Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs

Main Dishes

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 calories.


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 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 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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Italian Beef and Spinach Meatballs

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 25 mins

Total Time: 40 mins

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!

  • 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
  • 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.

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

Blue Smart Points: 4

Green Smart Points: 5

Purple Smart Points: 4

Points +: 6

Keywords: Beef Meatballs, Freezer Meals, Italian Meatballs, Kid Friendly, meatballs, Spinach Meatballs

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