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Add some green to these juicy, beef meatballs with zucchini. Get your veggies and meat all in one delicious bite! 15 minutes of prep and simmered in sauce to perfection–dinner is served!

Overhead shot of spaghetti in bowl with meatballs with zucchini in marinara.
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This recipe was originally published January 2016 and updated December 2020.

When you have a toddler who will only eat meatballs, you give him allllll the meatballs. And you just might sneak a veggie or two into them, right?

That’s exactly what happened with these beef meatballs with zucchini.

Our little guy was OBSESSES and would only eat meatballs most nights with his fruits and veggies. So I found a way to capitalize on this opportunity.

Thus came these juicy meatballs that husband doesn’t complain about either!

Try these other ground beef recipes as well: Ground Beef Teriyaki, Ground Beef Stuffed Shells or Crock Pot Shredded Beef.

Why this recipes works:

  • The entire family loves them. That is hands down number one for me. If they are happily fed, then I am even happier!
  • So simple to make. Mix everything up and then roll. Bake or simmer and it’s a done deal. You really just can’t go wrong with meatballs in my opinion!
  • Hidden veggies. I have yet to get a complaint about the zucchini, so I feel zero guilt for giving the fam some extra green.
  • Freezer friendly. We can’t eat an entire batch in one sitting so being able to freeze these makes two meals in one!
  • Delicious! The other top reason and requirement. Simple food that tastes AMAZING.

Between these meatballs with zucchini and my other favorite: Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs, we are a very happy family!

What you will need:

  • I like to get ground sirloin when buying ground beef. Any kind will work fine. I find that simmering the leaner ground beef in the marinara still makes it super tender and flavorful! Plus when I bake them, there is less grease to deal with. This is totally personal preference!
  • For gluten free, just use gluten free breadcrumbs or panko. In fact, if you are so inclined, you could even make homemade Italian Breadcrumbs!
  • I use a small zucchini for this meatballs with zucchini recipe. It comes out to about 1/2 – 2/3 cup zucchini. I like the small and thin zucchinis so no seeds are involved in the grating.
Zucchini, ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg and seasonings in bowl.

How to make this recipe:

Combine everything in a bowl and stir or knead everything together. Make sure to really get the zucchini incorporated and break up any big chunks. (step 1)

Roll the meatballs up into 1 1/2 – 2 inch balls. (step 2)

Growing up in a big Italian family, the only way to cook meatballs was by simmering in marinara sauce. That is how I cook ours 99% of the time. Simple simmer on low until cooked through and internal temperature of 165°F. (step 3)

You can bake them as well. Line them on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until cooked through–17-20 minutes. I like this option if I plan on freezing them!

Enjoy them however you typically like to eat your meatballs!

Meatball mixture in mixing bowl and then rolled into balls.

Notes and tips:

  • These meatballs with zucchini are freezer friendly. After cooking you can place them in an airtight, freezer safe container. Freeze for up to about 3 months. You can freeze the marinara right along with the meatballs if you cooked them stove top. To re-heat, thaw and cook stove top until heated through.
  • If re-heating leftovers, I suggest cutting each meatball into quarters for more even heating.
  • You could use ground turkey or chicken for these as well. I have made them with turkey quite a few times when ground turkey was on sale big time.
Bowl of pasta with meatballs with zucchini and marinara and parmesan.

Try these other beef recipes you will love:

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5 from 6 votes

Zucchini Beef Meatballs

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 18 meatballs

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • bread crumbs or panko, regular or gluten free
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small zucchini, grated (about 1/2 packed well)
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 jars marinara, 24 oz. (for stove top)
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Instructions 

  • Shred zucchini with a grater.
  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir well to combine.
  • Roll into approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inch balls.

Stove Top:

  • Pour one jar of marinara sauce in a large pot. Add the meatballs on top and then pour the second jar of marinara. Simmer on low for about 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally until meatballs reach an internal temperature 165°F.

To bake:

  • Place on a parchment lined baking pan. Place in oven and bake for about 17-20 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes, wipe any excess grease and serve.
  • Store extras in freezer or refrigerator.

Notes

  • These meatballs with zucchini are freezer friendly. After cooking you can place them in an airtight, freezer safe container. Freeze for up to about 3 months. You can freeze the marinara right along with the meatballs if you cooked them stove top. To re-heat, thaw and cook stove top until heated through.
  • If re-heating leftovers, I suggest cutting each meatball into quarters for more even heating.
  • You could use ground turkey or chicken for these as well. I have made them with turkey quite a few times when ground turkey was on sale big time.

Nutrition

Calories: 78kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 101mg, Potassium: 104mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 43IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 1mg

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

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Recipe Rating




14 Comments

  1. LMHecky says:

    5 stars
    So good!!! I added extra seasoning and garlic add used spaghetti sauce. My grown son said they should be on the menu at a restaurant and he’s a foodie!

    1. Lorie says:

      Oh wow! Now that is quite a compliment!!

  2. Zayna says:

    Hi! May not wait long enough to get the answer lol, but do you squeeze the excess water out of the shredded zucchini before adding, or just leave as is? Thanks!

    1. Lorie says:

      Hi! You can squeeze it out a bit but I never have and haven’t had issues!

  3. Sharon Young says:

    I like this recipe since you included a green vegetable. I’m terrible when it comes to eating vegetables.in my DAILY diet. I’m always looking for good healthy recipes. Thank you.

    1. Lorie says:

      Can’t beat a recipe that sneaks in the extra green, right?!

  4. Sally says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe! I made it and thought it was delicious. I highly recommend.

    1. Lorie says:

      Love to hear it!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Julia says:

    Just wondering if you recommend 1 tsp. fresh or dry parsley and oregano.

    1. Lorie says:

      Hi! The recipe is for dry but you can most certainly use freshly chopped!

  6. Tamara says:

    What temp in the oven?

    1. Lorie says:

      Hi! When I bake them, I set the oven to 375°F.

  7. Yvonne says:

    What size zucchini do you use?

    1. Lorie says:

      I use one that is probably about 6 inches or so and about two inches in diameter.