Paleo Czech Meatballs

I really wanted a cute name for these meatballs.

I tried for, like, 10 minutes to come up with a workable play on caraway seeds. Get Carried-Away Seed Meatballs? I’m Caraway’d Meatballs? Caraway’d Away Balls? Dave grimaced.

His contribution: “Czech Out My Balls?”

And that is how we settled on the not-very-creative, but accurately-descriptive and patently-inoffensive “Paleo Czech Meatballs.” Enjoy!


Paleo Czech Meatballs

Serves 4-6 | Prep 5 minutes | Cook 20 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

  • 1/2 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds

  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika

  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 1/4 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard

  • 2 pounds ground pork


Mix all ingredients together until well blended and form into meatballs. I made them fairly-large – about 9 per pound of meat. (mostly because I get bored rolling meatballs. You could also make these burgers, but balls are more fun. [Heh. I said ‘balls are more fun.’]) (For details on the science of mixing meatballs, read this.)


On the grill: Heat grill to high, then cook meatballs five minutes with lid closed, flip, and cook an additional five minutes, until nicely browned.

In the oven: Preheat oven to 400F and cook 20 minutes or so.

On the stovetop: Brown in a hot saute pan, then cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low until cooked through.

These are wicked good: tender, flavorful, and perfect for Fall. Dave and I ate them for dinner, and the next day, I earned bonus points when I told Dave he could have the leftovers.

Make sure you get two veggies on your plate with the meatballs!

The original recipe called for sauerkraut as a topping, but I made sautéed cabbage as a bed instead. Sauté 1/2 onion in coconut oil ’til soft. Add 1/2 head sliced cabbage, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and a generous sprinkle of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sauté until everything is nicely wilted and starting to brown around the edges.




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  • Sally says:

    Lurker and fan-girl here. I'm a couple weeks into my third attempt to do a 30-day cleanup. I've been crossfitting for 6 months. This is all so that I can get in shape for roller derby tryouts! I'm kinda in love with your blog.

    I was just thinking to myself "what should I have for lunch?" and also "what should I do with that delicious cabbage that was so cheap at the farmer's market?" Thanks for one answer to two questions.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hi, Sally! Congrats… third time is the charm!

    I realized yesterday that I'm not actually sure if I've ever done an entire 30-day clean-up. So I'm digging in my heels and really doing it this time. No wavering. GAH!

    Thanks for the sweet words about my blog. I'm excited for you that you're trying out for Derby!

    Have fun cooking.

  • Amber says:

    I like Dave's answer. To heck with offensive, it's funny!!!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Amber, you have my permission to refer to these as "Czech Out My Balls" Balls. (Heh. I said balls. Twice.)

  • michele says:

    holy coincidence.

    i'm working on a gluten-free meatball recipe now to serve for (gulp) 30 people on saturday.

    trying to get some tenderness into the little suckers without breadcrumbs is challenging… first batch with some almond flour was good, but i think i can do better.

    have you ever made italian-style meatballs, paleo?

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Michele!

    I haven't made Italian style. I wonder if it would help to combine beef and pork — the pork definitely makes things a little more tender.

  • michele says:

    i mixed pork, beef and *veal*, bitches! but maybe i take your point and switch up the proportions…

    with and egg, parm and some parsely, the taste was fantastic. (sorry about the cheese, i am genuflecting right now, i really am.)

    gluten-free girl says use Udi's and make breadcrumbs from that… in fact they just put up a video about it today (another freaky coincidence.) so i'll try that. i feel like gluten-free bread is dangerous to have around – like giving alcohol-free beer to an alcoholic, it's a no-no – but for the sake of this gig, which is for a client with celiac, i'll try it.

    good luck on your clean up.

  • Jesse Richards says:

    Awesome recipe Mel! I'm going to make these with my girlfriend, should be a big hit! Good luck with the thirty days.

  • ben says:

    ive followed your blog for a while and just wanna say that something about this post has finally made me get to it and follow a recipe! Tomorrow dinner: Czechit Meatballs! Awesome, thanks.
    ps. been paleo strictish for a good year and loving it.

  • Ashley says:

    wow, I got your blog link from whole30, but i think i will keep it in my favourites, this looks so yummy, the meat balls that is. going to try them out sometime soon 🙂

  • Trixie says:

    looks easy! I only happen to have a 1lb of pork in my freezer..if I cut the recipe in half..wonder what the baking time would be??

  • Michelle says:

    Ooooh! I love your blog! You are so bad-ass and inspirational! I'm gonna be cooking a lot of your dino-chow…

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Jesse –> Be sure to let me know how like them!

