marisa mariella

easy mouthwatering recipes that unite your family and friends

Not My Mother’s Meatballs

I only recently started to make meatballs, probably because I was a little intimidated by the whole process. Growing up, my mom created tender uniformly-sized little meatballs for almost every Sunday meal, a tradition that my husband also enjoyed with his own family. Three times the size of my mother’s, his mother’s meatballs packed a punch of garlic and parsley. Without a doubt, both mothers showed mastery of reading the meaty mixture to judge whether it needed more breadcrumbs or egg, of gently forming the traditional shapes between their palms, and patiently frying to reach that uniform golden crust. My children were obsessed with both versions of meatballs and they were wise enough to never pin one against the other. How could I even come close to perfection? At the risk of hearing both moms’ clear disapproval, I’ve created my own version that uses baking, instead of frying, ground chicken instead of red meat, and gluten-free breadcrumbs. The end result is a melt-in-your-mouth meaty “bocconcino” with an irresistible balance of flavours. Perfect to add to your homemade tomato sauce or eaten “in bianco” with a fresh garden salad, my children love them! Shhh... I've served these to my mother and mother-in-law too!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Pasta, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 18 2" meatballs


  • 1 kg raw ground chicken or turkey white and dark meat (see below)
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 300 g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 300 - 400 g gluten-free fresh bread crumbs I used Schär - Gluten-Free Deli-Style Seeded Bread that I grated myself
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with a little oil. Set aside.
  • Place all the ingredients (except olive oil) in a large bowl to gently incorporate using your hand. (if using turkey, you may wish to drizzle a little olive oil ion to the meat). The mixture will be sticky but it should hold its shape when forming a meatball. If the mixture is too slippery and loose, add a bit more breadcrumbs. If the mixture looks dry and crumbly, add another small egg.
  • Use an ice cream scooper to form uniform balls. (My scooper is 2" across) Dip palms in a little olive oil and roll individually to smoothen surface. Drizzle with a little more olive oil.
  • Place on baking sheet, 2” apart. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden. If eating right away, ensure that the internal temperature has reached 165°F. Otherwise, place the meatballs in tomato sauce to simmer for the last 20 minutes of cooking. Serve hot or room temperature.


Sometimes, I make meatballs using the traditional way. I'll ask the butcher to double grind a chuck roast for me. While this is certainly expensive meat, it really does make awesome meatballs and burgers too! Sometimes, I'll just have the butcher double grind veal. Sometimes, I'll add a little pork, sometimes not. If you are using meat that is already ground, select regular or lean, not extra lean. 
Keyword chicken, Gluten-free, Meatballs, Turkey