Recipe courtesy of Larisa Alvarez for Food Network Kitchen

Clean-Out-the-Fridge Meatballs

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 36 to 40 meatballs
Meatballs are a great way to clean out the fridge without the feeling of a fridge clean-out meal. Pantry staples such as breadcrumbs, milk, eggs and cheese along with some ground protein make the base for this very versatile recipe. Add in leftover vegetables and herbs in your fridge and feel free to play with different flavor combinations. If you have many carrots, try a carrot-ginger meatball. For something brighter, try a broccoli stem, celery and mint meatball. Want some kick? Add a jalapeño or two. The finely diced vegetables and base come together to create a meatball with a little crunch and lots of pops of flavor. In the end, you'll find that there isn't much that can't go in.



  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously spray a wire rack with cooking spray and set inside a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Stir together the breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and set aside to soak. 
  3. Meanwhile, prep the vegetables and herbs if using. Give the breadcrumbs one more stir, then stir in the vegetables and garlic if using. Add the egg, then add the cheese and herbs if using. Sprinkle with salt (see Cook’s Note) and pepper if using. Stir gently to combine.  
  4. Add the ground meat. Without mixing it in, pull apart the meat with two forks as if you were shredding pulled pork, breaking up the blocks into small clumps. Gently incorporate the clumps until all the ingredients are evenly combined. If desired, taste for seasoning: place 1 tablespoon in a small nonstick pan over medium-high heat and cook until cooked through, 2 minutes per side.  
  5. Scoop out the mixture and gently roll into 1 1/2-inch balls (a #40 cookie scoop is great for this or 2 tablespoons) You should have 36 to 40 balls total. Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden and cooked through in the center, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Note

For a smoother meatball, grate the vegetables. Pecorino is much saltier than the Parmesan. If using Parmesan, use 2 very large five-finger pinches of salt. If using Pecorino, use 1 very large five-finger pinches of salt. For a great go-to meatball, try 1 pound ground beef, 1 pound ground turkey, 1 cup panko, 1 small carrot, 2 stalks celery and 1/2 onion.