Spinach and Pancetta Meatballs

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Spaghetti and meatballs are a dinner time staple around here. One of the simple classics that the kids and grown-ups both love. We typically use the brown rice gluten free noodles (Tinkyada brand or Trader Joe’s are our faves), whip up an easy homemade sauce, and top it with yummy grass-fed beef meatballs. I used to just throw together whatever we had on hand to some ground beef to make the meatballs, but this combo has set a new standard in how amazing a meatball can be. Such a great combination of a few ingredients to bring out the best flavors. And I’ve been known to sneak veggies into my kids’ foods as often as I can get away with it, but with this recipe I don’t even need to hide the spinach. These meatballs are so addicting that my kids no longer bat an eye at the healthy green goodness mixed in.

We get our grass-fed beef locally from Yonder Way Farm and try to always have some stocked up in the freezer. If you haven’t heard me preach yet about the amazing benefits of grass-fed, pasture-raised meat, you can read about my love for it here. And since ground beef is the most affordable and versatile grass-fed option, that’s often times our go-to dinner protein… whether it’s in tacos, chili, shepherds pie, meat sauce, or meatballs.

We typically eat these meatballs with pasta, but they’d be great in a sandwich or even just by themselves. And they can be made Paleo-friendly if you omit the rice. We just like the heartiness and texture that the rice adds to them.

And here’s my 2 minute garlic toast that goes great with these: Using sliced bread (I use the Udi’s brand) drizzle each slice with olive oil (or even better… if you have the olive oil cooking spray, spray it!), sprinkle each slice with garlic salt and toast in the oven or toaster oven until golden brown. Easy peasy.

Spinach and Pancetta Meatballs

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 15 meatball


  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef 85/15 fat
  • 3/4 cups cooked rice or bread crumbs
  • 7-9 thin slices of uncured pancetta diced (I use Applegate Farms brand)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic salt have you noticed that I like garlic salt?
  • 1/2 Tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • large handful of spinach leaves washed and finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • fresh herbs for garnish


  • This is a great recipe to have kids help prepare because you really can’t mess it up and most kids love the chance to get messy and mix the ingredients together with their hands.
  • In a large bowl, add the ground beef, rice, diced pancetta, egg, garlic salt, pepper, oregano, and chopped spinach. Using your hands or a spatula, mix all of the ingredients together until well combined.
  • Heat up a large cast iron skillet (or pan of choice) and coat bottom of pan with olive oil, about 1-2 tablespoons.
  • Form golf ball sized balls with the meat and carefully set inside hot pan, cooking at medium to medium-high heat. Let the meatballs cook for 3-5 minutes and then flip to other side. Rotate sides every 3-5 minutes. It typically takes about 10-15 minutes for all of the meatballs to cook all the way through.
  • Add to your cooked pasta with sauce or alongside your favorite sides. Garnish with fresh chopped herbs. Enjoy!

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