Need a fast and easy weeknight dinner idea? Frozen meatballs are the answer. Seriously, they've saved my family more times than I can count. Because while family dinners are chaotic, making the meal doesn't have to be — and frozen meatballs "understand the assignment,” as the TikTokers say. During sickness and health, for richer or poorer, this freezer item is a reliable dinner staple you can make memorable with just a few pantry finds.
You might be thinking, Spaghetti and meatballs every week seems excessive. Carbs! Acid! Preservatives! Sure. But what if there were other ways to serve frozen meatballs besides on top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese? The fact is that meatballs are versatile AF. If you've ever been to the IKEA dining hall, you've already seen one example of how you can prepare meatballs differently.
There are plenty of meatball recipes that merely require you to dump in some ingredients, give a few swirls of the wooden spoon, and then wait for things to heat up. You can get frozen meatballs in various sizes and made from any protein you desire, and all of these meatball recipes here would work with any size or structure of meatball. Our family favorites are the medium-sized beef or turkey meatballs from Target. You do you.
Frozen Meatballs FTW
If you have the time and energy, you can absolutely make your own meatballs from scratch — it's a fairly easy process. It's not, however, as easy as just buying a bag of frozen ones. For vegetarians and vegans, you can even find meatless meatballs in the freezer section. And turkey meatballs are especially healthy while still being filling.
The only real suggestion here? Stick with "traditional" meatballs instead of "Italian" meatballs. While there will be Italian-leaning recipes where the extra seasonings might help, those same recipes will taste just as good without specially seasoned meatballs. Keeping a bag of frozen, traditional meatballs in your freezer means you have the versatility to make whatever recipe you want or whichever one you have the ingredients for that night. Because let's face it: Sometimes we run out of red sauce.
Since you're working with frozen meatballs, it's easy to see these as "crockpot meals." And, babe, if that's what is easy for you, go for it. Make the "sauce" first, toss it all in the crockpot on low and then head out for your day. However, these meals work just as well on the stovetop (or in a casserole dish in the oven). The beauty of frozen meatballs is that they're already cooked. You only need them to warm up and give them some flavor.
Note: All recipes are based on using half a bag of meatballs, which will serve 3-4 people. You know your family's appetite better than anyone, though. If you think your fam needs a whole bag of meatballs, simply double the "sauce" recipe to accommodate.
- 1/4 cup (half stick) of butter
- 1/4 cup of flour
- 1 quart of beef broth
- 1/2 to 1 cup of sour cream
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Cook meatballs per package directions.
- Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet with high walls. Medium to medium-high heat is best.
- Once the butter is melted, stir in flour until it dissolves and you have a thick, creamy-looking sauce.
- Add in beef broth, one cup at a time. Whisk and incorporate well before adding the next cup.
- Add sour cream. Start with 1/4 cup and add until you reach a consistency and flavor that you like.
- Add in your cooked meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer (slow bubbles) for 10-20 minutes.
“Sweet Like Mama” Cherry Meatballs
- 1 cup cherry preserves
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1-3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth or stock, for desired consistency
- Mix cherry preserves and ketchup until well combined.
- If mixture is too thick, add one tablespoon at a time of stock or broth until you reach desired consistency. This boils down to family texture preferences, but keep it at least as thick as warm honey.
- Spray a casserole dish lightly with cooking spray.
- Place your meatballs in one layer on the bottom of the dish.
- Drizzle with cherry mixture, then shake back and forth gently or stir with a fork to coat your meatballs.
- Cover with foil or lid.
- Bake per directions on the meatball package.*
*We remove the cover for the last 5-10 minutes.
- 1/2 bottle of Teriyaki sauce (use your favorite)
- Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Distribute frozen meatballs in one layer.
- Cover with teriyaki sauce.
- Shake or stir to coat evenly.
- Cover with foil or lid.
- Bake per directions on the meatball package.
Note: Seriously. That’s it. Sometimes teriyaki can be a little salty. You can counter this by looking for a teriyaki that is labeled as being sweet or by adding a tablespoon of brown sugar. That’s up to you. You can also make teriyaki from scratch... but that defeats the purpose of easy recipes.
Salisbury Steak Meatballs
- 1/2 quart (2 cups) beef broth
- 1-2 cans beef gravy
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 3-5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- In a large pot, combine beef brother, gravy, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Add meatballs.
- Cook on medium-high until sauce is at a steady boil, then reduce to low.
- Season with garlic, onion, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Simmer until meatballs are tender and your gravy thickens.
Note: If your meatballs are tender but your gravy is still watery, make a quick slurry with some cornstarch (1 tablespoon) and water (1/2 cup) and add into the mix. Stir continuously until it thickens within a minute or so. If you don’t have cornstarch, you can also bring everything back to a boil and reduce your sauce. However, you run the risk of it being too salty when you reduce it.
Grandma Jackie’s BBQ Meatballs
If you live in the Midwest, you’ve probably had some version of these at every party you’ve ever been to. Why not make a meal out of them? This is how Grandma Jackie made them...
- 1 jar (8 oz) grape jelly
- 1 jar (12 oz) Heinz chili sauce
- Mix the jelly and the chili sauce thoroughly.
- Toss with meatballs
- Cook on medium-low heat in a pot until the meatballs are tender or cook on low in a crockpot for 2-3 hours.
Open-Faced Meatball Sammies
- 1 box of Texas Toast
- 1 jar of red sauce (use your family’s favorite for spaghetti night)
- Grated or shredded parmesan cheese
- Cook meatballs and Texas Toast using the directions on their package.
- Heat your sauce on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- Assemble by putting your cooked Texas Toast on the plate, then stack a few meatballs, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with desired amount of cheese.
- That’s it. You might want to eat it with a fork.
What to serve with meatballs is an age-old question. There really are no wrong answers. But if you want some pairing help:
- Mac and cheese or whole baby potatoes are especially good with cherry meatballs.
- Mashed potatoes or egg noodles are great with Swedish meatballs or Salisbury steak meatballs.
- Rice or scallion potato pancakes are the preferred options with the teriyaki meatballs.
- Have a salad with your meatball sammies to keep it well-balanced.