Best Healthy Meatball Recipe (with Veggies)

With three kinds of veggies and the texture and flavor your kids expect, this Healthy Meatball recipe is a perfect family dinner option. And since the baked meatballs taste so good, the kids will be happy when you tuck one onto their plates! (Bonus: These freeze well, too.)

Healthy Meatball Recipe

While I’m all for continuing to expose our kids to a variety of foods, there are times when tucking veggies into foods they already love—like meatballs—can be a big help. Plus, it’s an easy way to add flavor and tenderness to these meatballs, which my whole family loves.

And I love that we all get an extra serving of vegetables in the process!

These are delicious on their own, simmered in Marinara Sauce, and/or paired with a favorite pasta. We also sometimes eat them plain, we love them so much.

Ingredients You Need

To make this recipe you’ll need:

  • Carrots, parsley, and onion: These add flavor and nutrients to the meatballs.
  • Ground beef: I like grass-fed beef for the extra healthy fats and since it tends to be leaner, but any type will do.
  • Bread crumbs: Plain or Italian-flavored bread crumbs work well here.
  • Egg: This helps the meatballs hold together.
  • Milk: A little milk adds moisture to help the batter stay moist and delicious.
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Salt: Optional to taste.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the process involved in making these easy meatballs so you know what to expect. Scroll down to the end of the post for the full amounts and times.

  1. Preheat the oven and gather your ingredients. Add the veggies to the food processor.
  2. Grind up the veggies.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and grind to combine into a smooth mixture.
  4. Portion into 2-tablespoon size meatballs and place on the baking sheet. Bake!

Once cooked, you can drain on a paper towel-lined plate if desired, and simmer in marinara sauce or just leave plain.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to you make simple meatballs?

This recipe comes together easily in a food processor to ensure that the batter is uniform and comes together without fuss. Yes, you have to wash the food processor, but the evenly chopped meat and veggie mixture is well worth that minimal effort. (And you can always stick it into the dishwasher!)

Are these homemade meatballs healthy?

With three kinds of veggies, lean ground beef, and a method that allows you to easily drain off any excess fat, these are a healthy meatball recipe to share with the whole family.

Can I make these as mini meatballs?

Sure! You can make these with just 1 tablespoon of the mixture and reduce the cooking time to closer to about 18-22 minutes.

Ground Turkey Meatballs

If you want to make your toddler turkey meatballs, simply swap in ground turkey for the ground beef in the recipe below. The texture and flavor will be similar, and the meatballs will have a slightly lighter final color. You may need to reduce the cooking time slightly.

Aim for an internal temperature of 165 degrees and try not to overcook.

This is a great ground beef recipe for toddlers and kids since it’s very soft and easy to eat, even for babies and younger toddlers.

Make-Ahead Meatballs

You can make a batch of these baked meatballs ahead of time, let cool fully, and freeze in a zip-top freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or simmer in a quart of marinara sauce in a large pot until thawed and warmed through.

They’re a great recipe to make a double batch—serve one batch for dinner this week and stash the other into the freezer for a future easy meal!

Find more of my favorite Freezer Meals to help make life a little easier.

Baked Meatballs for Baby-Led Weaning

Meatballs with hidden vegetables are an excellent food for baby-led weaning. You can offer small cubes or mash into marinara or tomato sauce and offer on a preloaded spoon. Your baby will get iron, as well as protein and fiber. And lots of flavor they will love!

These meatballs have vitamins A and C from the carrots and parsley, as well as fiber and protein.

How to Store

To store, let cool fully and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Best Tips for Success

  • Grind the veggies up before you add the rest of the ingredients to make sure they are all uniform in size. This is key. You’re aiming for the veggies to have a similar consistency as the ground meat.
  • Resist the urge to add in more veggies. There is over a cup of veggies in this recipe, which is enough to add extra nutrients, yet you honestly can’t tell. (My husband couldn’t tell, which was honestly the true test!) If you add more, the texture won’t be as good.
  • Serve them with a sauce your family likes, whether that’s marinara, meat sauce, or even ketchup.
  • Simmer them in marinara sauce for even more tender and flavorful meatballs, just like grandma would have done! (Or at least, my grandma would have done, but you don’t have to.)
  • Even though there are vegetables tucked into this recipe, I still recommend being honest with your kids about what they’re eating. Make them together, be excited about their dinner, and share the good news!
  • To make these gluten-free, simply use GF bread crumbs (these are really good) or even cornmeal.

Related Recipes

Favorite Mini Meatballs (with Veggies)

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