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Easy Gluten-Free Meatballs

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These homemade gluten-free meatballs are tender, juicy, and SO full of flavor. Don’t miss all our favorite ways to serve them below!

gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs on a white plate

With nothing but chilly temperatures on the horizon, we are deep into Cozy Dinner Season! Between classics like chili and soup, we’re craving warm, hearty dinners this time of year.

One favorite lately is a pan of Gluten-Free Meatballs. This cheesy baked meatballs recipe makes the whole house smell incredible, and tastes amazing at the end of a long day. It’s our go-to meatball recipe since there are so many different ways you can cook them (slow cooker! air fryer! oven!) and so many ways to enjoy them.

But best of all, you only need simple ingredients to get started. Here’s all you need to make our favorite gluten-free meatball recipe…

ingredients for gluten-free meatballs

Simple Ingredients For Gluten-Free Meatballs

  • Ground Meat. Today, I’m making these easy gluten-free meatballs with ground beef, but for richer, restaurant-style meatballs, you can use 1 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound ground pork.
  • Onion & Garlic. This aromatic base provides a savory layer of flavor you won’t want to miss! While you can use onion powder and garlic powder, I think using fresh adds the best flavor!
  • Egg. To help bind the meatballs together.
  • Milk. A key ingredient for the panade. You can use any kind of milk you drink here.
  • Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs. Next, we’re using our gluten-free bread crumbs to help make the panade, a mixture that helps lighten the texture of the meatballs. If you don’t have any and can’t find any in your grocery store, you can use fresh gluten-free bread instead.
  • Parmesan Cheese. For more flavor, you can also add a little finely grated parmesan to the meatballs.
  • Simple Seasonings. A blend of kosher salt, black pepper, and dried oregano add gorgeous flavor to these tender gluten-free meatballs. You can certainly add extra flavor with fresh herbs, or Italian seasoning, if you like!

Key Element: Panade

One secret to tender, juicy meatballs is using what’s known as a panade, which translates from French to essentially mean “bread mash.” So, what is a panade, exactly? This mixture, usually made from milk and bread or bread crumbs, helps give ground meat dishes (like meatloaf or meatballs) a lighter texture and helps prevent dryness and denseness.

How does a panade work? Well, the starch in the bread helps absorb liquid in the mixture, creating a sort of gel that coats the meat proteins and keeps the meatballs, burgers, or meatloaf tender and moist, so they don’t lose their shape or juices during cooking.

In many recipes (like this one!), you can season the panade with herbs, aromatics (onion, garlic, etc.), and seasonings for extra flavor, but even if it’s plain, a panade will help give you the best texture and the best meatballs around!

making gluten-free meatballs step by step
making baked gluten-free meatballs topped with cheese

How To Make Baked Gluten-Free Meatballs, Step By Step:

  1. Preheat The Oven & Prep The Pan. Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F. Set out a 9×13 baking dish. (I prefer a ceramic or glass 9×13 casserole dish)
  2. Saute Onion & Garlic. In a small saucepan, saute onion in olive oil over medium heat 4-5 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Set mixture aside to cool.
  3. Make The Panade. In a medium bowl, combine egg and milk. Whisk to combine till smooth, then add gluten-free breadcrumbs (or bread), parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and oregano. Add the cooled onion mixture and stir to combine. Let this mixture sit for 3-5 minutes to absorb some of the milk. (This mixture will look a bit soggy and wet. This is ok!)
  4. Loosen Up The Meat & Add Panade. In a large bowl, loosen up the ground meat a little bit with a fork, if needed. Try to work the meat as little as possible to avoid tough meatballs. Then, add the panade mixture and gently mix with a fork (or your hands!) just to combine. Again, try to only mix gently and as little as you can just until the mixture is evenly combined.
  5. Scoop and Roll Meatballs. Pour about 3/4 of the marinara sauce into the prepared pan (9×13 pan). Use a medium cookie scoop to measure 1 1/2 inch meatballs from the meat mixture. Gently roll them smooth between your palms. Tuck the meatballs into the marinara sauce in the pan, then cover the tops of the meatballs with the remaining 1/4 of the sauce.
  6. Cover & Bake 30 Minutes. Then, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes.
  7. Uncover & Finish Baking. After 3o minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the meatballs. Place the pan back into the oven (uncovered) and bake an additional 12-15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling, the cheese is melted and the meatballs are cooked through. (The interior of the meatballs should reach 165 degrees F.) If desired, you can broil the meatballs 1-2 minutes for a little more color on top.
  8. Serve & Store. If needed, spoon or dab off any excess grease, then top meatballs with fresh basil or parsley. Serve with gluten-free spaghetti, on toasted gluten-free buns or baguettes, with spaghetti squash, and more! Store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge 2-3 days.

