Easy Gluten-Free Olive Garden Meatball Recipe

How to make the easiest copycat Olive Garden Meatball Recipe w/ a gluten-free almond flour option. Made with beef, sausage, parmesan & garlic. They are bursting with Italian flavor, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside!

How to make the easiest copycat Olive Garden Meatball Recipe w/ a gluten-free almond flour option. Made with beef, sausage, parmesan & garlic

I’m showing you how easily you can make restaurant-quality copycat Italian meatballs with my Olive Garden meatball recipe. You only need a few simple ingredients, including ground beef and pork, eggs, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and a few simple seasonings. Then, I’ll show you my favorite method for cooking perfectly juicy meatballs in 9 minutes in an air fryer. But they can also be pan-seared or oven-baked.

Your whole family will be super impressed with your home cooking skills when you present these savory meatballs. And the best thing is, they’ll never suspect they came from such a simple recipe with simple ingredients for a meat sauce with classic Italian flavors. If this is your first time making meatballs, rest assured because I’m sharing all my helpful tips and answering the most commonly asked questions about Olive Garden-style meatballs at home.

YouTube video

Why You’ll Love This Gluten-Free Meatball Recipe

  • You only need a few major ingredients.
  • It is super easy to make for an impressive result.
  • The flavor-rich ingredients make it taste amazing!
  • All the ingredients are easily digestible for a gentle tummy.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Italian Bread Crumbs (or Almond Flour): You can use store-bought gluten-free bread crumbs as a 1:1 substitute for regular bread crumbs. You can also use Gluten-Free Panko Crumbs which provide a nice crispy texture to the meatballs. Ground oats can work well as a gluten-free alternative.

Eggs: Ground Flaxseed can be used as a binder and provides nutritional benefits.*

Grated Parmesan Cheese: For a dairy-free option, use nutritional yeast to add a cheesy flavor.

Milk (Almond Milk): You can use soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk, or rice milk as a substitute for almond milk. If you’re not avoiding dairy, you can use regular cow’s milk.

Italian Seasoning: Make your own Italian seasoning blend using dried oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, and marjoram.

Worcestershire Sauce (Gluten-Free): You can omit the Worcestershire sauce or replace it with gluten-free soy sauce.

Onion Powder and Garlic: Finely chop fresh onion and garlic to replace the powdered versions.

Ground Chuck and Ground Pork: If you prefer poultry, ground turkey or chicken can be substituted for a leaner option. For a vegetarian or vegan version, use plant-based ground meat.

Parsley: Replace parsley with fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, or thyme for different flavor profiles.

Red Pepper Flakes: You can omit or use a pinch of cayenne pepper for a similar heat level. For a milder heat, substitute with paprika.

Remember that some substitutions may alter the flavor and texture slightly, so it’s a good idea to experiment and adjust the quantities as needed to achieve the desired results.

*I have not tested this substitution.

How to Make My Olive Garden Inspired Meatball Recipe

Step 1: Make the meatballs

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, milk, and Worcestershire sauce. Gently whisk until the egg is incorporated.

Add the bread crumbs (or almond flour), minced cloves of garlic, Italian seasoning, onion powder, parsley, paprika (or red pepper flakes), salt, and black pepper. Gently mix the ingredients until well combined, taking care not to overwork the mixture. The texture will be similar to a pancake batter.

Add in the ground beef, pork, and shredded parmesan cheese. Mix with your hands just until the ingredients appear to be well incorporated.

Use a cookie scoop or spoon to uniformly scoop the meatballs onto a baking sheet. Once all the meatballs are portioned out, roll them into round balls, approximately 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, using the palms of your hands. You can dip your hands in water periodically to keep the meat from sticking to them. 

Adding wet ingredients to muffin batter.
Mixing cranberries into muffin batter.

Add in the ground beef, pork, and shredded parmesan cheese. Mix with your hands just until the ingredients appear to be well incorporated.

Adding wet ingredients to muffin batter.
Mixing cranberries into muffin batter.

