I feel like sometimes meatloaf gets such a bad rap as being an over-cooked slab of ground beef with not much flavor at all. Speaking of, I feel like ground beef gets a bad rap in general, but honestly, I love ground beef even more than a fancy steak, but that’s a story for another time. Back to the meatloaf haters. I think the problem is that those naysayers have probably not tried a great meatloaf yet. That’s all about to change because these Meatloaf Meatballs are a fun take on such a classic dish, and one that I grew up eating often. But this isn’t anything like the meatloaf I had growing up (sorry mom). In writing those I had a vision of putting these meatloaf meatballs in some garlic bread rolls and turning the whole thing into garlic bread meatloaf meatball subs. WOW.
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, bell pepper, garlic, eggs, bread crumbs, ketchup and seasonings.
**Note: It might seem like meatloaf has a lot of ingredients, but they each add to that incredible flavor that is associated with meatloaf. They’re not all 100% necessary so if you don’t have one or two you can omit them. (Except for eggs and breadcrumbs, those you need to bind the meatloaf).**
Give it all a mix, either with your hands or a rubber spatula, until everything is evenly combined and distributed throughout the beef.
**Note: You don’t want to over-work the meat mixture because if you do you’ll end up with dry, tough meatballs and you don’t want that at all!**
Shape and roll into balls about the size of golf balls and place on the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes.
**Note: We’re not looking to fully cook the meatballs at this point. Just looking to start browning them, then we’ll add the sauce and continue cooking after that.**
In the meantime, in a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and seasonings until well-combined.
**Tip: If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or even balsamic would be great as well! You can make the sauce in advance and store it in the fridge until ready to use!**
Remove the meatballs from the oven and then spoon a bit of the sauce over each meatball, making sure the tops are evenly coated in sauce. Return the pan to the oven and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.
I served these meatballs with garlic mashed potatoes because I love meatloaf and mashed potatoes together. While I didn’t include the recipe for the potatoes below, I’ll write it here just in case you’d like it.
**Note: Peel (or don’t) a pound of Russet potatoes and dice. Place in a pot with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender and then drain and return to the pot. Mash with 5 tablespoons butter, 1 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 4 to 6 roasted garlic cloves. Mash until smooth and give it a taste, adjusting seasoning as needed.**
Remove the meatballs from the oven and allow them to cool slightly before serving. Just as an FYI, you could totally use this recipe to make a classically shaped meatloaf. Place the meat mixture in a greased loaf pan and pat down. Bake for 40 minutes, top with sauce and then bake another 20 minutes.
Again, I like to serve them with mashed potatoes or even roasted potatoes would be great as well. And either a salad or steamed vegetables. I like steamed broccoli but sautéed peas would be great too!
If you’ve got a craving for meatloaf but don’t have the time to wait for an entire loaf to cook, turn it into meatballs instead and you’ll cut the cooking time in half. Serve with either homemade or store-bought sides to make a quick and easy weeknight dinner that you’ll get on the table in no time. If you make them, let me know what you think below! Or share an image on Instagram (@jonjon33) and tag me! Stay safe, my friends!
- 2 pounds ground beef (85% or 90% lean)
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup Panko or plain bread crumbs
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¾ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease lightly with cooking spray, set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the meatloaf ingredients and mix until evenly incorporated. You don't want to over-mix the meat at this point or you'll end up with dry tough meatballs. Shape and roll into balls about the size of golf balls and place on the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, mix together all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until well-combined. Remove the meatballs from the oven and then spoon a bit of the sauce over each meatball, making sure the tops are evenly coated in sauce. Return the pan to the oven and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.
- Serve with mashed potatoes (or roasted potatoes) and your choice of steamed vegetable or salad. I like steamed broccoli, but sautéed peas would be great too! Enjoy!