Baked Quinoa-Pork Meatballs

September  7, 2018
14 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes 26 (2 tablespoon–sized) meatballs
Author Notes

Instead of breadcrumbs, these meatballs call in cooked quinoa. It brings a fluffier, bouncier texture, nutty flavor, and nubby crust. We loved serving these with spaghetti and tomato sauce, but they’d be just as great atop a grain bowl or big salad. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

Read more here: For Even Better Meatballs, Lose the Breadcrumbs —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, well-rinsed
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup minced or grated yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, preferably toasted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Combine the quinoa and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 or so minutes until the water has absorbed and the quinoa is tender. When it’s done, dump onto a plate and spread out to cool completely. (You can stick it in the fridge or freezer if you’re in a rush.)
  2. When the quinoa is no longer warm, combine that and the rest of the ingredients in a big bowl. You can use your hands or a spoon to combine. Just make sure you don’t overwork the mixture, lest you’ll end up with tough meatballs.
  3. Heat the oven to 400° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment or a silicone mat.
  4. Form the pork mixture into 2-tablespoon sized balls. Line up on the sheet pan. If they seem crowded (which will cause steaming versus browning), divide between two lined sheet pans.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes until browned and cooked through.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Molly
  • Claudia Cooper
    Claudia Cooper
  • Rosalind Paaswell
    Rosalind Paaswell
  • Sean Baird
    Sean Baird
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

12 Reviews

Maaahia January 9, 2022
I just made a batch of a version of these using a slightly different mix of spices and herbs (oregano, coriander seeds, smoked paprika and lots of black pepper). My quinoa and the meatballs needed to cook a little bit longer but the latter may just be my oven not being as hot as it should have been. They are absolutely delicious and I really like the texture. I made them to put them into lunchboxes but already stole quite a few...
Chloe January 3, 2020
The was the most awesome surprise of a recipe that I stumbled upon! These are so easy to make, and delicious to boot.

I didn’t have parsley or fennel seeds, but I didn’t miss them. I was worried that the balls seemed a little loose while I was rolling them, but they held together beautifully! I also ended up baking them for 20-25 minutes. They had hardly any color at 15.
I will make this many more times!
johnro July 13, 2019
I made these using a blend of turkey and beef and they were brilliant. I'll be using quinao in all my meatballs going forward.

Molly December 31, 2018
I thought the quinoa totally overtook any of the other flavors in these meatballs. Also, even though I made sure to measure them out into 2 T balls, they took about twice as long to cook as noted here. Would try again with some different proportions (less quinoa), though.
Claudia C. November 25, 2018
I've only had this recipe a few months and have made these meatballs several times - they are outstanding! I couldn't find pecorino cheese so substituted with Romano. I serve them with spaghetti and homemade tomato sauce.
Emma L. November 26, 2018
Yay! So glad to hear that, Claudia. That's my favorite way to serve these, too :)
Rosalind P. September 21, 2018
i need to keep my meatballs kosher, so will use beef, chicken or turkey (and the added oil/mayo hint is great for the white meat problem). And will have to leave out the parmesan, of course. Could add brewer's yeast for a similar umami flavoring. Hope it works.
Rosalind P. September 21, 2018
oops. meant pecorin0
susan K. September 21, 2018
What would you think about ground turkey in this recipe for non-red meat eaters?
Emma L. September 21, 2018
Hi Susan—great Q! I didn't test a ground turkey (or chicken) alternative, but it should work just fine. If it's possible for you to find some ground dark meat (e.g., thighs), that would be best since it'll have a higher fat content. If you can only find ground white meat, you could add 1 to 2 tablespoons (or more) of olive oil or mayo to the mixture. The easiest way to test if you'd want more oil or mayo is: Cook one meatball in the oven (or even a skillet on the stove), then adjust the fat as needed. If you try, let me know how it goes!
Sean B. September 12, 2018
Emma, I'm stoked to try these! What a cool variation.
Emma L. September 12, 2018
Yay—thanks, Sean!