Meatballs in a bowl topped with cilantro

Use-What-You-Have Meatballs

Ground beef is an underrated fat & protein source, in my opinion. It is inexpensive, always available (even during the “buy everything” extravaganza of the last few weeks), freezes easily, and gives us nearly endless options for dinner ideas. Not to mention glorious culinary creations such as burgers, sliders, and meatballs.

I’ve tried a lot of various recipes for meatballs, but at some point realized that as long as I have the basics, it’s hard to go wrong with few custom steps.

If you prefer your meatballs with a generous helping of tomato sauce (as you should!), I am publishing a recipe next week so make sure to check back!

Bowl of meatballs in tomato sauce topped with Parmigiano Reggiano and greens

I love meatballs served with arugula or any kind of salad. Whether you’re using tomato sauce or not, try serving a refreshing, flavorful salad with it, such as my Sweet Potato Salad.


  • The basics of the recipe are: ground beef, salt & pepper, herbs, egg, and onion. You can add more herbs and more onion, but I wouldn’t add less. Spices are optional, and customizable. I like this particular combination, but if you don’t have all of them, or prefer different ones – use them by all means. You are also free to use whatever onion you like. A couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t find a single yellow onion in the grocery store, so I had to resort to my least favorite red ones. I love them in salads, but I try to stay away from them when cooking hot dishes, as they release their color and turn a very unattractive grayish-purple color.
  • Grating the onion instead of cutting makes a lot of difference in flavor, texture, and appearance. No matter how finely you can cut the onion, it will still be tiny little cubes that add a not-so pleasant crunch, and are difficult to incorporate into the mix. Grating it, however (on whichever size blade you like), provides light, flake-like pieces of onion, nearly invisible, but very flavorful.
  • Cooking time will depend on the size your meatballs. 20 minutes is a good starting point, but if you make large ones, you may need to cook them longer.
  • I use a 2 inch cookie scoop, which makes 15 meatballs.


Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 15 Meatballs


  • 1.5 lb ground beef, I use 80/20
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
  • 1/4 large onion, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp Each – ground ginger, coriander, cumin
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • handful chopped greens of your choice – scallions, cilantro, or parsley


  • Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  • Grease a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil.
  • In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except olive oil (that was used only to grease the sheet.)
  • Using a hand mixer, mix the ingredients well, untill everything is incorporated. You can also do this by hand.
  • Roll the meatballs by hand after using a cookie scoop to scoop out an even portion.
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 425F. When finished, check internal temperature with a thermometer (should read 160F), or by cutting one in half. It should no longer be pink, with clear juices running. If you made fewer, but larger meatballs, you may need to cook them longer.

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