Healthy Recipe: Baked Spinach Meatballs


Editors Note: This blog was originally posted in 2012. We updated and reposted, due to popular demand. Enjoy!

Not a fan of spinach? No worries. You may not even taste it in this dish. Which, btw, features one of my favs – meatballs. They’re just so yummy.

Sometimes I gently fry them in canola oil, sometimes I bake them. It doesn’t really matter taste-wise as I always drop them into a bubbling pot of tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, a pork chop or other piece of meat or chicken, a good dose of garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and a bay leaf or two. In other words, spaghetti sauce. Its yumminess blends with that of the meatballs, keeping them moist and flavorful.

This recipe for spinach meatballs intrigues me. I’m sure I don’t have to go on about the nutritious punch you get from spinach. You also get a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids with this recipe because it features grass-fed beef, an important choice when you’re interested in clean eating for healthy weight loss to take you to your natural, healthy weight.

It brings to mind, however, a recent op-ed piece I read on the “myth of sustainable meat.” There are no simple answers. (Update: See Joel Salatin’s response, in which he refutes many of the claims in the op-ed. Salatin is a sustainable farmer mentioned in it.)

Of course, you can use regular beef, but the nutritionist in me encourages otherwise. She also encourages you to enjoy!

Baked Spinach Meatballs Recipe:


  • 1 lb. grass fed ground beef 85% lean
  • 2 c. packed of raw spinach, chopped
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 c. fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and grease it with a little bit of oil, so the balls don’t stick.
  3. Place the meat in a medium bowl. In a food processor add the onion and pulse until minced, then add to the meat.
  4. Place the spinach in the same food processor (no need to clean out) and pulse until chopped, add to the meat bowl.
  5. Add the salt, spices, and breadcrumbs.
  6. Mix thoroughly with your hands, fully integrating all the ingredients without over mixing the meat.
  7. Form into 1-inch size balls and line on the baking sheet. (This is when I would start boiling the water for the pasta.) Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and flip balls. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Enjoy on a sub with mozzarella, on a salad or atop whole wheat spaghetti with the best ever tomato sauce.

If you’re gluten-sensitive, rice pasta is a great alternative to regular pasta. I like the Tinkyada brand. Also, Against the Grain, a Vermont company that makes a great gluten-free baguette you can use for a sub sandwich. I also like to use gluten-free oats instead of breadcrumbs to make meatballs. I soak them in a bit of milk first to soften and add moisture; you can use soy or almond milk or even a broth if you are sensitive to dairy.

Thanks to The Talking Kitchen for this recipe, which btw, I found via the great website Healthy Aperture, a food photo sharing site founded by two registered dietitians.

Spinach meatball photo and recipe reprinted with permission from and

6 responses to “Healthy Recipe: Baked Spinach Meatballs”

  1. Marsha says:

    Thanks, Kirsten! That’s good info that warrants an update on the post.

  2. Beth says:

    Can you use a blender instead?

    • Marsha Hudnall says:

      Beth, you can try it but sometimes a blender doesn’t work as well as a food processor. In my experience, you need more liquid in a blender to chop things adequately.

  3. Dana Pelletier says:

    This looks awesome! I’ll leave out the pasta since there’s too many carbs, and gluten. I saw the alternatives you offered, thank you! Pesto would be great as well.

  4. roro says:

    does anyone know how long these are baked for? flip after how many minutes? and the temperature setting?

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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