What Goes With Meatballs?

Let’s face it; we love meatballs! They are fun to make and eat and are bite-sized flavor bombs; what’s not to love?

Most Americans enjoy meatballs with marinara sauce over pasta, aka spaghetti and meatballs.

That is not the only way to enjoy meatball; there are hundreds of recipes and variations of the meatball mix alone.

Plus, all the sauces and sides that can be served alongside the possibilities are endless. So, where do you start with figuring out what goes with meatballs?

Meatballs are made using ground beef, and often ground pork is added for additional flavor. When serving any application of meatballs, try to pair it with a vegetable and a starch. Make sure the sauce used ties in with the meatballs and the sides.

Keep reading for some delicious serving suggestions and sides to find inspiration for your next meatball dinner. 

Meatballs For Dinner

What goes with meatballs for dinner? There are various combinations and sides that meatballs can be served with, which we discuss below.

First, let’s look at three classic dinners that showcase meatballs; Italian, Swedish, and Macaroni and Cheese.

Italian Meatballs

The meatballs Americans think of are Italian; however, meatballs are not a traditional Italian dish but rather an Italian-American creation.

The meatballs are made with breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic, and ground beef and then seared and either baked or simmered in marinara.

Then the meatballs and sauce are spooned over pasta, usually spaghetti, and topped with parmesan cheese.

Swedish Meatballs 

On the other hand, Swedish meatballs are, in fact, Swedish and one of the country’s most popular dishes.

Swedish Meatballs

The beef meatballs are baked and then simmered in a sauce made with beef broth, heavy cream, black pepper, and sometimes soy sauce.

The sauce is cooked down before being served over egg noodles and garnished with fresh parsley.

Meatballs And Mac And Cheese

What could be better than macaroni and cheese? How about mac and cheese with meatballs?

Decadently cheesy pasta with savory meatballs is comfort food at its best. Make it easy by taking your favorite meatballs and adding them to your macaroni and cheese recipe.

What Goes With Meatballs And Gravy?

While there is no one way to make meatballs and gravy, a standard preparation is similar to Salisbury steak.

The meatballs are simmered in a brown onion or mushroom-based sauce. Meatballs and gravy go well with buttery mashed potatoes, egg noodles, and creamy polenta. They make the perfect base to handle all the delicious gravy.

1. Mashed Potatoes

Meatballs and creamy mashed potatoes are a combination that everyone will enjoy. Buttery mashed potatoes are the classic side dish and so hard not to love.

You can add garlic, cheese, and herbs to drive the flavor home and help elevate the meatballs and gravy.

2. Egg Noodles

Eggs noodles are typically paired with Swedish meatballs, and for a good reason. Egg noodles are light, tender, and rich with flavor from the eggs.

Because of this, you shouldn’t just save these for Swedish meatballs; use them for whatever meatball dish you cook; it is guaranteed to be delicious. 

3. Creamy Polenta 

Polenta is a cornmeal porridge famous in northern Italy. Made with butter and lots of parmesan cheese, which pairs beautifully with meatballs and mushroom gravy for a truly decadent texture and flavor.

 For a different take on polenta, allow the creamy polenta to cool until it is solid enough to cut; it can then be baked, fried, or grilled.

What Type Of Meatballs To Serve For A Party?

When you think of a party spread, meatballs covered in a tasty sauce on toothpicks come to mind; but how can you prepare meatballs for a party?

There are various ways to dress up meatballs for a party, such as buffalo chicken meatballs, sliders, and old-school jelly. 

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Swap out the wings for ground chicken meatballs for a fun take on buffalo chicken wings.

Tossed in spicy and tangy buffalo sauce and garnished with cool and creamy blue cheese crumbles, this will be a creative twist on a classic Superbowl party staple.

Meatball Sliders

What’s not to love about a meatball sub? Meatballs cooked in marinara, covered in mozzarella, all on a toasted roll; sounds like great party food if it was smaller.

Turning this classic sandwich into sliders becomes fun party food that is easy to eat while mingling. You may also want to check our post about what to serve with meatball subs.