More Ways To Cook These Meatballs:

I love making this easy gluten-free meal by baking the meatballs in flavorful tomato sauce, but you can absolutely cook them other ways too!

  • Slow Cooker. Add meatballs and sauce to a slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours. Add the cheese 10-15 minutes before serving.
  • Baking Sheet. To bake these gluten-free meatballs without sauce, place the meatballs on a large baking sheet pan (lightly greased) and bake at 400 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
  • Stove Top. Add meatballs to a Dutch oven or large pot with sauce on the stove and simmer until the meatballs are fully cooked through and the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F. (If you want, you can brown them in olive oil before adding the sauce for more color.)
  • Air Fryer. Preheat air fryer to 380 degrees F. Work in batches, cooking meatballs (without sauce!) in a single layer (ideally so they’re not crowded in tight!) and cook 8-10 minutes per batch, or until internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 165 degrees F. (If cooking frozen meatballs, cook for 10-12 minutes.)
gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs on a white plate

Make It A Meal! (Serving Ideas)

Now that you have a pan of delicious, tender meatballs, how should you serve them? Our go-to serving suggestions are:

  1. Meatball Sandwiches. Serve on gluten-free garlic bread or gluten-free baguettes to make gluten-free meatball subs!
  2. Gluten-Free Spaghetti. Cook up a box of your favorite gluten-free spaghetti noodles (or your favorite gluten-free pasta!) and serve this restaurant-style! It’s my family’s favorite way to enjoy this gluten-free meatball recipe!
  3. Spaghetti Squash. Or, keep this meal higher in veggies and lower in carbs by swapping traditional pasta out for spaghetti squash (or zucchini noodles/veggie noodles!)

As for side dishes, there are LOTS of delicious ideas out there! We love Our Favorite Green Salad or Gluten-Free Caesar Salad, Gluten-Free Garlic Bread, or some Seasoned Green Beans.

Cheesy baked gluten-free meatballs marinara in a white baking dish

FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Gluten-Free Meatballs:

Can I Make Gluten-Free Meatballs Without Breadcrumbs? Yes! You can use fresh gluten-free bread in place of bread crumbs, or use almond flour for a grain-free option instead. Keep in mind that almond flour meatballs will be slightly more dense than those made with gluten-free bread or bread crumbs.

Can I Use Ground Turkey or Ground Chicken Instead? Technically, yes, though they won’t be exactly the same.

Try Adding Herbs! If you have them on hand, feel free to mix in 2-3 Tablespoons of fresh herbs along with the gluten-free bread crumbs and seasonings. Fresh parsley and fresh basil are delicious!

Freezer Tips

These gluten-free meatballs are a GREAT recipe for the freezer! You can easily make a double batch and freeze the second batch in portions for an easy dinner another night. Here are a few ways to freeze them:

  • FLASH FREEZE UNCOOKED MEATBALLS. Place raw meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 1 1/2 hours until they’re no longer tacky, then transfer them to a freezer bag and store up to 2 months.
  • FREEZE COOKED MEATBALLS. Cook meatballs without sauce, then freeze cooked, cooled meatballs up to 2 months. (You can add them frozen right to a pot of sauce to thaw while they simmer!)
  • MAKE THIS A FREEZER MEAL. Freeze uncooked meatballs in sauce in a large freezer bag. Thaw in the fridge, then bake as directed or add to a slow cooker for easy prep another day.

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gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs on a white plate

Easy Gluten-Free Meatballs


  • Author: Emily Dixon, One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 35 meatballs 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

These cozy baked meatballs make for such a delicious dinner. Serve them on spaghetti noodles or veggie noodles, or try them on toasted buns for meatball subs! 


