Homemade Italian Meatballs, Paleo Friendly, Grain Free

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I love meatballs. In fact, I love ground beef. I have a friend who hates ground beef, having grown up with in a family of eleven, where ground beef was served too often. Such a shame, for in our family ground beef either meant meatloaf or meatballs and both are glorious comfort foods in my childhood memories.

I can’t eat either of these from other places, because once I tasted my family’s meatballs, I was ruined.

The Right Way to Make Paleo Meatballls

While there is nothing difficult about making meatballs, it’s easier to get them wrong than right. Firstly, a meatball should be tender, not a hard ball. The flavors should be balanced. One shouldn’t bite into a meatball and get a mouth full of filler and garlic. A meatball should be about the meat. I also added pork for flavor and fat.

It must be loosely packed, seasoned well, but not overpowering. I always use 85% lean meat, which still has plenty of fat in it, which mostly bakes off in the oven, where I bake them to medium rare and then place them in the tomato sauce.

Usually, I add a little bread to my meatballs, but today, I made them for those of you out there eating a grain free, Paleo friendly diet. I

I’m eating Paleo friendly food a lot lately, which means grains are out and pasta is nowhere to be seen, at least for a while. I’m a 80/20 eater, which means at two out of ten days a month, I’m probably eating pasta or quinoa, but for right now, I’m grain free, and feeling better eating this way.

No one can really take the bread or pasta away from an Italian permanently, but it’s better for me to at least cut back. I’m almost sounding apologetic and in some ways I am.

When I ate my pasta and bread in Italy, I had no dietary problems or weight issues. It’s here in the states, where I’m bombarded by everything carb and junkie that I lose my resolve, and then need to quickly do something.

Remember,  I LOVE FOOD. Yes, I do. I’m not that person who can eat 1/4 of the cheeseburger, nor can I eat just one meatball.

The smell of meatballs cooking inside of tomato sauce makes me think all’s right with the world, and just because I’m grain free doesn’t mean comfort food is out. I made these meatballs with premium ground beef, two kinds of cheeses, lots of parsley and fresh garlic.

They were baked in the oven and then placed in my homemade tomato sauce to simmer for a few hours.

Instead of spaghetti, I ate them with fresh spinach, but I think next time, I’ll try my melted kale. I still felt like I was eating comfort food, and when others around here ate spaghetti, I didn’t feel deprived eating these homemade Italian meatballs, paleo friendly and gluten free.

You may also like these gluten free chicken meatballs. 

Since this post, I came up with a fantastic grain free dinner roll that works as a slider and I made these meatballs sliders.

Meatballs Sliders, Paleo

My Grandmother’s Tomato Sauce Here

More Italian Recipes from Spinach Tiger

More Paleo Recipes

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4.91 from 11 votes

Homemade Italian Meatballs, Paleo Friendly, Gluten Free

Baked, Paleo Friendly Italian Meatballs, comfort food, grain free, gluten free.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 20 minutes
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 30
Author: Angela Roberts


  • 3 pounds grass fed beef
  • 1 pound ground pork or more beef
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh Italian Parsley
  • 6 cloves garlic finely minced
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • Homemade Italian Tomato Sauce


  • Pour milk over ground meat.
  • season with salt and pepper
  • Add remaining ingredients and very loosely, gently mix together. You don't want the meat to be compacted, as that will make the meatballs tough.
  • Form into balls
  • Place foil or parchment paper on baking sheet.
  • Bake meatballs for 20 minutes at 375 degrees or until outsides seems browned.
  • Place into tomato sauce to finish cooking for at least one hour.


Milk: You can skip milk. Do not substitute with almond or coconut milk as it will affect the taste. If you do skip milk and are using grass-fed beef, add a few tablespoons olive oil. Another way to add in some fat and flavor is to add in some chopped proscuitto, about a slice per pound.

Please follow me on instagram. If you make this recipe,  please tag me #spinachtiger.

If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo


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  1. 5 stars
    I halved the meat ball recipe and added most of them to a tomato gravy that was served with thin spaghetti with basil butter toast. The meat balls I didn’t add to the gravy I used 2 days later where they were sliced on a mega meat pizza that also had prosciutto and pepperoni. They were great.

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks for the recipe. You probably were okay consuming pasta in Italy because glyphosate is illegal in Europe. Glyphosate is a chemical used in fertilizers in the U.S. and is especially prevalent in grains. It is also linked to autism and a host of other diseases. Should be illegal in the U.S. too, in my opinion. The number of individuals diagnosed with autism is skyrocketing.

    1. I was just thinking about this same topic of autism today. How sad this situation. I rarely ever eat grains anymore and feel so much better all the way around.

    2. 5 stars
      Greetings from Baltimore. I made these delicious meatballs for Sunday NFL football last week. I had been looking for a simple tomato sauce to serve with homemade crusty Italian bread and meatballs. I happened upon Angela Roberts spinach tiger, recipe—and was immediately drawn in by her writing. “The little black dress of many Italian dishes,” simple fresh, bright and beautiful, this sauce is the kiss everyone wants. Understated- “the Audrey Hepburn of sauces.” Years ago, on Sundays, I’d make Italian bread and a pot of spaghetti and meat balls from my brother in law’s Jersey kitchen. My three little girls, couldn’t wait once the bread came out of the oven. Little fingers dipping bread in sauce moved the moment, eventually resulting in the complete elimination of the noodles over time. Instead, the table dressed with a basket of the bread and a bowl of sauce and meatballs, held our family together for an hour of dipping and dining. Bright smiles and laughter. Rather the point.

  3. I’m living in Italy right now (we’re American but on a work assignment), but trying to eat mostly gluten-free, and it’s a struggle, because everything gluten is SO good here! So I’m going to make these so that I can both feed them to my husband and kids and eat them myself. 🙂 Can I reduce the cheese a bit (to maybe 3/4 cup total) without it ruining the consistency and their ability to stick together? Because cheese is also a weak spot for me, so I’m trying to eat a bit less… 😛

    1. Hi Marie,
      If you’re gluten free and want to remove cheese, try adding a little mashed potato to add moisture. Of course, you could add in some olive oil as another alternative. I find that cheese brings flavor. Just add in herbs and salt and make the meatballs to your own taste.Sounds like you’re having fun living in Italy.

  4. 5 stars
    o.my.GOODNESS! These are super good – I altered slightly in that I used half the romano/parmesan cheese blend w/panko flakes in addition to 1/4 c light brown sugar 😉 YUM!! We have just been LOVING everything you have gluten free….THANK YOU 🙂

  5. Pingback: Paleo Italian Meatballs | The Paleo Recipe Blog
  6. Sounds most yummy. I too am not a huge fan of beef, but I may have to try this for the kiddos and husband. And I never would have thought of putting them on a bed of spinach or kale. Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas!

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