Flavorful and Tender Baked Marinara Meatballs

While everyone has their tried-and-true classic meatball recipe (many of which contain generous amounts sugar and cranberry sauce [i.e.: more sugar]), this is a delicious – and likely healthier – take on your classic meatball recipe.  For those to whom its relevant, these are also gluten free, as there are no crumbs in the meat mixture. 

The meatballs are oven baked, which releases fabulous flavors and tender, juicy meatballs – and from an ease of preparation perspective: requires no pot, no boiling, no simmering, and no watching!

We had company Friday night and I served these, to which our guest, upon taking a second portion, remarked, “These meatballs are delicious!”  This was real nachas to my 11 year old son, who helped me prepare them, and rolled each and every meatball, and poured on all sauces too!

The dish is super easy to prepare, satisfyingly delicious and filling to eat, and freezes perfectly, so you can keep a container or two stored in the freezer.  They are a great addition to any meal, and would be lovely served over rice, as an appetizer. 

Flavorful and Tender Baked Marinara Meatballs

In a large bowl, mix together:

2 – 2.5 lb ground meat (NOTE: I prefer regular ground meat to the lean, as I find the lean results in a overly dry finished product.  It is simple to skim all the fat that rises to the surface during baking, when using regular ground beef – which is exactly what I do.)

To the meat, add: 1 egg, generous squeeze ketchup, garlic powder, onion powder, dash black pepper, chili powder (an essential pantry spice for enhancing the flavor of meat dishes), and parsley flakes.

Mix all together, just till incorporated.  Do not over mix the meat mixture, as this will yield tougher meatballs.

Dice one large onion and place the diced onion along the bottom of a large foil or roasting pan (or an even prettier option, which is how I served them Friday night – in an oven safe oven-to-table baking dish).

Roll the meat mixture into slightly-larger-than-bite-size meatballs, and place the meatballs over the diced onion.  Pour half a jar of marinara sauce over the meatballs, add an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, 1/2 c. cold water, 1 capful (about 1 tsp.) red wine vinegar, and a light drizzle of honey over the top.

Tightly cover the pan.  Bake on 350* for one hour.  Then reduce the oven to 325* and bake for one hour more.  If your oven is very hot, adjust the temperatures and baking time accordingly. 

Check and stir the meatballs mid way through baking. 

When the meatballs are done, remove the pan from the oven.  Skim off all fat that has risen to the top and stir the meatballs.

If you prefer – prepare these a day or two in advance.  Overnight in the fridge (or freezer) the fat will harden at the top, and will be super-easy to remove before rewarming.

Serve the meatballs hot over spaghetti, rice, quinoa, mashed potatoes, or as part of the main course, with a nice vegetable side dish. 

Don’t forget to check out these other great recipes, which would be wonderful as part of your Yom Tov table:

For the siman (symbolic food that we eat on Rosh Hashana) of carrots, these muffins are addictively delicious!


For the siman of fish, here is a great variation of classic, plain gefilte fish:


For dipping your challah (after the honey, of course!), two mouthwatering dips:


And for an amazing and fun dessert, which would be great served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (parve for meat meals):


Enjoy and happy cooking!


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