Ingredients

Scale

For The Meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef* 
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely minced or grated onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs or 1/2 cup finely torn gluten-free bread
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, not pre-shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

To Serve:

  • 3248 oz. marinara sauce (1 1/22 jars marinara sauce)
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • parsley or basil, for garnish
  • Optional: gluten-free spaghetti, gluten-free buns, or spaghetti squash

Instructions

  1. Preheat The Oven & Prep The Pan. Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F. Set out a 9×13 baking dish. (I prefer a ceramic or glass 9×13 casserole dish)
  2. Saute Onion & Garlic. In a small saucepan, saute onion in olive oil over medium heat 4-5 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Set mixture aside to cool.
  3. Make The Panade. In a medium bowl, combine egg and milk. Whisk to combine till smooth, then add gluten-free breadcrumbs (or bread), parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and oregano. Add the cooled onion mixture and stir to combine. Let this mixture sit for 3-5 minutes to absorb some of the milk. (This mixture will look a bit soggy and wet. This is ok!)
  4. Loosen Up The Meat & Add Panade. In a large mixing bowl, loosen up the ground meat a little bit with a fork, if needed. Try to work the meat as little as possible to avoid tough meatballs. Then, add the panade mixture and gently mix with a fork (or your hands!) just to combine. Again, try to only mix gently and as little as you can just until the mixture is evenly combined.
  5. Scoop and Roll Meatballs. Pour about 3/4 of the marinara sauce into the prepared pan (9×13 pan). Use a medium cookie scoop to measure 1 1/2 inch meatballs from the meatball mixture and gently roll them smooth between your palms. Tuck the meatballs into the marinara sauce in the pan, then cover the tops of the meatballs with the remaining 1/4 of the sauce.
  6. Cover & Bake 30 Minutes. Then, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes.
  7. Uncover & Finish Baking. After 3o minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the meatballs. Place the pan back into the oven (uncovered) and bake an additional 12-15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling, the cheese is melted and the meatballs are cooked through. (The interior of the meatballs should reach 165 degrees F.) If desired, you can broil the meatballs 1-2 minutes for a little more color on top.
  8. Serve & Store. If needed, spoon or dab off any excess grease, then top meatballs with fresh basil or parsley. Serve with gluten-free spaghetti, on toasted gluten-free buns or baguettes, with spaghetti squash, and more! Store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge 2-3 days.

Notes

  • Ground Meat. I’m using 90% lean ground beef here, but for richer, restaurant-style meatballs you can use 1 pound ground beef + 1/2 pound ground pork. Or, you can use 1 pound ground beef + 1/2 pound Italian sausage. 

More Ways To Cook:

  • Sheet Pan: Make and form the meatballs as directed, but instead of baking them in a 9×13 dish with marinara, place the meatballs on a lightly greased sheet pan. Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F. 
  • Air Fryer. Preheat air fryer to 380 degrees F. Work in batches, cooking meatballs (without sauce!) in a single layer (ideally so they’re not crowded in tight!) and cook 8-10 minutes per batch, or until internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 165 degrees F. (If cooking frozen meatballs, cook for 10-12 minutes.)
  • Slow Cooker. Add meatballs and sauce to a slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours. Add the cheese 10-15 minutes before serving.
  • Stove Top. Add meatballs to a Dutch oven or large pot with sauce on the stove and simmer until the meatballs are fully cooked through and the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F. (If you want, you can brown them in olive oil before adding the sauce for more color.)

Freezer Tips:

  • FLASH FREEZE UNCOOKED MEATBALLS. Place raw meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 1 1/2 hours until they’re no longer tacky, then transfer them to a freezer bag and store up to 2 months.
  • FREEZE COOKED MEATBALLS. Cook meatballs without sauce, then freeze cooked, cooled meatballs up to 2 months. (You can add them frozen right to a pot of sauce to thaw while they simmer!)
  • MAKE THIS A FREEZER MEAL. Freeze uncooked meatballs in sauce in a large freezer bag. Thaw in the fridge, then bake as directed or add to a slow cooker for easy prep another day.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: gluten free meatballs, gluten free baked meatballs, gluten free italian meatballs

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