I’ve never met a meatball I didn’t like. Large, small, over pasta, with sauteed spinach, or on a toothpick. I’ll take them all please.

Meatballs in Marinara Sauce by The Whole Cook(1)

These Meatballs in Marinara Sauce prove that you don’t need breadcrumbs or parmesan. You really don’t. I’m going to make a believer out of you today. In fact, these meatballs are Whole30, gluten free, and dairy free.

Garlic, sauteed onion, and plenty of fresh herbs bring this dish to life. All my favorite things!

Plus I’m sharing my super easy marinara sauce as part of this recipe. It’s way tastier than a jar of store bought spaghetti sauce and surprisingly simple.

These meatballs and sauce are perfect over traditional noodles, zoodles, or spaghetti squash. I personally love this with Roasted Spaghetti Squash. If you’ve never made it before go check out how I make mine because it’s super easy.

If you’re not in the mood for noodles (of any kind) try this recipe over wilted garlic spinach or simply with a side salad. Trust me, the meatballs and the sauce are good enough to stand alone. I may lick my plate if nobody is looking.

Of course these are always yummy as an appetizer. Add a toothpick to these meatballs and they’re party ready!

Meatballs in Marinara Sauce Whole30 + Paleo by The Whole Cook

Made this? If you share a photo of your finished dish on Instagram tag me so I can check it out.

Wishing these meatballs were cooked in the slow cooker? I got you. Check out my Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs in Marinara. They’re also dairy free, gluten free, and Whole30 compliant.

Want another comforting beef recipe? My No Bean 30 Minute Chili is one of my most popular and it’s super tasty!

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Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

These meatballs are amazing over noodles, zoodles, spaghetti squash, or just with a simple side salad. They're packed with flavor! Plus you'll love the easy marinara sauce!



  • 2 lb lean ground beef, can substitute lean ground turkey if you prefer
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped (makes about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Marinara Sauce

  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, from a can
  • 6 good sized fresh basil leaves, chopped (makes about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped (makes about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Optional: additional chopped basil for topping


    • In a large skillet saute your diced onions and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium heat. Cook until onion is translucent, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
    • In a large bowl, combine your ground beef, parsley, rosemary, egg, salt, pepper, and sauteed onion and garlic. Roll into meatballs the size you prefer. Mine are approximately 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. This produces 16 - 18 meatballs. You can of course make them smaller if you like.
    • Add your remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet over medium high heat. Brown your meatballs on all sides (you may need to do this in batches so you have room to flip them). This takes approximately 3 minutes per side. Continue rotating your meatballs so that all sides are getting some love. Remove meatballs from pan and set aside.
    • Scrape up all the remaining bits in the skillet and leave them in there. That's going to make your sauce even better. (If you have a lot of grease I recommend draining that. You should be fine if you used a very lean beef.)
    • Add crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine. Add additional salt and pepper if desired.
    • Place your browned meatballs in the sauce. Cover and simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. Use a knife to slice open one meatball and make sure it's cooked all the way through. Larger meatballs may take a bit more time.
    • Garnish with chopped basil. Enjoy!


    Calories: 318kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 121mg, Sodium: 1064mg, Potassium: 983mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 780IU, Vitamin C: 21.2mg, Calcium: 87mg, Iron: 6mg
    Did you make this recipe?Tag @thewholecook and hashtag it #thewholecook on Instagram.



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