Zucchini “Meatballs”

Zucchini Meatballs are meatless, made with grated zucchini, garlic, Pecorino Romano, basil, bread crumbs and egg, then baked in the oven and finished in a Pomodoro sauce.

Zucchini "Meatballs" – delicious meatless zucchini meatballs baked and simmered in Pomodoro Sauce.
Zucchini “Meatballs”

These vegetarian meatballs were a HUGE hit in my house, I even let my neighbors and friends try and everyone loved them! Serve them as an appetizer, over zucchini noodles, whole wheat pasta or with a crusty piece of bread on the side. You can see more zucchini recipes like this here.

A few weeks ago I made these awesome eggplant “meatballs” and the most asked question I got in the comments and on Facebook was can you make them with zucchini? Loving the idea, especially since I have a few giant zucchinis on my counter I put this to the test and they turned out awesome! I had to change the recipe a bit from the eggplant one since zucchini is very watery, and they turned out great, even better than the eggplant in my opinion and everyone who tried them, loved them!

 
These meatless meatballs were a HUGE hit in my house, I even let my neighbors and friends try and everyone loved them! Made with grated zucchini, garlic, Pecorino Romano, basil, bread crumbs and egg, then baked in the oven and finished in a pomodoro sauce.
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4.85 from 46 votes
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Zucchini Meatballs

5
5
5
SP
259 Cals 10 Protein 30 Carbs 12 Fats
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Yield: 4 servings
COURSE: Dinner
CUISINE: Italian
These meatless Zucchini Meatballs are made with grated zucchini, garlic, Pecorino Romano, basil, bread crumbs and egg, then baked in the oven and finished in a pomodoro sauce.

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/4 lbs unpeeled zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp chopped basil, plus leaves for garnish
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 ounce 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated, plus more for serving
  • 2 cups quick marinara sauce or jarred, I love DeLallo Pomodoro
  • part skim ricotta cheese, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 375°F. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Place the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot add the garlic and saute until golden, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook on high heat until all the water evaporates from the skillet, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Transfer to a colander to get rid of any excess water, then to a large bowl along with the bread crumbs, beaten egg, Romano cheese and chopped basil.
  • Form the zucchini mixture into 16 balls about 1 oz each, rolling tightly and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Spray the top and bake until firm and browned, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Heat the sauce in a large deep skillet to warm the sauce, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Garnish the meatballs with fresh basil leaves and serve with ricotta or grated cheese if desired.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 4meatballs, Calories: 259kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 52mg, Sodium: 1182mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 9g
Blue Smart Points: 5
Green Smart Points: 5
Purple Smart Points: 5
Points +: 7
Keywords: vegetarian meatballs, vegetarian zucchini meatballs, zucchini meatball recipe, zucchini meatballs

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423 comments

  1. I started off with about 2 cups of raw zucchini. After I cooked it and added the other ingredients, I decided it looked too heavy on breadcrumbs so I cooked another cup or so and of zucchini and added to the mix. Came out great! So in the end I used about 3-4 cups shredded zucchini.

  2. Made these for lunch today and they were awesome! Even my BF happily ate them and said he’d love to have them again. I followed the recipe, and cooked them on the air fryer setting in our combi-oven. Delicious way to use up zucchini – I’d even buy zucchini to make these! 🙂

  3. Can I use almond flour or coconut flour in place of the bread crumbs?

  4. How many cups is 1 1/2 lbs?

  5. This is a wonderful recipe! I’m wondering if you can freeze these?

  6. My husband and adult son said these were really good-they are meat eaters so I was pleased they liked them. I did add puréed garbanzo beans to the mix to add protein. They were soft to mix but firmed up nicely in the oven. I suggest serving these on top of sauce and not mixing in to keep them crispy. I didn’t have ricotta cheese but will plan for it next time I make these. Delicious!

  7. Would they freeze better on their own or in the marinara sauce?

  8. How many cups of zucchini? Not sure how to measure if I don’t have a food scale

  9. Does the calorie count include the sauce?

  10. Can these meatballs be frozen?

  11. I made these today and they came out really well. My zuke was a little short on weight so I cut the bread crumbs to 1/2 C. I added a finely diced shallot (1clove)as I don’t care for garlic and to add a little more veg to the mix. Used a pinch of dried basil as I don’t have fresh. Tip: If you spray or oil your hands the mix won’t stick and you don’t need to spray them. To be served with Italian seasoned canned tomatoes.
    Next time I may try this with Mexican seasoning….cumin, oregano, chili powder and or taco seasoning, plain bread crumbs. Maybe bottled taco sauce or the taco flavored diced tomatoes my supermarket sells.

  12. My toddler and I had a great time making these- and he and whole family loved them!

  13. Fabulous!!!❤️

  14. Meh.  I added a bunch of spices, so the taste was decent, but the texture was gummy on the inside and crunchy on the outside.  Not worth the effort.

  15. These are fabulous- even better than real meatballs. I used grated parm as I didn’t have the other cheese.

  16. i made these for my soon to be son-in-law and everyone loved them! they were full of italian flavors! after going through all of this to put to good use my abundance oof zucchini and other garden veggies, i could not bring myself to serve with jarred sauce, and with a garden full of tomatoes, it was a delicious marriage of flavor!

  17. Thank you. These were wonderful. Very tasty and pretty easy to make. I substituted soft toast bread crumbs for the dry bread crumbs since I didn’t have any and used grated parmesan cheese instead of cheese in the recipe. Will make again.

  18. these were absolutely delicious! i used parmesan instead of the pecorino romano, as i had none of that. used my own homemade marinara sauce and whole wheat spaghetti pasta. super yummy! will definitely be making these more often. and i love that it’s a delish vegetarian meal. thank you for that awesome recipe!

  19. These were really delicious. Had the texture of a meatball but also stayed light. Another keeper from Gina!!!

  20. Hi just wondering why the zucchini has to be cooked first. Would it be ok to let it sit and just squeeze water out without sautéing first? Thank you, Michele 

  21. Must keep recipes. The kids ate it up within 5 minutes and said it was delicious. It was very simple to make, made plenty of meatballs for 4 people. I did cook it in the oven and next time I am going to try the air fryer. We ate it over veggies noodles. 

