What’s better than a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs? Not much–but if you’re on a keto diet or practicing a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) lifestyle, eating pasta, sauce and bread isn’t compatible.
A classic meatball usually contains breadcrumbs and other ingredients that increase the carbohydrate count. Add in pasta, and your carbs can skyrocket to over 50 grams per serving. The keto diet typically calls for about 20 grams of carbs per day, making your classic homemade dinner almost impossible to eat.
…Unless you make these delicious keto meatballs.
By omitting breadcrumbs and adjusting the basic ingredients, you can quickly make keto-friendly meatballs that taste amazing and don’t destroy your macros. Even more, they’re a simple dish to make in batches so you can enjoy them at lunch and dinner, or share for a party. Add some zoodles (zucchini noodles) or shirataki noodles, and you’ve recreated a delicious dinner classic with a fraction of the carbs.
Making keto meatballs is simple, but it’s important to use high-quality ingredients to give you the best results packed with nutrition.
Quality Ingredients Make the Best Keto Meatballs
Not only do quality ingredients taste better, they may provide added benefits like elevated vitamins and minerals, and higher-quality fats, which are essential on a keto diet.
The foundation of a basic meatball is quite simple: meat, egg, cheese, seasoning.
When adapting this favorite for a keto diet, you have to keep macros and nutrition in mind. Any opportunity to increase nutrient density is important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Before you make your keto meatballs, check out these tips for buying the best ingredients.
Grass-Fed Beef Offers Health Benefits
Beef is the typical base for any meatball, including a keto meatball; you may even add pork for added flavor! The type of meat you choose really does make a difference, though.
One of the most common questions is to use regular beef or grass-fed? To get the most from your keto meatball recipe, we suggest using organic, grass-fed, or grass-finished beef.
The USDA defines grass-fed beef as “cattle that were only (100%) fed grass (forage) after being weaned from their mother’s milk. The diet must be derived solely from forage, and animals cannot be fed grain or grain by-products and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season until slaughter.” Grass finished means there was never any other supplemental diet offered other than foraged grass.
A few of the potential benefits of grass-fed beef are:
- May be better for the planet: optimal soil health, helps prevent flooding and drought, lower CO2 emissions
- Higher concentration of antioxidants, vitamins and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
- Good source of omega-3 fats
The Best Cheese for Keto Meatballs
Cheese is permitted on a keto diet...but be careful not to take that to mean that all cheese is created equal. Many cheeses contain additives and colors that may not be a positive contribution to a keto diet.
Here are a few things to look for when using cheese in your keto meatball recipe, and other keto dishes:
- Not pasteurized: May introduce good bacteria to your gut
- Not homogenized:Makes for richer, tastier milk, cream and cheeses
- Organic:Less exposure to chemical additives or pesticides used on plants eaten by cows
- Grass fed:Nutrient dense provides and higher-quality fat and protein source
In addition to these tips for choosing cheese, here a few types of cheese that may provide the most benefits to you while on the keto diet, and for use in keto meatballs:
- Whole-milk mozzarella
The combination of rich flavor, good bacteria and low carbs in these cheeses make them a perfect addition to your keto diet.
Add Flavor with Herbs
A great way to add flavor to any keto dish is to add herbs and spices. Some have more carbohydrates than others, so it’s important to check the carbs in both dried and fresh herbs and spices before adding to your keto meatballs.
Dried herbs have more concentrated flavor making them a great way to boost flavor in a tiny amount, without adding carbs, sugars or additives. Here are some great dried herbs to try with lower carb counts:
Fresh herbs are those that have not been cooked or dried. They typically have fewer carbs than their dried counterparts but need a larger amount to impart flavor. If you’re making an Italian keto meatball, fresh basil and parsley are great options. If you’re adding an Asian flare to your keto meatball recipe, cilantro is a tasty addition.
Keto-Friendly "Noodles" Make It a Meal
Not much is more satisfying than a big bowl of pasta, but on a keto diet, pasta won’t work. Have no fear! Try these easy alternatives to get all the satisfaction of noodles without all the carbs:
- Zucchini noodles (zoodles): 1 zucchini has about 6 grams of carbs
- Shirataki noodles (made from Japanese konjac yam): 1 serving of shirataki has about 1 gram of carbs
Remember, if you cook your noodles or add sauce, it may alter the carbohydrates and other macros. Be mindful of what you add and how you prepare your pasta.
Batch Cook for Easy Weekly Meals
When on a keto diet, it’s helpful to have meals ready to go so you’re not tempted to grab something loaded with sugar or unhealthy fats. Batch cooking is a time investment up front, but a time saver during the week, and perfect for a keto diet.
If you’re making a large batch of keto meatballs in advance, try freezing them. They are good in the freezer for three to four months. If refrigerating, make sure your use them within three days.
Quick Keto Meatball Recipe
Here it is, your basic keto meatball recipe! Of course, it’s anything but basic tasting, but you can use this as a foundation and add different spices and herbs to your liking.
1 lb grass-fed ground beef (can also combine with ground pork for added flavor)
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste
1 yellow onion, diced (optional)
Source: adapted from Taste of Home Keto Meatballs and Sauce
Keto Alfredo Cream Pasta Sauce
Adding sauce is delicious but remember that it does add more carbs. If you’re making a sauce, a sweeter sauce, like tomato sauce, will have more carbs. Sauces that are cream based may have a lower carb count. Try this adaptation of a cream sauce on your keto meatballs.
1 tbsp of oil or ghee (clarified butter)
4–6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups organic heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Seasoning to taste
Nutmeg (optional, but a great way to mimic the flavor of a béchamel sauce!)
Source: Adapted from Wholesome Yum
Boost Nutrition with KetoLiving™ from NaturesPlus
These keto meatballs are already nutritious! But if you want keto-friendly nutritional insurance, turn to KetoLiving Daily Multivitamin Capsules; to add healthy collagen to your recipes, use KetoLiving Collagen Powder. And you can always whip up a nutrient-rich shake tailored to your keto lifestyle with KetoLiving LCHF Vanilla Shake and KetoLiving LCHF Chocolate Shake.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.