My recipe for Microwave Meatballs fits into the category of “life hacks” because you have a hearty meal ready in 15 minutes! Try adding my Microwave Meatballs to spaghetti, zoodles, pizza toppings or serve as an appetizer.
The origin of meatballs is uncertain and is likely to have emerged independently around the world. Records show the Persians have one of the oldest records of kofta, who then passed it to the Arabs. Kofta is a dish of minced/ground beef, chicken pork or lamb, mixed with mashed lentils, rice or bulgur.
Nearly every major culture has its own version of a meatball––Spanish albondigas, Chinese lion’s heads, South African skilpedjies, and Dutch bitterballen. Meatballs have a global presence because they are inexpensive, easy and delicious. Different cultures use the meats, spices, herbs, and/or grains that are locally available to make a meaty ball of goodness. With my recipe for Microwave Meatballs I encourage you to apply whatever global flavors you like!
Any blend of ingredients can be used to make my Microwave Meatballs. Follow my simple steps to create your own custom Microwave Meatballs recipe. Once you understand the basic ratio of ingredients (listed in the recipe below) you can adjust to your taste and the ingredients you have available. The main component is ground meat; choose your favorite or use a blend, which is typically known as a meatloaf mix. Meatloaf mix is usually veal, pork and beef.
Whatever meat or meat blend that you like I recommend using 93% lean . This means the meat (blend) has 7% fat. You can cut the amount of meat you use by adding a grain like quinoa or rice and also lentils. Lentils are a legume and are a great protein source!
Next, we need moisture, and because we are cooking in the microwave we need more liquid than with baked or pan-fried meatballs. Milk will provide the needed moisture, if you avoid dairy you can try a dairy-free milk such as coconut or oat milk. I have never tried using a dairy-free milk, so if you do please share in the comments!
Next, we need a binder; eggs are the best, and will hold the meat, herbs, breadcrumbs and cheese together and give the Microwave Meatballs structure. An egg alternative that I love for vegan recipes are chia seed eggs. To replace one egg with chia seed, mix 3 tablespoons water with 1 tablespoon of chia seed. Wait about 5 minutes to let the chia absorb the water and develop a gel-like texture.
Herbs and Spices
The most fun part is adding your choice blend of spices, herbs and cheese. You can use fresh or dry herbs; when using dried herbs you typically need less because they are dehydrated and the flavors are concentrated. BUT, dried herbs will lose their aromatic quality over time, so it is important to sniff and taste before adding. Minced garlic and/or onion is hard to not include, you can also use onion and garlic powder.
Breadcrumbs will give the meatballs texture and lightness. If you do not have any breadcrumbs or yours have been sitting in your cabinet for two years, you can make your own! Blend any bread (stale is fine) you have in a food processor or a blender (less ideal). You can replace breadcrumbs with leftover cooked rice (short-grain is best!), quinoa or other grains.
I recommend mixing all of the dry ingredients for my Microwave Meatballs first. Next, add the milk and whisked eggs. Then, add the meat and mix with your hands. By mixing with the light touch of our hands, we avoid over mixing the meatballs into a paste. We want to see visible pieces of ground meat to ensure the Microwave Meatballs will have a good texture.
Roll Them Up!
Have you ever tried rolling meatballs and find half of the mix sticks to your hands? This is because your hands are dry, and the remedy is to lightly oil your hands! I like rolling my Microwave Meatballs slightly larger than a golf ball, but feel free to adjust the size to work with the dish you are making. Make sure to have a large plate or tray ready before you start rolling.
Make ‘em Saucey!
Microwave Meatballs are incredibly convenient and the only slight downside is that they tend to not hold together as well as baked or pan-fried meatballs. I recommend serving them in a red sauce. Any sauce from a jar works well, or you can make your own from a 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes, crushed.
Let’s Get Cooking!
The power is in your hands to create your own Microwave Meatballs! They are delicious in a red sauce with spaghetti, other pasta types and zoodles. They freeze well and will store for 3 months.
- Landrigan M. Not Your Grandmother’s Meatball. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/03/history-of-the-meatball/475083/. Published March 24, 2016. Accessed March 20, 2020.
- 1 pound ground beef or meatloaf mix of beef/pork/veal
- 1 tablespoon parsley minced
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 eggs beaten
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove garlic minced
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Form into balls using a ¼ cup measuring cup, each slightly larger than a golf ball.
Place on microwave safe plate and microwave for 4 minutes. Continue until all of the mixture has been cooked.
OR: Bake at 400 degrees F in muffin tin, ~20 minutes