Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs

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These amazing Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs made with ground beef plus I snuck some spinach in the mix, but I promise even the pickiest of eaters will love them!

These amazing Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs would make my husband's Italian family proud! I snuck some spinach in the meatball mix, but I promise even the pickiest of eaters will love them!
Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs

I wanted to lighten up my favorite Italian beef meatballs, and so these Beef and Spinach Meatballs were born. Adding spinach to meatballs adds volume and fiber so that you can eat the same number of meatballs with fewer calories. Plus, it’s a great way to sneak veggies into your picky kid’s meal. I also use 93% lean ground beef to help cut fat. You can see more ground beef recipes here.

Beef meatballs with spinach.

My family thinks these are the ultimate meatballs. They don’t mind the spinach at all. I’ve tried them with turkey as well, but for this recipe, I prefer them with ground beef. If you’d rather a turkey meatball, try my Crock Pot Italian Turkey Meatballs. My eggplant meatballs or zucchini meatballs are great vegetarian options.

This recipe made 30 small meatballs, but only 25 made it into the sauce (my husband and I kept eating them!). They are moist and flavorful with or without the sauce. The bread soaked in milk or water keeps these moist. It is also important not to overmix the meat mixture. Over mixing results in less tender meatballs.

How To Cook Beef and Spinach Meatballs

First, you start by wetting the bread with water or milk and mashing it up. This wet bread mixture will help bind the meatballs while making the meatballs tender. Then, mix all the other ingredients together. It’s best to use your hands, but you can also use a spoon if you prefer. Just make sure not to over-mix them or they will be tough.

The next step is to roll out about 30 meatballs and brown them in a little oil on the stove. You can also bake them, but for this recipe I was trying to get as close to traditional as possible. Once they’re done, set them on paper towels to remove any excess oil.

For the sauce, cook the smashed garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Then add the rest of the tomato sauce ingredients, cover, and cook on low heat. Once your meatballs are ready, add them to the sauce and simmer for 1about 15 minutes.

How To Freeze Meatballs for Meal Prep

Meatballs are great for make-ahead meals, brown the meatballs, let them cool completely, and then transfer to gallon freezer bags. Take all the air out of the bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat the meatballs, make the sauce and add the meatballs frozen. Cook until heated through.

If you cook the meatballs in the sauce and want to freeze your leftovers, let the meatballs and sauce cool and then transfer to freezer-safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat.

How To Serve Meatballs

For a traditional spaghetti and meatball dinner, serve these over your favorite pasta (whole wheat if you’re on the purple plan) or try them over zucchini noodles or  butternut squash noodles  for a healthier twist. Serve the leftovers for lunch on crusty whole wheat Italian bread for a meatball hero.

To make the meatballs gluten-free, swap the whole wheat bread for gluten-free bread and serve over gluten-free pasta or zucchini or butternut squash noodles.

How to make beef and spinach meatballs.How to make beef and spinach meatballs.Marinara sauce in a pot.These amazing Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs would make my husband's Italian family proud! I snuck some spinach in the meatball mix, but I promise even the pickiest of eaters will love them!These amazing Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs would make my husband's Italian family proud! I snuck some spinach in the meatball mix, but I promise even the pickiest of eaters will love them!

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These amazing Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs would make my husband's Italian family proud! I snuck some spinach in the meatball mix, but I promise even the pickiest of eaters will love them!
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4.69 from 32 votes
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Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs

259 Cals 20.5 Protein 15 Carbs 10.5 Fats
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Yield: 6 servings
COURSE: Dinner
CUISINE: Italian
These amazing Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs would make my husband's Italian family proud! I snuck some spinach in the meatball mix, but I promise even the pickiest of eaters will love them!

Ingredients

  • 2 slices whole wheat light bread, (or gluten-free bread)
  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of all liquid
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, or your favorite Parmesan Cheese
  • salt and pepper

Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves smashed garlic
  • 28 oz can Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes, my favorite
  • 1/2 onion, don't chop
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Wet bread with just enough water (or milk) to wet and then mash up with your hands.
  • Add to large bowl and combine with chopped beef, chopped spinach, egg, garlic, parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper. Mix all ingredients well until thoroughly combined.
  • Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, measure meat and then divide in two so that each meatball is 1/8th of a cup. Roll into little meatballs.
  • Make the sauceL In a large pot, add 1 teaspoon olive oil and heat on medium heat.
  • When hot add smashed garlic.
  • When garlic is golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes add the tomatoes, onion, salt and pepper and cover, reduce heat to low.
  • Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil on low heat.
  • When oil is hot add as many meatballs that will fit, cook on low, turning often so that all side get browned. Cook until the centers are cooked through.
  • When finished, place on a dish lined with paper towels to blot any excess oil. Drop meatballs into sauce and continue cooking the remaining meatballs, repeating the process. When all meatballs are in the sauce, simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Discard onion and serve.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 5meatballs w/ 4.5 oz sauce, Calories: 259kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 20.5g, Fat: 10.5g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 512.5mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5.5g
WW Points Plus: 6
Keywords: Beef Meatballs, Freezer Meals, Italian Meatballs, Kid Friendly, meatballs, Spinach Meatballs

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207 comments

  1. The meatballs were excellent! Very easy to make. I had my own sauce already made previously and served with angel hair pasta and a small Caesar salad.

