Who says comfort food can't be healthy? We believe in indulging our taste buds while nourishing our bodies, and that's why we're here to introduce you to the realm of healthy mozzarella-stuffed meatballs! These delightful bites of goodness are not only packed with irresistible flavors but also provide a nutritious twist to satisfy your cravings guilt-free.
Imagine biting into a tender meatball, discovering a hidden treasure trove of gooey mozzarella cheese, and relishing the irresistible flavors, all while knowing that you're nourishing your body with wholesome ingredients. With a few smart substitutions and clever cooking techniques, you can transform this classic dish into a nutritious masterpiece without sacrificing an ounce of flavor.
In this blog post, we'll guide you through the art of crafting these delightful stuffed meatballs with cheese, sharing tips, tricks, and a recipe that will help you master the mozzarella-stuffed meatball game like a seasoned pro. It may become one of your new dishes to add to your delicious recipes.
Healthy Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or oil.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the lean ground chicken breast, olive oil, breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, chopped basil, egg, minced garlic, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper. Mix everything together until well combined.
3. Take a small handful of the chicken mixture and flatten it in the palm of your hand. Place a cube of mozzarella cheese in the center and shape the chicken around it, forming a meatball. Ensure that the cheese is fully enclosed within the chicken.
4. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken mixture and mozzarella cubes until you have used up all the ingredients. This should yield approximately 12 stuffed meatballs, depending on the size you prefer.
5. Place the stuffed meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until they are cooked through and have reached an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
6. While the stuffed meatballs are baking, warm the marinara sauce in a saucepan over medium heat.
7. Once the stuffed meatballs are done, remove them from the oven, let them cool, and rest for a few minutes. Serve the stuffed meatballs with the warm marinara sauce for dipping or drizzling.
Tips & Notes
Use lean ground chicken breast: Opting for lean ground chicken breast helps reduce the fat content of the stuffed meatballs, making them healthier. It also ensures that the homemade meatballs stay moist and tender.
Don't overmix the meat mixture: When combining the ingredients, avoid overmixing the meat mixture. Overmixing can lead to tough meatballs. Mix the ingredients just until they are well combined.
Let them rest: After removing the stuffed meatballs from the oven, allow them to rest for a few minutes. This helps the meat retain its juices and enhances its flavor.
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20.8g
Saturated Fat 3g
Total Carbohydrate 8.3g
Dietary Fiber 1.6g
Total Sugars 3.3g
Vitamin D 4mcg
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
What Ingredients Do You Need To Make Healthy Cheese Stuffed Meatballs
Lean ground chicken breast
Lean ground chicken breast is the main protein source for meatballs. It is a healthier option compared to fattier meats. If lean ground chicken breast is unavailable, you can use lean ground turkey or lean ground beef as alternatives.
Whole wheat breadcrumbs
Whole wheat breadcrumbs provide texture and help bind the cheese-stuffed meatballs together. They are a healthier alternative to regular breadcrumbs. If you don't have whole wheat breadcrumbs, you can use regular breadcrumbs or even panko breadcrumbs as a substitute. For a gluten-free option, check out nut crumbs or gluten-free crackers.
Grated Parmesan cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese adds flavor and a bit of tanginess to the meatballs. It helps enhance the overall taste. If you prefer a different cheese or don't have Parmesan cheese, you can use grated Romano cheese or a combination of grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese.
Fresh parsley and basil
Chopped fresh parsley and basil bring freshness and herbaceous flavors to the cheese-stuffed meatballs. They add brightness to the dish. If fresh herbs are not available, you can use dried parsley and basil. However, reduce the amount by half since dried herbs are more potent.
The egg acts as a binder, helping to hold the meatball mixture together and preventing it from falling apart. If you have an egg allergy or prefer not to use eggs, try using a flax or chia egg. To make a flax or chia egg, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds or chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for a few minutes until it thickens.