    Ben –> I LOVE it: Czechit! Genius. Congrats on a year of paleo… hope you like the Czech balls.

    Ashley –> Glad you like my blog. Let me know if there's anything you're curious about and I'll tackle it in a post.

    Trixie –> The baking time is the same, even if you cut the recipe in half. But I recommend making the whole pound and having leftovers!

    Michelle –> Thanks for your kind words. Being called bad-ass is one of my favorite things!

  • Trixie says:

    Gotcha, I do have 1lb..just not 2lbs like your recipe calls for.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    With recipes like this, you can always halve — or double or triple. With baking recipes, not so much. But with this one, just cut all the ingredients in half but keep the cooking time the same. Good luck!

  • Brenda says:

    Hey Melissa-
    Found you on Whole 30. I made these tonight. They were good, but VERY salty. I should have followed my gut and cut the salt. Other than that they were yummy. Thanks.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Brenda! Did you use sea salt? I do like my food salty, but sea salt is less potent than table salt, hence the tablespoon in this recipe. It also depends on how salty the mustard is that you use.

    With any recipe, you can also decrease the salt, then add more after cooking, if you're worried about it.

  • Brenda says:

    Hey Melissa- I do use sea salt. Maybe it is just that we don't use that much salt anymore. My hubby has high blood pressure and is a salt nazi!!! I used to use tons of salt, but have cut back a ton. I think I will try them with cumin next time more of a mexican flare.

    I love your web-site.

  • Julie says:

    Hey Mel! I am in a meatball kinda mood today but only have ground lamb and beef in the fridge. Either or both? Any other suggestions?

    I LOVE your site too! I can't imagine you get tired of hearing that.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Julie! Thanks for the compliment, and no! hearing that you like my site will NEVER get old.

    OK. If you want to make the Czech meatballs, use the beef… then use the lamb for Moroccan meatballs.

    Or, if you want to combine the beef and lamb together, that's a perfect meat mix for Moroccan meatballs, too.

    Recipe here:

    OR… if you want to try a Mexican thing… mix the lamb and beef together, then add cumin and chili powder (maybe 2 teaspoons of each) and some chopped cilantro. Brown the meatballs, then serve with salsa and avocado. I just totally made that up, so it might need more tweaking, but I think it would work.

  • Julie says:

    OK – I just made some-kinda-YUM! with the beef & lamb. You inspired me to tweak and that's just what I did. OMG!

    1 lb ground beef
    1lb ground lamb
    4 T chopped fresh cilantro
    2 eggs
    1 T cumin
    1 T chili powder
    2-3 tsp Cinnamon (I just dumped the end of a bottle in)
    1 tsp sea salt
    a generous few turns of the pepper mill
    a few hearty shakes of crushed red pepper

    Mixed it all up and browned them in an oven proof frying pan with coconut oil. Finished them in a 400 degree oven. Ate it over left over roasted asparagus and avocado slices. This is "Happy-Dance" food!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Julie –> Those sound super tasty! Congratulations on inventing Julie Balls! 🙂

  • Katie says:

    These are awesome! I only had a pound of pork thawed, but next time I'm totally using at least two pounds, maybe more like four (I'm working through a quarter share of pastured hog, so four pounds is actually feasible). I paired them with leftover kale, and some parsnip and carrot puree for lunch, but I'm totally sauteeing some cabbage to go with em for dinner. Your cabbage slaw with lime really changed my mind about cabbage, so thank you for that too!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Katie –> I'm glad you like them! I only had a pound of pork the last time I made them, too, and I was sad.

    I was thinking… you could easily double the recipe, and if you don't feel like rolling all those meatballs, you could either make burger patties or put the meat mixture into a muffin pan and make mini-meatloaf muffin thingies.

    Cabbage sauteed with onion, garlic, and a splash of cider vinegar would be really good with these. Glad you've come around to the magic of cabbage!

  • XOXO says:

    this recipe is OFF THE HOOK! i have made it about 4 times in the past month- once with ground pork then the other times with varying fat% of ground turkey.

    thanks for sharing!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    XOXO –> Hooray! Glad you like them. They are tasty little buggers, aren't they?

  • Rhonda says:

    Taste Great! I used ground beef (didn’t have pork), and way less salt. Just wondering if 1TBSP is really the correct amount?

    • Mel says:

      Good catch! It’s corrected in my cookbook, but I needed to change it here: it should be 1/2 tablespoon salt to 2 lbs. of meat.

      Glad you liked them!

  • Anita says:

    Hey there..
    I just made these with the recipe in Well Fed..I subbed 1 lb of the pork with 1 lb of ground turkey – I assure you they are still fantastic!

