Allergy Free Meatballs


I like little meatballs. Not the big huge ones. The cute small ones cook more quickly, and are the perfect little mouthful.

So when a reader requested Gluten-Free, Allergy-Free Meatballs or Meatloaf, there was no question as to which I’d choose. I knew I’d be going for the diminutive meatballs. There wasn’t even really a question of how to make them allergen-free. I often use cornflakes in place of wheat bread crumbs in chopped meat recipes, as it binds, without being boggy. And Ener-G egg replacer does a fantastic job of replacing the traditional egg.* If you can’t eat corn, substitute brown rice bread crumbs instead. And don’t worry; you won’t miss the lack of Parmesan cheese in this one tiny bit.

The biggest question was actually, “To fry or not to fry?” A running debate with meatballs. When I make turkey meatballs, I usually cook them in sauce, essentially boiling the meatballs. But for beef, I decided on a compromise: I fried them just long enough to seal the shape, and bump up that succulent flavor, but not so long as to dry them out. Then, I finished them off by cooking them in sauce, for a tender, moist, perfect batch of meatballs.


(Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Kid-Friendly)

Makes 6 Servings

Each little meatball is a mouthful of heaven. Eat them on their own with some gfree garlic bread, or over your gfree pasta of choice.  I use 85% lean beef in this recipe, so they don’t dry out, but you can use whatever is best for you.

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cornflakes (or other flaked cereal of choice, or 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs)
  • 1 lb ground beef (85% lean)
  • 3 Tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 2 Tablespoons simple tomato sauce (be sure it’s smooth, not chunky, or in a pinch, you can use ketchup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 2 Tablespoons rice milk
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons rice milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 cups simple/basic tomato sauce

1. Put cornflakes in cuisinart, and pulse until you have reduced cornflake crumbs to 1/2 a cup.

2. Combine ground beef, parsley, garlic, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, egg replacer, and rice milk in a large mixing bowl. Mix well, using your hands to thoroughly combine. (take off your rings first!) Once well mixed, add cornflake crumbs and mix in well.

3. Using a 1 Tablespoon cookie scoop  or regular tablespoon, scoop out balls, setting them aside on a plate. You should have enough to make about 30 balls. Once you’ve scooped them all, wet your hands slightly with cool water, and roll balls till smooth, wetting your hands as often as needed.

4. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep heavy pan. Cook the meatballs in two batches, 4-5 minutes each, till brown, shaking the pan a few times. Remove meatballs from pan and set aside.

5. Add simple red sauce to pan, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Add meatballs back to pan, and cook over low heat, loosely covered, at a simmer 30 minutes. Serve!

*If you are looking for a meatball recipe without Ener-G egg replacer, I have a great turkey meatball recipe in The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook.

Allergy-Free Meatballs © 2011 by Cybele Pascal

(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)

SAFETY NOTE: Because each person’s food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns before consumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.

15 Responses

  1. Camilla says:

    Brilliant! I don’t know why I didn’t think about using Ener-G in meatballs. Wonder if it would work in meatloaf too. Hm, I see some experimenting in my future!

  2. Cybele says:

    Hi Camilla:
    I think it works fine in meatloaf too! Enjoy the meatballs.

    all best,


  3. Carolyn Hernandez says:

    We have meatballs at the time in our allergy free house and I usually skill the egg all together. I sautee some red onion to add to the meat mixture for some flavor and use rice or corn based crumbs. I also usually bake them for about 30 minutes….my family asks for my meatballs over a “regular” version. I am going to try the corn flakes sometime….

  4. Cybele says:

    Hi Carolyn:

    That’s how I make my turkey meatballs too, (except I simmer them) with a little chopped parsley and garlic added to the mix. Sound like yours are great! I’ll have to try baking them.

    all best,


  5. Sarah says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I’ve made it a few times since you’ve posted it and my daughter requested it for tonight. So helpful in our house since some are gluten-free and another has dairy and egg allergies.

  6. […] Allergy Free Meatballs on The Allergy Friendly Cook […]

  7. Ellynne says:

    Where can I purchase unsweetened cornflakes? I’ve gone down every aisle of Whole Foods and checked regular markets too. All the cornflakes are either sweetened with sugar or fruit juice.

    • cybele says:

      Hi, you can get unsweetenes cornflakes made by erewhon. They are available at whole foods. No sweeteners and allergen-free. Hope that helps!


      • Ellynne says:

        Thanks Cybele! I made the meatballs last night using the GF breadcrumbs and they were soft and delicious! Will ask my Whole Foods to order the Erewhon unsweetened cornflakes to try the next time.

  8. Angela says:

    I’ve made your meatball recipe several times. (I have your first cookbook and found it there) I subbed crushed corn tortilla chips in place of the cornflakes. They were delicious! This is one of the most flavorful meatball recipes I’ve tried! I also bake mine.

  9. betsy says:

    Any reason I couldn’t freeze these? I’m looking for meals I can freeze ahead. I feel like I’m constantly cooking with this new diet and it is getting a bit overwhelming.
    Thanks, Betsy

  10. Heidi says:

    Could I use a flax egg in this recipe? I don’t ever have the Ener-G egg replacer stuff.

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