  22. These were delicious! I think I’m going to make s big batch and freeze them for a later date. 

  23. Have you tried to “bake” these in the air fryer?  I just bought one and am itching to try???

    • This, like many other Skinnytaste recipes was waaayyyy better than it sounded… we are not vegetarian but totally enjoyed these “meatballs”… I would love to enjoy them without sauce as a side dish…. like zucchini tots.  For those who asked (not sure you got your answer) they cook up just fine in the air fryer…10 minutes in a preheated 370 fryer and sprayed with olive oil.

    • Yes!!!370 preheated 10 minutes… sprayed with olive oil.. shook them about at 5 minuyes.

  24. Can’t wait to make these . I am not a zucchini fan but love zucchini  fries. Thanks. I already have all the ingredients.😊

  25. How many cups of grated zucchini is 1-1/4 lb? 

  26. Has anyone tried using oatmeal and Italian seasoning instead of the seasoned breadcrumbs??

    • I had the same thought about using oatmeal or something more nutritious in place of bread crumbs. Maybe beans along with oatmeal and some other ingredients like used in making a veggie burger along with italian spices.

  27. So delicious! Wondering if I can freeze these? 

  28. The recipe calls for 1ounce, 1/4 c of cheese. Is that 1ounce plus 1/4 cup?

  29. Made these last night for myself and my boyfriend, who is a vegetarian! We both thought they were great – will definitely make them again. AND they held up well for lunch the next day!

  30. These turned out really flavorful. The zucchini “meatballs” pair really well with a marinara sauce. Instead of grating the zucchini, I put it in my food chopper, it turned out fine and saved me time. The recipe looks more labor intensive than it actually is, I found it to be similar to making zucchini bread with the added step of shaping the “meatballs”. I love that this recipe gives me another way to trick myself into eating a vegetable I normally wouldn’t.

  31. Can I freeze the zucchini meatballs?

  32. These are delicious!  I wonder if I could use dried basil.

  33. These have become a staple at my house! We broil for 5 minutes at the end then don’t cook them in the sauce to keep them extra crispy. I love them!!

  34. My toddler loves homemade turkey meatballs. Do you think I could add turkey to this recipe (1 lb and maybe an extra egg if it’s needs more moisture) to sneak in some veggies for her? I am doing a big freezer stock up next week before baby #2 and would love to make these- hopefully with turkey!! 

  35. Hi, How many cups of zucchini???? I will be making this up tonight!

  36. Super delicious! Does anyone know if I could bake them in an air fryer, how and how long? Thank you! Greetings from Austria! 

  37. Made these for vegetarian family members at Thanksgiving. They were a big hit with everyone! I made them on Wednesday, served Thursday in marinara sauce over gnocchi. Honestly they tasted even better the second day. I thought they tasted a bit too salty. I’ll cut down on salt the next time. 

  38. So good!  I crave them.  Make them for my vegetarian husband and the whole family devours them.  Great recipe!  

  39. Hi, is the nutritional info for the meatballs alone? Or including the sauce?

  40. Some of the recipes on the website are different from the ones in the books. Are the ones here or in the book tweaked to perfection?

  41. Any idea how many cups of zucchini? I have various sizes of zucchini so knowing how many cups would be so useful!

  42. How how many cups of grated zucchini would it be as I already have mine grated?

  43. 🙂

  44. I don’t have a food scale; I bought medium sized zucchini’s from the store to make this recipe – how many medium zucchini’s would you say are needed for this recipe? 2? 

  45. Can these be frozen after cooking?

  46. is the weight for the zucchini before or after it is squeezed out?

  47. Can the “meatballs” be made ahead? I need to have a dinner ready to go after I pick a vegetarian friend up from the airport. Just wondering how well this reheats. Thanks – looks like a great recipe.

  48. These came out awesome!!  My family eats gluten free and we were out of breadcrumbs so I substituted almond flour.   They came out so good.  Will definitely make again.  Great job! 

  49. Omg these are amazing!!!! Even my non veggie kid liked them!! Thank you for the recipe

  50. I was combing this site for recipes that use shredded zucchini, because I have overgrown zucchinis, which tend to be fiberous and gritty when eaten by themselves. I told my friend I was making vegetarian meatballs and she made such a face and wished me good luck sarcastically, but this were really actually quite tasty. I used the quick marinara sauce from your site (a staple in my kitchen now) and served over whole wheat spaghetti. Thanks for this recipe, and all your other shredded zucchini recipes!

  51. Great recipe I used the food processor to blend up the zucchini. The whole family is going vegetarian and this is a hit

  52. Made these for the first time tonight and my husband has requested it be our dinner every Saturday night! Honestly, I they were fabulous. I’m not vegetarian but my husband is, and these “meatballs” made us both happy! 

  53. I made these for dinner last night, and they were fantastic!  My husband was very skeptical, but he thought they were great too.  I followed the recipe exactly.  Grating the zucchini is the hardest part.  The rest of the recipe was easy.  I will definitely make these again!

    • Michelle,  I made these and founding that grating the zucchini was so easy because I used the Pampered Chef Veggie Strip maker – I did a 3 lb zucchini in 3 minutes – no lie!  

  54. I made this recipe with a mixture of Panko breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning instead of Italian breadcrumbs, which worked really well! I even sprinkled a little mixture of Panko, parm, and Italian seasoning on top of the “meatballs” for extra texture. Delicious, versatile recipe! Thanks, Gina. I can see the time, love and attention that you put into your recipes, and it’s much appreciated! Your blog is my #1 cooking resource, especially since I started WW. You rock!

  55. Could you freeze these before baking? If so, how would that affect bake time?

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  57. About grating the zucchini. Has anyone grated in Cuisinart? or only by hand? How did it turn out?

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  59. These are so good, one of our favorite recipes! 

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  61. Can I make and freeze them?

  62. Couldn’t find the pecorino, will parmesano reggiano work? Planning to make tonight

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  64. These meatballs were delicious. Your website is wonderful. The layout, the categories i.e. low carb, etc. so helpful. Thanks so much will be coming back to this site time and again.

