With classic Italian flavor, greens in the mix, and an easy cooking method, these Mini Meatballs are a super delicious family meal component to share with babies on up to adults. They are great with pasta, in sandwiches, or eaten on their own!

mini-meatballs-in-skillet-with-sauce

Mini Meatballs

You guys, these meatballs are so good. This is one of the first recipes I ever posted on my site and I hadn’t made them in a long while, and I was so delighted at how great they were when I remade and photographed the recipe recently.

(My then 17 month old ate five of them, he loved them so much!) Yes they have kale inside, but the flavors are really nicely balanced so the kids get some extra veggies right along with the classic flavor and texture they expect from baked meatballs.

These healthy little meatballs have a nice mix of nutrients too. There’s fiber and Vitamin C from the kale, they’re an excellent source of protein and iron from the beef, and extra antioxidants from the onion and garlic.

The inclusion of oats adds extra fiber and B vitamins. If you serve them in tomato-based sauce, you’ll add in more Vitamins A and C too. They’d be a great meatball to make for babies in the house—just dice them up and serve as a finger food.

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Mini Meatballs for Spaghetti

You can serve these meatballs with pasta, polenta, and even toast for open-face sandwiches and top with a little melted cheese. If your toddler isn’t totally on board with the texture of meat, you can mash a few pieces up in warm marinara sauce to help them take small tastes that are super easy to chew.

Ingredients You Need

To make this recipe you’ll need the following ingredients.

ingredients in mini meatballs on countertop.
  • Kale or parsley (or both): This is blended into the mixture for a little flavor and extra nutrition
  • Onion and garlic: Both of these are optional, but add nice additional flavor.
  • Rolled oats: Paired with breadcrumbs, these help bind the batter and add fiber and whole grains.
  • Breadcrumbs: You can use plain or Italian-flavored breadcrumbs.
  • Parmesan cheese: I like to use grated Parmesan cheese in meatballs as it blends in best. You can also use Pecorino Romano if that is less expensive.
  • Ground beef: I prefer a leaner ground beef, but any type will work.
  • Egg: This helps the batter hold in perfect meatballs.

TIP: To make these gluten-free, simply use GF breadcrumbs. You can omit the cheese to make them dairy-free, but you’ll want to add ½ teaspoon of salt to make sure they aren’t bland.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the easy process needed to make this recipe. Scroll down to the bottom of the recipe for the full info.

how-to-make-mini-meatballs-step-by-step
  1. Preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place the oats, breadcrumbs, kale (or parsley), onion, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to grind.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and grind until thoroughly minced and uniform.
  4. Form into small balls with a 1-tablespoon measuring spoon and place on the prepared baking sheet and bake.

TIP: I like to serve these in warm marinara sauce, though 2 out of my 3 kids like to eat them plain without sauce, so see what yours like. 

mini-meatballs-on-blue-divided-plate

What should I serve this mini meatballs recipe with?

You can serve them with marinara sauce over pasta, with toast as a sort of deconstructed meatball sandwich, alongside a grain salad, with plain pasta with butter, alongside peas and fruit for a simple meal…the options are quite broad!

How to Store

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat to serve.

Freeze fully cooked meatballs in a zip top freezer bag for up to 6 months. Reheat in a simmering pot of marinara sauce or thaw overnight in the fridge and warm briefly in the microwave.

Best Tips for Success

  • Use kale, parsley, or a combination of both.
  • You can make these as larger golf-ball size meatballs if preferred. Just bake for 22-25 minutes.
  • To make these gluten-free, simply use GF breadcrumbs.
  • You can omit the cheese to make them dairy-free, but you’ll want to add ½ teaspoon of salt to make sure they aren’t bland.
  • Simmer in Marinara Sauce, Fresh Tomato Sauce, or toss with Zucchini Pasta Sauce, or Cheese Sauce.

Related Recipes


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mini-meatballs-in-skillet-with-sauce

Best Healthy Mini Meatballs

Classic Italian meatballs with kale tucked inside to help toddlers eat their greens! (You can of course use the more traditional parsley instead of kale if you prefer.)
5 from 20 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Cuisine Italian
Course Dinner
Calories 215kcal
Servings 8 about 30 meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2-4 kale leaves, stems removed (or about ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves or some of each)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled (optional)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray.
  • Place the oats, breadcrumbs, kale, onion, Parmesan and garlic (if using) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to grind very well. You want everything to be ground up finely so keep going until there are no chunks or big pieces.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and grind until thoroughly minced and uniform.
  • Form into 1-tablespoon-size meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels if necessary.
  • Warm in your favorite marinara sauce and serve with polenta, whole grain pasta, or alongside whole-wheat toast.

Notes

  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat to serve.
  • Freeze fully cooked meatballs in a zip top freezer bag for up to 6 months. Reheat in a simmering pot of marinara sauce or thaw overnight in the fridge and warm briefly in the microwave.
  • Use kale or parsley or a combination of both.
  • You can make these as larger golf-ball size meatballs if preferred. Bake for 22-25 minutes.
  • To make these gluten-free, simply use GF breadcrumbs.
  • You can omit the cheese to make them dairy-free, but you’ll want to add ½ teaspoon of salt to make sure they aren’t bland.

Nutrition

Calories: 215kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 66mg, Sodium: 198mg, Potassium: 276mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 1515IU, Vitamin C: 18mg, Calcium: 115mg, Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published October 2018.

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