in the mix will ensure that they don’t fall apart
Recipe tips and variations
I like to make my meatballs with just beef, but if you prefer, you can also go for a 50/50 mix of pork and beef. You could even go for veal, but that tends to be more expensive.
If you feel like experimenting with the recipe and want to stretch it a bit, you could add 1/4 cup of almond flour or 1/3 cup pork rinds (plus an equal amount of additional liquid such as cream or almond milk).
You can also make the meatballs cheesier by adding 1/4 cup grated parmesan and 1/4 cup mozzarella to the mix. Or try using some crumbled Feta for a Greek version.
I have also successfully added 1/3 cup finely grated zucchini to my meatball mix. Perfect when you’re feeding people who think they don’t like vegetables!
A handful of chopped fresh parsley or basil also work really well in the mix.
Frying or grilling/broiling Keto meatballs
I like to pan-fry my meatballs because I think they caramelise better that way. Make sure you use a LARGE pan so you don’t crowd them together. You don’t want them to sit in their own liquid – you’d end up basically boiling them.
If you’re after a hands-off, grease-free technique, you can also grill / broil them for about 20 minutes.
Don’t miss these delicious Italian recipes:
- Mozzarella Prosciutto Parcels
- Easy Low Carb Pizza
- Easy Keto Tiramisu Jars
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating below!
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