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.

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42 thoughts on “Italian Sausage Meatballs with Fresh Herbs”

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  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.

  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

  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.

    1. Lucky! I wish! Something like that (if you could find it) around here would break the bank.

  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!

  5. Could not wait until dinner to cook these. I made them and gobbled them up about an hour ago. They were SUPERB!!!

  6. 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!

  7. Made these tonight, only grilled them instead of frying.. and they were the best things ive ever tasted! AMAZING!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Can something be substituted for the almond meal? I am allergic to tree nuts.

  14. 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.

  15. *droooooooooooooooooooooooooool*

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


  16. 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!

  17. Great recipe! We had it for Halloween as eyeballs with steamed brains (cauliflower). A winner.

  18. 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.

  19. Thanx for sharing this delicious recipe. Am gonna try it tonight. 😉

  20. These turned out amazing! Great flavors without much effort, my new fav meatball. Thanks

  21. 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.

  22. This recipe is amazing! Made my own marinara sauce to go with it. Fantastic!! Thanks MDA! = )

  23. My mom made these for us the other night and they were delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

  24. Just made these without the almond meal (couldn’t find it) and they were great! Didn’t even miss it!

  25. 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.

  26. I make this loosely (not too strict with the proportions.) Tastes absolutely wonderful, always surprised how they come out since I vary the heat – what a great recipe. I make extra to put in the fridge and pull for snacks.

  27. Can I fry the meatballs instead of baking? I need the extra fat for modified atkins and epilepsy so this would give extra fat along with protein.

  28. These look great. Has anyone tried freezing them after they were cooked? I am thinking of making them to take down to the beach and I want things I can prepare ahead of time. Or, has anyone tried baking them instead of frying?

    1. I have baked them instead of frying and they turned out fine. I also did 1/4 c coconut flour instead of almond flour since I was out

  29. I am kind of new to primal – keep trying to stay on and keep falling off with long work hours and dinners out. But this time I realllly want to stay on this healthy eating. Made these meatballs and deglazed the pan with some raw whole milk. Also – didnt have bacon fat, so cooked on grass fed ghee. Husband, who is a total carb-o-holic, said these meatballs are the best things I ever made. I agree – they are delicious especially with the deglazing “sauce.” Thanks Mark!

  30. Have you guys tried adding turmeric? Its great way to boost the flavor, plus you get the many turmeric benefits.

    And thank you Mark for sharing this delicious recipe.