  2. I made these for meatball subs and OMG they are amazing. I wasn’t sure at all about the spinach but it’s perfect, and I don’t know how anyone’s meatballs would turn out dry if you followed the recipe correctly. Mine were perfect and didn’t fall apart in the pan (mostly) which is always a win for me!

  3. I’m sorry, but I don’t know how this recipe has such a high review. Maybe I messed up, but I followed the recipe exactly. It’s been over an hour and I STILL don’t have dinner on the table. I don’t know how these meatballs would ever cook on low in the prep time listed. I used the exact ingredients listed and only ended up with 20 meatballs (using the 1/4 measure and splitting in two as the recipe suggests). I’m glad because all my meatballs fit in the pan at once. This would have taken even longer if I had to do them in batches! Not here to hate on Skinnytaste – usually LOVE the recipes. This one is just not worth the effort in my opinion.

  4. All I made were the meatballs from this recipe.  I’ve never made meatballs before so thought I’d try.  They did not deliver for my family.  They were very dry.  I went by the recipe (omitting spinach), cooked them in a skillet turning them constantly and I think because they took so long to cook on low they simply dried out?  Not sure but that would be my guess.  Any thoughts on that?   So I couldn’t say whether the flavor was good or not.  Also mine did not stay as balls in the skillet, either.  They turned into squares.   Maybe I will try them next time by baking in the oven.  

    • I think the spinach moistens them. Try it with the spinach next time. I thought they rivaled my best regular meatball recipe.

  5. I am Italian and fussy about the meatballs I make. No restaurant ever compares to the ones my family or I make at home.  This recipe really surprised me. The spinach doesn’t add a lot of flavor, but they are as good as the meatballs I make. I made them exactly as written, which I always do and they were light, tender. Really delicious!  The spinach is a great addition and makes them healthier to eat!

  6. Can you post nutrition facts for just the meatballs?

  7. Could you just make it as a meatloaf?

  8. These are wonderful.  I will make them again for sure.

  9. My daughter has a dairy allergy. Do you think we’d really miss the cheese if I omit it?

  10. Everybody should make these! They are delicious.  I’ve made with turkey and beef.  Both options were tasty.  Thanks Gina!

  11. Can I use fresh spinach?

  12. Can you omit the egg or is there a substitute? Thanks!

  13. Delicious recipe. I made some adjustments to the recipe according to the ingredients I had on hand. I used mild Italian chicken sausage( 1 lb, removed from casing), fresh spinach(chopped and wilted, drained) and 1 tsp of dried parsley. After mixing I used a mini muffin scoop to make 29 meatballs. Placed on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and baked them at 350 for 30 min. I used Rao’s marinara sauce. I put about 1/2 the jar in a skillet, warmed the sauce and put 1/2 of the meatballs in the sauce. I froze the rest of meatballs. I served it over tagliatelle pasta. My husband and daughter loved it. 

  14. OMG !!! THEY ARE AMAZING, FULL OF FLAVOR.
    YUMMY.
    I used bison meat.
    I fried mine.
    My husband does not eat spinach. I put three on his plate and he was eating them like crazy.
    I will make these again and SHARE this with my family and friends.
    I only had 17 by the end.
    Four didn’t make it in the sauce.

  15. OMG !!! THEY ARE AMAZING, FULL OF FLAVOR.
    YUMMY.
    My husband does not eat spinach. I put three on his plate and he was eating them like crazy.
    I will make these again and SHARE this with my family and friends.
    I followed the recipe I only had 17 by the end.
    Four didn’t make it in the sauce.

  16. I made this with a few changes. I made them into mini meatloaf servings (sliced some acorn squash on the bottom of each loaf and pressed the meat around it., added some freshly ground beef heart. (2 oz). I used 5 garlic cloves in total and ground it with fresh spinach, freshly ground quinoa instead of bread because that’s what I had on hand, added ground marjoram, no parsley but used freeze dried basil, 4 ozs of diced tomatoes and a half cut pureed tomatoes.
    I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to marinate and to allow the quinoa to absorb any excess water.

    Meatballs take so much time and mini meat loaves are simpler. I was able to mix everything in one bowl.

    I will make this again.

  17. Love a good homemade meatball – but these didn’t quite deliver for us. If we go through the work, will probably use a non-skinny recipe and throw w a side of spinach instead. 

  18. I just made these for dinner and they are literally the best meatballs I have ever had. My toddler gobbled them up too! I baked them on a wire rack and a sheet pan at 400 for 20 mins and they came out perfect!

  19. Hi, My meatballs tasted good, but they fell apart during the frying..so didn’t look good & were not  round..very disappointed. I did not sub anything.. I love adding veggies, any tips for a rounder firmer meatball?