  • Tommi says:

    Seriously, my new favorite meal. The first time I took a bite of these with sauteed cabbage (my new favorite item to add to every meal), the first words that came out of my mouth were, “These are soooo good.” It was “lick your plate” type of good. Thanks for all the great recipes, your site is always the first one I look to for some new inspiration in the kitchen.

  • Emma says:

    Can I ask a silly question? What’s grainy mustard? Thanks.

    • Mel says:

      That’s not a silly question at all! “Grainy” mustard includes pieces of mustard seeds… in comparison to, say, yellow mustard in which the seeds are completely pulverized so it’s smooth. Dijon mustard comes in both grainy and smooth varieties.

      For this recipe, I like to use the mustard-y mustard, hence, the grainy version — but smooth Dijon will work, too.

      • Emma says:

        🙂 Thanks, because I felt silly asking since it seemed like that was something I should know after cooking for so many years. I thought maybe you were talking about powdered mustard seeds, but figured I’d better ask just in case.

        Can’t wait to try these.

  • Petra_OntheRoad says:

    Hello Melissa! I just want to say that I really love your blog – witty writing, superlicious recipes and aawww, you love Prague! Yes, yes, Im from there. 🙂

    I am so curious – why are these meatballs called Czech?

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for the compliments — glad you’re enjoying my blog and recipes.

      I called ’em Czech because I made up the recipe when we got back form our trip, inspired by the mustard at the pub and the caraway seeds in the cabbage I ate.

  • Kristen says:

    I just found your site, and I wanted to let you know that I tried these and they were awesome! I think the pork I got at Whole Foods might have been a little leaner than I would have really preferred… but in a way, the slight dryness combined with the taste of caraway made me feel like I was eating rye toast with mustard(!)

    I’ve got to say, though, I also made the cabbage recipe (I used butter, though–I got my eating guidelines from Mark Sisson) and it blew the rest of the meal out of the water. CABBAGE. HOW ARE YOU SO TASTY. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this.

    Thanks for the great recipes!

    • Mel says:

      So glad you found me… welcome!

      And yes! Cabbage! How is it possible that this much-maligned veggie is actually sweet and accommodating and delish?!

  • Casey says:

    Just made these (actuallly, the version from Well Fed, not precisely this recipe). Stupid good! I used the hot paprika from Savory – I think it is my new favorite spice.

    • Mel says:

      They are stupid good, aren’t they. YAY!

      I have, like, four kinds of paprika in my cabinet now. Definitely having fun playing around with them.

  • Robin says:

    Um, I am in love with these. I put them in my scrambled eggs this morning and had them for lunch yesterday. Up next they are going in my sweet potato egg monster.

  • AKM says:

    I was too tired last night after class to make meatballs — “making dinner” as opposed to “cooking”! — so I made Deconstructed Czech Meatballs. (I guess that could just be Prague Pork then? 😉 )

    Cooked 1# pork with one chopped onion, drained it, added seasonings and cole slaw mix until “it looked right.” Put in a bowl and topped with homemade mayo and more grainy mustard. Served with Israeli pickles from the health-food store and finished up with paleo pumpkin custard. HEAVEN. I can’t wait to have this meal again tonight.

    (And I wish I’d made 2# worth. Whoops.)

    • Mel says:

      Heh! I love that! I have to admit, when I don’t feel like rolling meatballs, I make burger patties. Less work, same taste! I like this deconstructed version a lot, too. Well done!

  • sheri says:

    Hi Melissa!

    I’m having a New Years Eve Party and want to make these (and your Bora Bora Fireballs from Well Fed) a day in advance. How do you recommend reheating them? Microwave? Oven? Stovetop? Evwrything in the internet says to reheat meatballs in their sauce, but these will both be sauceless to start. Also, I’ll be roasting some veggies the day of, so I’m not sure if the oven will be available, but I’m curious what you recommend anyhow. This is my first dinner party. I’m nervous and excited. I’m in Austin too, so you are totally invited. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      The Bora Bora Fireballs definitely have to be reheated in the oven — and they actually taste better when they’ve been cooked, cooled, and reheated. Put them in a 300 oven until hot, uncovered so they stay crisp.

      The Czech Meatballs can either be reheated in the oven or you can do them on the stovetop in a pot with a little bit of beef broth. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover until they’re heated through… then take out of broth to serve.

