Grain-Free Meatballs (Whole30 Friendly!)

Post-vacation and mid-summer, I love to spend a few weeks being grain-free. It helps me get back on track, significantly reduce bloat from wine and ice cream, heal my gut from the higher likelihood of gluten cross-contamination from eating out more, and—probably my favorite benefit—clears my brain fog (which is my #1 symptom of Celiac Disease.) Grain-free does not necessarily mean keto or Whole30 though, but some of my recipes naturally end up being friendly for those following that lifestyle.

While we were on vacation, my 4 year-old surprised us by ordering spaghetti and meatballs at an Italian restaurant (over his usual staple of pizza and chicken fingers!) I rarely make that, so it inspired me to come up with my own recipe once we got home.

Meatballs require a binder to keep it in a ball form by egg and, traditionally, bread crumbs. The few times I’ve made meatballs (or meatloaf) in the past, I use ground oats. But this time I wanted to find another option that was not only grain-free, but brought more nutritional benefits—like fiber!—to the mix as well. Enter ground flaxseed meal!

Ground flaxseed meal is chock full of omega-3s, fiber, and lignans. It has the consistency of a flour and has a slight nutty taste.

Grain-Free Meatballs

Preheat oven to 350


  • 1 lb ground beef/pork/veal mix (sometimes called “meatloaf mix”)
  • 2T ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce (sugar free; like Rao Tomato & Basil Sauce)
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • Spices to taste: oregano, sea salt & pepper

Kitchen Tools:

  • 1 large cast iron skillet (or another skillet that is oven-safe)
  • 1 medium-sized bowl
  • Ice Cream Scoop (optional)
  • Pair of tongs (or something else to flip the meatballs)


  1. Heat skillet on medium, and add 1T EVOO, onion and garlic until onion is translucent.
  2. In medium sized bowl, add meat, flaxseed, egg and spices. Stir well.
  3. Add sauteed onion and garlic to meat mixture, and add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce.
  4. Add 1T EVOO and remaining tomato sauce to skillet.
  5. Make da meatballs! I use an ice cream scoop, so my meatballs are about 2.5-3T big. Evenly space around the pan. This recipe yields 20 meatballs for me.
  6. Let cook on stove top for 3 minutes. With the tongs, flip each meatball and cook for another 3 minutes.
  7. Place is pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.
  8. Enjoy! Good on their own or over zoodles or cauliflower rice!

According to LoseIt, each meatball is: 59 calories/4g fat/0.9g carb/4.5g protein

stove-top meatballs

Grain-Free Meatballs over Zoodles

Meridith Oram
Meridith Oram is an ACE-Certified Health Coach at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image. She is also the creator of Gain Wellness, a 5-week behavioral change program to unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.

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