Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
24 Oct

Italian Sausage Meatballs with Fresh Herbs

Perhaps there is a more eloquent way to say it, but Shalon perfectly describes the flavor of the meatballs she entered in the Primal Blueprint Cookbook Contest with this quote: “They satisfy my mmm, goodness requirement.”

It’s true. “Mmm” is likely to be the first thing out of your mouth when you take a bite, thanks to a flavorful combination of ground beef (or bison) and sweet Italian sausage. Italian sausage is traditionally made from pork but chicken and turkey varieties are also out there. Fennel seed, which has a slightly sweet and very faint licorice-like flavor is the distinguishing characteristics of sweet Italian sausage. The Italian sausage perfectly matches other ingredients in the meatballs like fresh herbs, garlic and red pepper flakes. You can dip the meatballs in ketchup or mustard if you want, but with so much satisfying flavor packed into them you’ll be completely satisfied eating the meatballs unadorned.

Meatballs are easy to pack for lunch. You can also do what Shalon does and keep your freezer well-stocked; whenever hunger hits, defrost a few for a convenient protein-packed snack.

Makes 20 large or 30 medium meatballs


  • 1 lb ground beef (or bison)
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 long sprig fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cream (optional)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan (optional)
  • 1/4 cup bacon fat


Remove the Italian sausage from its casing.

Mix all of the ingredients, except bacon fat, together until well combined.

With lightly oiled hands, roll the meatballs into the desired size.

To cook, heat bacon fat in a saute pan over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the meatballs. Fry 5-7 minutes, until bottom is browned.

Turn meatballs to opposite side and fry until that side is nicely browned, another 5-7 minutes. Cut one open to determine if it is fully cooked on the inside. If not quite done, turn heat to low and cover pan for a few more minutes or put meatballs in a warm oven while you fry another batch.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Looks fantastic!

    Make sure you look at labels when buying sausages. There are more and more “corn syrup solids” varieties out there these days also. Sometimes they’ll sneak you a big dose of other garbage too. Soy and nitrates seem to come to mind.

    Grok wrote on October 24th, 2009
  2. Finish the meal:

    Roast a pierced spaghetti squash at 375 degF for an hour, cut, scoop out the seeds, then render the flesh into strands with a fork.

    Plate with the meatballs, top with your favorite pasta sauce.

    Serve with a nice red wine.

    Who says you can’t have spaghetti? :)

    — C

    Cerebus wrote on October 24th, 2009
  3. Mark & worker bees, thank you for doing such a great job with my recipe! The pictures look great.

    And yes, to reiterate what Grok said, be careful of the italian sausage that you pick out for the recipe. I am fortunate in that I have a natural foods store nearby that makes their own sausages with grass-fed,local meat and great spices without any garbage or sweetners.

    shalon wrote on October 24th, 2009
    • Lucky! I wish! Something like that (if you could find it) around here would break the bank.

      Grok wrote on October 24th, 2009
  4. Thanks for the delicious recipe. This saves us from having to agonize over what to cook for dinner tonight after a long day. I look forward to devouring these!

    hfox wrote on October 24th, 2009
  5. We are making it for dinner tonight too.

    BikerPike wrote on October 24th, 2009
  6. Love that this is a great homemade fast food idea! Thanks from all us mamas!

    Hiit Mama - Meredith wrote on October 24th, 2009
  7. I am so making this- thanks again for the great recipes!

    marci wrote on October 24th, 2009
  8. These would be super-great at a potluck or party!!

    Cherie wrote on October 24th, 2009
  9. Could not wait until dinner to cook these. I made them and gobbled them up about an hour ago. They were SUPERB!!!

    hfox wrote on October 24th, 2009
  10. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with some ground pork I have in the freezer. This looks like it’ll work very nicely. Thanks Shalon!

    Caveman Sam wrote on October 24th, 2009
  11. Made these tonight, only grilled them instead of frying.. and they were the best things ive ever tasted! AMAZING!

    Craig wrote on October 24th, 2009
  12. Yummy! I made antelope meatballs last week and the family declared them “the BEST meatballs in the history of mankind”! I’ll let you know how these ones do in comparison.

    Tara wrote on October 25th, 2009
  13. Caveman Sam, glad I could share!

    Everyone whose made them, I’m so glad they turned out for you.

    Tara, my original meatballs were made with Antelope but I had to wonder just how fortunate others are to have such a meat on hand. I hope my recipe stands up to your original recipe.

    shalon wrote on October 25th, 2009
  14. Ohhhhhh… now I’m very intrigued. A duel of the meatballs it is!

    Tara wrote on October 25th, 2009
  15. Tara, you’ll have to tell us how the meatball throwdown goes.

    shalon wrote on October 25th, 2009
  16. That looks totally awesome. I’ve been looking for a good meatball recipe lately! Do you have a recipe that has substitutions for the fresh herbs? All I’ve got are dried.

    Jake wrote on October 26th, 2009
  17. Great recipe! Tastes delicious!

    Rob C wrote on October 26th, 2009
  18. Jake, use dried but use less than the fresh as dried are a bit more intense. Grind the dried herbs well and simply sprinkle into the meat mixture. It should work fine.

    shalon wrote on October 26th, 2009
  19. I made these Sunday night (25 total; with dried herbs) and they were great. I had leftovers for lunch Monday and Tuesday. Thanks for the awesome recipe.

    Jeremy wrote on October 27th, 2009
  20. Can something be substituted for the almond meal? I am allergic to tree nuts.

    Ed wrote on October 28th, 2009
  21. I always use freshly ground flax seeds as a binder in my meatballs. I will be using the flax seed in these ones too. Ground flax has the bonus of making the ground meat very moist.

    Tara wrote on October 28th, 2009
  22. *droooooooooooooooooooooooooool*

    I am trying these out this weekend. That’s it. No ifs ands or buts about it.


    Bonnie wrote on October 29th, 2009
  23. Stupid me, I never thought of removing the casing of the sausage to make meatballs with it. I’ll have to give this a try. Thanks!

    Italia wrote on October 30th, 2009
  24. Great recipe! We had it for Halloween as eyeballs with steamed brains (cauliflower). A winner.

    Joann wrote on October 31st, 2009
  25. The Italian Meatballs were WONDERFUL. Got my neighbor begging for the recipe which opened up an opportunity to talk primal and share my copy of Primal Blueprint.

    Hoyt Hagens wrote on November 14th, 2009
  26. Thanx for sharing this delicious recipe. Am gonna try it tonight. 😉

    Sareen wrote on November 22nd, 2009
  27. These turned out amazing! Great flavors without much effort, my new fav meatball. Thanks

    selfmyth wrote on December 15th, 2009
  28. I just made these yesterday. Easy recipe and absolutely delicious meatballs (perfect portable food for my work lunch)

    I also added a side salad of raw sauerkraut and grated carrot. Yum.

    Agi wrote on January 11th, 2010
  29. This recipe is amazing! Made my own marinara sauce to go with it. Fantastic!! Thanks MDA! = )

    Kristy wrote on January 17th, 2010
  30. My mom made these for us the other night and they were delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

    Merry wrote on July 16th, 2010
  31. Just made these without the almond meal (couldn’t find it) and they were great! Didn’t even miss it!

    Janet wrote on September 4th, 2010
  32. made these last night… delicious!

    Added ~1/2 c chopped mushrooms to the mix.

    Added a simple Italian tomato sauce:
    14oz can diced tomatoes, 6oz can tomato sauce, ~2oz tomato paste; seasoned with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder.

    Tim wrote on September 21st, 2010

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