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Meatballs with Italian Sausage and Ground Beef

Gluten Free

Sweet italian meatballs

I love meatballs with Italian sausage and ground beef! But ground beef has been hard to find in stores due to COVID-19. Since ground turkey has seemed available in the plenty I thought I would come up with a recipe to use it up and sweet Italian meatballs were born. 

Or at least my version using ground turkey or ground beef.

Meatballs seemed like a good idea because of mixing ground Italian sausage into the ground turkey.

With a little love and seasoning these Italian meatballs with Italian sausage and ground beef came out to be the best meatballs ever!


These old fashioned Italian meatballs are savory and sweet. The sausage gives amazing flavor, its always great to mix meats for more complexity when making meatballs or meatloaf.

First these Italian meatballs bake in the oven and then this gluten free meatball recipe go into the slow cooker. When you’re ready for something delicious take the frozen gluten free meatballs out and pop them into the crockpot. Dinner is done!

Why you will love these meatballs with Italian sausage and ground beef. 

  • Easy to Prep
  • Fast Recipe
  • Extremely Tasty
  • Healthy (Soy Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Preservative Free)
  • Family Friendly
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What makes these sweet Italian meatballs gluten free?

These meatballs are so clean and gluten free! Normally meatballs are not gluten free because there are breadcrumbs in a traditional meatball recipe. By using an egg as a binding agent and the proper ratios of meat to sauce you can skip the breadcrumbs in this recipe! 


TIP: If you find that your mixture is too wet try adding in 1 tbsp some tapioca starch or arrowroot powder. Both of these are gluten free options and will help your mixture bind easily. 


Ingredients you will need for this gluten free Italian sausage meatballs recipe. 

  • ground beef (or turkey)
  • Italian sausage
  • yellow onion
  • apple
  • egg
  • Italian seasoning
  • garlic cloves (or garlic powder)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • tomato sauce

Want me to let you in on the secret to juicy healthy meatballs?!

FRUIT! Hear me out, this sounds crazy but diced fruit is the secret to a juicy and flavorful meatballs. I tried a curry meatball recipe once that added pear. I thought…this is crazy! But after trying it I now add in an apple or pear to all my meatball recipes.
I created this gluten free Italian meatball recipe to include apples and let me tell you it is by far the best Italian meatball recipe ever!
Here is my curry meatball recipe using pear if you’re interested in giving that a try as well. These beat Swedish meatballs by far and are a great unique dish for a crowd. 

How to make the fresh basil tomato sauce?

SUPER EASY! In the past sauces have intimidated me. But this one is as simple as throwing all the sauce ingredients together in a food processor or high speed blender and blending until smooth. Here is the recipe if you want my super easy basil pasta sauce recipe for the meatballs!
If you do not want to make sauce from scratch feel free to use the appropriate amount of your favorite tomato sauce. Making sure a sauce if flavorful helps make this dish incredibly tender and bursting with flavor. You can also serve everyone easily with sauce and meatballs for dinner. 
Enjoying these italian sausage meatballs and pasta makes for a good family dinner!

How to make this meatballs with Italian sausage and ground beef recipe in the slow cooker?

Before throwing meatballs in the slow cooker I like to do a quick cook in the oven. You only need a few minutes and it helps the meatballs hold their shape while they simmer in sauce in the slow cooker. 
If you are using this as a frozen meatballs recipe then you can do the quick cook, cool and freeze meatballs so you can dump into the slow cooker when you’re ready for an easy Italian sausage meatballs and pasta night. 
Just throw everything into a slow cooker and let it cook for you. No mess, no fuss and a delicious home-cooked dinner!


What kind of meat can I use?

I created this recipe using ground turkey because I couldn’t find ground beef anywhere. (This was during the couple week during COVID store were running out of everything). But you can also use ground beef instead of ground turkey. 
Any ground meat will work great in this recipe. I like to make meatballs using a high fat ground meat (sausage) and mixing it with something lower in fat (ground turkey) so keep that in mind when you pair meat.
Having too much fat makes everything come out greasy but not enough will result in a dry unpleasant meatball. 
Using an 80/20 beef seems to work well when I make these with ground beef. (80/20, 85/15 or 95/5) All these ground beefs work great, when paired with sausage. 

What to serve with the best Italian meatball recipe ever?!

So many wonderful options when you are enjoying meatballs for dinner. Here are just a couple ways you can enjoy them!
  1. Plain (Appetizer/Main Dish)
  2. Meatball Sub
  3. Spaghetti and Meatballs
  4. Meatballs over rice
  5. Meatballs in fried rice
  6. Meatballs and veggies
  7. Meatballs with sauerkraut
  8. And so much more!

When it comes to a side dish I love to serve a great ceasar salad on the side or a fresh slaw. Having a different texture wis so pleasing and tasty. Roasted veggies are also amazing! 


How to store sweet Italian meatballs after cooking?

After cooking store in fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

Do I need a slow cooker for this recipe?

You can use a slow cooker or crock pot for this recipe. It is designed to be fast and easy so you do not have to take the time to cook all night.

Can I use an instant pot instead?

Of course! Instant pot frozen meatballs are a great way to enjoy a fast dinner on last minute nights.
If you are tight on time or a last minute cook then throw everything in the instant post and adjust cook time. Making these instant pot pasta and meatballs will be a great family dinner any night of the week. 
For slow cooker to instant pot conversion times click here to get a simple instant pot cheat sheet. You will never have to guess or research an instant pot cook time again!

*See FAQ’s and specific tips following recipe below. (so you don’t have to scroll for a million years to find the food 😉 ).

How do you make this Sweet Italian Meatballs Recipe? 👇 

Sweet Italian Meatballs

Try making meatballs with Italian sausage andground beef for a sweet Italian meatballs. These homemade frozen meatballs aregreat in the instant pot or slow cooker.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: frozen meatballs, instant pot frozen meatballs, instant pot pasta and meatballs, meatballs with italian sausage and ground beef
Servings: 8 Adults
Calories: 374kcal
Author: Hannah Stewart


  • 1 lb Ground Turkey (or Ground Beef)
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup apple, diced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 cup basil tomato sauce (Optional: Use whatever red pasta sauce you have on hand)



  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Mix together all ingredients, except tomato sauce, in large bowl. This is the fun part, using your hands and mix until everything is well combined and ready to become meatballs!
  • Form into golf ball sized meatballs. Tip: Keep a bowl of water near you and use to keep your hands wet while you form the meatballs. This helps keep your hands from getting stick and keeps them clean while you form the meatballs.
  • Set rolled meatballs onto parchment covered baking sheet and cook in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes.
  • Add meatballs into slow cooker and pour sauce over meatballs.
  • