If you are looking for a new family dinner this Keto Meatball Casserole should be it. Juicy, flavorful meatballs baked until golden and then covered with tomato sauce and cheese. My low carb Meatball Parmesan Casserole was a hit with my family and should be a hit with yours.
When I was in college I was still a vegetarian. One of my favorite meals from the dining hall takeout was a vegetarian Italian meatball parmesan sub. I have no idea what those "meat"balls were made of, and I probably don't want to know, but it was terriffic.
It was smothered in tomato sauce and topped with provolone. I'd look forward to Tuesdays so I could get dining hall take-out and my favorite meatball parmesan sub. Almost fifteen years later that is the only dining hall food I recall and that is my inspiration for my cheesy meatball casserole.
This casserole with meatballs was a perfect substitute. I could eat this Italian meatball casserole recipe once a week for the rest of my life and never get sick of it. And my whole family would agree. We enjoy it with a side salad, vegetables, or any of the main low carb pasta options out there such as palm noodles and zoodles. This easy family dinner is also low carb, gluten-free, grain-free, and a THM S recipe.
To make this meatball casserole you only need a handful of common ingredients:
Ground Meat - I typically use ground turkey but ground beef, ground pork, or ground chicken work as well.
Ground Sausage - I use sweet Italian sausage but hot Italian sausage is fine or a combination of the two. If you are doing low carb or keto just watch for added sugar in the sausage.
Egg - The egg is the binder in this in addition to the grated parmesan cheese.
Shredded Zucchini - You can't taste it and it gives a lot of moisture to the meatballs.
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese - You can also use a blend of Italian cheese.
Keto Marinara Sauce - I like to make my own but any pasta sauce or tomato sauce without added sugar is fine.
Spices - I prefer to use dried onion, garlic, and basil in these. You can use Italian seasoning in place of the basil if you prefer the flavor of that.
Salt & Pepper
How to make a Keto Meatball Casserole
Step One: I just dump all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix it by hand. In the photo above you can see all the different layered ingredients for the low carb meatballs in my meatball parmesan. For a bowl of raw meat, it looks pretty nice.
Step Two: Next, scoop the meatballs. You should end up with 24 meatballs. Bake in a baking dish coated with cooking spray until they are almost completely cooked. I shoot for 150-155 on my meat thermometer.
Step Three: Top with sauce and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and finish baking. For the best golden brown cheese on top broil the low carb meatball casserole for 2-3 minutes, watching it carefully.
Expert Tip - you can make the Italian meatballs ahead of time, cook until fully cooked, and then freeze the cooked meatballs in a freezer bag. Just place the frozen meatballs in the casserole dish, bake until thawed, and then top with the sauce and cheese. This easy prep idea is always a perfect meal on busy weeknights. I don't meal prep much but I do do this.
Leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Fresh Basil - If you have fresh basil feel free to mix some into the ground meat mixture, add some to the marinara, or sprinkle on top after baking.
Spices - Swap the dried minced onion and garlic for onion powder and garlic powder, or sub in Italian seasoning.
What should I serve with meatball casserole?
Our family favorite ways to serve this is on top of zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. For any non-keto eaters you can serve with garlic bread or a side of al dente pasta.
Alternatively, you can serve with a side of roasted broccoli or green beans or a green salad.
A Cookie Scoop for Meatballs?
Yup! Here the meatballs are after forming them. I use a large cookie scoop to simplify the process. Since there is no need to get up to your elbows in raw meat this is a great task to get the kids involved in. Mine are pros at scooping low carb meatballs by now. Make sure to also check out the video below.
Do I Have to use Zucchini?
That hidden zucchini in my juicy meatballs is my sneaky mom favorite addition. My kids don't even notice it's in there. If you really want to hide it you can peel the green skin off first.
If you would like to substitute another veggie for the zucchini I would recommend chopped spinach. You can also just leave the green stuff out and serve this with some Caesar salad, green beans, or roasted broccoli. The low carb meatball parmesan will still work.
Can I Freeze Keto Meatballs?
Absolutely! This easy meatball recipe also freezes really well! Go ahead and make a double batch and then next time you want an easy Meatball Casserole just thaw, dump into the baking dish, and cover with sauce and cheese. Meatball Parmesan in a jiffy!
I love to always have a bag of low carb homemade meatballs in the freezer for nights that I don't want to cook. Those and frozen taco meat have saved us from spending too much money on take-out more than once.
What Casserole Dish Should I Use?
I need to give a little shout out to the Emile Henry ceramic company for this beautiful casserole dish. I absolutely love it. It is gorgeous, distributed the heat evenly for this casserole, and washed up in a cinch.
This sausage parmigiana is also a great choice if you need more dinner recipes! Or for a vegetarian version sub in cauliflower and try my Cauliflower Parmesan.
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- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 lb Italian sausage
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- ⅓ cup grated or shredded parmesan
- 1 shredded zucchini about 1 cup
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoon dried minced onion
- 2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
- 2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 8 oz shredded cheese (I used a two cheese pizza blend of mozzarella and provolone)
- Preheat oven to 400. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray
- Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and mix thoroughly. Make about 24 meatballs and put them in the casserole dish.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Carefully drain the cooking liquid from the casserole dish.
- Top with the sauce and cheese. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Optional: I broiled for 3-4 minutes at the end to toast the cheese. Watch it carefully if you put it under the broiler. The cheese can burn easily.
Originally Published September 23, 2016. Revised and Republished April 24, 2023.
How many. ETbal,s are in a serving? I couldain’t find that anywhere.
3. It says at the top there are 8 servings and in the directions that this makes 24 meatballs. Enjoy!
Janet S says
Loved this recipe, though I made it with a few changes the two times I made it. (Comments on amounts are per recipe.) I used 1 lb beef and 1 lb pork, and I used fresh onion, garlic, and basil. I made one recipe with the basil, and in one I substituted fresh parsley for basil. I also added 1/2 tsp black pepper to each recipe, and sprinkled more black pepper over the top just before putting in the oven.
I used only 2 Tbsp of fresh onion. Any more would be difficult to incorporate. I used about 2/3 cup of shredded zucchini. That seemed to be plenty.
I used an open-style ice cream scoop to form the 28 meatballs and cooked them for 35 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 165 degF, then added the Rao's sauce and a little less than 2 cups of mozzarella on top (10 more minutes in oven). We each ate about 6, so this recipe would feed 4 to 5 people.
My house smelled like a fancy Italian restaurant! Love that this is low carb. We could eat it once a week!
Can you make this in an instant pot?
Yes, use the instructions here: https://joyfilledeats.com/instant-pot-meatballs
When freezing, do you cook for the 30 minutes first, freeze, then basically heat them up with the sauce? Or do you freeze before baking?
I cook the meatballs first although I'm sure the other method would work too.
Omg so good. I had Chorizo on hand, so I used a lb of beef Chorizo and a lb of ground beef. Chopped up zucchini super fine and it made almost 3 cups! But you’d never even know it was in there. TONS OF LEFTOVERS! We’re not actually doing keto so I served mashed potatoes on the side and will use the leftover meatballs on spaghetti tomorrow. Thank you for this recipe!!
Spectacular! I made the recipe along with the keto marinara with only the minor modification of using ground chicken and mild italian chicken sausage and it was fantastic! I don't usually care for lasagna, or other marinara heavy italian casseroles, but I do make them from time to time to keep the hubby and kids happy. But, I ate this up! The ground chicken made it lighter, the marinara was on point and even though I was a little upset because the cheese had gotten a little darker than I'd like, to my suprise the cheese had developed this new york style pizza taste to it that was phenomenal. I came here just to say thank you for publishing this recipe. Its so simple and so delicious!
Finally made these and they're a hit even with the 10 yr old, had seconds and no clue about the zucchini. I only had hamburger meat on hand and my zucchini made about 2 cups.. Can't wait to have more tomorrow. Might roast some broccoli as a side.
How can I make this so it doesn't have as much sodium? Or what is the serving size? Hoping to give this to my 1 year old - but the sodium 😐
A serving is 3 meatballs. You can omit the 1 tsp added salt. The rest of the sodium is from the cheese.
These were delicious. I used beef and sausage. My husband hates zucchini but loved these. Thanks for this super easy recipe. I froze half of them since it is just the two of us.
What do you use to shred the zucchini with?
I normally shred it in my food processor but you can use any coarse cheese grater.
Marina Marcus says
These meatballs are genius! So simple, fast to throw together and delicious. My husband and I don't like sausage so I made them with ground chicken and ground turkey instead and they turned out fantastic. Adding to my rotation for sure! Thank you for the recipe! Can't wait to have leftovers for dinner tonight.
Definitely a keeper!
Do you 'brown' the meatballs in a pan before putting them in the casserole and baking? can't wait to try this tonight!! 🙂
Nope! I try to keep things simple 🙂
Deb B says
I love this recipe! Made it tonight for dinner. I only had grass fed beef (1.3 lbs) and turkey (1 lb), so I used that. Made 35 smaller meatballs. I baked them in the oven, removed them (and drained the liquid off) and browned the meatballs in a pan on the stove, then returned to the casserole dish, added the sauce and cheese, then baked for the remainder. They were awesome! Everyone loved them and no one had a clue about the zucchini! I'm freezing the left overs so I can enjoy the left overs next week. YUM!
I've been trying to email this recipe to myself but when I click on the "envelope" nothing happens.
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Karen Brucia says
Thank you! Can you please tell me what the serving size is?
The nutrition facts are for 3 meatballs with sauce and cheese.
How many meatballs does it make total
24. It says it in the instructions.
Oops I missed that thanks
Cooked these tonight, my family’s comments where, you are kicking goals with this dish, delicious
I am wondering if I could freeze some before cooking ? ( raw mixture )
I haven't tried freezing these meatballs raw but it should work.
Stephanie Blythman says
In her write up section of this recipe she actually says she freezes some for future meals to cut down on her take out costs. It's long but good reading for getting all the info you need
This is excellent. Thank you!
My husband and I love these meatballs. It is on my meal rotation for sure!!! Makes lots of meatballs (I made 22 with the recipe) that I can use for lunches or another meal later in the week.
This was amazing! I didn't use the zucchini (I don't like it) and it's still was so yummy. My husband ask me to make sure it's in my keto meal rotation.
Mom of Two says
You can’t taste the zucchini. I also don’t like zucchini, but leave it in because it makes the meatballs so much more moist.
These are delicious! Used half turkey/ground beef combination. My husband didn’t even notice the zucchini. Next time I’ll make some “zoodles” to go with them!