These Zucchini Meatballs are full of flavor and have a sweet & tangy topping! The moisture from the zucchini makes these meatballs so tender and the kids will never know they're full of veggies!Jump to Recipe
Nothing beats great garden produce - especially that first ripe fruit or veggie you harvest! All that time spent planting the garden, watering, weeding, etc finally comes to fruition. But then you get to the point in the season when the produce is all ripening and you have tons to use up all at once.
Well, that's exactly where I'm at with my zucchini right now. I've got a few on my counter and several in the garden ready to be picked. I've made my favorite Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins, Frosted Zucchini Cookies and my moist Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Then last week, I decided to add some shredded zucchini into my meatballs and my whole family LOVED them....yep, even the kids! It's the perfect way to sneak in a few veggies and the zucchini keeps the meatballs super moist and tender. We'll call that a win-win!!
Zucchini Meatball Ingredients
- Ground Beef - You could also use ground pork or half beef & half pork
- Zucchini - It's up to you if you want to peel it first. I did not peel the zucchini first, because I wanted to keep the nutrition of the skin in the meatballs. (However, if the green will make your kiddos turn up their nose, you can certainly peel them!)
- Saltine Crackers - I used regular, but you could also use wheat or gluten free saltines
- Spices (minced onion, salt, black pepper)
- Tomato Sauce
- Brown Sugar - Light or Dark will do!
- Use a cookie scoop to make evenly-shaped meatballs. These meatballs are soft (they remind me of the texture of a meatloaf!) and I find that using a cookie scoop makes it so simple...and quick!!
- Do not squeeze the excess moisture out of the zucchini (see more below)
- To determine if the meatballs are done, use an instant-read thermometer. Press the probe into the center of the center-most meatball and two others. If they're all above 160F, they're done!
Should I squeeze the excess moisture out of the zucchini?
No - there's no need to wring out the extra moisture. In fact, the moisture from the zucchini will make these meatballs so good and tender! These meatballs remind me a lot of my mom's Meatloaf - a little soft, full of flavor and topped with a ketchup/brown sugar glaze!
Can I make this into a Meatloaf?
Absolutely!!! This would fit perfectly in a regular 9x5" loaf pan. You'll need to bake it longer - maybe 55-60 minutes, or until the center reaches an internal temperature of 160F. I personally enjoy making these into meatballs for two reasons. First, they cook much quicker and second, there's more surface area for all that yummy sauce!!!
Can I make these in the slow cooker?
I don't recommend cooking them in the slow cooker (they're too soft to stack up in a slow cooker), but you could certainly keep them warm in one once they're cooked.
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- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 c shredded and packed zucchini
- 25 saltine crackers crushed (use a baggie and a rolling pin)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon minced onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 8 oz can tomato sauce divided
- ½ c ketchup
- ⅓ c brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, add the ground beef, zucchini, saltines, eggs, minced onion, salt, pepper and ¼ cup of the tomato sauce (set aside the rest for the topping).
- Use a wooden spoon (or your hands) to mix until combined.
- Use a cookie scoop to create evenly sized meatballs, roll them into a ball and place in the prepared baking dish.
- In a small bowl, combine the remaining tomato sauce, ketchup and brown sugar.
- Drizzle evenly over the meatballs and use a spoon to make sure they're all coated.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meatballs is 160°F.
- Remove from the oven and serve warm.
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