MMM: Basic Meatballs


Today’s recipe is courtesy of Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry. I think March Meatball Madness is proving that with the addition of spices, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit, ground beef is open to imaginative combinations. But sometimes a classic is just what you need. Elana’s given us a simple, pure rendition of meatball magic.

This recipe is part of March Meatball Madness; get all the recipes right here.

Elana’s Basic Meatballs

Serves 2-4 | Whole30 compliant

We have Basic Meatballs for dinner on an almost weekly basis. They are a teenage approved favorite that pairs super well with spaghetti squash and a basic marinara — we call it Paleo Italian night. I also make these Basic Meatballs for my boys and their friends after school and stick toothpicks in them to create a fun snack that is chock full of healthy animal protein.

These meatballs are easy enough to throw together. All you really need is a large bowl and your hands. In terms of ingredients, if you can’t find shallots, use a couple of tablespoons of minced onion instead. And on a final note, I began adding baking soda to my meatballs after reading all of the amazing tips and tricks in Well Fed 2, and I have found that it makes the meatballs just a bit lighter and crispier! — Elana

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • fat of choice (ghee, coconut oil, lard, etc.) for sautéeing


In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, and shallot. Mix in tomato paste, mustard, coconut flour, salt, pepper, and baking soda


Use a 1/4-cup scoop to form meatballs.


Heat fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the meatballs in batches until cooked through and brown on all sides. Don’t crowd the pan!


Serve with marinara sauce over spaghetti squash noodles, or alone as finger food.


Connect with Elana Amsterdam

Wellness expert and gluten-free guru Elana Amsterdam is the New York Times bestselling author of the book Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry, and founder of the blog Elana’s Pantry, where she shares simple, healthy recipes and lifestyle advice.


Elana has written for Parents, Shape Magazine, and Delicious Living and has been featured in a variety of media outlets including Fortune Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News Live. Her other books include The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook (Random House 2009) named one of the “Best Cookbooks of the Year” by The Denver Post, and Gluten-Free Cupcakes (Random House 2011), a tome of enticing, yet healthy desserts.

Elana has a BA in history from Columbia University. She now lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband of 18 years and her two teenage sons.

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  • mdv says:

    Just want to let you know that the link to “get all the recipes” is going to an error page saying it does not exist.

  • Lauren says:

    Can I just cook these in the oven?

  • Lauren says:

    I usually brown my meatballs in the oven then throw them in a pot with sauce to cook a little longer

  • Mimi says:

    I used an ice cream scoop, then shaped them into sliders. Lettuce wrapped around them with a bit of goat cheese thrown on…so good!

  • Summer says:

    I got Leeks in my co-op bin this week. Do you think they would work as a substitute for the shallots?

  • Toni says:

    Oh my gosh, these are the best meatballs ever. I’m making it into a meatloaf for my birthday dinner tomorrow night 😀 and I’m going to serve it with your Kickass Ketchup which my daughter and I made last night. so yummy.

  • V says:

    Mmmm so good! Thanks again mel!

  • Jenn says:

    Made these last night and they were so easy! Baked them in the oven instead of pan fried b/c I was just way too lazy and the oven is an easier clean for me 🙂 Broiled then at the very end to get the tops crispy. Liked the addition of the baking soda and will have to do this to all my meatball recipes!

  • sade says:

    can you use minced dried onions?

  • KarraLynn says:

    I’m new to coconut flour (on day 10 of a whole30!), and it smells so sickly sweet and… coconutty to me (image that). Does the sweetness or flavor come out at all once the meatballs are cooked? Would I be okay using almond flour instead? Thank you!

  • Michelle S says:

    I made these today and they’re amazing! I did not alter the ingredients except: I quadrupled the recipe to see how they’d freeze and replaced one pound of beef with ground lamb (3:1 beef to lamb). I also chose to bake them instead of frying to save some time (and also because I don’t have a vent over my stove, so frying oil odors hang in the air).

    The meatballs came out tender and tasty with a delicately crispy exterior. They have a lighter texture than my old meatball recipe and were plenty moist without being soggy or heavy. The eggs and coconut flour work as perfection as binders – you really don’t need breadcrumbs!

    Also to the woman who didn’t care for the smell of coconut flour and hesitated to add it to her meatballs: I was unable to taste or smell any trace of coconut or sweetness at all in the cooked meatballs. They also didn’t have that grainy, soggy texture that adding ground nut meals sometimes have. You might try the coconut flour.

    When I make this recipe again (and I will, as I predict this big batch won’t last long), I may cut back a wee bit on the dijon mustard and try adding a bit of grated parmesan.

    Anyhow, this recipe is fantastic! Thanks, Melissa!

  • Kristen says:

    I’ve made these meatballs 3 or 4 times now and some how they get better every time. What a great recipe! The best variation I’ve had so far is doubling the recipe, using 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb ground pork, I use a dough scoop (2 tbs size) to scoop the meat and then roll them in my hands to make them more consistent and bake them at 400 for 12 minutes. They’re perfect!

  • Kristie says:

    I’m hoping they will work without the baking soda bc I just don’t have any right now and only have a limited time to cook! Crossing my fingers. Everything else I’ve made from here is delicious. Six months later, I’m still addicted to Zucchini Soup! Thanks Melissa!!!!

  • Cathy says:

    Made Elana’s meatballs topped with Mel’s kickass catsup last night. Absolutely delicious! Served w/ velvety butternut squash and the berries and cream recipe in your book. Love your recipes, Melissa! Have both of your cookbooks, and they have made doing Whole 30 and Paleo wonderfully satisfying. We are eating like kings!

  • Susan says:

    My daughter is allergic to egg, what can I use as a replacement?

    • You can omit the eggs and they’ll be fine. If you want to add something else to add leavening to lighten them up a bit, you can mix 2 tablespoons water + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and add that to the meat dough. That will make them a little airier — but you’ll be fine if you just skip the egg, too.

  • Eryn says:

    Late to the party on this one but I have them in the oven right now and can’t wait to see how they turn out! They smell amazing!!