These tasty, homemade meatballs without breadcrumbs are made from ground beef or pork mixed with spices and herbs. They make a delicious, easy dinner on their own or with your favorite sauce.
Today’s tender meatballs without breadcrumbs are a delicious twist on the classic recipe, and they are perfect for a satisfying meal with family or friends. An old-time favorite, meatballs are a beloved and classic dish that brings joy to the whole family.
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🍲Can you make meatballs without breadcrumbs?
Sure, it couldn’t be easier – the recipe for meatballs without breadcrumbs is just as straightforward and delicious as the classic meatball recipe. You will not need any special ingredients like nuts or seeds, no breadcrumb substitutes, or anything else. Just everyday, simple ingredients.
Skipping breadcrumbs in meatballs happens for a few reasons.
Some people skip them because they avoid gluten or are on a low-carb diet. Others avoid them because of wheat or gluten allergies. Making juicy meatballs with no breadcrumbs helps these people eat safely.
Or maybe you just don’t have breadcrumbs in your kitchen. Instead of going to the store, you can cook without them, using whatever you already have.
- Ground meat: A mixture of beef and pork. If using beef only, I always choose a 20%-80% ratio, meaning 20% fat and 80% lean beef. You can definitely use fattier beef, but I don’t recommend going any lower than 20% fat, or the balls might be dry.
- Spices: Fine sea salt, ground black pepper, good-quality sweet paprika powder, and dried thyme. You will also need fresh parsley. You can substitute fresh parsley with other fresh herbs like dill or oregano, but I don’t recommend using dried parsley for this recipe.
- Other ingredients: One large egg, onion, fresh garlic, and vegetable oil for cooking the meatballs.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Different types of meat: You can also use half beef and half pork ground meat. Or use just ground pork. Or check out our Turkey Meatballs without Breadcrumbs (this ground turkey recipe also works well with ground chicken).
Cheese: Add ¼ Parmesan cheese to the mixture. The cheese will act as a binding agent as well.
Mediterranean-style: Mix in Mediterranean spices like oregano, cumin, paprika, and chopped olives or sun-dried tomatoes for a burst of Mediterranean flavors. Or add some Italian seasoning. Try our Spanish Meatballs, too; they are one of our most popular recipes.
Spicy: Add some heat by incorporating diced jalapeños, red pepper flakes, or a bit of cayenne pepper into the meatball mixture.
👩🏻🍳How to make meatballs without breadcrumbs?
Step #1: Chop and sauté the onion.
Step #2: Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Step #3: Form the meatballs (16-18 pieces). You can use an ice cream scoop for regular-sized balls.
Step #4: Cook them in batches in a large skillet or frying pan.
🥘Alternative cooking methods
Oven: Place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake them at 425°F/ 220°C for about 15 minutes or until cooked through (make sure to check).
Air fryer: Arrange them in the air fryer basket in a single layer (cook them in batches) and air fry them at 375°F/190°C for 12-12 minutes or until cooked through (check doneness).
Meat: Choose ground meat with slightly higher fat content to maintain moisture and flavor in the absence of breadcrumbs.
Gentle mixing: Be cautious not to overmix the meat. Mix the ingredients gently to avoid tough meatballs.
Check Doneness: Use a meat thermometer (the Amazon link opens in a new tab) to verify that the meatballs reach a safe internal temperature without overcooking them.
No, it means the ground beef has 20 percent fat and 80 percent lean beef, so it’s called medium. For beef to be called "lean," it needs to have at least 92% lean beef and 8% fat. If labeled "extra lean," it has to be 96% lean beef with 4% fat or more.
Sure, they are great for meal prep. Cook them and refrigerate them until ready to serve. Serve them at room temperature (great for parties or picnics) or reheat them.
Refrigerate the cooked meatballs in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Freeze them in a container or freezer bag for up to three months. Defrost them in the fridge.
Reheat them in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes or until heated thoroughly.
Microwave: Place meatballs in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a damp paper towel, and heat in 30-second intervals until heated through.
Stovetop: Reheat meatballs in a skillet with a bit of sauce or oil over medium heat, turning occasionally until warmed evenly.
🍽️What else to serve them with?
Pasta: Serve the meatballs with spaghetti or any pasta of your choice, topped with marinara or tomato sauce.
Fresh salad, such as a garden salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a light vinaigrette or Yogurt Dressing.
Sandwich: Make meatball subs or sandwiches by placing meatballs in a hoagie roll or sandwich bread with cheese and sauce.
🍝What sauce can I serve them with?
Meatballs without Breadcrumbs
- 1 large frying pan or cast-iron skillet
- 1 large bowl
- ½ lb ground beef 250 g, Notes 1, 2
- ½ lb ground pork 250 g
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves grated
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika powder Notes 2, 3
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
- Sauté onion: Chop the onion finely. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the pan and sauté the onion on medium heat until translucent and only lightly golden. Remove the pan from the heat and let the onion cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (You will use the same pan to fry the meatballs).1 small onion + 1 tablespoon oil
- Combine ground meat, lightly beaten egg, grated garlic, chopped parsley, salt, paprika, thyme, pepper, and onions in a large bowl.½ lb ground beef/ 250 g + ½ lb ground pork/ 250 g + 2 garlic cloves + 1 large egg + 2 tablespoons parsley + 1 teaspoon fine sea salt + 2 teaspoons sweet paprika powder + ½ teaspoon thyme + ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Form 16 – 18 meatballs.
- Cook meatballs: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the pan. Fry the meatballs in two batches without overcrowding the pan. Let the meatballs cook without touching them for a while until the bottom turns brown. Then, use tongs or a spatula to gently flip the meatballs so they cook and get brown on all sides. You might need to turn them a few times to ensure they cook evenly. Cook them for about 8 minutes or until cooked through.If required, add a bit more oil for the second batch.2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Check: To ensure the meatballs are thoroughly cooked, you can use a meat th
- Ground meat: A mixture of beef and pork.
- You can use only beef that is not too lean; aim for medium, meaning 20% fat and 80% lean meat; otherwise, the meatballs might be too dry. Or you can use only ground pork.
- Paprika powder: Make sure you use good-quality paprika, the best brand you can afford. It does make a difference when it comes to paprika; cheap paprika tastes only of dust.
- For a spicier kick, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika powder with smoked or hot paprika powder. Or you can add a little cayenne pepper or red chili flakes.