  65. These are really awesome. I made them, without the garlic and basil (didn’t have them) and used gluten free panko. Served them over spiralized butternut squash. Even my husband who HATES zucchini admitted that they were delicious!

  66. Yummy! Baked a little longer and added to vegetable soup!

  67. Yummy! Baked them a little longer and added them to vegetable soup!

  68. I made these last night and, as promised, they were delicious. They held together well, had a soft but not mushy texture, and were much more enjoyable than any pre-packaged veggie meatball that I’ve tried in the past. Definitely a keeper recipe! I was a little short on zucchini so added a couple of grated baby carrots to the mix and found it quite a nice addition. My only reason for the 4-star vs 5-star rating is the nutritional breakdown, especially carbs and sodium content. I used a salt substitute to cut back on the sodium but (prepackaged) breadcrumbs are loaded with salt and very high in carbs. I was wondering if part of the breadcrumbs could be substituted with chickpea flour. It’s higher in protein but lower in calories, carbs, sugar, and the sodium content is almost negligible in comparison. If anyone’s tried this substitution, please let me know how it turned out. Otherwise, I’ll just have to give it a go next time around.

  69. Pingback: Zucchini Meatballs – recipe-blog

  70. I get 8 freestyle points –the sauce adds 3 per serving. You listed 5?!

    • Are you using the recipe builder? The SmartPoints® calculator isn’t meant for recipes and will often give you the wrong points (usually higher) because it’s counting 0 points foods such as eggs, chicken, fruits and vegetables. So if you see a recipe with a SmartPoints® value that’s different from what the calculator tells you, that is why.

      The only accurate way to determine any recipe’s SmartPoints® value is to plug the ingredients into the recipe builder on the Weight Watchers website (Click on “My Foods,” select “Recipe,” and click “Create a recipe.”)

  71. These turned out perfect!!! I Dr them up with some more seasoning switched out to vegan cheeses, used seasoned Italian  bread crumbs, severed with spaghetti squash, were I added sautéed mushroom and spinach, garlic and vegan cheeses. Oh and cheated with some garlic bread ????  Everything  truly did turn out amazing! Everyone is asking for the Recipe.  Great meal, Thank you!!! 

  72. Hi Gina, thank you for all your amazing recipes ! Would this recipe work as a burger or a meatless load?

  73. Hi going to try these for sure after reading all the comments….do you know the 21 day fix container equivalents ? Thank you 

  74. We are a family of 5 with 3 hungry teenagers. 2 prefer vegetarian the other a huge meat eater. I am constantly trying to find meals everyone loves. This was a huge hit. Soooo yummy. I agree with others that it took way long to cook out the water but so worth it. I know know what I’m doing with all my garden zucchini next summer! So good. I can’t stop talking about them.

  75. Gina another winner this was delicious and satisfying I have given up meat and chicken for some time and I don’t miss it!

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  78. I have made these twice in the last two weeks.. really really good.. be sure to remove as much of the h20 as you can from the zucchini — easy enough to do — these are really fantastic.. you won’t be disappointed.

  79. I like this recipe and idea. I I wanted to add COOKED quinoa to boost protein, do you think I could just add 1 or 2 cups to mixture, or reduce original zucchini amount by a bit?

  80. I made these “meatballs” for the first time today and was skeptical as to how they would taste. They were absolutely FABULOUS! I paired them with the Skinnytaste Baked Chicken Parm (which was also AWESOME). I have made around 30 different Skinnytaste recipes now and haven’t found one I didn’t liked yet (even when I’m skeptical that it will be good). I use the Skinnytaste website and both of the cookbooks. You are great at what you do Gina and Thank You!

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  82. Do you know what the portion for 21 day fix are?

  83. I just made these up to the point of baking, let them cool, put them in tupperware and plan on finishing them off in sauce tomorrow. I tried one just to see how they tasted because I couldn’t resist… WOW – amazing! SO FLAVORFUL, thank you! I’m so impressed – even without the extra flavor of sauce! Great texture too!

    I had yellow summer squash and one zucchini mixed, drained with cheese cloth, and had TONS of fresh basil from the garden. The most time consuming part is the zucchini grating (I did in my ninja using grater attachment) and squeezing in cheese cloth before cooking in the pan. So worth it though! I timed it the same time I was making a batch of zucchini bread to use up everything from my garden. Thank you for this recipe! It will be a summer staple for sure for me!

  84. What can I use instead of pecorino Romano cheese? Can’t find it in my local supermarket 

  85. What does 1 1/4 pound of zuchinni come out to in cups?

  86. OMG these are amazing! I didn’t change a thing! I used my food processor with the grating attachment to quickly grate the zucchini and they came out perfectly. My whole family loved them, especially my meat loving husband. Will definitely be making these again asap!

  87. Hi Gina!  Thank you so much for all the wonderful recipes!!  We have been enjoying your food for years!!  I was wondering about the point value on these, when I type in the info on the WW app, it’s saying 8 points??  Can you verify this for me?

    • Did you use the recipe builder? The only accurate way to determine any recipe’s SmartPoints® value is to plug the ingredients into the recipe builder on the Weight Watchers website (Click on “My Foods,” select “Recipe,” and click “Create a recipe.”) which does not count fruits and vegetables in recipes in the calculations as they are now 0 points.

      The SmartPoints® calculator isn’t meant for recipes and will often give you the wrong points (usually higher) because it’s counting the fruits and vegetables. So if you see a recipe with a SmartPoints® value that’s different from what the calculator tells you, now you know why.

  88. I had these for dinner tonight and they were delicious! They freeze well too since I made them days ago froze them and pulled out what I thought we would eat. I served them with pasta to make my boyfriend happy but these are going to make great “meatball” subs. I doubled this but honestly I have no clue how many cups of zuchinni you should use based on the ingredient list. Based on the other comments, I assume this calls for 2 1/2 – 3 cups. Is that correct?

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  90. Delicious!
    Just made these and I am very impressed with them! Will be my lunch this week and made some sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms to go alongside. 
    I squeezed the liquid out of the zucchini before cooking and after sautéing to get them as dry as possible and they held together very well!

