Meatballs are awesome for a keto diet! At least, they can be if you make them from scratch at home (hint: try my keto meatball recipe). If you’re eating store-bought meatballs or splurging on eating out at a restaurant, as tasty as they might be, they aren’t quite what you would expect. Keto meatballs don’t just happen in the “real world.”
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If you’ve ever made a traditional meatball recipe, you probably see where I’m going with this. Meatballs aren’t just balls of meat; they are delicious little flavor spheres of meat mixed with, you guessed it, carbs. Those meatballs aren’t actually low carb, and they certainly aren’t keto friendly. Don’t get catfished by meatballs, try making a keto meatball recipe instead.
Meatballs usually have breadcrumbs, flour, rice, or some other carb-loaded filler to provide a light, tenderness that delivers that signature meatball texture. When I first attempted a keto meatball recipe, my logic was that these things were utterly useless and added no value to the meal, just extra carbs, and calories. So I tried my luck with excluding the “filler” altogether. The outcome? Tough, dense, dried out pieces of meat. Meatball? Sure. Good? Not so much.
Think about when you bite into a burger patty versus a meatball. Now imagine if that burger patty was the same texture but as thick as a meatball. Not the same thing, right? Meatballs are supposed to be soft and tender, not difficult to chew.
I played around with different things and have found that almond flour makes a really excellent breadcrumb substitute as far as texture goes. It’s my favorite replacement for this by far. I did try using coconut flour once, but it seemed to dry the meatball out and didn’t help the cause at all. Almond flour kept things light and moist.
Two other great substitutes were riced cauliflower and shredded zucchini; both bulked out the keto meatball recipe a bit while providing that light texture I was hoping for. And you guys know how I feel about my low carb vegetables. If you are trying to squeeze more vegetables into your diet, have a nut allergy, or find that nuts cause your weight loss to stall, then give shredded zucchini or riced cauliflower a try. Just sub out the almond flour in the recipe for your veggie of choice and update the nutrition table below with the nutrient data for your vegetable.
- Mix all the ingredients and shape into 30 meatballs approximately 1" across. (If you prefer larger meatballs, adjust for longer cook time and divide the whole recipe nutrition by how many meatballs you actually make to get nutrient data per meatball.)
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Optional: if needed, coat with your cooking oil of choice. Sesame oil would work really well with the flavor profile of the ingredients.
- Cook the meatballs for 5-6 minutes or until evenly cooked throughout and browned on the outside. Repeat the process in batches until all meatballs have cooked.
Hi, I'm Tasha–nutritionist, recipe developer, and multi-published author dedicated to helping people thrive and succeed using low carb and keto dietary patterns.