Easy to make, nutritious and filling, meatballs are a firm family favourite in our household. Since they’re one of the few meals that our three and five year olds agree on, we tend to eat them most weeks. So, when our baby was ready to wean it became a bit of a no brainer. This baby led weaning meatballs recipe is exactly the same as the one we use for our family meals, but because you’ll need to chop them into a baton shape to make them suitable for little hands, we recommend making your meatballs less ‘ball’ shaped and slightly more of a cylindrical sausage shape. Don’t worry, they taste just as good!
I will get round to adding our homemade sauce recipe as it’s so simple to make and freezes really well. In the meantime, if using a store bought sauce, I opt for a tomato pasta sauce with reduced sugar (we like the Tesco bolognaise reduced sugar version). As for pasta options, my kids have always got on best with spirals when little but we tend to throw in whatever’s in the cupboard now that they’re a little older!
Baby Led Weaning Turkey Meatballs
Whilst this baby led weaning meatballs recipe uses beef mince, you can easily switch out the beef for turkey mince in order to make baby led weaning turkey meatballs! Turkey can be a little drier when cooked so you might want to ensure your meatballs aren’t too big. This means they need less cooking and can retain moisture a little better. We like to use turkey mince at times with meatball recipes because it can be a healthier alternative for adults due to a lower fat content.
Prepare In Advance
These weaning friendly meatballs will taste just as good the next day. Simply allow them to fully cool, place in an air tight container or covered bowl and pop them in the fridge ready to reheat the next day. If you wish to freeze them we recommend making the meatballs, placing them on a baking sheet apart from one another and putting the sheet in the freezer. Once the meatballs are frozen you can decant them from the baking sheet into a freezer bag. This means you’ll be able to get out one or two when you need them without them sticking together!
Baby Led Weaning Meatballs Recipe
Makes 20 meatballs
750g minced beef (I personally use 5% fat version but you can use higher and drain the fat off as they cook)
2 tbsp garlic puree
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 medium egg (beaten)
Tomato pasta sauce to serve
Pasta to serve
- Add all of your ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well – we find this is best done using your hands to manipulate the meat. Did you know that using your hands to manipulate the meat can help to release proteins that help the meatballs stick together?! Neither did we but it definitely helps in our humble opinion!
- Once well mixed, divide the mixture in your bowl into quarters to help you create similar sized meatballs.
- Before you start making your meatballs, put a large frying pan on a medium heat. You want to use a pan where the meatballs can all be touching the base of the pan without being stacked on top of each other. If possible, your pan will need a lid for later. Add a small amount of oil to the pan to heat up.
- Get rolling – each quarter should make 5 meatballs depending on the size, ideally you want them to be about 3cm in diameter or if you’re making a sausage shaped for weaning then we recommend 2cm diameter cylinders around 5-6cm long. Use your hands to roll the mixture into a firm shape, compacting them well as you go. Don’t go too big as they can become a little firm and dry! Place them directly into the pan as you make them.
- Once all of your meatballs are prepared, put the lid on the pan and allow them to cook until browned completely on the outside – this is around 7 minutes. You do not want your meatballs to stick so you will need to give the pan a little shake every minute or two to move them around slightly. Drain off any fat in the pan at this stage.
- Once browned, add your tomato sauce to the pan, give it a stir and return to the heat. the sauce should be simmering. Place the lid back on the pan to retain the moisture and help keep your meatballs juicy rather than tough!
- To ensure your meatballs are well cooked, cook for a further 15-20 minutes at a medium heat, stirring/shaking occasionally.
- Cook your pasta according to instructions
- Combine your pasta, sauce and meatballs together. Remove from heat and serve – don’t forget if you’re serving this up for weaning purposes as well that you will need to slice your meatball cylinders into weaning friendly fingers!