With three kinds of veggies and the texture and flavor that your kids expect, this Healthy Meatball recipe is a perfect family dinner option. And since the baked meatballs taste so good, the kids will be happy to tuck into their plates! (Bonus: They freeze well too.)

healthy meatballs in large bowl and small kids bowl Healthy Meatball Recipe

While I’m all for continuing to expose our kids to what we want them to eat, there are times when tucking veggies into foods they already love can go a long way towards making us all feel better at mealtime. My whole family loves these easy meatballs, kids and parents both.

And I love that we all get an extra serving of vegetables in the process.

ingredients in healthy meatball recipe Ingredients You Need

To make this recipe you’ll need:

  • Carrots
  • Parsley
  • Onion
  • Ground beef (I like grass-fed beef for the extra healthy fats)
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Salt (optional)

TIP: This recipe is a version of the one that I grew up eating, only with more veggies in the mix.

how-to-make-healthy-meatballs--step-by-step

Step-By-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the process involved in making these easy meatballs.

  1. Preheat the oven and gather your ingredients. Grind up the veggies in a food processor. 
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and grind to combine into a smooth mixture.
  3. Portion into 2-tablespoon size meatballs and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake!
  5. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate if desired.
  6. Simmer in marinara sauce if desired.

TIP: To make these gluten-free, simply choose gluten-free breadcrumbs.

How do you make simple meatballs?

This recipe comes together easily in a food processor to ensure that the batter is uniform and comes together without fuss. Yes, you have to wash the food processor, but the evenly chopped meat and veggie mixture is well worth that minimal effort. (And you can always stick it into the dishwasher!)

Are these homemade meatballs healthy?

With three kinds of veggies, lean ground beef, and a method that allows you to easily drain off any excess fat, these are a healthy meatball recipe to share with the whole family.

Can I make these as mini ground beef meatballs?

Sure! You can make these with just 1 tablespoon of the mixture and reduce the cooking time to closer to about 18-22 minutes.

TIP: This is a great ground beef recipe for toddlers and kids since it’s very soft and easy to eat, even for babies and younger toddlers.

Can I use ground turkey in this recipe?

If you want to make your toddler turkey meatballs, simply swap in ground turkey for the ground beef in the recipe below. The texture and flavor will be similar, and the meatballs will have a slightly lighter final color. You may need to reduce the cooking time slightly.

Aim for an internal temperature of 165 degrees and try not to over cook.

healthy meatballs with spaghetti in white bowls

Make-Ahead Meatballs

You can make a batch of these baked meatballs ahead of time, let cool fully, and freeze in a zip top freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or simmer in a quart of marinara sauce in a large pot until thawed and warmed through. They’re a great recipe to make a double batch—serve one batch for dinner this week and stash the other into the freezer for a future easy meal!

TIP: Find more of my favorite Freezer Meals here.

Baked Meatballs for Baby Led Weaning

Meatballs with hidden vegetables are an excellent food for baby led weaning. You can offer small cubes or mash into marinara or tomato sauce and offer on a preloaded spoon. Your baby will get iron, as well as protein and fiber. And lots of flavor they will love!

TIP: These meatballs have vitamin A and C from the carrots and parsley, as well as fiber and protein.

healthy-meatballs-on-adult-and-kids-plate

Best Tips for Success

  • Grind the veggies up before you add the rest of the ingredients to make sure they are all uniform in size. This is key. You’re aiming for the veggies to have a similar consistency as the ground meat.
  • Resist the urge to add in more veggies. There is over a cup of veggies in this recipe, which is enough to add extra nutrients, yet you honestly can’t tell. (My husband couldn’t tell either, which was honestly the true test!) If you add more, the texture won’t be as good.
  • Serve them with a sauce your family likes, whether that’s marinara, meat sauce, or even ketchup.
  • Simmer them in marinara sauce for even more tender and flavorful meatballs, just like grandma would have done! (Or at least, my grandma would have, though you of course don’t have to.)
  • Even though there are vegetables tucked into this recipe, I still recommend being honest with your kids about what they’re eating. Let them take a bite, be excited about their dinner, and then share the good news!
  • To make these gluten-free, simply use GF breadcrumbs (these are really good) or even cornmeal.
  • You may also like Mini Meatballs with Kale, 4-Ingredient Baked Chicken Meatballs, Sausage Meatballs, and Sweet Potato Meatballs.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe, so please comment below!

