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Meatball recipes for a healthier you
You might think meatballs rank high on the scale of unhealthy food options, but these recipes will make you think again. Fortified with healthy swaps and add-ins, these meatball recipes will fill you up with protein and nutrients while you satisfy your comfort food craving.
Click through for new-and-improved classic spaghetti and meatball recipes, as well as innovative dishes that give meatballs a whole new meaning, such as Mediterranean Meatballs and Turkey Meatballs in Pitas. If you love a meatball hero but don’t want to deal with unhealthy fats, we have a skinny Italian Meatball Sandwich that you’ll love without the inevitable guilt you’d feel after eating other versions.
Even on a busy night, you’ll be amazed by how quick and easy it is to whip up the simpler meals on this hot list. If you’re looking to jazz it up in the kitchen with a truly gourmet experience, our meatball-making game plan here has got you covered, too.
Pick your favorite recipe and give it a go to get the delicious results that you’ll want to share with others and go back to again and again. Toss these meatballs into your favorite pasta and make sure you serve them up warm – there’s nothing like slicing into a steaming-good helping of meatballs.
Photo: Jonathan Kantor
Orecchiette With Sausage Meatballs, Broccoli Rabe, and Garlic
This 25-minute meal is well rounded with good-for-you nutrients – you’ll get a solid helping of vitamins A, C, and K, plus calcium, 21 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber.
Try this recipe: Orecchiette With Sausage Meatballs, Broccoli Rabe, and Garlic
Ingredients: Box orecchiette, broccoli rabe, olive oil, Italian sausage, garlic cloves
Photo: Photo: Oxmoor House
Italian Meatball Sandwich
This low-calorie meatball sub cuts down on fat so you don’t eat too much saturated fat while you nosh on this old favorite. You’ll get 25 grams of protein with one serving of this meal.
Try this recipe: Italian Meatball Sandwich
Ingredients: Whole wheat submarine loaves, ground round, chopped onion, Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, water, pepper, egg, low-fat & reduced-sodium pasta sauce, part-skim mozzarella cheese
Photo: Photo: Leigh Beisch
If you are craving protein, this recipe will deliver 34 grams of it while you indulge in the hot, meaty flavor.
Try this recipe: Meatball Sandwiches
Ingredients: Ground sirloin, seasoned breadcrumbs, tomato-and-basil pasta sauce, salt, green bell pepper, onion, French bread rolls, part-skim mozzarella cheese, fresh basil (optional)
Photo: Photo: Kate Sears; Stylist: Amy Wilson
Meatballs in White Wine Sauce with Rustic Bread
These meatballs will bring you right to Italy with the additions of white wine, sundried tomatoes, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and ricotta cheese – but this version is only 380 calories.
Try this recipe: Meatballs in White Wine Sauce with Rustic Bread
Ingredients: 90% lean ground beef, part-skim ricotta cheese, egg, sundried tomatoes, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, salt, pepper, all-purpose flour, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, white wine, baguette
Slow-Cooker Turkey Meatballs
Lean ground turkey is a great healthy swap that will make for a far healthier meatball dish. This recipe incorporates innovative ingredients like panko and pineapple to add in extra lush flavors.
Try this recipe: Slow-Cooker Turkey Meatballs
Ingredients: 85% lean ground turkey, onion, garlic cloves, fresh ginger, egg, panko, salt, vegetable oil, red bell pepper, rice vinegar, soy sauce, light brown sugar, crushed red pepper, cornstarch, pineapple chunks
Photo: Photo: Levi Brown
Whole-Wheat Spaghetti and Meatballs
Whole-wheat pasta is a healthy alternative to starchier versions. Serve this meal up hot and dig into 35 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber.
