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How to Make Meatballs Without Breadcrumbs

Updated on November 04, 2015

I had some lean ground meat in the freezer and was in the mood to make some meatballs, but I had no breadcrumbs on hand. I had never made meatballs without breadcrumbs and did not know of any good substitutions.

Whether you don't have breadcrumbs or don't eat them, there are many ways to make firm, delicious meatballs with other ingredients to bind and help them hold their shape.

  • A bit of uncooked rice can be substituted for breadcrumbs.
  • One egg, mixed into the meat, should be enough to bind the mixture together.
  • Some all-purpose flour or some crushed-up crackers will work in lieu of breadcrumbs.

My recipe includes bits from each of these substitutions along with the spice mixure that I generally like to use. My meatballs are full of flavor, even a bit spicy.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2-2 pounds ground beef, rinsed and drained
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons white rice, uncooked
  • 2 tablespoons white flour
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • extra virgin olive oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. If meat is frozen, allow to thaw completely. Rinse and drain.
  2. In a bowl, combine the beat with all spices. Add one egg and mix.
  3. Mix in uncooked rice and flour. Continue to combine until mixture is uniformly blended.
  4. Shape into balls.
  5. In a skillet that is coated with olive oil, saute meatballs and allow to cook until they turn from pink to brown.

In a bowl, combine the ground meat and all of the spices.

Ground meat and spices.
Ground meat and spices.

Add the egg and mix.

The ground beef and spices mixture with an egg.
The ground beef and spices mixture with an egg.

Mix in uncooked rice and flour. Continue to blend until uniformly combined.

The meat, spices, and egg mixture with additions of flour and rice.
The meat, spices, and egg mixture with additions of flour and rice.

Shape meat mixture into balls.

Shaping the meatballs.
Shaping the meatballs.

Cook in olive oil until the coloring turns from pink to brown.

Cooking the meatballs.
Cooking the meatballs.

Meatballs (Without Sauce)

Nutrition Facts
Calories 764
Calories from Fat315
% Daily Value *
Fat 35 g54%
Saturated fat 11 g55%
Carbohydrates 57 g19%
Sugar 3 g
Fiber 7 g28%
Protein 57 g114%
Cholesterol 1089 mg363%
Sodium 2789 mg116%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Preparing the Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes and salt for sauce.
Tomatoes and salt for sauce.

Ingredients

  • fresh tomatoes, washed
  • salt

Instructions

  1. Wash tomatoes and cut the skin in crosses.
  2. Place into simmering water until the skins peel back.
  3. Peel the skins off while the tomatoes are still warm. Cut out the bit where the stem joins the tomato.
  4. Puree in a stick blender or food processor.
  5. Push puree through sieve to remove seeds.
  6. Add to skillet with meatballs. Simmer with salt and a little citric acid or lemon juice. Add a little water to thin if desired.
  7. Allow to simmer on low heat for ten minutes.

Wash the tomatoes and cut the skin in crosses.

Tomatoes, washed and cut in crosses.
Tomatoes, washed and cut in crosses.

Place tomatoes in simmering water and allow to cook until skin peels back.

Simmering tomatoes.
Simmering tomatoes.

Peel the skins off while the tomatoes are warm. Remove the stems.

Removing the skins and stems.
Removing the skins and stems.

After pureeing tomatoes in a food processor, pour through a sieve to remove seeds.

Pouring pureed tomatoes through a sieve.
Pouring pureed tomatoes through a sieve.

Add sauce to cooked meatballs and allow to simmer for at least ten minutes before serving.

Sauce and cooked meatballs simmering.
Sauce and cooked meatballs simmering.

Serve over the pasta of your choice.

Meatballs and sauce on pasta.
Meatballs and sauce on pasta.

Choose Your Pasta

Pair this recipe with your choice of pasta. I recommend spaghetti or fettuccine. I use a whole wheat fettuccine for a bit more fiber.

Spaghetti and meatballs is often presented with the meatballs and sauce over the pasta and not mixed in. For the best taste, I mix the sauce and meatballs together to infuse their flavor. The result is quite delicious.

Enjoy!

Alternatives to Pasta

If you are avoiding pasta, consider these healthy alternatives:

  • Meatballs and sauce with a side salad.
  • Meatballs and sauce with cooked butternut squash.

What do you prefer?

Would you prefer trying to make meatballs with or without the breadcrumbs?

See results

Comments

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    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 5 years ago

      What a great idea.I will have to give it a try.It looks so good.

    • profile image

      Lisa 3 years ago

      I tried this meatball recipe tonight and loved it! They were amazing! I'm saving the recipe for next time... For me I did not add the rice but they were perfect.. I also bakked them instead of frying.. Thank you for this recipe! Xx

    • Journey * profile image
      Author

      Nyesha Pagnou, MPH 3 years ago from USA

      Hi Lisa, I'm thrilled that you liked the recipe. I'm glad it was helpful to you. Thanks for your generous comment.

      DREAM ON, It's been so long and I haven't been back to moderate your comment but thanks for your comment as well.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Interesting recipe. Great hub. I'm sure you can do the same with ground chicken or turkey for a poultry-version of meatballs, too.

    • Journey * profile image
      Author

      Nyesha Pagnou, MPH 2 years ago from USA

      Hi Kristen, thank you so much for your kind comment. Yes, I prepared some chicken meatballs just recently. Beef, turkey and chicken would all be great for meatballs.

    • profile image

      Nya 12 months ago

      Wow! Thank you for sharing this... Just finished my cooking my meatballs. Hubby will love these.

    • Journey * profile image
      Author

      Nyesha Pagnou, MPH 11 months ago from USA

      Hi Nya, you're welcome. Thanks so much for your nice and appreciative comment. Take care.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 10 months ago from the short journey

      Was recently wondering how best to make these without carbs. Of course the answer is eggs. My duh moment for the day. (I hope.) Thanks much.

    • profile image

      Worst_meatballs_ever 2 months ago

      This is the worst meatball i have ever tasted. WAY to spicy and the rice was HARD when I bit into it. Probably going to go throw up.

    • profile image

      Me 2 months ago

      Made these according to recipe. Will definitely leave the rice out next time. Otherwise, good flavor. Maybe amend the recipe to not include rice? I think it would stick fine with the egg and flour alone. Still added rice because I thought maybe you were on to something!

    • profile image

      Nicola 3 weeks ago

      Fab recipe but rice not needed, and the rice stays hard during cooking process so not very nice to eat, but defo will use in future just using egg and flour...

    • profile image

      Hannah 4 days ago

      This was a great recipe my kids loved it. Thank you.

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