  91.  Hi I have one question about the recipe it calls for crushed garlic not minced – so the pieces I had in the pan were fairly large and even after sautéing still pretty large – I didn’t see any instructions to remove the garlic from the pan because otherwise some of the meatballs would have a huge chunk of garlic in them – I removed the garlic pieces   but wondering if you’re supposed to keep it in thank you great recipe !!!

  92. Can the meatballs be made in advance?

  93. Can these be frozen?

  94. These zucchini meatballs were so delicious,  I made them for dinner tonight and  my son and husband who are meat eaters thought they were an absolute slam dunk.  I will definitely keep this recipe in my rotation, they are scrumptious  and very filling. 
    Thanks for the recipe.????????

  95. Made this . Had to substitute mozzarella, and substituted half of breadcrumbs for panko. also left out egg, as I don’t care for egg. They held up nice, put some in a sub, spaghetti for dinner and still two servings for freezer…if I don’t eat them all first. VERY yummy, by far my favorite veggie “meatballs” Thanks!!

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  97. Gina, these look and sound delicious! As you indicated that they are freezer-friendly, I was wondering at what point in the recipe would you put them in the freezer. Would you do so before you simmer the “meatballs” in the sauce, or after, then freeze them in the sauce?

  98. Pingback: Zucchini “Meatballs" - wikicanal.com

  99. These were great! I made spaghetti squash with chopped spinach and a dab of herb and garlic goat cheese as my side. Husband and kid approved!

  100. This turned out great; my husband thought it was a nice change of pace from having chicken! I served them over spaghetti squash

  101. Made this last night along with the quick marinara sauce. I had my 13 year old help with marinara and it was a perfect recipe for him. Super delicious dinner and I plan to make it again. But a question … why is the sodium so high? is there a way to reduce it? thanks!

    • The cheese is high in sodium, and there is sodium in the seasoned breadcrumbs and the sauce. You can use plain breadcrumbs, that will help a little…

  102. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I made these the other night, and they were very delicious!!! I used panko breadcrumbs, and they were so light and fluffy! Really amazing 🙂

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  108. Does anyone have the eggplant meatball link?

  109. These look amazing, but I have a question. In the video you squeeze the water out of the zucchini before putting them in the Saute pan. On the recipe written instructions, you say to squeeze the water after sautéing. Which is it? It seems more logical to get the water out before sautéing with the garlic and oil.
    Inquiring minds need to know! Thanks!

  110. Can you give me the 21 day container amounts per serving? Thanks. 

  111. Liked the flavor very much. Followed the recipe very closely. For some reason my meatballs came out very soft and mushy. I baked them for 25 minutes and they fell apart in the sauce. Baked the remaining meatballs the next evening another 25 minutes. Still were not as firm as I hoped for. Not sure what was wrong. Any ideas ??

  112. These (veg) meatballs were delicious, even for my meat eating boyfriend. The texture was a bit softer than I would have preferred, however maybe I could have baked them longer, We made this with spaghetti squash and it was great!`

  113. These were ok.  Just don’t let them sit in the sauce too long, they get too mushy and fall apart.  If I made them again, I wouldn’t simmer in the sauce, just cover them in sauce as you serve them.  

  114. Soooo easy to make & very tasty

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  116. Made it for the first time and would definitely make it again. ❤

  117. I have shredded zucchini (done in food processor) in the freezer, do you think that would work instead of grated?

  118. I made these over the weekend and they were fantastic! Everyone is asking me to make them again. Loved this recipe and others you have on your site.

  119. Can you make these ahead of time ?

  120. Do you need to calculate sauce extra to the 5 sp? 

  121. We tried these last night as I want to go meatless at least 3 – 4 times per week for dinner. These were delicious and weirdly almost tasted like meat. My husband served his over pasta. I add just the sauce and meatballs. Thank you for sharing such a great recipe. This is something I would serve to company. They were that good!

  122. One of the most delicious recipes I’ve ever made. LOVED them! I have celiac disease so need to eat gluten free. It was no problem to use gluten free breadcrumbs and they still turned out great. I plan to grow zuchhini next summer just so I can make tons of these! 🙂 Thank you so much, Gina, for a wonderful recipe.

  123. we loved them then tried them vegan they were great.

  124. These were terrific! The texture is dense and flavors all work so well together. We ate them over spaghetti with alfredo sauce. Used dried basil since that’s what I had – can’t wait to try them with fresh herbs.

  125. Could you use almond flour instead of breadcrumbs or oatmeal

    • I’ve used almond flour and had mediocre results. Texture was a bit off and they were not holding together as well. Also tried GF breadcrumbs (Iains) and they were just awful as a substitute. Can try making GF breadcrumbs from GF bread. I was going for a paleo friendly version. Will keep experimenting with rice flour and other substitutes. I did squeeze out excess water from the zucchini and overall that helped them keep shape and not be mushy. 

  126. I would squeeze the excess moisture out of the shredded zucchini and then proceed with the recipe….seems to me that that would eliminate the problem with flattening or burning.

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  128. Loving your new book!! This recipe was a huge hit at our house even with my husband who isn’t a big fan of zucchini. My only question is how much zucchini to buy. Says 1 1/4 pounds zucchini but is that before or after its been peeled?

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  130. These were great!  I forgot to buy garlic so instead I minced and cooked a shallot then added garlic powder.  End result was a delicious!  Even my son who rarely eats anything green loved them!  

  131. These “meatballs” were out of this world. Thank you so much!!

  132. These were very good! I’m not a vegetarian but I love finding new fun ways to eat veggies. Definitely a different texture. Not going to fool anybody into thinking it’s a real meatball. But great idea if you’re serving for a group that includes vegetarians so they can have “meatballs” with their meal too. I will make these for myself a million times! Thank you, Gina!

  133. My roommate is a HUGE meat eater (his favourite meal is a plate of ground beef and pita) and really doesn’t like most vegetables or vegetarian meals I make. He tried one of the meatballs and said “these aren’t as awful as I thought they’d be” and then proceeded to eat 4 or 5 more and said “they’re actually really good.”

    That’s the true test for me if something is good! Thank you so much for this recipe! I added about half of an onion finely chopped when i cooked the garlic and zucchini and took another poster’s advice of adding red pepper flakes! They were a huge hit at our house!

