Italian-Style Meatballs With Impossible™ Burger

February 11, 2022
8 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

We've teamed up with Impossible Foods to highlight delicious ideas for using their Impossible™ Burger 12-ounce pack at home. Impossible Burger is meat made from plants for people who love meat. It can be cooked just like the ground beef that comes from animals—meaning you can use it to whip up burgers, chili, tacos, and more. Here, we're showing you why it's perfect for making juicy, crispy-crusted meatballs. The folks at Impossible Foods have identified the iron-containing molecule—it’s called heme—that makes meat taste like, well, meat. This molecule is found in abundance in animal protein, and their scientists have figured out a way to re-create it using yeast fermentation (a process similar to making beer). Their plant-based protein tastes big and beefy, with an umami richness. Lucky for us at home, it cooks up like ground beef, too.

These Italian-American-inspired meatballs are everything you want a meatball to be—and then some. They are plush, moist, and cheesy, with a kick of fennel and Calabrian chile paste that’ll give you all the spicy Italian sausage feels. But these little beauties, made with plant-based ground beef, satisfy meatball cravings for both herbivores and omnivores alike.

Serve these meatballs, browned and hot, straight out of the pan. Think: tucked into a sandwich with sautéed broccoli rabe and ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese or served as an appetizer with warm marinara sauce for dipping. And, for all you spaghetti lovers, they are equally delicious gently simmered in your favorite tomato sauce. Just add the browned meatballs to the sauce and let them burble away for about 30 minutes. Spoon them over pasta and you’ll be in spaghetti and meatball heaven. —Asha Loupy

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is shared in partnership with Impossible Foods. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk or oat milk
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (or plant-based equivalent)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten (or flaxseed egg replacement or 3 tablespoons plant-based yogurt)
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Calabrian chile paste or 1 large pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground
  • 1 (12-ounce) package of Impossible™ Burger
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  1. In a large bowl, combine the panko and milk. Let sit for 5 minutes, allowing the breadcrumbs to absorb the liquid. Add the cheese, egg, garlic, parsley, salt, chile paste, and fennel and mix well to combine. Add the Impossible Burger and, using your hands, mix until fully combined. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Drizzle a sheet pan with 1 tablespoon of the oil and rub a little oil on your hands (this will make for easier, less sticky rolling). Divide the panko mixture into 14 portions (about 2 ounces each) and roll into balls between the palms of your hands. Place the formed meatballs on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil for 30 seconds. Arrange the meatballs in a single layer in the skillet and cook for 1 to 1½ minutes per side, until browned. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. These meatballs are ready to eat or simmer in your favorite marinara sauce (homemade is great, but store-bought is equally delicious).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • smasseff
  • Meghan
  • cbrown
  • CC1647

7 Reviews

Meghan October 29, 2022
Absolutely delicious!!! I make a double-batch and freeze some for future dinners.
cbrown June 26, 2021
Delicious. I followed the recipe exactly and had no problems. My daughter was visiting from college and she is a vegetarian so I made these for her. We all loved them! I did not simmer them in the sauce and everyone was snacking on them before dinner. I will continue to make these meatballs even when my daughter heads back to college!
CC1647 April 25, 2021
These meatball were great. No issue with them falling apart maybe because we made them small (16 total) and didn’t simmer in the sauce. We used regular breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning instead of fennel. Would definitely make again. Everyone loved them.
NRH April 10, 2021
These meatballs are pretty darn good. I was looking to have a meat-free week this week. Mine stayed intact, but had to be very careful getting a good sear on as many sides as possible to hold together using nonstick skillet. I added a little minced onion too. The instructions to refrigerate the mixture I think also helps hold them together. Didn't realize that my panko went bad, and I had no other bread crumbs or bread or crackers. Upon some frantic research, oats were suggested. Sounded weird, but I buzzed up some old fashioned rolled oats and went ahead with the panade. Used heavy cream but it didn't seem "pasty" enough, so added a little more 2% milk until it seemed like the right "pasty." They taste really good, better than I could have imagined with plant-based meat and oats. lol
smasseff April 4, 2021
Similar to another reviewer, my meatballs just about totally fell apart both during the sautéing process + when simmered in the tomato sauce. The final product was more of a "meat sauce" than "meatballs." I did leave out the parmesan and my "egg" was from Bob's Red Mill egg replacer so may have contributed. I may have to tinker with the recipe a bit to get a sturdier meatball.
Also, I weighed out each ball to 2 oz and only got 9 meatballs — where is 14 coming from?!
All in all, it was still a delicious, indulgent Sunday night dinner. My boyfriend who is vegan said it was probably the best meatball he's ever had. I'm no vegan (nor vegetarian), so I'd ultimately opt for a meat based one, but for plant-based this was solid enough. I recommend topping the meatballs (or what you have left of them) with some good mozzarella and broiling in the oven before serving.
SusanR December 12, 2020
I made these, baked them and put them in soup. Kept a few out to try and let my husband try. He loves them. Keeps popping them into his mouth. He has no idea they are Impossible Burger meat. :)
Karen November 30, 2020
Only 7 meatballls stayed together after frying. the rest totally fell apart. However, they taste great.