Zucchini Meatballs Recipe | Easy Weeknight Pasta & Meatballs

If you’re looking for a way to sneak in extra veggies, these zucchini meatballs are a made with shredded zucchini, lots of spices, garlic and parmesan for perfectly juicy and delicious weeknight dinner. Serve with your favorite pasta and tomato sauce, these meatballs with zucchini and beef should definitely be in your dinner rotation.

zucchini beef meatballs in red sauce

Why You Should Add Zucchini to Your Meatballs

I’ve made this recipe almost weekly for a few years now because these zucchini meatballs are always a hit, and for a good reason. They always come out delicious and extra moist thanks to the addition of the very versatile zucchini.

Not to mention you’re also adding a sizable portion of vegetables to a simple meatballs and pasta dinner. And if you have picky eaters like I do, you’ll be surprised how easily shredded zucchini blends into the meatball.

Everything You Need to Make This Meatball and Zucchini Recipe

  • lean ground beef
  • zucchini
  • yellow onion
  • garlic
  • fresh basil
  • oregano
  • egg
  • parmesan cheese
  • Italian breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • pasta & tomato sauce for serving
how to make meatballs

How to Make Meatballs with Zucchini

To start, I like to use a box grater to shred my zucchini into small pieces. For best results, place the shredded zucchini on a dish towel and let it “sweat” out the extra juice. I use my hands to squeeze as much liquid out of the grated zucchini as possible so that I don’t end up with runny meatballs. Those are the worst.

Next I add all of the other ingredients to a bowl and use hands to mix the meat thoroughly.

To shape my meatballs I try to make them about the size of a golf ball.

zucchini meatballs

Heat the olive oil on a skillet and place the meatballs on the pan. Cook on all sides for several minutes.

You can also bake the zucchini meatballs or air fry them. I’ve done both and they come out perfectly crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside!

Either way, I then like to simmer the meatballs in our favorite tomato sauce. And that’s it. Dinner is done in about a half an hour. I let the kids pick their pasta of choice and serve warm.

Initially, I added the zucchini to hide an extra serving of veggies for the kids, but now I always add zucchini to all of my meatball recipes, because it just makes them super juicy and moist.

zucchini beef meatballs in red sauce

Zucchini Meatballs with Beef

Easy weeknight meatball and pasta dinner gets a twist with the addition of zucchini for the most juicy and delicious meatballs.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • Use handheld shredder to slice the zucchini. Place zucchini on kitchen towel and squeeze remaining liquid out.
  • Add all ingredients into a large bowl. Add zucchini and mix thoroughly
  • Form golf size balls out of the meatball mixture
  • Take out a pan and heat up the olive oil. Add meatballs and cook evenly on all sides until the meatballs are half cooked, about 3-4 minutes until the meatballs have color on all sides evenly.
  • Add your favorite tomato sauce to the pan and let meatballs simmer in the sauce until thoroughly cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.
  • Serve with your favorite pasta and enjoy!

Additional Notes & Tips for this Recipe

I typically use lean organic beef from Trader Joe’s or Costco. But you can also make these meatballs with ground chicken or turkey. I find that the addition of zucchini makes for a juicy meatball even when using turkey. ( Here is my baked turkey patties with zucchini recipe) My kids prefer beef at the moment, so I’ve been making them with lean ground beef.

To air fry the meatballs place them in the air fryer for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. Conversely you can also bake them at 375 for about 25-30 minutes.

It’s very important to squeeze extra liquid out of your zucchini before mixing it into the meatball mixture. You don’t want the extra liquid to seep out during cooking.

I find that hand shredding the zucchini is the most efficient and quickest way to get the vegetable sliced. The small shredded pieces almost disappear in the mixture and since the kids do not see it, they also can’t taste it but the extra portion of veggies and juiciness is there! Such a mom win.

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