  134. Wondering if your WW plus point calculations includes the 2 cup sauce? I’ve used your recipes for months and they always turn out wonderful-thanks! 

  135. Flavor was great, but after 10 minutes in a saute pan on high heat, barely any water had boiled off the zucchini. Even after most of the moisture was gone, the final product was still mushier than I anticipated. I used slightly more zuchinni (1.5 pounds rather than 1.25). In the future, I might make smaller balls and have a greater number or set the zuchinni out to dry overnight in a towel. Will try this recipe again even with my rough first time.

  136. Tried these out today and they turned out great! I doubled the garlic cloves and sauted jalepenos with the garlic and added cumin to give it some more flavor. Will definitely be making these again!

  137. I know I’m “coming late to the zucchini meatball party,” but WOW! I can’t wait to make these tonight! I will be using gluten-free breadcrumbs (or maybe crushed rice and corn cereals)…and I think they will be delicious! I am only 9 months into the gluten-free lifestyle, but now I love it and enjoy finding new recipes to make unique meals that make a beautiful presentation and are delicious and nutritious.

    Thank you! I’ll be back to your blog!

  138. Oh these are awesome! My daughter loved the eggplant ones and was worried these wouldn’t be as good, but she loved them! Thanks for yet another great recipe.

  139. Would almon “flour” work instead of bread crumbs?

  140. Trying these right now for my vegetarian daughter! Can’t wait to see how they taste!

  141. Would they hold togethe if I put them in the crockpot ? I’d pan f fry them first and then put them in the crock pot with the sauce on warm until they’re ready to eat? I have a potluck lunch at work that I think these would be great for

  142. Hi, I was wondering why the carbs are 30 per 4 meatballs. Your sauce is 9 but I am not sure where the other 21 g are hiding. They look amazing but I need to lower the carb count a bit. Thank you!

  143. These flattened out and some burned on the bottom. Still too much water in the zucchini? Otherwise they tasted really good.

  144. Would it be possible to add pea protein in place of some breadcrumbs?

  145. Can I substitute something for the cheese? We have a lactose-free vegetarian I’d like to make these for. Thanks!

  146. for some reason, mine are not strange as balls when i am cooking them in the oven They seem to be flattening and becoming one big meatball. What did i do wrong?? – thank you

  147. How many cups of zucchini plz?

  148. I am wondering how many cups of zucchini too!

  149. To cut carbs, is there something else you could use instead of the bread crumbs?

  150. Hi these sound wonderful..trying them tonight. Howany cups of grated zucchini would you think

  151. Can these be frozen?

  152. I made these tonight.. I added some red chili flakes as my husband and i like heat. It tuned out great! We are considering making the zucchini meatballs but with an Indian twist next time.. with curry sauce!

    • that sounds awesome! what a great idea!!! the first time i made them, i didn’t have bread crumbs, so i crushed up a few crackers i had left, added some italian seasoning and then added cornmeal to finish it off! they turned out great too! must try the indian twist…. maybe a big chunk of naan too?! yum!

  153. Pingback: Zucchini Balls Over Spaghetti – The Clean Eating Chick

  154. Made these tonight, only had Parmesan cheese so used that, oh my yes! These are definitely staying around for the long run! My husband and son, who hate vegetables loved them! We love these!

  155. Made these last night and they were AWESOME!!! I served them over zucchini “pasta” for myself and regular pasta for my guest, my dad ate them over rice…everyone loved them!!

    In the winter, when fresh basil is overpriced, I’m sure you could use store bought pesto as a sub for the basil and garlic – just a thought

  156. What can I use instead of the egg to bind them

    • For each egg, combine 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed (measure after grinding) with 3 tablespoons of water. Stir well, and place in the fridge to set for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the result should be a sticky egg-like substitute. A quick and easy egg replacement, featuring freshly ground flax or chia seeds.

  157. Pingback: Pasta - recipes | Pearltrees

  158. It would be much easier if zucchini were measured in cups. I’m making cookies with it as we speak and recipe called for 2 cups grated zucchini. any way to convert it to cups?

  159. Is the Romano Cheese Vegan?

  160. Gina,
    Have you ever substituted Butternut Squash for the zucchini or eggplant meatballs? Any advice or recommendations??
    Thanks!

  161. My husband and I love these zucchini meatballs even more than those made with meat! I changed the recipe a little by omitting 1/2 teaspoon of salt and I added a teaspoon of crushed fennel. They were delicious and even freeze well. Thank you for the recipe!

  162. Seems high in sodium!  Is that due to the Pec Romao.

    • Pecorino Romano cheeses most certainly do have high sodium content. I tend to avoid these since my husband and I both have high blood pressure (controlled). I use just about one TBS when I feel it really adds to flavor of dish. Red Star VSF Yeast Flakes (not GF certified) has 11 mgs sodium in 1.5 TBS (16 g).
      ALSO: I squeeze zucchini (shredded) after letting it sit in colander, to get out as much water as possible.
      AND I cut sodium use in whatever recipe I use (or eliminate it where possible). For baking, I use Hain’s Sodium and Gluten Free Bkg Powder. I get excellent results in all my baking (44 yrs experienced baker).
      Compare sodium content of pec-romano cheeses with the Red Star nutritional yeast — MUCH lower.
      Tastes great. I add to savory breads/rolls and wherever other grated cheeses are generally used. Don’t need much.
      Other info on nutritional yeast label: 1.5 T has 70 cals, 1 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 320 m potassium, 8 g protein, 0 sugars, 4 g dietary fiber, and total carbs 6 g.
      Available online and at Mrs. G’s and other health food stores (try Whole Foods).

  163. Superior recipe! We served Italian chicken sausages too. Thanks.

  164. So I’m making my menu for next week, always do. Was looking at leftovers in the freezer and saw these.. then realized I NEVER GAVE YOU FEED BACK. These meat balls were amazing!!!!!! I didn’t say a thing as my husband and I were eating these. Finally he said “did you put some zucchini in the meat balls tonight?” SURE DID. I said, It is all zucchini. He couldn’t believer it. Light and delicious. And they freeze very well!!! Thank you for another great recipe.

