Spaghetti and Meatballs

I realize that this recipe’s title starts with the word “spaghetti”, but make no mistake about it – the meatballs are the star of this week. Since first developing this meatball recipe for Paleo Takeout, we’ve made it often, at least monthly. There are a few little touches that make the meatballs just perfect: a mix of beef and pork so that the meat flavor is prominent but not overwhelming, egg yolks for creaminess, gelatin powder for a smooth and succulent texture, and bacon for little bursts of umami.

One of my favorite ways to describe these meatballs is to say that they’ll make your Italian grandmother swoon. Matter of fact, just as I’m writing this intro, I’ve decided to add them to our dinner menu this week.

Here is the writeup from Paleo Takeout:

It seems like every country has a meatball recipe, from the very popular Swedish meatballs to the relatively unknown Finnish meatballs (Lihapullat), often made with reindeer meat. Italian meatballs are larger than most other meatballs and are prized for their tenderness. Gelatin may seem like a strange addition, but it gives the meatballs a velvety texture, not unlike what you’d expect from eating veal.

Spaghetti and Meatballs (Gluten-free, Paleo, Primal, Whole30-friendly)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy

24-32oz jarred or homemade red sauce

1 (8 oz) package gluten-free spaghetti ~or~
4 zucchini or yellow squash (about 2 lbs total), spiral-sliced

4 large egg yolks, beaten
2 tbsp chicken stock
1 tsp gelatin powder
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork

1. Warm the sauce over medium-low heat. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

2. Cook the spaghetti. For rice-based spaghetti, cook as directed on the box, then rinse in cold water until cool to the touch and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking. For spiral-sliced zucchini or yellow squash, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, then rinse in cold water. Set aside.

3. Position an oven rack near the top of your oven and preheat the oven on broil. Combine the egg yolks, broth, and gelatin; set aside. Place the onion, garlic, parsley, tapioca starch, salt, pepper, and oregano in a food processor and pulse until uniform. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and the bacon and pulse until well mixed. Transfer to a mixing bowl, then add the egg yolk mixture, beef, and pork. With your hands, gently mix until uniform, then form into 12 tennis ball–sized meatballs and transfer to a heavy-duty baking sheet.

4. Broil the meatballs until the tops are browned, about 6 minutes, then remove from the oven and gently add to the sauce. Cover and gently simmer until cooked through, about 15 minutes – they should register 160F internally.

5. Distribute the spaghetti among 4 wide bowls, then spoon the sauce and meatballs over the spaghetti. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese, and serve.

28 thoughts on “Spaghetti and Meatballs

    1. I stir fry them quickly in a little oil and chicken broth. (And garlic. Always garlic.) They turn out like perfectly al dente pasta.


  1. They sound delicious and I think I’ll try them tonight – but one question? Is there any reason they have to be so gigantic? Would shrinking them make them end up tough or something?


      1. I did golf ball sized and they worked fine. Since I made only a half batch (small family) they fit in the pot. Probably my husband would love it if I sized them traditionally, but I think they’d intimidate the 5-year-old.

        Anyway, they were excellent, as even my husband admitted – even though he doesn’t like to admit it when a paleo recipe turns out excellent.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely love this! I could definitely make a vegetarian substitute for myself but still do a red sauce. I make zoodles all of the time but I never use a red sauce and I have no idea why haha!


  3. This type of meal is just what my family loves! Thank you for sharing this. I have added it this weeks menu. However we cannot have eggs, do you have any suggestions? Can we just leave them out or do we need to make a substitution?


    1. Hi, it should be fine if you omit the gelatin – it gives the dish a velvety texture, but isn’t necessary. If you want to cook it without immersing it in sauce, you can heat the oven to 350F (to get it hot), then turn it to broil; then broil the meatballs as directed above, and switch to the bake setting at 350F and bake until the meatballs register 160F internally. Hope that helps!


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