Make ahead meatballs are easy to make and much more affordable than buying premade. A great thing to keep in the freezer for quick and easy weeknight dinners!
It is probably safe to say that our family uses meatballs pretty often. They make great additions to spaghetti, super easy appetizers, even great sandwiches and subs!
You can buy them premade at pretty much any grocery store and they are super convenient but they can be a little pricey. Making them yourself is an easy alternative. Freeze them and you’ll have them on hand whenever you need them!
Why Make Your Own ?
There are advantages to making your own meatballs. Making meatballs is simple and when you make them at home, you are in charge of the ingredients! Here’s some reasons to make your own:
- There are no preservatives
- You can cater them to a flavor profile by changing the spices
- You remain in full control of the amount of salt and spice that goes in
- You can also make them whatever size you want (we like 1 inch meatballs)
- You can double or even triple the recipe depending on what you need
About the Ingredients
- Ground Beef – I typically use ground beef when I make these but you could use a ground beef/ground pork blend or even ground turkey!
- Panko Breadcrumbs – I like Panko breadcrumbs because they are crispier than regular breadcrumbs but Panko and plain breadcrumbs can be used interchangeably. Their only purpose is to bind the meatballs so use whatever you have available.
- Minced Onion Flakes – Minced onion flakes are dry, not wet, and this is helpful when making meatballs that you are going to freeze and thaw them and then cook in sauce because they stay perfectly formed. Using fresh diced onion is completely acceptable, just be sure to cut them small and only use about 1/4 cup!
- Garlic Powder and Worcestershire Sauce – To make Asian inspired meatballs, substitute the same amount of ground ginger in place of garlic powder, and add the same amount of soy sauce instead of Worcestershire sauce.
- Other Additions – for Italian meatballs, just add 1 1/2 tsp of Italian Seasoning into the mix!
How Do I Cook The Make Ahead Meatballs?
These Make Ahead Meatballs are frozen raw. This means that you can keep them in the freezer for 3-4 months, longer than the fully cooked ones. But you might be wondering how you should cook them when you are ready to use them. Here’s some choices:
- If you want to cook them in a slow cooker with sauce, like we do in the recipe for Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Meatballs, you can use them right from frozen by putting them in a single layer on the bottom of a slow cooker and covering them with sauce. The heat from the bottom of the slow cooker being in direct contact with the meatballs will help them to cook evenly, and they are in there for long enough (3-8 hours) so they are cooked completely through.
- You can thaw the meatballs out first in the refrigerator and then place on a baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or you can fry them in a frying pan in some oil over medium heat until browned on all sides and cooked through.
- To cook without thawing, the easiest way is to place them on a baking sheet and cook for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees F, making sure that the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F before serving.
How to Make These Make Ahead Meatballs
Transforming regular ground beef into meatballs is an easy way to speed up any dinner routine and opens up a world of possibilities. Less expensive than buying the premade kind, this easy kitchen hack is in regular rotation in our house!
One pound of ground beef will make between 20 and 24 (1 inch) meatballs.
In a medium sized bowl place ground beef, breadcrumbs, onion flakes, garlic powder, milk, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Portion the meat into 1 inch balls and place onto the baking sheet. Using parchment paper on the baking sheet will keep them from sticking.
Note: To portion the meatballs I use a 1 inch cookie scoop. This keeps all of the meatballs the same size.
Once the sheet is full, move it to the freezer and freeze the meatballs for at least 6 hours. Freezing the meatballs using this method helps to keep them from sticking to each other.
Once frozen, transfer to a large zip top bag and store in the freezer until needed. Enjoy!
Other Ground Beef Recipes You Might like
Creamy Orzo with Meatballs and Peas – Meatballs, peas and orzo pasta in a creamy cheesy sauce – a great weeknight meal!
Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Meatballs – Low maintenance slow cooker meal that can be served over rice or noodles or even as an appetizer!
Crockpot Taco Chili – One of this family’s favorite dump, stir and walk away meals!
Simple Weeknight Meatloaf – Simple easy to make home cooking comfort food!
Make Ahead Meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp minced onion flakes dried
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until completely combined.
- Form into individual meatballs, each about 1 inch across.
- Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving room between, place into freezer and freeze until solid.
- Remove to a Ziploc or other freezer safe bag or container until ready to use. Will last in the freezer 3-4 months. Enjoy!