  165. I just found this recipe and I am excited to try it.  i think these might be a big hit at potlucks that I am frequently invited to and I am wondering if anyone has tried to pre-make the meatballs and then put them into a crockpot with the sauce to re-heat and left them on warm for an extended period of time?  

  166. I just made this tonight, and I am extremely impressed! I’m a dietitian and I’m always looking for great recipes that fit multiple dietary profiles. This is a perfect example!  Thank you for sharing, I’m a big fan. 

  167. My meat eating husband loved these! So delicious! Thank you!

  168. You have a tough job Gina. I love your website and have tried MANY recipes and they always taste wonderful as written. I find it always curious that you write a recipe and the reviews are always asking if they can sub this and that. How can I make it GF etc. How many points if I add different meat?  Wow!
    If people don’t like a recipe as written can’t THEY do the work and try it themselves? Can’t they use the calculator and figure out the points themselves.   I certainly do this myself but am SO appreciative of all your hard work making it easier for me to figure what to eat thats healthier 
    and having WW points figured is such a bonus. THANK YOU been LT for years and this makes it so easy to stay on track.

  169. We LOVED these balls. Do you think we could make a “meatloaf” using these ingredients?

  170. Recipe came out amazing! Will make again! 

  171. Love your recipes and love meatless meatballs. Just do not like the amount of sodium you have listed.  Where is all the salt in your recipe?

    • It comes from the cheese, marinara and seasoned breadcrumbs. You can cut that down a lot my using unseasoned breadcrumbs.

  172. My understanding is that this would not be a vegetarian dish if using Pecorino Romano cheese, which is made with animal rennet.  

    • I believe this is not a vegan dish if that’s what you are referring to.

      • No.  Certain cheeses, including all  Parmesan, are required to be made with animal rennet as part of the cheese production process. This involves removing the enzymes from the stomach of a newborn lamb or calf, which must be killed for this process. Because of the use of animal rennet for the production of many cheeses, those cheeses are not vegetarian.  I have only learned about all this myself recently, and was fairly horrified, for although I am not vegetarian, I do avoid all mammals’ meat.  Further complicating this, very few cheeses with animal rennet are so labeled. Instead, the ingredient is listed as “enzymes.” Fortunately, extensive lists are available online identifying cheeses, usually soft cheeses, that do not contain animal rennet.  In the case of Parmesan, the only way to avoid animal rennet is to buy “fake” Parmesan, a.k.a. Parmesan-style cheese.  
        “The traditional source of rennet is the stomach of slaughtered newly-born calves. Vegetarian cheeses are manufactured using rennet from either fungal/bacterial sources or genetically modified micro-organisms.”  SOURCE: https://www.vegsoc.org/cheese

      • I see, well then I suppose you would have to use vegetarian romano or parmesan in it’s place. I see they sell that at Trader Joes.

  173. So I pinned this months ago and finally made it. Wow. These were really really good. I was completely surprised. Even my husband loved them. I don’t think I’ll go back to meat meatballs. Thanks!

  174. Wow thank you so much for this recipe! It came out really good. I used nutritional yeast instead of cheese and you can’t even tell the difference! 

  175. Making these for dinner tomorrow! Could I use some yellow squash and some zucchini? Do you think that would change the taste/texture too much?

  176. I made these tonight for dinner and served them with edemame spaghetti! And my family loved it.  Thank you for sharing this recipe!!!

  177. Pingback: April 23, 2016 | OneAndaHalfAcreHomestead

  178. I have used lentils, black beans, eggplant, now I will try the zucchini it should work well. The key to using the zucchini is ensuring that the water is drained as the same with the eggplant. I have used lentils or black beans, or oatmeal as binders in lieu of bread crumbs. I cannot wait to try the zucchini!

  179. Do you think you might be able to use cooked lentils instead of the breadcrumbs for the protein factor?

  180. OMG!!!! These are the best meatless veggie balls. This is now one of my families favorite meatless main! 

  181. hello  i once made bitter gourd meatballs. the recipe stated to sprinkle generous amount of salt on the grated gourd and leave for 15 minutes, followed by strainer all the excess liquid ( by squeezing). it then proceeded by adding garam flour instead of egg and breadcrumbs. they were deep fried.

    i was wondering if i add salt to the grated zucchini, squeeze out all the liquid, follow rest of the steps or may shallow fry the balls first and then add to the sauce ? what do you think?  thanks

  182. Pingback: Vegetarian - pegfleming | Pearltrees

  183. Does anyone know if these freeze well?

    • I was wondering the same thing.  I’m thinking that if we freeze them after they’ve been cooked in the oven, they may freeze well.

  184. Do you have to bake them first?  I like to cook my meatballs right in the sauce.

  185. why is the sodium so high

  186. Made these tonight…I was hesitant because I don’t love zucchini, butthey were incredible!! Just make sure you squeeze as much water out of the zucchini as you can before you cook them! I used seasoned panko because that’s what I had on hand & they worked wonderfully!

  187. I’m thinking of frying these instead of baking as my oven isn’t working. I’m assuming they’ll hold their shape if I’m careful with them.

  188. Hello, what can be used instead of egg? Would flax ‘egg’ work?

  189. If you use almond flour it would cut the carbs down as well.

  190. I would probably squeeze the zucchini to get rid of some of the water, and use homemade sauce – the sodium level pretty high….and it isn’t from the zucchini ????

  191. Pingback: Vegetarian Zucchini "Meatballs" - BELGIAN FOODIE

  192. Pingback: From the Week | nutcaseinpoint

  193. Loved this. My husband wondered what type of "meatballs" I bought. Got away with no egg and used seasoned panko a bit less of it too. Will be making often. Thank you

  194. OK so for those wondering about freezing I have an update. I froze one full recipe in a ziploc bag in the sauce post baking as suggested. DON'T DO IT! LOL! I am SO glad that the rest of them I flash froze dry after baking. I put the ones frozen in sauce in a pan to reheat. The meatballs had taken on some of the sauce and were wetter than before. When I went to stir it all turned to mush, everything fell apart. I was devastated! After thinking it was a complete failure I made them into patties (marinara sauce and all), put some extra breadcrumbs on the outside and pan fried them in a small amount of butter. The result was delicious but definitely NOT what was intended. I will update as to how the others turn out when they make their rotation in our meal plan again. But again….do NOT freeze in the sauce!