  • Megan says:

    Hi Mel, I feel like I should post and not be a lurker because I LOVE your site and quite possibly you. Have spent hours here this weekend- I’ve just started my first whole 30 and first paleo journey. Pretty sure I could not do it without you! The short oder cooking is a GENIUS concept and you are also totally hilarious. I wish you weren’t married so I could introduce you to my brother who also lives in austin. Though, your husband is obviously awesome since he came up Czech out my balls and he does the weekly grocery shopping. Promise I’m not a stalker, just an ardent admirer.

    Thank you for all the inspiration and sharing it so generously.

    • Mel says:

      You are so great! Thanks for this awesome comment!

      Congrats on taking on the Whole30 — wishing you an awesome experience. Hope you don’t have any rough days, and if you do, remember we’re all here for ya and stay strong.

      Yes, my husband is a total badass, and I’m lucky to have met him.

      Thanks for saying hi — stay in touch!

  • Andrea says:

    I’m in love with these meatballs. I LOVE the different taste. I often associate meatballs with ,only italian food and it was nice to get a different taste profile for my lucky taste buds.


  • Andrew Schuerr says:

    I made stuffed mushrooms with this recipe. They turned out perfect I used some medium sized bellas and baked them in muffin tins. Perfect size easy clean up and one of the two veggies already on my plate. Thanks for the recipe looking forward to well fed II. I have read paleo for dummies and the berry chicken salad is amazing. I converted my wife to paleo with that recipe.

    • Mel says:

      Ooooh! I love that idea — so clever! That sounds delicious. Can’t wait to try it myself.

      Thanks for reading Paleo For Dummies! Glad to know you like that chicken salad recipe… and YAY! for spousal conversion 🙂

  • Anne says:

    I’ve had Well Fed for over a year…how did I never make these before! Made them last night and they are delicious!!! I did mix one lb pork and 1lb ground turkey but kept everything else the same. I will definitely be making these again! Also finally ordered Well Fed 2, can’t wait for it to get here!!

    • Mel says:

      Hooray! I’m glad you found something new you love in Well Fed. That’s awesome. There’s a meatball trick in Well Fed 2, that you might want to try next time you make the Czech meatballs. Enjoy!

  • Catherine says:

    I’ve made this 1-2 time a month, sometimes even weekly over the past year! It’s so tasty! I’ve tried it with 1/2 pork, 1/2 beef, but I think I prefer all swine. Add some sauteed cabbage (or more recently, Domestic Man’s Blaukraut), homemade mayo-mustard dip, raw kraut, mashed root veg or cauli-mash…ultimate comfort food for me. Just got WF2, I’m sure I’ll be adding some new recipes to the rotation!

  • Ramatoulie says:

    I made these meatballs to freeze for my whole30 and I’m currently eating my last ones [at this very moment, in some chicken broth with a dash of coconut aminos, and sugar snap peas] and I love them SO MUCH I had to come back to this post and comment. SO DELICIOUS.

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on Whole30-ing! Really glad you like this recipe — thanks for letting me know!

      • Ramatoulie says:

        This is my second whole30 and I am really enjoying it (although now I need to make more meatballs). I have been pretty paleo since my first whole30 last July/August, but I was spending my first Christmas back with my family in a few years so I had a few “ONLY EAT CANDY IT’S CHRISTMASTIME” moments and it was time to slay the sugar dragon again. Well Fed 2 should be arriving in the mail any minute!

  • Adie says:


    I am totally new to all this paleo stuff and am in the process of accumulating my strategy, recipes etc. ( yeah yeah typically left brained I know)Since I will be cooking for one can I freeze the cooked meatballs to last for a month or two?


    • Yes! You can freeze them in single-serving packs in a zip-lock freezer bag, then defrost in the fridge and reheat in a skillet/sauce pan with a few tablespoons of water. Just bring the water to a boil and let the meatballs steam until they’re hot.

  • MH says:

    Love your books and style!
    I’m going to a potluck and I will bake these in the oven and then have in the crockpot for serving. Do you think a can of sauerkraut in the crockpot is a good idea? Or just leave them plain?
    Thanks for your inspiration and passion for cooking:)

    • I think the sauerkraut is a great idea! And a little mustard on the side for dipping!

      You might try throwing 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds into the sauerkraut for a little extra yumminess.

  • MH says:

    Thank you for the quick response! I am not very confident with going off course from a recipe I appreciate the guidance.
    What sort of mustard? (There are so many varieties….Dijon, spicy brown,…)

  • MH says:

    Yum! Ok. One more question and I promise I will leave you alone. Can I substitute dried parsley for fresh?

  • MH says:

    haha! This is why I need you!! In my mind I thought ‘fresh must have more flavor than dried, so I should increase the dried amount’ Thank you so much!! I can’t wait, I will be the hit of the part-ta with this dish!! have a good weekend and thanks for all you do.

