These Italian inspired keto meatballs are pure comfort food. Flavourful, tender low carb meatballs in a rich tomato sauce topped with melty cheese - perfect for a family dinner and naturally low in net carbs. Ready in just 30 minutes!
You say meatballs and I say I AM IN.
Meatballs are one of those dishes that are almost universally liked. They are hearty comfort food, fuss free and ridiculously easy to make.
Of course, they feature in all kinds of cuisines. I am partial to these keto Swedish meatballs. But I LOVE to prepare them as the Italians do - in a rich marinara sauce, topped with gooey melted mozzarella cheese.
This recipe is gluten-free and keto friendly, but the non keto members of your family are going to love it as well.
Here are the ingredients you need:
- Ground meat. I used ground beef, but ground turkey, ground pork or ground chicken also work well. Or use a combination of ground beef and pork!
- Onion and garlic. In my opinion, fresh is best. The onion also helps with a softer texture. However, you could use 1 teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder instead.
- Oregano. Other herbs that work are Italian herbs such as basil, parsley or thyme.
- Coconut aminos. My secret ingredient. As an alternative, Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce can also lend additional flavor.
- Egg. Helps with a better texture.
- Pecorino. This is a lovely salty Italian cheese. Parmesan cheese is also an option.
For the marinara sauce and the topping you'll also need:
- Canned chopped tomatoes
- Tomato puree
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Here are some ideas how you can change up the meatballs. I have tried all of these myself!
Keto breadcrumbs. Add ¼ cup of almond flour or ⅓ cup pork rinds. Both of these options are replacements for Panko breadcrumbs. Creates a fluffier texture.
(If you go for this option, also add an equal amount of additional liquid or moisture such as heavy cream or almond milk.)
Cheesy. Add ¼ cup grated parmesan and ¼ cup mozzarella cheese to the mix. Or try using some crumbled Feta for a Greek version.
Veggie. Add ⅓ cup finely grated zucchini to the meatball mixture. Perfect when you're feeding people who think they don't like vegetables! This also adds tenderness.
It is surprisingly easy to make keto meatballs. Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions.
Here are the basic steps:
Step 1: Heat olive oil in a large skillet and fry the onion over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté briefly.
Remove from the pan and wipe out the pan ready for the meatballs.
Step 2: Place the ground beef in a bowl. Add dried oregano, half of the cooked onion and garlic mixture, coconut aminos, egg, a good pinch of salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon pecorino or parmesan cheese. Mix to combine.
Step 3: Using wet hands, roll into meatballs. Heat oil in a skillet and fry over medium heat until browned all over.
Step 4: To a clean pan, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, remaining garlic, onion and oregano. Season to taste and bring to the boil. Then, reduce to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thicker in consistency.
Step 5: Coat the meatballs in the tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella, pecorino and bake in the oven until the cheese has fully melted.
Here are my super simple low carb hacks for soft, juicy meatballs.
- Use fatty meat. The fat is where the taste is and it will make the end result nice and juicy.
- Don't squash. Be gentle when you form the balls. This way, they'll be tender and light. The egg and the cheese ensures that they don't fall apart.
Top with fresh oregano or fresh basil and cracked black pepper. Fresh parsley also works well.
We like to eat these keto meatballs with a crunchy green salad or with zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice. They also work exceedingly well with keto mashed cauliflower or this keto garlic bread, which is perfect for mopping up additional sauce.
And they even taste good cold!
I like to pan-fry meatballs because I think they caramelise better that way. Use a large pan and space them out. This ensures they brown evenly.
Yes. Broiling is the hands-off, grease-free technique and it takes around 15 minutes. Turn the meatballs once the tops are browned.
Yes. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F and bake on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 18-20 minutes.
Keto meatballs keep fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
This is a great recipe for meal prepping. You can freeze the meatballs separately or combined with the marinara sauce.
I like to make a triple batch and freeze portions for later. That way, I have a complete dinner ready in without breaking a sweat.
Store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To defrost: Thaw in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, microwave or reheat in the oven.
Here are more Italian inspired keto recipes:
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating below!
Italian Keto Meatballsfrom Sugar Free Londoner
Note: The servings slider only changes the first amount in each line and not any subsequent amounts. Please make your own calculations where necessary.
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion finely diced (70g)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1.1 lb ground beef 500g, fatty is best
- 2 tablespoon dried oregano 10.8g
- 2 tablespoon coconut aminos or soy sauce
- 1 egg large
- ⅓ - ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoon pecorino 15g, grated, or parmesan cheese
- 21 oz chopped tomatoes 600g / 1.3lb
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree 30g
- 1 cup grated mozzarella 113g
- Preheat the oven to 400F / 200C / 180fan.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet or non stick sauté pan. Add the onion and fry for 3 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for a further 30 seconds. Remove from the pan and wipe out the pan ready for the meatballs.
- Place the meat, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, half of the cooked onion and garlic mix, 1 tablespoon coconut aminos, egg, a good pinch of salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon pecorino in a bowl and mix to combine. Using wet hands, roll into meatballs about 3 cm in size.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your skillet or sauté pan and fry the meatballs, turning frequently for 5 - 7 minutes until browned. Remove from the heat. (Transfer to an oven proof dish if you’re not using a cast iron pan that can go in the oven or temporarily remove the meatballs from the skillet whilst you make the sauce.)
- To a clean skillet / pan, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, remaining garlic and onion, 1 tablespoon coconut aminos, 1 tablespoon oregano, season and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until thicker in consistency.
- Coat the meatballs in the tomato sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella, 2 tablespoon pecorino and bake 15 - 20 minutes until the cheese has fully melted. Top with fresh oregano and cracked black pepper.