    • Thanks so much for your comments!!  I’d love to know how the Fozen Dry meatballs turned out – I was about to freeze them in the sauce…..SO glad that your post stopped me in time!  

  195. The sodium count, must be a mistake. There's no way it could be that high, can it?

  196. This looks delicious but what scares me is 1,182 mg of sodium?! Per how many meatballs is this?

  197. These were sooooo good, that I made them again into a burger and used your Skinnytaste Salisbury Steak recipe with them. AWESOME!!! Haved loved your blog for years and the whole family loves everything I've made and I'm the only one on Weight Watchers. But your recipes not only help people on WW, it allows the whole family to eat healthy and not even know it!! Thank you Gina!!!

  198. I made these meatless balls. I will not waste my precious ingredients on this recipe again. First, one cup of breadcrumbs is too much. When I make my meatless balls, I use lentils or flax seed. Breadcrumbs makes the balls heavy in your stomach. Secondly, you do not need an egg if you use lentils or flax seed. I could taste the egg. Yuck! This recipe can be healthy without breadcrumbs or egg. Sorry for the negative feedback.

  199. The only thing that I changed out was the egg–I used Ener G egg replacer. They didn't hold their shape. Instead of balls, I have mini zucchini pancakes…completely flat =( Does anyone have any recommendations?

  200. I've made this recipe multiple times now – it's one of my favorites! Yum! After cooking the zucchini, I squeeze out excess liquid in paper towels. This keeps the meatballs from being mushy in the middle, like some have mentioned.

    For dinner tonight, I substituted the breadcrumbs with half oats and half cornflakes. I processed the oats and cornflakes lightly until they resembled coarse crumbs (and totaled 1 cup.) Then added in Italian seasoning (garlic, onion, oregano, basil.) My husband and I liked them just as much as the original version! [For gluten-free, you would need to purchase gluten-free oats and gluten-free cornflakes.]

  201. These were amazing! My kids ate every bite and even my meat-loving boyfriend loved them. I opted to make the homemade sauce, which was super easy, cheaper, and delish! And I baked a spaghetti squash for the base. Amazing – could make again tonight! I may try the nutritional yeast in place of cheese and flax for the egg to see how they are completely vegan.

  202. This recipe is delicious! Tried yesterday and it was a success with everyone in my family. Thank you so much for sharing this! Kind regards from Lisbon, Portugal.
    Cristiani

  203. I plugged this into my WW calculator and it's coming up 8pts (sp) using the above nutritional values.

  204. Just wondering are the nutritional/points values with the optional cheese and sauce? Thanks!

  205. Is the majority of the high sodium because of the jarred sauce you used–or is it the cheeses? Can you break the nutrition without whatever sauce you used as we will all probably use what we like best. Thanks!

  206. I am aware, I am using the app.

  207. When I made these, they came out kind of soft and mushy in the middle. I baked them for 25 minutes so I think they were done all the way through….is that just the consistency they're supposed to be?

  208. I made these over zucchini noodles with mozzarella instead of the romano, because it was all I had, but it tasted SO good. Easily a favorite for me.

  209. Hey Gina. When you're converting to SP, are you just taking the totals aor are you running them through the WW app? Veggies aren't counted the same in recipes now and I was curious. Thanks!

  210. Do you have nutritional info to calculate SmartPoints?

  211. Hi! Looks like a great recipe. Would this work as an addition to pasta as well vs. standalone?

  212. These were delicious! My meat loving husband loved them so much he took the leftovers for lunch! Has anyone ever tried these in a crock pot and if so how long would I cook them for?

  213. As a vegan I find oats to be too gummy in a recipe like this, I use 2 tablespoons of Ground Flax as substitute for 1 egg. Let the flour soak in a bit before forming into balls. They came out fine although I can't compare as didn't try the original recipe.

  214. I have a couple GIANT zucchini that I was going to shred and freeze. I think I will make some of these to freeze also. I see you stated to freeze post baking and cooking in sauce. Do you think you could dump these in the slow cooker for a couple hours out of the freezer to reheat? This would be a perfect easy freezer meal that way! I plan on making these tomorrow 🙂

  215. We loved these so much as written but wanted to try a recommendation in the comments to use oats. We really did NOT like these with the oats, way too gummy. Stick with the recipe, it is perfect!

  216. Everyone in the family loved these! Great for getting picky kids to eat veggies. Thank you!

  217. Curious what people are pairing these meatballs with besides the standard pasta. Ideas?

  218. Made this tonight and it was incredible! Made zoodles as a base. My husband loved them!

  219. I wonder how these would taste as veggie burgers on the grill? Give them an extra coating of breadcrumbs on the outside of the patties first. Or do you think they need the marinara sauce and would be bland alone?

  220. How many zucchinis did you use for this recipe?

  221. Gina, i don't have a food scale at home. Do you have an approx measurement in cups to use? Thanks in advance.

  222. Just made these, they are delicious! thanks for the great recipe. Question: the dough was very sticky when I went to make it into balls, is that normal or should I add extra breadcrumbs?

  223. did you weigh the zucchini before shredding? Looks great. Can't wait to try

  224. These were excellent! I used vegan parmesan (almond and nutritional yeast based) in place of the romano to make dairy free. Served with marinara sauce, salad and warm naan bread. SO good! Thank you!

  225. I eat low carb, so I am thinking of substituting pork rinds for the bread crumbs. Recipe sounds lovely!

  226. just got done making – YUM!!! turned out fantastic! can't wait to see if my little squish loves them too ;o)

  227. Besides my question on freezing grated raw zucchini – do you think you go dehydrate grated zucchini and rehydrate it?

    • In regard to the frozen zucchini, make sure it is completed thawed and drained. Without testing the dehydrated version I don't know if the results would be the same.

    • I think I'll have to give that a try! We have 24 large zucchini's to use up. How fantastic would that be if the dehydrated version worked. It doesn't take up near the space as freezing does. Thank you.

  228. Made these last night, very easy to make and came out GREAT. Will be making more and freeze them for later

    • Have you defrosted and eaten them yet? I made this recipe tonight, they were so delicious! I'm worried that freezing them would change the texture (even in the tomato sauce).

