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How to Celebrate National Meatball Day (without Gluten, Dairy or Eggs)

Next Thurs., March 9, is National Meatball Day, and if you have food allergies or other dietary restrictions, you may assume that there’s no way for you to participate in the deliciousness. After all, traditional Italian meatballs tend to be chock-full of eggs, breadcrumbs, milk and cheese, perched atop a bed of wheat pasta.

This version, a slightly modified take on Heather Christo’s genius recipe for Old-Fashioned Spaghetti and Meatballs in her cookbook, Pure Delicious (definitely worth a purchase if you don’t already own it), results in an amazingly tender meatball thanks to some secret ingredients, a flavorful, smooth red sauce, and an al dente gluten-free pasta, just like grandma’s but without any of the top 8 most common food allergens.

I make this recipe for special occasions, because it does require a good bit of equipment, including two uses for a food processor or blender, but the comforting results are well worth it.


Please note: This post may include affiliate links to featured products for your convenience. If you make a purchase using one of the links, I may receive a small commission, at zero extra cost to you. Win-win!

Traditional Spaghetti and Meatballs (Gluten, Dairy and Egg-Free)

Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6



  • ½ small onion, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ½ cup dehydrated potato flakes
  • cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh oregano
  • 1 pound gluten-free spaghetti, such as Jovial Brown Rice Spaghetti

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion such as Vidalia, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste


Make the Meatballs:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place 1/2 small onion, garlic, raw pumpkin seeds, coconut aminos, olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a food processor or blender and pulse until well combined into a paste.
  • Place the ground beef, ground pork, the pumpkin seed paste, the potato flakes, parsley and oregano into a large mixing bowl and combine everything with your hands until the ingredients are evenly distributed, but do not over-mix.
  • Form into about 24 meatballs, about 2-inches each in diameter, and space them out evenly on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Place the sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are cooked through.
  • Prepare the spaghetti per the package instructions while the meatballs cook and you make the sauce.

Make the Sauce:

  • In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium, then add onions and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook for two additional minutes, then stir in crushed tomatoes.
  • Carefully transfer the sauce mixture to a blender and puree on high until smooth.
  • Return the sauce to the pan and add the oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce and allow to simmer on low until pasta is done cooking.
  • Drain pasta and return it to the pot, then add sauce and meatballs and stir carefully to combine. Enjoy!
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Liz Fetchin.

Hey there, I'm Liz!

As a former food editor and everyday home cook, I’ve spent the past 15+ years testing, tasting and saving delicious, Octofree recipes for my family. It’s with lots of love that I share the best of the bunch with you, along with tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

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