This post was first published November 2017.

healthy meatballs in large bowl and small kids bowl

Healthy Meatballs (with Hidden Vegetables)

With the texture you expect from a traditional meatball, but added nutrition from three types of veggies, your whole family will love these.
4.97 from 33 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Cuisine Italian
Course Dinner
Calories 1760kcal
Servings 8 about 20

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves, lightly packed
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 cup Italian flavored breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Coat with nonstick spray. Place the carrots, parsley, and onion into a food processor. Grind well, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and grind to combine into a smooth mixture. Portion into 2-tablespoon size meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with warm marinara sauce and pasta (or ketchup and other simple sides!) as desired.

Video

Notes

  • To store, let cool fully and store in an airtight container in the fridge or up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Grind the veggies up before you add the rest of the ingredients to make sure they are all uniform in size. This is key. You’re aiming for the veggies to have a similar consistency as the ground meat.
  • Resist the urge to add in more veggies. There is over a cup of veggies in this recipe, which is enough to add extra nutrients, yet you honestly can’t tell.
  • Serve them with a sauce your family likes, whether that’s marinara, meat sauce, or even ketchup.
  • Simmer them in marinara sauce for even more tender and flavorful meatballs.
  • Even though there are vegetables tucked into this recipe, I still recommend being honest with your kids about what they're eating. Let them take a bite, be excited about their dinner, and then share the good news!
  • To make these gluten-free, simply use GF breadcrumbs (these are really good) or even cornmeal.
  • Serve them diced or mashed to younger toddlers and babies as needed.
  • Sub in ground turkey if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 1760kcal, Carbohydrates: 63g, Protein: 115g, Fat: 114g, Saturated Fat: 46g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 47g, Trans Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 533mg, Sodium: 3173mg, Potassium: 2058mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 14g, Vitamin A: 14056IU, Vitamin C: 53mg, Calcium: 892mg, Iron: 15mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

 

 

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was great! Thank you so much for the recipe! Kids ate it and hubby enjoyed too so it’s definitely a winner!

  2. 5 stars
    Kiddos LOVED these. Texture and flavor were great both for 8 month old and 2 year old. 2 year old kept asking for more.

    1. Probably though you’ll lose a little flavor from omitting the cheese so you may want to add a pinch of salt.

  3. EVERYONE loved these! 3 year old (who is very particular on her meat), baby, and husband. Husband agreed that you couldn’t taste the veggies – a true test. This is the only way I’ll make meatballs from now! We served them with marinara sauce and cheese -loved them!

  4. 5 stars
    I substituted a pound of turkey sausage for a pound of chopped turkey. It was delicious! I will definitely be making this again.

      1. Thank you for this recipe!
        It tastes great as is, and I’ve also had success after trying it a couple of times with modifications (simply to use up some other ingredients available at hand):
        1. substitute parsley with fresh kale
        2. Substitute parsley with fresh broccoli florets
        3. Substitute breadcrumbs with almond flour (to make it GF)
        In all instances my kids loved them and gobbled them up!

  5. I will try these tomorrow!! Could I skip or substitute the Parmesan ? I have histamine intolerance and can’t have it

  6. 5 stars
    I love this recipe, but I have a problem I do not have a food processor… Can I do such thing just with my hand, what do you think?) Thank you, love your recipes Amy!

    1. You could certainly grate the vegetables with a box grater and mince the parsley, then just mix everything together with your hands!

  7. 5 stars
    My daughter loves these! We did not use the parsley or onion. We also used half plain and half regular bread crumbs (I wasn’t sure if she would like Italian seasoning being new to table foods). Even after freezing they are still moist and delicious. Thank you!! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  8. 5 stars
    The thing is- these meatballs are incredible whether you’re a toddler or not. But the fact that the toddler, who is so hot and cold on everything else we serve her, will always always ALWAYS go for these is a huge bonus. AND I was able to work in extra veggies??? Magic. Honestly, they can just stop anyone else from trying to make another meatball recipe bc we’ve already achieved perfection.

  9. 5 stars
    So here is the thing, this recipe is amazing, soft, tender, tasty, and easy. My son is 2 and a half, he is been giving me a hard time with meals and food in general, so I have been trying to look for recipes that is healthy and doesn’t have too many ingredients. I tried it today ,I put it on the dinner table and he just came tasted it and started eating. I was sooooo happy I will do it for him regularly.
    Thank you I will definetly check more recipes from you. 🤗🤗