This low fat, gluten-free meatball recipe is a dinner favorite with busy families. Made with lean ground beef, grated carrot, chia seeds, and fresh basil, they’re nutritious and delicious.
I love the flavor of these lean meatballs, and they’re super healthy too thanks to a bunch of nutrient-rich ingredients: lean ground beef, carrots, and chia seeds.
Chia seeds have a long list of health and culinary benefits. They’re rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats as well as fiber. And chia seeds are hydrophilic, which means they absorb water. In this recipe, they help to bind the ingredients together, so you don’t need breadcrumbs.
Meatballs are easy to make. Just place all your ingredients in a large bowl and mix away.
These meatballs are gluten free, because the chia seeds replace the usual breadcrumbs.
Serve my meatballs with rice for a gluten-free option; If gluten is not an issue with your family, serve on a sub roll or with your favorite pasta.
- Serves: 6
- Serving size: 4 meatballs
- Calories: 220
- Fat: 10g
- Saturated fat: 3.5g
- Carbohydrates: 13g
- Sodium: 520mg
- Fiber: 4g
- Protein: 9g
- 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean or higher)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 medium carrot, grated (about ½ cup)
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- ½ cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped (about ¼ cup)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 green onions, white and light green parts, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- One 24-ounce jar pasta sauce
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Place the ground beef, egg, carrot, chia seeds, basil, Parmesan cheese, onions, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix until just combined. Shape the meat mixture into twenty-four 1½-inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheet and cook until lightly browned, 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the pasta sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and bring to a simmer. When the meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the sauce, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the meatballs are fully cooked and have absorbed some of the sauce-y flavors, about 20 minutes.
Tell me how you incorporate nutritious chia seeds into your family’s diet. I’d love to hear your ideas.
Cassie @ Almost Getting it Together says
I wanted meatballs last night but was too lazy to make them… so I ate some sausage instead. Pinning these to make soon, never would have thought to add chia seeds and I LOVE chia seeds!
would these freeze well.
Christine, that’s a great question. I have not tried freezing this recipe, so I’m not sure how well it would do, but I’m definitely going to try. Will report back soon … but the more I think about it, the more I think it would work.
Christine, I cooked up some tortellini and tossed them with Italian salad dressing. Then I froze them .. and then thawed them. They were perfect. Not sure how the mix-ins will freeze, but I think it should be AOK.
i think I am going to try and make these today to freeze. Would I cook them before freeying or after? I’ll let you know how they turn out when we eat them.
I would suggest cooking first before freezing. Your first option is to cook them in the oven until cooked through (maybe 15 minutes versus 10) and then freeze. When you’re ready to eat, pick up at the step where you cook in the pasta sauce. The other option is to bake and then cook in the sauce, cool, and then freeze. Either way, I’d cook ’em first.
CHANTAL OUELLETTE says
I suggest to freeze them on a tray first, then once they are frozen, put them in a freezer container.This trick will prevent all the meat balls to stay stuck together and will also give you the option to thaw some of them and not all at the same time.
I love this idea. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing it with all of us!
Liz and Janice – thanks for the great recipe. I have just found out that I have celiac disease and have to eliminate gluten. I have a feeling that if I had just tried substituting GF breadcrumbs in my regular meatball recipe, they wouldn’t have tasted very good. But I stumbled across this recipe, and especially with all of the other flavors, plus the chia seeds – and it was delicious! Thanks for a perfect gluten free (and nutritious) meatball recipe!
Thanks, Elizabeth. Glad you loved our chia meatballs. Check out our recipe index for more gluten-free recipes. 🙂
Thank you! I hadn’t seen that you had an entire listing of GF recipes – how kind of you to think of the GF community!!
Hi, I was wondering if you used ground chia seeds instead of whole ones? Would it matter either way?
I used whole chia seeds. They work wonders. I do not typically use whole flax seeds (I prefer ground as it releases the nutrients) .. but I always use whole chia seeds, and the body is able to digest them and utilize their nutrients.
SALLY PARRY says
I have been loving making chia seed pudding which I eat for breakfast. 4 Tablespoons chia seed in a Mason jar, add 1 Cup of liquid, like almond milk, cap the jar tightly and shake the Dickens out of it to prevent clumping. Refrigerate over night. You can add flavorings like vanilla, dried fruit, some maple syrup to taste, etc.
I am going to make your meatballs tonight.
Hope you enjoy them. LMK how they turn out!