Minced garlic adds a savory flavor to the cheese-stuffed meatballs. It enhances the overall taste profile. If you don't have fresh garlic, you can use garlic powder as a substitute. Use 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder for every clove of garlic.
Dried oregano provides an earthy and aromatic flavor to the cheese-stuffed meatballs. It complements the other herbs and ingredients. If you prefer a different herb or don't have dried oregano, you can use dried basil, dried thyme, or dried Italian seasoning as alternatives.
Salt and black pepper
Salt and black pepper season the cheese-stuffed meatballs, enhancing their taste. They help balance the flavors. Salt and black pepper can be adjusted according to your taste preferences. You can use alternative seasonings like garlic salt or onion powder to add additional flavor.
Cubes of mozzarella cheese are stuffed inside the meatballs, creating a delicious cheesy surprise in the center. If mozzarella cheese is not available, you can use other mild melting cheeses like provolone or Monterey Jack.
Marinara sauce is used as a flavorful accompaniment for the cheese-stuffed meatballs. It adds a tangy and savory element to the dish. Substitute: If you don't have marinara sauce, you can substitute it with your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce or even a homemade tomato sauce.
Ground chicken can sometimes be lean and have a tendency to dry out during cooking. Adding a small amount of olive oil to the mixture helps to retain moisture, resulting in juicier and more tender meatballs. Olive oil also adds a mild, fruity flavor to the ground chicken. It can enhance the overall taste of the meatballs and complement the other ingredients.
How To Elevate This Recipe
Add roasted vegetables
Serve the mozzarella-stuffed meatballs on a bed of roasted vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, or eggplant. The combination of flavors and textures will add depth to the dish.
Make homemade marinara sauce
Instead of using store-bought marinara sauce, consider making your own from scratch. Use fresh tomatoes, herbs, and spices to create a rich and flavorful sauce.
Incorporate fresh herbs
In addition to parsley and basil, experiment with other fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or cilantro to add unique flavors to the mozzarella-stuffed meatballs.
Stuff with additional fillings
Along with the mozzarella cheese, consider stuffing the meatballs with other fillings such as sundried tomatoes, sautéed spinach, or caramelized onions for extra bursts of flavor.
Use a variety of cheeses
Experiment with different types of cheese for stuffing the meatballs. Try using a combination of mozzarella, provolone, or fontina for a more complex and gooey center.
Add a touch of spice
If you enjoy a bit of heat, incorporate some crushed red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños into the meatball mixture for a kick of spiciness.
Serve with a side of pesto
Accompany the stuffed meatballs with a side of homemade pesto sauce. The vibrant basil, garlic, and nuts flavors will complement the mozzarella-stuffed meatballs beautifully.
Make them bite-sized
Instead of traditional-sized meatballs, shape them into smaller, bite-sized versions. These mini meatballs can be served as appetizers or added to pasta dishes for a fun twist.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I use a different type of cheese for stuffing the meatballs?
Yes, you can use different types of cheese based on your preference. While mozzarella is commonly used for its melty texture, you can experiment with other mild melting cheeses like provolone, fontina, or even cheddar.
Can I use ground beef or turkey instead of chicken?
Absolutely! The recipe can be adapted to use lean ground beef, turkey, or any other ground meat you prefer. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as different meats may require different cooking times.
How do I prevent the cheese from leaking out of the stuffed mozzarella meatballs?
To prevent the cheese from leaking out while baking, ensure the meat mixture completely encloses the cheese. Seal the edges tightly, making sure there are no gaps or openings. Chilling the mozzarella-stuffed meatballs in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking can also help keep the cheese intact.
Can I freeze the Cheese meatballs?
Yes, you can freeze the uncooked meatballs for later use. After shaping the mozzarella stuffed meatballs, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until firm. Once firm, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag. Frozen mozzarella stuffed meatballs can be stored for up to 3 months. Thaw them in the refrigerator before baking.