Italian style meatballs gluten + dairy free

Flavorful Italian Gluten-Free Meatballs (Dairy-Free too!)

If you’ve never made gluten-free meatballs and don’t know where to start or want a new flavorful recipe, this recipe is for you! These Italian-seasoned gluten-free dairy-free meatballs are SO tasty and easy to make, keep reading to find out how to make them.

This recipe is gluten, soy, and dairy-free. *It does contain almonds

Typical Italian-style meatballs are loaded with breadcrumbs and parmesan, both book no-nos if you are gluten and dairy-free. This recipe doesn’t require any breadcrumbs, instead, I use a combination of almond flour and oats to bind these meatballs together and add a nice texture. Instead of the parmesan, I load these meatballs up with delicious seasonings, including nutritional yeast to add that “cheesy” taste. So, while they might not be your typical Italian meatballs, they come out so flavorful you’ll never know they don’t have gluten or dairy.

Gluten-Free Meatballs

So what makes traditional meatballs not safe for celiacs? Breadcrumbs. Therefore, when venturing into the world of gluten-free meatballs a breadcrumb replacement is necessary. They do actually have gluten-free breadcrumbs that can be purchased at most grocery stores these days. But, I choose not to use them. I don’t love how expensive they are and I never have them on hand when I want them. Instead, I use two ingredients I almost always have – oats and almond flour.

It might sound strange to add oats to meatballs, but trust me on this one, it works GREAT! They bind the meat together beautifully and the flavor just melds right in.

Just make sure if you are celiac or highly sensitive to gluten that you are buying gluten-free oats to use in your recipes.

If you can’t have oats, I have made these gluten-free dairy-free meatballs with just almond flour. They come out just as delicious but they are a bit more delicate without the oats. So if you do choose to make them without oats be sure to bake the meatballs to help the shape set before adding them to any sauce to simmer.

gluten free dairy free meatballs in cast iron pan

Dairy-Free Meatballs

If you are dairy-free like me but don’t want to miss out on flavorful gluten free Italian meatballs, this recipe is for you! I’ve added so much seasoning to this recipe, you won’t even miss the parmesan cheese. This is also a great dairy-free meatballs recipe if you’re not a huge fan of fake cheeses. I actually think there are some delicious dairy-free parmesan products, but the price tags are so huge I tend to stay away.

These dairy-free meatballs do not lack in flavor. The combination of Italian seasonings, nutritional yeast, and the bite from almond flour creates a flavor bomb that satisfies every cheesy craving.

How to Make Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Meatballs

Making these gluten-free dairy-free meatballs is really quite simple and not very different from traditional meatballs. The steps are essentially the same with just a few tweaks to the ingredients to make them allergy-friendly.

4 pictures showing process of how to make gluten free meatballs

For the full recipe and instructions see the recipe card down below!

First, you grab a large bowl and mix all your ingredients together. I prefer to use my hands to really make sure everything combines well.

Then you roll them into balls. I like to place mine on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Typically I stick some in the freezer (see tips below) and bake some right off the bat.

gluten free dairy free meatballs in the freezer

I like to bake or air-fry them prior to simmering them in any pasta sauce because I find they hold their shape better.

After making your gluten-free meatballs you can go ahead and enjoy them just as you would any other meatballs.

For some ideas on how I like to use my gluten-free dairy-free meatballs, keep reading through the next couple of sections.

Air Fryer Meatballs

As I’ve already mentioned, without the gluten these meatballs are a bit more delicate. Even more so if you choose to leave out the oats and only use almond flour. That’s why I like to bake or air fry my gluten-free meatballs to “set” them prior to simmering them in any type of sauce.

If you choose not to air fry or bake these gluten-free meatballs, don’t worry! It’s not 100% necessary. You just have to be careful not to mix them too much when simmering the raw meatballs in a pasta sauce. Once they are cooked they will be a lot less delicate. It’s just the raw meatball phase that tends to want to crumble if handled too much.

If you do want to make air fryer meatballs, it’s so simple! I like making my gluten-free meatballs in the air fryer because it’s fast and makes dinner come together easily.

Here’s how to make your gluten-free meatballs in the air fryer :

Set your air fryer to 350 degrees F for about 3 minutes (to preheat your air fryer).

Add your meatballs in a flat layer either in a basket or on trays and air fry at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.

If this is the only form of cooking you’re doing to these meatballs make sure they come out at 165 degrees F. If you do plan to simmer them in a sauce afterward it’s ok for them to come out slightly lower to prevent the meatballs from drying out in the final cook.

Try BBQ Meatballs

These gluten-free dairy-free meatballs come out great in any method. Air-fried smothered in pasta sauce, or for something different try BBQ meatballs.

gluten free bbq meatballs

Instead of smothering your gluten-free Italian meatballs in the traditional pasta sauce, now and then I like to switch it up with BBQ meatballs. You simply cover your meatballs in BBQ sauce and slow cook or stove simmer them until cooked through and delicious.

For a full blog post on how to make delicious BBQ meatballs, click here.

gluten free dairy free meatballs
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Italian Gluten-Free Meatballs

If you've never made gluten-free meatballs and don't know where to start or want a new flavorful recipe, this recipe is for you! These Italian-seasoned gluten-free dairy-free meatballs are SO tasty and easy to make, keep reading to find out how to make them.
This recipe is gluten, soy, and dairy-free. *It does contain almonds
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: dairy free optional, gluten free
Servings: 10 medium-sized meatballs
Author: Emily Meyer | Eat or Drink
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  • 1 lb ground beef – I've also used ground turkey
  • 1 onion – Can be replaced with about a tablespoon dried onion flakes
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons ketchup **1 tablespoon will be used to spread on top before baking
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats (raw) – I prefer using the quick cook oats as they are smaller and tend to blend into the meatballs better
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast – if you are using real dairy you can replace this with grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt + Pepper – I don't measure I just give a few good sprinkles of each
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pinch of rosemary


  • If you're using a whole onion, dice it very small and saute until tender and translucent. Let cool a bit before adding it to the meat.
  • In a medium bowl combine all of your ingredients and mix WELL. I like to use my hands to give it a thorough mix.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll up your meatballs in your hands. Place on your baking sheet.
  • There are many different ways to use these gluten-free Italian Meatballs:
    I also suggest reading the entirety of the blog post to get ideas on how to use these meatballs.
    Freeze your meatballs – If you want to freeze your meatballs to use later, you can place that tray into the freezer covered with plastic wrap. Once the balls are frozen remove them from the tray and put them in a freezer bag—Defrost before using.
    Bake your meatballs – Preheat your oven to 350°F and bake for 25-30 minutes or until they measure at 160°F
    Air fry your meatballs – see the blog post for details.
    Simmer your meatballs – if you want to simmer your meatballs in pasta sauce, I suggest partially baking or air frying them first. Just enough to ensure the outside is "set". Being that they are gluten-free they are a bit more fragile. However, if you're crunched on time and just want to throw them in some sauce, it can be done. Just DON'T mix them very much and keep the simmer very slow and low.
    BBQ Meatballs – see the blog post for details.


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