Use a cookie scoop or spoon to uniformly scoop the meatballs onto a baking sheet. Once all the meatballs are portioned out, roll them into round balls, approximately 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, using the palms of your hands. You can dip your hands in water periodically to keep the meat from sticking to them. 

Adding wet ingredients to muffin batter.
Mixing cranberries into muffin batter.

Step 2: Cook the Meatballs

Option 1: Air Fryer

Spray the inside of the air fryer basket with non-aerosol oil spray. Place the meatballs on the tray or inside the basket about 1/2″ apart. Set the temperature to 380°F and cook for 9 minutes. Shake the basket halfway through to redistribute the meatballs. 

At the end of the 8 minutes, check the internal temperature of a few of the meatballs. Make sure the internal temperature is at least 165°F. If you do not have a thermometer, you can split one of the meatballs open and ensure the juices run clear. Cook for an additional minute at a time if needed. Do not overcook, or the meatballs can become dry.

Adding wet ingredients to muffin batter.
Mixing cranberries into muffin batter.

Option 2: Pan Seared

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs to the skillet and brown them on all sides until they are golden brown and cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Option 3: Oven Baked

Start by preheating your oven to 400°F. Place the shaped meatballs onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between each meatball. This allows for even air circulation and ensures that the meatballs cook uniformly.

Lightly brush the tops of the meatballs with olive oil. This will help them develop a nice golden color during baking.

Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through and have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.

About halfway through the baking time, around 10 minutes, carefully rotate the baking sheet to ensure even browning. You can also check the internal temperature of one meatball using a meat thermometer to ensure they are cooked to the proper temperature.

Step 3. Simmer in sauce (Optional)

You can enjoy your meatballs as is or simmer them in marinara sauce for a delicious meal. Pour one jar of your favorite marinara sauce into a shallow pan and add your meatballs. Gently stir the meatballs to cover them in the sauce. Then, bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. 

Gluten-Free Meatball Recipe Notes

  • To ensure gluten-free meatballs, replace regular bread crumbs with almond flour.
  • If preferred, ground turkey or chicken can be used instead of ground pork.
  • Adjust the level of red pepper flakes based on your spice preference.
  • For a healthier alternative, consider using almond milk instead of regular milk in the meatball mixture.
  • The fat content of the meat can influence the juiciness of the meatballs; a combination of ground beef and ground pork is used for a balanced texture and flavor.
  • Room temperature ingredients will help the meat mixture combine more easily.

Refrigeration: If you plan to consume the meatballs within a few days, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can stay fresh for up to 3-4 days.

Freezing: For longer storage, freeze the meatballs. Place them on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until solid. Then, transfer the frozen meatballs to a freezer-safe bag or airtight container. This prevents them from sticking together. Label the container with the date to keep track of their freshness. Frozen meatballs can typically last for up to 2-3 months without significant loss of quality.

Portioning: Consider freezing the meatballs in portion sizes that you’ll likely use in a single meal. This way, you can easily thaw and heat only the amount you need.

Thawing: When you’re ready to use frozen meatballs, transfer them from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before. Allow them to thaw slowly in the fridge. This helps prevent moisture loss and maintains the texture. You can also use the defrost setting on your microwave for quicker thawing, but be cautious not to cook them in the process.

Reheating: To reheat refrigerated meatballs, you can warm them in the microwave or heat them gently on the stovetop in a sauce, broth, or tomato sauce to keep them moist. For frozen meatballs, thaw them first and then reheat using the same methods.

Sauce Preservation: If you store meatballs in sauce, the sauce can help maintain their moisture. Just be aware that the texture of the meatballs might change slightly due to the sauce’s moisture.

Avoid Refreezing: Once meatballs have been thawed, it’s not recommended to refreeze them, as it can affect their quality and safety.

Can I make these meatballs ahead of time? 
Absolutely! Prepare the homemade meatballs and refrigerate them until you’re ready to cook.

Can I use gluten-free breadcrumbs instead of almond flour? 
Yes, you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs as a substitute.

Can I bake the meatballs instead of pan-frying them? 
Yes, baking is a healthier option. Arrange the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for about 18-25 minutes, turning them halfway through.

