Looking for an easy family-friendly, crowd-pleasing recipe? These Italian inspired keto meatballs are it… and then some! Flavourful low carb meatballs in a rich tomato sauce topped with melted cheese, what’s not to love?!!
You say meatballs and I say I AM IN.
Table of contents
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. But my personal favourite is to prepare them as the Italians do - in a rich marinara sauce, topped with gooey melted mozzarella cheese.
We like to eat these keto meatballs with a crunchy green salad or enjoy them with zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice. They also work exceedingly well with this Keto garlic bread, which is perfect for mopping up additional sauce. And yes, I can attest they even taste good cold!
This recipe is keto friendly, but the non keto members of your family are going to love it as well.
Here are the ingredients you need to make delicious meatballs packed with flavor:
- 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.
- Salt & pepper
- 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
How to make juicy keto meatballs
(This section contains step by step instructions and photos that show how to make this recipe. Find the recipe card with ingredient amounts and nutritional information at the bottom of the post.)
1.) Heat olive oil in a large skillet and fry the onion over medium heat 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 ground meat in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon dried oregano, half of the cooked onion and garlic mixture, 1 tbsp coconut aminos, egg, a good pinch of salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon pecorino or parmesan cheese. Mix to combine.
Using wet hands, roll into meatballs. Mine were about 3 centimeters in diameter.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your skillet or sauté pan and cook the keto meatballs, turning frequently for 5 - 7 minutes until browned. Remove from the heat.
Note: If you don't have an oven proof pan, transfer the meatballs to an oven proof dish now.
To a clean pan, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, remaining garlic, onion and oregano. Season to taste and bring to the boil.
Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thicker in consistency.
Coat the meatballs in the tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella, 2 tbsp pecorino and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes until the cheese has fully melted.
To serve, 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!
The secret to fluffy low carb meatballs
Traditional meatball recipes contain bread crumbs and sometimes even soaked oats to make the meatballs nice and soft (and a bit cheaper!). The idea is to add a binder and prevent the proteins in the meat from shrinking and turning tough.
Here are my super simple low carb hacks:
USE FATTY MEAT. To ensure your meatballs stay soft without bread, choose fatty mince. The fat is where the taste is and it will make the end result nice and juicy.
DON'T SQUASH THE MIXTURE. Be gentle when you form the meatballs. This way, they'll be tender and light. The egg and the cheese in the mix will ensure that they don't fall apart.
Recipe tips and variations
Here are some ideas how you can change up the recipe. I have tried all of these myself!
USE DIFFERENT GROUND MEAT. I like to make my meatballs with just beef. But if you prefer, you can also go for a 50/50 mix of ground pork and beef. You could even go for veal, but that tends to be more expensive.
LESS MEAT. If you feel like experimenting with the recipe and want to stretch it a bit, you could add ¼ cup of almond flour or ⅓ cup pork rinds. Both of these options replace the traditional Panko breadcrumbs used in regular meatballs and are low in carbohydrates.
If you go for this option, also add an equal amount of additional liquid or moisture such as heavy cream or almond milk.
CHEESY. You can also make the meatballs cheesier by adding ¼ cup grated parmesan and ¼ cup mozzarella to the mix. Or try using some crumbled Feta for a Greek version.
EVEN MORE TENDERNESS. I have also successfully added ⅓ cup finely grated zucchini to my meatball mix. Perfect when you're feeding people who think they don't like vegetables! This also adds tenderness.
Meatball cooking methods
There are various methods to cook meatballs.
PAN FRYING. I like to pan-fry my keto meatballs because I think they caramelise better that way. Make sure you use a LARGE pan so you don't crowd them together. You don't want them to sit in their own liquid - you'd end up basically boiling them.
GRILLING or BROILING. If you're after a hands-off, grease-free technique, you can also grill / broil them on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes. Turn the meatballs once the tops are browned.
BAKING. 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 4 days.
Can you freeze this keto meatball recipe?
Yes, meatballs freeze well! 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.
Defrost in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, microwave or reheat in the oven.
More Italian inspired keto recipes
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Baked 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. ***As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
- 2 tbsp olive oil butter or ghee
- 1 small onion finely diced (70g)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 500 g / 17.6 oz / 1.1 pounds grass-fed beef mince
- 2 tbsp dried oregano 10.8g
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ - ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ tsp pepper
- 3 tbsp pecorino 15g
- 1.5 tins chopped tomatoes 600g / 21.1 oz
- 2 tbsp tomato puree 30g
- 1 cup grated mozzarella 113g
- Few sprigs of fresh oregano optional
- Preheat the oven to 400F / 200C / 180fan.
- Heat 1 tbsp of butter, ghee or 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 tbsp dried oregano, half of the cooked onion and garlic mix, 1 tbsp coconut aminos, egg, a good pinch of salt and pepper and 1 tbsp pecorino in a bowl and mix to combine. Using wet hands, roll into meatballs about 3 cm in size.
- Heat 1 tbsp of butter, ghee or oil in your skillet or sauté pan and cook the keto 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 tbsp coconut aminos, 1 tbsp 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 mozzarella, 2 tbsp pecorino and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes until the cheese has fully melted. Top with fresh oregano and cracked black pepper.
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