Calabrian Meatballs in a steel skillet

Calabrian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Calabria, “the toe of Italy’s boot,” is a picturesque region in southern Italy, which is famous for its spicy and robust cuisine, emphasizing powerful ingredients like garlic, tomatoes, and red-hot chili peppers. Calabrian cooking strikes a beautiful balance between fresh and preserved ingredients, and between meat-based dishes, vegetables, and fish, all flavored with fragrant herbs. These Calabrian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce are the epitome of what this region is known for.

5 from 4 votes
Calabrian Meatballs in a steel skillet
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Calabrian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Refrigeration Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 742kcal


For the tomato sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
  • 1 large red onion , finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.5 g) kosher or fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon (0.6 g) freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon (0.6 g) sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon (0.6 g) smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon (0.7 g) chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon (0.7 g) dried basil
  • 2 cups (480 g) canned tomatoes, peeled and chopped

For the meatballs:

  • 20 ounces (570 g) ground pork
  • ½ cup (45 g) gluten-free bread crumbs
  • ½ cup (70 g) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ½ cup (50 g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ teaspoon (0.6 g) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) canola oil, for frying

For garnish:

  • 4 tablespoons (15 g) flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped


  • For the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add sliced onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Season with salt, pepper, sweet and smoked paprika, chili powder, and dried basil. Stir and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and cook until the juices thicken, about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the meat, bread crumbs, cheeses, egg, black pepper, and olive oil in a large, deep bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Roll the mixture into 16 round balls, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up.
  • Once the meatballs are solid, remove them from the refrigerator. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the meatballs for 2-3 minutes on each side, until evenly browned all over. Remove from the heat.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the skillet with tomato sauce, cover, and let cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Top with lots of parsley. Serve alone or with gluten-free pasta or mashed potatoes.


Nutrition Facts
Calabrian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 742 Calories from Fat 504
% Daily Value*
Fat 56g86%
Saturated Fat 18g90%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 167mg56%
Sodium 747mg31%
Potassium 889mg25%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 38g76%
Vitamin A 991IU20%
Vitamin C 20mg24%
Calcium 361mg36%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Disclaimer: All nutrition facts on Gluten Free & More are meant only as a guide and may differ depending on product brands used or ingredient substitutions. Some errors may occur, so you are encouraged to confirm the recipe’s ingredient and nutrition suitability for your own diet.
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Tags: Italian Meatballs Natalia Mantur Tomatoes
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