Serving Suggestions for Gluten-Free Italian Meatballs

  • Serve the meatballs over a bed of spaghetti noodles with your favorite tomato sauce.
  • Create a hearty meatball sub sandwich using your choice of bread and toppings.
  • Enjoy the meatballs as a protein-packed appetizer with toothpicks for dipping in marinara sauce.
  • Serving the meatballs over spaghetti squash noodles is one of the best ways to make them low-carb.
  • Pair the meatballs as a side dish with a garden salad for a perfect addition to a satisfying meal.
  • Experiment with other recipe ideas by incorporating these delicious meatballs into casseroles or wraps.
How to make the easiest copycat Olive Garden Meatball Recipe w/ a gluten-free almond flour option. Made with beef, sausage, parmesan & garlic

Easy Gluten-Free Olive Garden Meatball Recipe

Gluten-Free diet-friendly recipe
How to make the easiest copycat Olive Garden Meatball Recipe w/ a gluten-free almond flour option. Made with beef, sausage, parmesan & garlic. They are bursting with Italian flavor, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside!
5 from 3 votes
Servings 12
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs (or almond flour)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk (almond milk)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (gluten-free version)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions
 

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, milk, and Worcestershire sauce. Gently whisk until the egg is incorporated.
    Add the bread crumbs (or almond flour), minced cloves of garlic, Italian seasoning, onion powder, parsley, paprika (or red pepper flakes), salt, and black pepper. Gently mix the ingredients until well combined, taking care not to overwork the mixture. The texture will be similar to a pancake batter.
    Add in the ground beef, pork, and shredded parmesan cheese. Mix with your hands just until the ingredients appear to be well incorporated.
    Use a cookie scoop or spoon to uniformly scoop the meatballs onto a baking sheet. Once all the meatballs are portioned out, roll them into round balls, approximately 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, using the palms of your hands. You can dip your hands in water periodically to keep the meat from sticking to them. 
  • Add in the ground beef, pork, and shredded parmesan cheese. Mix with your hands just until the ingredients appear to be well incorporated.
  • Use a cookie scoop or spoon to uniformly scoop the meatballs onto a baking sheet. Once all the meatballs are portioned out, roll them into round balls, approximately 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, using the palms of your hands. You can dip your hands in water periodically to keep the meat from sticking to them. 
  • Option 1: Air Fryer
    Spray the inside of the air fryer basket with non-aerosol oil spray. Place the meatballs on the tray or inside the basket about 1/2" apart. Set the temperature to 380°F and cook for 9 minutes. Shake the basket halfway through to redistribute the meatballs. 
    At the end of the 8 minutes, check the internal temperature of a few of the meatballs. Make sure the internal temperature is at least 165°F. If you do not have a thermometer, you can split one of the meatballs open and ensure the juices run clear. Cook for an additional minute at a time if needed. Do not overcook, or the meatballs can become dry.
  • Option 2: Pan Seared
    Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs to the skillet and brown them on all sides until they are golden brown and cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Option 3: Oven Baked
    Start by preheating your oven to 400°F. Place the shaped meatballs onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between each meatball. This allows for even air circulation and ensures that the meatballs cook uniformly.
    Lightly brush the tops of the meatballs with olive oil. This will help them develop a nice golden color during baking.
    Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through and have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.
    About halfway through the baking time, around 10 minutes, carefully rotate the baking sheet to ensure even browning. You can also check the internal temperature of one meatball using a meat thermometer to ensure they are cooked to the proper temperature.
  • You can enjoy your meatballs as is or simmer them in marinara sauce for a delicious meal. Pour one jar of your favorite marinara sauce into a shallow pan and add your meatballs. Gently stir the meatballs to cover them in the sauce. Then, bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. 

Video

YouTube video

Nutrition

Calories: 195kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 12gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 359mgPotassium: 208mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 164IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 2mg
Keyword almond flour, garlic, homemade, Italian, meatballs, Olive Garden, parmesan
Did you make this recipe?Please let me know in the comments below how it turned out 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating