Toddler-friendly Baked Meatballs

One of the only ways we used to get Natalie to eat meat at home (she’d eat anything at daycare, of course) was with these homemade meatballs.  Now that she’s more adventurous, they are still a great protein option to have in the freezer for quick meals or when we’re having something she’s not likely to eat. I’ve been tweaking the mix each time and the last time I think I finally nailed it.

  • 2 lbs ground beef or turkey (I use 90/10 beef, as that is what my grocery offers in an all natural version.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 – 1 C. (approx) fresh veg, whizzed up into tiny pieces in the mini chop or food processor.  I use:
    • fresh parsley (about 1/4 of a grocery store bunch. The parsley I think might be the secret ingredient. The meatballs with parsley added were amazing.)
    • baby spinach ( 1 big handful)
    • onion (1/2 of a medium)
    • carrot (~3 sm-med)
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 C. whole wheat bread crumbs (I just take a couple of slices of WW bread and whiz them up in the mini chop before doing the veg.)

Preheat oven to 400*

Combine everything but the breadcrumbs in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly with your hands.  Add breadcrumbs ( you may need a little more or less than 1 C. depending on the moisture of your mixture.)

Roll into golf ball size balls — I use a 1 1/2 T. scoop to keep the size uniform — and place onto a roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray.  I’ve baked these meatballs on a cookie sheet before, but as they bake, the meat oozes some fat and juice and it makes a really unattractive collar of goo around the meatballs if there is no place for it to drain.  The roasting pan has, by far, been the best way to bake these.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs are deep brown and cooked through.  I get about 46 meatballs from a 2 lb mix.  (I used to make these a little smaller when Natalie was younger — cook time was more like 20 minutes.)  We have a vacuum sealer, so I usually freeze the whole batch of meatballs loose in a big ziploc bag first, then vacuum seal them in batches of 10 or so.