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Okay, hold up. These EPIC Whole30 Baked Meatballs are LIT, y’all.

EPIC Whole30 Baked Meatballs

Growing up, my Italian mother used to make some Meatballs al Forno (aka baked meatballs) that were insanely delicious. They had ricotta inside for a nice, creamy touch and they were just insanely good. I wanted to give her meatballs a little Whole30/Paleo/Dairy-free/Grain-free makeover and I blew my own mind with this recipe! 

EPIC Whole30 Baked Meatballs

I am seriously obsessed with how these turned out and they couldn’t be easier to make. I tried a new hack to give the texture of the meatballs the ricotta effect that my mom’s had. I pulsed up cashews, basil and garlic in the food processor to make a pesto-like situation to put in the filling of the meatballs. The cashews gave the perfect texture to my meatballs and the basil obviously added a vibrant, explosive flavor taking my meatballs to the status of, well, EPIC. 

Other than quickly processing up the cashews, the rest of this recipe is rather simple. Make the meatballs, throw them in a baking dish and bake them at a higher temperature until browned, then smother them in sauce, reduce the heat in the oven and let them cook lower and slower until tender and delicious!

You can serve these however you like. Over pasta, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or I even love them solo with a big Whole30 Caesar salad on the side. 

EPIC Whole30 Baked Meatballs

These EPIC Whole30 Baked Meatballs make me proud and I hope you love them as much as I do. And if you do, these will be in my new book, “The Comfortable Kitchen,” which will be released on December 28th! Learn more about the book and preorder your copy here.


YouTube video
epic whole30 baked meatballs
4.99 from 54 votes


Delicious, Grain-free, Gluten-Free, and Whole30 approved meatballs baked to perfection!
Servings: 6


  • 1 cup fresh basil packed (plus more for serving)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup cashews unroasted and unsalted
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 strips of no sugar added bacon finely diced (I like Applegate)
  • 1 pound ground beef 85 percent lean
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 large eggs whisked
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 32oz jar marinara (I like Rao’s)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley for serving


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • In a food processor or blender, add the basil and garlic. Turn on and process until finely chopped, 15 to 20 seconds. Add the cashews and lemon zest and process until cashews are finely chopped. It should have a crumbly, dough-like consistency.
  • Transfer the cashew-basil mixture to a large mixing bowl, add the bacon, ground beef, ground pork, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, eggs, and arrowroot flour. Using clean hands, mix the meat until well combined.
  • In a 9×12 baking dish, use a paper towel to evenly coat the bottom of the dish with olive oil.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out meat mixture and form into 2-inch round balls. Place meatballs in baking dish and repeat until all meatballs are formed and in a single layer in the baking dish. (It makes approximately 17 meatballs).
  • Transfer dish to oven and cook, uncovered, until the meatballs are browned, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  • Pour marinara evenly over meatballs.
  • Return meatballs to the oven and continue to bake, uncovered, until the meatballs are tender and the sauce is very hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and basil.
  • Serve as desired and enjoy!


FREEZING NOTES: For freezing, I like to go all the way to step 8. After you’ve browned the meatballs + poured the marinara over the meatballs. Let cool completely and freeze. When ready to bake. Thaw, then pop into the oven at 325 and bake, uncovered, until the meatballs are tender, and the sauce is hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes. 


Serving: 1g, Calories: 688kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 39g, Fat: 52g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 24g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 201mg, Sodium: 1759mg, Potassium: 1211mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 1342IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 90mg, Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Servings: 6
Calories: 688

Welcome! I’m Alex.

I’m a food lover sharing healthy, simple, delicious, recipes from my kitchen to yours. Here you’ll find lots of Whole30, lots of healthy, and a little indulgence here and there because…it’s all about balance y’all!

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Recipe Rating


    1. 5 stars
      We have a cashew allergy in the family, but another on the paleo diet. Is there an alternative to cashew that you’d recommend but would also keep the recipe grain and dairy free? This recipe has been a favorite in our house but we just found out that our baby has a cashew allergy the last time I made this!

      1. Hi! You could swap in pine nuts instead, but may be best to roughly chop versus pulse in the food processor as they could get too creamy/paste-like and not have the same crumbly texture. Let us know how they turn out!

  1. 5 stars
    I recently made these for my dad who was recently diagnosed with cancer. I froze them after adding sauce and before baking the second time. He said they’re the best meatballs he’s ever had! I had to try for myself and I 100% agree! These will for sure be a staple here. So easy, so good, and feeds a crowd!

  2. 5 stars
    These are SUCH a staple in our house & I’m making them for the first time this year tonight! The ricotta like texture seriously elevates these meatballs & how easy these are to prep is a game changer. 10/10 recommend!!

  3. 5 stars
    L O V E these meatballs! My only change is cooking the bacon just the tiniest bit bc the raw bacon clumps up when chopping and is hard to encorporate evenly with the ground meats. L O V E

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Sorry I am not an expert for egg substitutes, but I looked into best alternatives online and think that 1 tbsp Mayo would be good in substitute.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this as close as I could with ingredients I had on hand (ie subbed garlic power and basil paste). Came out AMAZING!! So happy with how they came out I am going to make a double batch next time (without substitutes, I’ll be more prepared next time) and freeze. My new go-to for meatballs. Loved them, I would recommend these even if you’re not on Whole30 or needing for other dietary needs.
    Highly recommend.

  5. 5 stars
    How much garlic is too much garlic? I’d like to make my own marinara for these, or use Rao’s roasted garlic one- should I scale any of the garlic in the recipe to avoid it taking over? I’m actually doing these for Christmas Eve…just like my grandmother would for children not interested in a more refined Italian holiday dinner fare. Cheers!

  6. 5 stars
    Wow! I made these today. I baked them without the sauce so I could freeze them individually. I cooked them slightly longer without any sauce and then set them individually on a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan. Once cooled I put them in the fridge and then placed them in a freezer bag. I held out two and slowly simmered them in Raos Tomato Basil sauce. Wow! Definitely will be on my repeat list!