You’re all looking at me now like, “Rach, pizza meatballs are not a thing”. I can tell. It’s ok.
But you know, before you judge, hear me out. I see a lot of meaty balls in this food blogger sphere I’m inadvertently in and, yes, I usually make inappropriate jokes about them among friends. Because even in my thirties, I am occasionally that immature. Eh, probably more than occasionally. I take my laughs in this life where I can get ’em. Anyway. I make a lot of meatballs at home and see a lot of such baws on the internet. But so many of them involve 1) standing over a stovetop frying the aforementioned balls and 2) ingredients or sauces that I can’t eat, because nightshades. I’m lookin’ at you jarred peppers and marinara of doom!
So I wanted to come up with a pizza inspired meaty ball that I could actually eat. Something that had all the flavors of my favorite pizza toppings, without any of that nightshade nonsense. So I came up with these baked pizza meatballs filled with bacon, red onion and olives. Also known as my favorite pizza toppings. But while I’m dropping truth bombs about my bad habits, wanna know a secret? I am that person that actually loves, anchovies on pizza. I love them. THERE, I SAID IT! Don’t worry, I spared you here. You’re welcome.
Like I hinted at earlier, I’m too lazy to stand over a stove frying meatballs, so I love “roll and drop” recipes like this that make it easy to double or triple a recipe without needing to cook them in batches. I usually make meatballs like this on a flat baking sheet, but you could also use mini muffin pans if you like.
And if you’re super busy or pressed for time, go ahead and line that baking tray with a little foil for easy clean up, I won’t judge. (Foil haters, don’t go crazy here. If you really are worried about all that aluminum, you can use a piece of parchment paper. Just be aware that the juices from the meatballs will soak through to the sheet).
I know when it comes to meaty balls, often times people think bigger is better. I’m actually personally a fan of rolling smaller, 2 tablespoon sized, meatballs so that I end up with a bite sized ball, like in these Chicken & Bacon Bites. Why? A smaller size makes these pizza meatballs more fun and versatile: they make good portable snacks or lunch additions, are kid friendly and are the perfect size for dipping.
And dipping is important with these pizza meatballs! While they are filled with pizza topping ingredients, the pizza inspiration really shines if you pair them with a side of my Dairy Free Cheese Sauce, my Coconut Free Cheese Sauce or Four Greens Pesto. Marinara? What marinara? You won’t be needing any of that stuff, trust me. If you need any extra encouragement, I included a few photos with the cheese sauce so you can see what a great idea that is…
A good Italian Seasoning blend is essential to the flavor of these pizza meatballs. Most versions are going to have AIP friendly ingredients like garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, sage and savory. Just make sure to double check your labels, since occasionally seed spices and other things can creep in there, like fennel seed or black pepper. Here are a couple of AIP friendly blends to choose from: Simply Organic Italian Seasoning, McCormick Gourmet Italian Seasoning and McCormick Tuscan Style Seasoning.
Although I like dinky little pizza meatball bites, I’ve given instructions below for little mini versions and a larger meatball, too. The difference is only 5 minutes of baking time, so you can make whichever size suits you best! You can switch these pizza meatballs up by switching out ingredients to include your favorite pizza toppings. I’d suggest keeping the bacon since it adds some fat that helps keep the meatballs tender.
You’ll notice I added a couple of tablespoons of cold water to this recipe because ground pork absorbs that nicely for a great texture, but if you’re substituting ingredients with a lot of added moisture like mushrooms, for example, you won’t need it.
Did I tell you guys that I FINALLY got my camera working again?! I am so freaking excited about this. Not only does that mean I’ve gotten to enjoy using my camera again for the first time since January, but I also got to play around with these images using the 105mm Nikkor lens that I was so lucky to get for Christmas! Isn’t it cool how it picks up on all the little details of something as small as a bite size meatball?
And I’ll let you into a little secret… now that my camera is back in operation, I’m working on a little project which means reshooting every single old, crappy probably-taken-on-my-phone-years-ago-with-a-filter photo on the website! It’s quite the undertaking, but it’s going to be awesome in the end. You’ll have to stay tuned for more details!
Anyway… what would you add to your pizza meatballs recipe?
- MIX: Add the bacon to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until it is finely chopped but not pasty in texture. Coming close to the texture of ground meat is what you want. Add the ground pork to the bowl, then roughly chop the olives and add those too. Add all the remaining ingredients and then pulse until the mixture is combined and you can see the olives are evenly distributed throughout.
- ROLL: Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil if you choose, then get ready to start rolling your meatballs! If you would like little pizza bites, use a 2 tbs / 30 ml measuring cup and if you'd like larger meatballs, use a ¼ cup / 60 ml measuring cup to portion out equally sized meatballs. Use whichever sized scoop you like, leveling off the top with your finger, then roll into evenly sized balls and drop onto your baking tray. If you like, you could also make these in mini muffin tins instead of a baking tray.
- BAKE: Pop the baking tray into the oven and cook for 15 minutes for the smaller pizza bites or 20 minutes for pizza meatballs.
- SERVE: These are delicious hot or cold. Pair with Dairy Free Cheese Sauce, Coconut Free Cheese Sauce or Four Greens Pesto for dipping!
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