Jelly Meatballs

A cult classic since the 1960s and something many of us may remember at family gatherings growing up.

Jelly meatballs are meatballs slow-cooked with grape jelly and chili sauce and seem like a strange combination but is a sweet and savory appetizer great for cocktail parties.

What Do You Eat With Jelly Meatballs?

Typically, jelly meatballs are served with various party foods, but if you want a table spread with complementing dishes, here are a few suggestions.

Jelly meatballs can be served on bread as a crostini or alongside sides such as potatoes, rice, or grits. Having a side with a relatively neutral flavor will help the sweet and tangy meatballs to stand out.

What Goes With Keto Meatballs?

Can you still have meatballs on keto? Absolutely! Making keto meatballs at home is easy and only requires minor changes to a meatball recipe.

To make keto meatballs, simply remove the flour and bread crumbs and replace them it keto breadcrumbs, cheese, ground pork rinds, or almond flour.

As long as there is something to bind the mixture, the meatballs will hold their shape.

Have fun, experiment with different substitutions, and create your own keto-friendly masterpiece!

Now let’s look at the sides that will complete your keto-friendly meal; zucchini noodles, asparagus, cauliflower, and kale.

1. Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini noodles have become a popular alternative to pasta, especially for those on the keto diet.

Zucchini has a subtle flavor, making it perfect for carb substitutions and highlighting any flavors it is served with. 

Zucchini Noodles with Meatballs

Zucchini noodles tossed in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper makes an excellent bed for keto meatballs and keto-friendly marinara. Don’t forget the freshly grated parmesan!

2. Asparagus

Another delicious keto-friendly side for your meatballs is asparagus. Often described as having a distinct and assertive flavor similar to broccoli or artichokes.

These intense flavors would pair best with keto meatballs made of beef. Roasting and grilling help highlight these flavors, and with a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil, you have a gourmet side dish. 

3. Cauliflower

Cauliflower has a subtle and neutral flavor, making it the perfect blank canvas to work with, especially if you need a carb substitute. In recent years cauliflower has been used to make pizza crusts, rice, and cakes. 

Cauliflower can be mashed, pureed, and roasted whole; your imagination only limits the applications.

Whether you decide to use cauliflower as a side or a substitute, it will be a wonderful and delicious compliment to keto meatballs.

4. Kale

Kale is a versatile green that can be sauteed, fried, grilled, or eaten raw. A quick and easy way to cook kale is to saute it with olive, salt, and pepper.

You can also turn the leafy kale into a flavorful salad with your favorite toppings. Regardless of how you use it, kale’s bitter and earthy flavor pairs seamlessly with the hearty taste of meatballs.

What To Serve With Lamb Meatballs?

Lamb is a popular protein in the Mediterranean and middle-eastern cuisines because of its robust and well-balanced flavor.

Lamb meatballs are ideal if you want a meal that celebrates Mediterranean flavors. Another great and classic complement to lamb is mint jelly or a mint sauce. 

To bring these flavors into your home, add fresh herbs like oregano, mint, and cilantro to the meatball mixture with plenty of fresh lemon juice, zest, and garlic.

Add hummus, couscous, and a tomato, cucumber, and feta salad to complete the meal.

It is important to note that if you are using lamb as a beef alternative, that lamb is higher in calories and saturated fat.

However, compared to beef, lamb has less protein per serving; for example, 100g of beef offers 25.93g of protein whereas the same portion of lamb is 24.52g.

1. Hummus

Hummus is as healthy as delicious, packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fat. Traditional hummus is made from chickpeas, garlic, tahini (roasted sesame seed paste), lemon juice, and olive oil. It makes a great dip and spread for sandwiches, vegetables, and meats. 

You can buy many tasty hummus brands at your grocery store, but making it at home can be easy and delicious.

Whether you make it or use store-bought, topping hummus with fragrant lamb meatballs is a dish set to impress.

2. Couscous 

If you want a quick and easy starch to pair with lamb meatballs, then look no further than couscous. Couscous may look like a grain, but it is actually beads of semolina pasta. It is easy to cook and adaptable to any recipe.

