Chili Spiced Meatballs! Who doesn’t love a good meatball? Nifty little balls of meaty goodness packaged perfectly to pick up with little fingers or to eat in slightly more civilized (eh um, using our fingers is much more fun though) manner with a fork. These meatballs are juicy, tender, and filled with spices that will remind you of a bowl of chili.
As a mom of two boys under five, I am always looking for ways to sneak nutritious ingredients into the food without their oddly discerning palates noticing. Seriously, my four-year-old son will find a microscopic bit of onion or “salad” as he calls anything green and almost gag himself at the table. These moments make me long for those early days when they would eat nearly anything I put on the plate. Somehow that all changed, and they decided to become independent humans forming their own opinions! What happened?
Back to the meatballs…the meatballs provide the perfect template for using various meats-some obvious and others not so much-and veggies and spices with creativity being the only limiting factor. Using meatballs and a dash of sneakiness, maybe you can also get some extra nutritious foods into your kiddos diet or yours.
What’s in the Chili Spiced Meatballs?
Even though some of these ingredients will be obvious, you might find others to be a bit surprising. Since I was going for a chili-like flavor, I stuck with a lot of spices that I might put into a chili. Cumin, chili powder, coriander, ground mustard, and cinnamon which is probably my favorite way to warm up a chili.
A trick for the picky palate
Remember my super picky kiddos? Well, I have discovered that if I use the food processor to chop/puree the onion, cilantro, and oregano mixture, they are less likely to revolt at the texture of onion in their mouth. It doesn’t seem to be the flavor, but more of a texture thing with foods. Besides sneaking the onions past your kiddos, pureeing these ingredients also help keep the meatballs super juicy.
Offal isn’t awful!
The meat option is where I get a little more creative as well. These meatballs use a ground beef mixture that I get from Buy Ranch Direct (not an affiliate link) called Beef Boost. It is 90% ground grass-fed beef and 10% ground beef liver. This beef and liver blend is perfect for the many of us that can’t stomach the taste of liver, yet. I am determined to one day sit down to a plate of liver and onions without flinching. One day…
Does liver sound a little too intimidating? Don’t let it. You can work in this organ meat in small amounts or you can try other meats such as ground heart. Don’t freak out on me there either. Heart is actually very similar to muscle meats and super nutritious. If the whole organ meat thing is a bit too much for you, then stick with ground beef or add in some ground sausage for extra flavor.
The nutrition behind the ingredients
Are you wondering why I even go to the trouble of adding ingredients such as liver? I get it. Let’s take a brief moment to discuss one of the many important benefits of food: nourishment. Liver is seriously a superfood that most of us should try to include in our diet on a weekly basis, if possible. Organ meats are rich sources of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K as well as high concentrations of B vitamins. You can also read more about liver nutrition and other recipe ideas in my Liver Pate post.
A chance to get your kids involved!
As idealistic as it sounds to get your children involved in the kitchen, it is not always easy. After long days, the last thing we want to do is struggle with a mess and giving direction to a four-year-old can be like trying to speak foreign language. With that said, these meatballs are a fun way to have your children help.
My son likes mixing the meat mixture together with his hands feeling it squish through his fingers. After the mixing, he gets to help me roll them into balls. Yes, his hands get messy, but the experience is totally worth it. Hopefully, he will come to appreciate all these different ingredients and the flavors that he likes in the finished product.
Regardless of whether you sneak some liver into your meatballs or recruit your children to help you in the kitchen, I hope these meatballs help bring your family to the table to enjoy a meal together. In the end it is not only about how nutritious the food is or even how long you can convince your toddler to stay at the dining table; rather, it is that you attempt to bring your family together over a meal and share this time together. The meal is rarely never perfect or calm, but it is still an important time for you and your family and friends. Enjoy!
Chili Spiced Meatballs
- 2 lbs ground beef see Note
- 1 yellow onion quartered
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ cup cilantro loosely packed
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano or 1 tbsp. dried
- 1 ½ tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp sea salt more to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment for easier cleanup.
- In small food processor, combine onion, garlic, cilantro, and oregano. Pulse until combined and almost like pesto consistency. If you prefer larger pieces of onion for texture, pulse fewer times or, alternatively, use knife to chop the ingredients instead of food processor.
- In large mixing bowl, put ground beef. Pour in onion mixture along with all remaining spice ingredients. Using hands or spoon, mix all ingredients until well combined. To adjust seasoning level, if desired, make small patty with the meat and cook on stove until done. Taste and add more spices or salt if needed.
- Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, scoop out golf ball sized amounts of meat and place on prepared baking sheet. Roll balls with hands to make smooth.
- Bake for 20 minutes until brown and cooked through.
- Let meatballs cool and store any remaining meatballs in fridge or freezer for quick weeknight meals.