    • AKM says:

      Hi MH! Cooking rule of thumb, if I may…ALWAYS cut dried herbs to 1/3 of what’s called for for fresh. For example, if it’s 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, use 1 teaspoon. Of course, if you’re like me, you might “round up” anyway, though; I might choose to do a good heaping teaspoon there. I like a lot of spice! Hee hee.

      Also, I speak from experience that these meatballs are da bomb! In the winter, they are one of my biggest comfort foods. Granted, I often get lazy and I “deconstruct” them by keeping the meat and spices loose and sauteeing with bagged cole slaw mix cabbage (kind of like your sauerkraut suggestion, and I use that instead, too, if I have some on hand!). I leave out the egg, although you could certainly still throw it in, I think, because PROTEIN! I then top with the spicy brown mustard/mayo combo. Divine! Melissa seems to have a similar palate to mine, so I always know that her recipes are winners in my kitchen! 🙂

      • MH says:

        wow! great idea for the ‘deconstructed’ meatballs, I am adding that to my notes. I am just getting into this cooking thang and need some guidance. I really hated cooking in the past, but I am definitely changing and I owe a lot of it to Melissa’s Well Fed cookbook- I absolutely love how she does the ‘did you know that’ suggestions, I could NEVER see beyond a printed recipe. It’s brilliant.

        Thanks for the rule of thumb on the dried spices. I am going to write that on the front of my cookbook.

  • Jessica says:

    Hey there! I’m so excited to have all your meatball recipes in that round up. These are the first ones I’m going to attempt. I love that you can make a ton and freeze them. Would you recommend cooking them a little less and freezing, or all the way and freezing? Will they stay in tact if you warm in the oven? Also, how many does this recipe generally make?

    • If you’re doing them in the oven, bake for about 20 minutes, then let cool and freeze. To reheat, defrost in the fridge, then wrap in foil and reheat in the oven at 300F for 10-15 minutes. This recipe makes about 36 meatballs and the number of people it serves depends on their appetites. Figure about 3 people per pound unless they’re giants or athletes.

  • Weezie says:

    This is a weird enough departure from this recipe that it may not be of use to anyone, but I wanted to make this for a week’s worth of lunches and couldn’t secure any ground pork (WEIRD), so instead I doubled the recipe (as I’d always intended) and used two pounds of ground turkey, a pound of ground beef, and 12oz of bacon (which I chopped small, though I’m sure it’d be better if you ground it) and cooked them as burger patties. It was a delicious solution to an inexplicable lack of ground pork!

  • Joanne says:

    Can you recommend a sauce that goes well with this? God forbid I serve hubby and son meatballs with no sauce Haha. I saw tartare back in one of the other comments but I don’t have any capers or pickles on hand
    Btw this is one of my favorite paleo blogs, you rock \m/

  • Jenn says:

    Yet again, another great recipe! I wanted a quick To Go recipe I can just snack on or make a meal out of. Just tasted one after it cooled out of the oven and SO GOOD. I might have had a few more before I forced myself to walk away. Was going to freeze some but that might not be needed, haha! Thank you!

  • Maura Cooper says:

    I’m a Trained Chef and I must say, both eggs and “bread crumbs” or their equivalent are unnecessary in making meatballs and in fact contribute to their being hard. I’ve just made meatballs from ground veal which is tender to start with, and only added seasonings (s&p, granulated garlic powder, onion powder and dried thyme). I made each meatball 1.5 ounces raw weight so after cooking each one will be slightly over one ounce. I broiled them on a disposable ridged broiler tray down at least 8 inches from the heat, about 7 minutes on the top and then same after turning them upside down. They remain moist and tender!
    Your pork and caraway meatballs sound delicious but I question the efficacy of eggs and any kind of filler.
    Sincerely, Trained Chef Maura Cooper in Charlotte, North Carolina USA

    • Jiri says:

      With respect, dried bread crumps and eggs are part of the original Czech recipe…but Czech cuisine used to be “heavier” than modern world trends dictate. But as everything, it is just a mater of taste, which is strictly subjective 🙂

      to Melissa: in fact, in Czech we do not make meatballs but rather meatcakes…we simply mould it flat 🙂 In our language it is called “karbanátky” and lots of natives here sees American burgers as different kind of this. Not my case 🙂

  • Karen says:

    I can’t find ground pork so I will grind my own, what’s the best cut of pork to buy to do that?

    • You want a cut with a little fat in it, so either pork chops with some fat on the edges, or pork shoulder — or the best would be a combo of both: shoulder for marbling and leaner for the dose of protein.