The light and fluffy couscous is the perfect bed for meatballs and any sauce you choose to dress the lamb meatballs with.

3. Tomato, Cucumber, And Feta Salad 

For a light, refreshing side, a salad of tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese is a palette cleanser and a beautiful compliment to the warm lamb.

The meaty texture and taste of the lamb are cooled by the crisp, refreshing cucumber and tomato. The feta adds saltiness that balances the conflicting flavors together.

Effortless and straightforward to make, just cut the tomato and cucumber, crumble the feta on top, then toss in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. In no time, you have a gorgeous side for not just meatballs but any meal.

4. Mint Jelly

If you want another traditional pairing with lamb, but are not in the mood for the Mediterranean, then let’s look at mint jelly. 

The reason lamb and mint pair so well together is a rather technical answer. Still, to put it simply, the fatty acids in the lamb and mint are related chemically.

If you don’t want (or enjoy) mint jelly, a mint sauce is another way to add mint to your lamb meatball dish.

What Goes With Chicken Meatballs?

Chicken meatballs can be a great alternative if you want to cut back on red meat or looking for a low-calorie meatball option.

Chicken is also higher in protein and vitamins, so you can put ground chicken in place of beef in any meatball recipe for a healthy alternative. 

Chicken meatballs tend to have a firmer texture and a more neutral flavor, making them a blank canvas to pair with any meal.

They also have a lower fat content and tend to be less greasy than beef-based meatballs. Chicken meatball’s mild flavor pairs great with roasted vegetables, on top of salads, and with rice. 

1. Roasted Vegetables

Whether it’s carrots, broccoli, green beans, or even brussel sprouts, roasting is easy to prepare vegetables.

It is hard to find one that doesn’t compliment any chicken dish. The best part is that the vegetable(s) can be anything you want and your tastes. 

2. Salad

Adding chicken breast to a salad is delicious and an excellent source of added protein. In fact, chicken is the most popular protein for topping salads, so you already know this is a perfect pairing.

Try swapping out the chicken breast for chicken meatballs is a fun way to change up your lunch routine. 

3. Rice

Rice is the perfect base regardless of the flavor profile you choose for your chicken meatballs. For example, you can make delicious Asian-style chicken meatball bowls with fluffy rice and vegetables like broccoli for take-out at home.

If you are looking for just a side dish, chicken meatballs go well with rice pilaf.

What Sides To Serve With Turkey Meatballs?

For a low-fat alternative to beef, 99% fat-free ground turkey is the way to go. Compared to ground beef turkey also has 45 fewer calories than beef.

Turkey meatballs are similar to chicken meatballs in texture but have a subtle sweetness. When looking for inspiration on what to serve with turkey meatballs, think about what is served on Thanksgiving.

While the side dishes do not need to be the same ones served, they can take elements from some of your family’s favorite sides.

Sweet Potatoes and green beans are turkey dinner staples and always go well with turkey. For a healthier option, ratatouille is aromatic and bright, which helps to showcase the turkey.

1. Sweet Potato Fries 

Sweet potatoes add natural sweetness to any dish, especially when paired with turkey.

However, not everybody wants a sweet potato casserole outside of the holidays. Try sweet potato fries instead of a casserole as a time-saving and fun alternative. 

2. Green Beans 

Green beans are another quick side that will complement the turkey in whatever form it takes.

The best way to cook fresh green beans is to steam them in a pan and toss them with butter, garlic, salt, and black pepper. 

3. Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a vibrant french dish made with yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and fresh thyme.

Don’t let the animated movie fool you; ratatouille can be easy to prepare and does not require you to make perfect thin vegetable slices.  

The natural sweetness from the squash and acidity of the tomato helps lighten the firmer texture of the turkey and compliments the turkey’s, subtle sweetness.

Served alongside turkey meatballs will create the perfect meal at a summer dinner party.

What To Serve With BBQ Meatballs

BBQ meatballs don’t have to be just a party snack, but a whole meal if paired with the right sides.

While the meatballs cook in a slow cooker covered in your favorite BBQ sauce, you can prepare a delicious weekday BBQ meal.

