It’s dinner time, you’re starving, and you’re seconds away from getting in your car and rolling up to that drive-thru window. Don’t do it! Get your burger fix by throwing together some quick meatballs with this easy meatball recipe that tastes way better than any dinner you get in a sack. If you don’t know how to make meatballs, don’t worry, it’s easy, and this Balsamic meatball recipe will quickly become a favorite.
Tasty Balsamic Meatballs
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Nutrition Facts Per Serving
Tasty Balsamic Meatballs INGREDIENTS
- 1-pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
- 1 egg
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 4 Cups baby spinach
Tasty Balsamic Meatballs DIRECTIONS
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Place cherry tomatoes in a large bowl and toss with 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil to evenly coat. Season with salt and pepper and place in a single layer, cut-side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Set aside.
- Heat remaining 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until translucent—about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add garlic, basil, and parsley to the skillet and stir to cook until fragrant—about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.
- Crack an egg into a large bowl and lightly beat with a fork. Add ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Add onion mixture, balsamic vinegar, and lemon zest and stir to thoroughly combine, being careful not to overmix. Form into mini-meatballs and place in an even layer on another parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake tomatoes and meatballs for 30 minutes, flipping both halfway through cooking.
- Place a cup of spinach on each of four serving plates. Place mini-meatballs and tomatoes on top of spinach and serve hot.
Tips for Making the Perfect Meatballs
The perfect meatballs start with the best meatball recipe. We think this Balsamic meatball recipe ranks up there pretty high. Next, you’ll need to learn the meatball basics. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to follow:
- Don’t Overmix: When it comes to meatballs, there’s no need to whip them and whip them good. Mixing the ingredients until they are just combined is plenty. The more you handle the meat, the tougher it gets.
- Don’t Pack the Meatballs Too Tightly: If you’re using a binding agent like egg or breadcrumbs, you don’t need to worry about your meatballs falling apart. Lightly form them into balls, and save your anger management for your golf game.
- Don’t Overcook: This is a fatal mistake. Keep a close eye on your meatballs and stop cooking them as soon as they are done.
- Do Make All the Meatballs in a Batch the Same Size: this will help them cook uniformly.
- Don’t Skip the Egg: The egg acts as a binding agent and also keeps the meatballs from shrinking up and getting tough.
- Do Season the Meat: Salt and pepper go a long way to bring out the flavor in the meat. This Balsamic meatball recipe is also packed with flavor for a great tasting meatball.
These simple tips will make you a meatball pro in no time.
Why are My Meatballs Tough?
If your meatballs closely resemble golf balls, it’s time to get back to the meatball basics. Tough meatballs can happen for a number of reasons, including overworking the meat, overcooking, or using a meat that is too lean. Your added meatball ingredients can also play a part.
Have you ever wondered why so many meatball recipes call for breadcrumbs or eggs and been tempted to skip those ingredients? Don’t do it! Those ingredients actually help your meatball stay juicy. The eggs and the breadcrumbs act as a binder that prevents the meat from shrinking as it cooks. The shrinkage is what leads to dry, hard as a rock meatballs. But be warned, you don’t need much in the way of eggs or breadcrumbs. Adding too much can have the opposite effect and dry out the meatballs.
What’s the Difference Between Ground Turkey and Ground Beef?
You mean besides the obvious difference that one comes from a turkey, and one comes from a cow? Ground turkey and ground beef are packaged and look similar, but they don’t cook the same. Ground turkey tends to lack the flavor of beef. A lot of that is due to the fact that turkey is a leaner meat. Leaner meat can also mean drier meat, so you really have to be mindful of your seasonings, ingredients, and cooking time to get the most flavor out of turkey.
On the other hand, ground beef comes in many different varieties and fat contents. If you’re cooking with a leaner selection of beef, you may run into similar dryness issues as you would when cooking with turkey. Generally speaking though, ground beef is juicier and more tender than turkey.
Can I Substitute Turkey Burger for Ground Beef for Meatballs?
Ground turkey is a leaner meat than ground beef, so it can be tempting to use the two ingredients interchangeably in an effort to save a few calories. While you definitely can use ground turkey as a substitute for ground beef, you need to compensate for the differences between the two meats.
As we mentioned before, ground turkey has less flavor, as well as a lower fat content than beef. If you plan on subbing turkey into your dinner plan, also plan on adding more moisture. For example, if you’re cooking meatballs, you could add in breadcrumbs soaked in milk. These will act as a binding agent, while also boosting the water content. Using turkey also means stepping up your spice game, as salt and pepper alone won’t cut it like it does with ground beef.
Are Balsamic Vinegar and Balsamic Glaze the Same Thing?
Balsamic vinegar, Balsamic reduction, and Balsamic glaze all live in the same neighborhood, but they are slightly different. The common tie between them is Balsamic vinegar, which is the base for the other varieties. Balsamic vinegar is made with grapes and vinegar and has a potent flavor. Both the reduction and the glaze are meant to intensify that flavor. While this recipe only calls for Balsamic vinegar, it’s good to know the difference between the three variations, and how to make each.
To make a Balsamic reduction, you simply simmer the vinegar for 10-20 minutes. You can also add in some garlic to make it more flavorful, or you can just use a high-quality Basalmic vinegar and a Basalmic vinegar reduction recipe like this one. It’s great on salads, breads, chicken, vegetables, and even fruit.
Making a Balsamic glaze is only a slight variation from a reduction. The major difference is that while you reduce it, you add a little sweetener, generally in the form of brown sugar or honey. This glaze is possibly the best Balsamic vinegar recipe just because it is so simple and uses natural ingredients. You can use it in the same way you would use reduction or pure Balsamic vinegar.