7 Easy Weeknight Dinners ~ the Meatball Edition! Meatballs are always welcome at the table, and here are some of my favorite creative meatball recipes to inspire you. So tie a napkin around your neck and get ready to dig in~
Don’t worry, I get it ~ no one wants to be up to their elbows in ground meat after a long day at work, so the key here is some good meal prep. Make the meatballs ahead of time and refrigerate. You can freeze them if you like. Then the bulk of the work is done and you can throw together the best dinners ever in no time. So let’s get to it ~ here are some of my favorite easy meatball recipes that make perfect weeknight dinners ~
The latest meatball recipe on the blog has an exotic vibe, they’re based on a Lebanese classic made with fresh herbs and warmly spiced with cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and cumin.
Meatball prep ~ How to make meatballs ahead
Making a big batch of meatballs over the weekend means delicious and easy weekday meals, here are a few options…
- Make your meatball mixture and form the balls on the weekend, then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- For longer storage, freeze the meatballs, cooked or uncooked.
- Make sure to freeze them in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet first, so they don’t all stick together. Once they are frozen, you can transfer them into a plastic ziplock bag for easy freezer storage.
- Cooking meatballs from frozen ~ you don’t need to thaw your meat, just add them right to your sauce and let them cook slowly. For oven baking, they’ll just take a little longer. (Check that the internal temperature is 165F)
World famous, moist, pillowy, and irresistible. Eat them as is, like the Italians do, in a little bowl, on top of pasta, or laid across a crusty split roll.
What to serve alongside: a great green salad lightens up this meal, if you want to go all out I’d made a classic Caesar, with some 30-Second Caesar Dressing to go with it. Add crusty bread and you’re done.
Zucchini adds moisture and lightness to this savory beef meatball recipe. Just add pasta and some tomato sauce for a well rounded dinner.
What to serve alongside: since the veggies are already included in this dish, I’d just add some great focaccia bread.
What are the secrets to making tender meatballs?
- Choose your meat wisely. I like to buy meat with a minimum of 20% fat.
- Mix your meats for fabulous flavor and texture: try adding ground pork to your beef.
- One of the secrets to tender meatballs is to add in some type of filler or fillers to the meat mixture. That can be egg, breadcrumbs, rice, mashed potato, quinoa, or even zucchini. The fillers loosen the density of the meat, add moisture, and flavor. Fresh breadcrumbs are super easy to make at home if you have some bread laying around!
- Be sure to add some type of fresh herb which will lighten the texture and add vibrancy to the meat.
- Add-ins like onion should be very finely minced so you don’t get lumpy meatballs ;)
This beautiful meatball dinner proves that meatballs can be light fare. Cooked rice in the meatballs makes them extra tender and fluffy, and the lemon sauce is not too heavy or creamy, it’s just perfect.
What to serve alongside: I think a Chopped Greek Salad would complete this meal.
Using a stand mixer for perfectly mixed meatballs ~
I used to mix meatballs and meatloaf with my hands, but now I use my Kitchenaid Mixer and it’s my preferred way to do it. The paddle attachment is ideal for getting everything incorporated without over-mixing, and it saves so much hand washing! I think it does a better job than I do, because I usually can’t wait to get my hands OUT of the bowl and I don’t always get everything thoroughly blended.
This comforting meatball meal takes the flavors of traditional Salisbury steak and makes it more family friendly.
What to serve alongside: for this old school style meal I’d serve steamed peas or green beans and maybe fresh dinner rolls.
A useful technique for cooking perfectly even and round meatballs ~
I like to form the meatballs with a scoop so they’re all evenly sized. I refrigerate the meatballs for at least 30 minutes to allow them to firm up. Then I arrange them on a baking sheet and bake at 350F until they reach 160F inside. They come out nice and browned, evenly cooked, and perfectly round. Then I can add them to whatever sauce or gravy my recipe calls for. If I’ll be cooking them further in a sauce, I’ll pull them out a little bit before they’re done.
I love the bold flavors in this dish ~ lemon, fresh herbs, spices, feta, and fresh ginger make for an unforgettable meatball. A creamy tahini-based sauce brings it all together.
What to serve alongside: a bright citrus salad would be wonderful with these meatballs.
Who could say no to cheesy skillet meatballs? This comforting meal works great as a hearty appetizer, too.
What to serve alongside: add some healthy green to this comforting meal with a Kale and Butternut Salad.