Classic sides like potato salad, coleslaw, Texas toast, and corn on the cob will tie the whole BBQ dinner together.

1. Potato Salad

No BBQ night is complete without potato salad, and it is the perfect complement to BBQ meatballs, the cool creaminess of potato salad pairs exceptionally well with the spicy tang of bbq.

Whether you prefer mustard style or red potato salad, any version is a sure-fire hit.

2. Coleslaw

Another staple found at most BBQs is coleslaw, and it is hard to think of BBQ night without it.

Mayonnaise-based coleslaw is cooling, creamy, and crunchy and plays well with the tangy sweetness of the BBQ meatballs.

3. Texas Toast

Thick and buttery Texas toast is excellent for soaking up extra BBQ sauce or spooning a hearty portion of saucy meatballs. 

4. Corn On The Cob

When corn is in season, it is sweet and juicy and makes an excellent side for BBQ meatballs.

Grilling the corn on the cob softens it and enhances its natural sweetness, and the char adds an extra level of flavor.

Cover in butter and salt, and you have a stellar side to your slow-cooked BBQ meatballs.

What Goes With Pineapple Meatballs?

Pineapple meatballs are sweet and tangy and a fun way to play with Asian flavors. These meatballs are typically made with ground chicken.

Still, you can also use pork or turkey, with crushed pineapple added to the mixture. Slow cooking them in teriyaki marries all the flavors together and produces tender and juicy meatballs.

Pineapple meatballs combined with vegetable stir-fry, quinoa, and even udon noodles.

1. Vegetable Stir-Fry

However, you can make a vegetable stir-fry with your favorite veggies. The best vegetables to stir-fry are carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, onions, and snap peas.

The vegetables are cooked quickly on high heat with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce added at the end to make the stir-fry. Stir-fried vegetables can be served on the side or tossed with pineapple meatballs. 

2. Quinoa

It would seem like an obvious side would be rice, which is a great carb to pair with meatballs, whatever the preparation.

However, if you want to try something different, give quinoa a shot. Quinoa is packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and some say it is one of the healthiest things you can eat.

So how can you prepare quinoa to work with pineapple meatballs? Quinoa has a nutty flavor and almost rice-like texture, making it a perfect substitute for most rice preparations.

For example, you can substitute quinoa for rice in egg-fried rice for a slightly healthier version. Egg-friend quinoa would make an excellent side for tangy pineapple meatballs.

3. Udon Noodles

Udon noodles make a great addition to an Asian-inspired meal. Japanese udon is thick wheat flour noodles used mainly in soups.

The mild-flavored udon noodles will carry and help highlight the sweet and tangy teriyaki sauce from the slow-cooked meatballs.

Sauces That Go With Meatballs

Meatballs are elevated by the sauce they are paired with, and there are so many to choose from. The three best sauces to go with meatballs are marinara, garlic butter, and a mustard dill sauce.

They are especially great for adding variety if you have a large amount of the same type of meatball and need to switch things up.

1. Marinara

The classic pairing of meatballs and marinara sauce cannot be ignored. The sweet acidity of the tomatoes cut through the hearty meatballs for a flavorful mouthful.

Marinara sauce is easy to make, and the recipes will vary. However, the main ingredients are canned tomatoes, garlic, and fresh herbs like basil and oregano.

2. Garlic Butter

For a dish that feels indulgent, toss the meatballs in garlic butter. Simply to make, just add fresh garlic to melted butter and give the meatballs are generous coating. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with whatever sides you choose.

3. Mustard Dill Sauce

Tangy mustard and fresh dill also pair with beefy meatballs. This can be served with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables.

The sharpness of the mustard elevates the flavor of the beef, with the dill adding a herby aroma. The sauce combines Dijon mustard, fresh dill, honey, and balsamic vinegar. 

Final Thoughts

When figuring out what goes with meatballs, think about the flavor profile you want to achieve, whether Italian or American BBQ.

This will help give you a direction to go and the inspiration to be creative. Also, think about your and your family’s tastes and what you all will enjoy. Now go have a ball!

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