  229. We have so many zucchini. I normally shred them, bag and freeze for use during the winter. Has anyone used frozen shredded zucchini to make them?

  230. Can I substitute de cheese with something else? Or maybe just skip it altogether? I am so so so enchanted by this recipe, but unfortunately cheese is a no-no in this household.

  231. Made these last night. They. Were. FANTASTC. Sooo delicious.

  232. Can you replace the romano cheese with low fat motsarella cheese. I cant bare the smell of romano cheese

  233. You're right – these are really good! I first mixed the raw, shredded zucchini with a tsp of kosher salt and let it drain for an hour or two in a colander, then squeezed it as dry as possible. When I sautéed it, there was no need to drain further. Great texture!

  234. I made these tonight and they are delicious! I did notice the middle was still soft. Should I have cooked them longer in the oven?

  235. I baked these last night. We're having them with pasta sauce tonight. They are delicious as is, but I may try adding a bit of fennel seed to the next batch just to see how they turn out. We tried them without sauce, and they are really good. My partner suggested trying a Thai peanut sauce with some of them (he does not need to count calories quite as closely as I do). I think that would be fantastic as an appetizer for parties. Any idea of how these will freeze? I may have to bake a bunch of them for the freezer to have on-hand for entertaining.

  236. once they're baked… can I freeze them for a later use?

  237. These look really good but not vegetarian with the egg 🙁

  238. Do you think egg whites could substitute for the egg?

  239. Would also like to know how many cups of grated zucchini this would be. Don't have a scale at home.

  240. We have lots of zucchini growing in our garden this year and I'm trying to make things other than zucchini bread. Definitely giving these a shot!

  241. I wanted to try this without eggs, so I came up with a weird idea: I skipped the breadcrumbs and the egg, and added 60 g of rolled oats while cooking the zucchini, to reléase the starch so it would help to hold the mixture together. When it cooled down a bit, I formed the balls (using breadcrumbs so it wouldn't stick) and put them in the fridge for a while to set.
    The meatballs turned out a bit soft but they could hold their shape quite well. I am pretty happy with the result 🙂
    Thank you for the récipe. I hope my twist is useful for anyone!

  242. What would you use if you could not use Basil?? My husband has a problem with it digesting.

  243. These sound amazing!!! I'd love to make them for dinner tomorrow night….since the points are kind of high what would be some good ideas for sides to make it really filling?

    • Zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash would be great low carb sides.

    • Made them for dinner tonight, they were DELICIOUS!!! Even my non-veggie-loving fiancé declared them "really good!" That is outrageous coming from him. And, where oh where has spaghetti squash been all my life? Outstanding dinner!!! Thank you for the great recipe. P.S. I was SO FULL from 4 meatballs with the spaghetti squash I couldn't even eat the 5th one I put on my plate. These are good and filling and worth every point!!!

  244. Could you use oats instead of breadcrumbs and if so what would the amount be??
    Thanks x

    • Haven't tried with oats, if you do let me know how it comes out!

    • Try almond flour, or blend up some rolled oats in blender until consistency of crumbs/flour – either of these has worked wonders for me avoiding bread crumbs in tons of other recipes

    • Try almond flour, or blend up some rolled oats in blender until consistency of crumbs/flour – either of these has worked wonders for me avoiding bread crumbs in tons of other recipes

    • I have used oats in making veggie balls and in that recipe I used 1/4 cup, it would taste nice with some pecan  nuts chopped into it aswell

  245. Can anyone provide the approximate number of cups of shredded you would get from 1 1/4 lb. of zucchini?

    • This is the first time I am making these, and haven't finished them yet to see how they will turn out, but right now I have about 4 cups of shredded zucchini (not packed down, just naturally sitting). This is after I squeezed water out with a strainer.

  246. I can't wait to try them! Perfect for a meatless, not-necessarily-Monday, meal. Did you have to squeeze the zucchini dry after sauteing or does enough of the liquid cook out?

  247. I made these for dinner last night. My husband was a bit skeptical, but then asked this morning if there were any leftovers!

  248. any ideas for a dairy free version? thanks!

  249. Can't wait to try this! Do you think you could sub cottage cheese for the pecorino, or do you think it would make the mixture too watery?

  250. I asked this when you posted the eggplant meatballs but you didn't answer it so I am asking again. Why are the points so high? 7 points for a meatless option seems extremely high to me.

    • The breadcrumbs add the points, but you need them to hold it all together. Thats's for 4 meatballs, you can eat 3 if you want to cut the points.

    • It's because of the breadcrumbs and cheese. When you enter the ingredients in the Recipe Builder on WW, The breadcrumbs alone are 12 points. The cheese is another 8, and the Marinara is 7. However, when I entered it, it calculated to 8 points + for 4 meatballs.

    • It depends on the brands of crumbs and marinara you use, different brands will have slightly different results.

    • You can also use fiber one cereal (twig looking) instead of the breadcrumbs. Just put the cereal in a blender and it will become breadcrumb like

    • I just calculated the smart points and it was 7. I only used 3/4 C Trader Joes Marinara and a can of diced tomatoes with no salt added, as well as some water. I seasoned well.

  251. Made this for dinner tonight and everyone loved it! My 6 yr old cleaned his whole plate and asked for more. Great idea for meatless Monday, thanks for the recipe 🙂

  252. Substitute Flaxseed meal for the breadcrumbs!

  253. i use cornflake crumbs (from the packet) for my meatballs. These are gluten free and work well.

  254. Would these hold up well if frozen? Thinking of making a big batch to freeze for during the school year. Thanks!

  255. About how many medium sized zucchini would you use for this recipe?

    • A medium zucchini is usually 7 or 8 oz, so you'll need about 2 1/2 or 3 depending on the size. If you don't weigh it, you won't really know if it's the correct amount so you may have to add a bit more crumbs if it's more than the amount I used.

      • Can you provide a conversion to cups? I don’t have a kitchen scale. My zucchini is already grated. Thanks! Looking forward to making these, making one batch to have now, and one to freeze.

  256. Looks delicious! Is there a way to make this gluten free or substitute something for the breadcrumbs?