7 Ways Meatballs Can Solve Your "What's for Dinner?" Problem

Switch up your routine with these flavor-packed, easy-to-make meatballs.

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With so many meal prepping strategies out there — big-batch cooking, reinventing leftovers, portioning meals into individual containers and embracing grain bowls, to name a few — there really is no one-size-fits-all approach for getting nutritious, delicious dinners on the table each night.

But even with all of these options, there are still occasions when we all struggle to answer the age-old question "What's for dinner?" Despite our best efforts to get ahead and plan every meal, sometimes we just can't think of another way to cook chicken breasts or a different idea for that can of chickpeas. When that moment comes, we have a simple, versatile solution: the meatball.

So much more than spaghetti’s sidekick, meatballs also taste great stirred into soups, piled onto rice, stuffed inside a pita or tossed into a salad. Because most recipes follow the same basic formula (ground meat or nuts, plus breadcrumbs, flavorings and some sort of binder like eggs), it couldn’t be easier to switch up the proteins or flavor profiles. Meatballs also scale up and freeze beautifully so lend themselves well to whichever meal prep strategy you choose. They really are the secret to beating boredom in the kitchen.

Need proof? Check out these classes currently available in the Food Network Kitchen app:

Sesame Pork Meatballs

Packed with cooked cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, sesame oil, grated ginger, garlic, scallions and soy sauce, these meatballs don’t skimp on flavor. Food Network’s Myo Quinn shows us how to shape these meatballs like a pro (the trick: wet your hands so the mixture won’t stick). Plus, it only takes a few extra minutes to turn them into a complete meal. In her class, she dishes them up in crunchy lettuce cups with a sweet-and-spicy glaze.

Italian Meatballs

Jeff Mauro shares the ultimate Italian meatball recipe, a.k.a. the star of his Sunday Gravy. He gently mixes together bread, Pecorino, parsley, eggs and three types of ground meat (beef, pork and veal). Next, he forms the mixture into 12 jumbo-sized meatballs, browns them in a skillet and lets them simmer in a big batch of homemade marinara. The whole process takes some time, but it’s seriously worth the extra effort. Spoon the rustic meatballs and sauce on top of a bed of pasta (a la “spaghetti and meatballs”), then sandwich leftovers between two halves of a roll, chop them into pieces to use as a pizza topping, or layer them with pasta and mozzarella to make a cozy casserole.

Swedish Meatballs

Famously served at IKEA, these beef-pork meatballs are seared in butter, then smothered in a rich cream sauce and served with mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Chef Emma Bengtsson shares her mother’s traditional recipe, so this class is an excellent choice if you want to learn a classic version of the beloved comfort dish.

Lamb Meatballs

If you’ve never tried cooking lamb, meatballs are a perfect place to start. In this class, chef Dan Churchill mixes ground lamb with egg, spices and hot sauce to make lamb balls, then serves them in a pita with a drizzle of citrusy herbed yogurt sauce. You can also skip the wrap and plate up the meatballs with a side of roasted veggies instead.

Baked Sweet and Sour Meatballs, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Baked Sweet and Sour Meatballs, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Photo by: Lauren Volo

Lauren Volo

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

As a mom of two, Kelly Senyei is no stranger to feeding picky eaters with only 30 minutes to spare. That's why her recipe for bite-sized, kid-friendly meatballs is such a success. They’re cooked in the oven, so you can make a whole bunch at once and simultaneously whip up a delectable sweet-and-sour pineapple sauce. Round out the meal with a side of roasted broccoli or steamed rice.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs, as seen on Food Network Kitchen.

Photo by: Lauren Volo

Lauren Volo

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Bring the bold flavors of game day (read: fiery hot sauce and tangy blue cheese) to any given weeknight. Jaymee Sire shows us how to transform ground chicken, celery, carrots and a few more ingredients into a Buffalo wings-inspired meatball that can be served straight-up with toothpicks or piled onto a bed of greens.

Molly Yeh's "Meatball Sliders with a Twist"

Molly Yeh's "Meatball Sliders with a Twist"

Meatless “Meatballs”

Vegetarians, this one’s for you. In her class, Molly Yeh proves that you don’t need ground beef, pork or turkey to make tasty, satisfying “meatballs.” The secret? Almonds or walnuts, breadcrumbs, egg and a whole lot of cheese. Pulse everything together in a food processor, then shape the mixture into balls and pan-fry until they’re golden brown on all sides. Serve them on slider rolls drenched in marinara sauce for a fresh take on the classic meatball sub that will please everyone at the table.

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