Try this recipe: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti and Meatballs
Ingredients: Whole-wheat spaghetti, ground turkey, ground flaxseed, Parmesan cheese, egg, black pepper, kosher salt, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, ripe tomatoes, crushed red pepper
Turkey, Pine Nut, and Currant Meatballs
Currants add in a healthy dose of potassium and fiber, plus you’ll get that delicious nutty taste from the pine nuts in these low calorie meatballs.
Try this recipe: Turkey, Pine Nut, and Currant Meatballs
Ingredients: Ground turkey breast, fresh breadcrumbs, dried currants, fresh basil leaves, garlic cloves, chopped pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, ground black pepper, olive oil, kale, marinara sauce
Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
This meal is sure to satisfy; it takes the classic dish and makes it healthier with lean turkey meatballs, plus beans for a nutritious burst of resistant starch.
Try this recipe: Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Ingredients: Whole-wheat spaghetti, ground lean turkey, Parmesan cheese, parsley, whole-wheat bread crumbs, egg, salt, pepper, olive oil, onion, garlic cloves, low-sodium crushed tomatoes, pinto beans, salt, pepper
Photo: Helene Dujardin
At 182 calories per serving, this low-carb recipe doesn’t skimp on rich flavors, and you’ll get 21 grams of fiber while you eat it all up.
Try this recipe: Mediterranean Meatballs
Ingredients: Whole-wheat panko bread crumbs, lean ground sirloin, scallions, mint leaves, egg, olive oil, garlic, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, fire-roasted crushed tomatoes with juice, cucumbers, whole-wheat pitas (optional)
Photo: Lauri Patterson/Getty Images
Cumin-Coriander Turkey Meatballs
If you like spice, make sure to give these good-for-you meatballs a shot. Since this dish replaces old-school meats with healthier turkey, it cuts down on fat significantly.
Try this recipe: Cumin-Coriander Turkey Meatballs
Ingredients: Home-style white bread, fresh cilantro, fresh dill, fresh parsley, ground turkey, onion, cumin, coriander seeds, salt, ground allspice, black pepper, eggs, garlic cloves, olive oil
Photo: Leigh Beisch
Turkey Meatballs in Pitas
This low-calorie meal is way easier to make than you think, and it mixes in protein, calcium from yogurt, whole-wheat, and rich spices to make for an instant-classic taste that you’ll want to go back to again and again.
Try this recipe: Turkey Meatballs in Pitas
Ingredients: Tomato, cumin, salt, black pepper, ground turkey, fresh cilantro, vegetable oil, whole-wheat pitas, Romaine lettuce leaves, plain low-fat yogurt
Photo: Photo: Melissa Punch
Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs
Updating classic spaghetti and meatballs with lean ground turkey makes this recipe as good to your body as it is to your taste buds.
Try this recipe: Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs
Ingredients: Lean ground turkey, zucchini, Triscuits, egg, black pepper, scallions, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes with basil, whole-grain spaghetti, Parmesan cheese
Skinny Meatballs With Sauce
This dinner looks as good as it tastes, and it takes only 20 minutes to prepare the dish, with each serving delivering a whopping 44 grams of protein.
Try this recipe: Skinny Meatballs With Sauce
Ingredients: Olive oil, onion, bell peppers, garlic cloves, tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes, reduced-sodium marinara sauce, no-salt-added tomato paste, red wine, fresh basil, fresh oregano, red pepper, lean ground turkey, chicken sausage, eggs, whole-wheat breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, whole-wheat spaghetti, Parmesan cheese
Photo: Randy Mayor
Spaghetti and Meatballs
For 291 calories you will enjoy a serving of spaghetti, four meatballs, and a topping of cheese in this high protein meal that also packs in fiber, iron, and calcium in one go.
Try this recipe: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Ingredients: Cooking spray, onion, garlic cloves, tomato paste, salt, less-sodium beef broth, whole peeled tomatoes, white bread, sweet turkey Italian sausage, fresh basil, fresh parsley, egg substitute, black pepper, egg, ground sirloin, spaghetti, Parmigiano-Reggiano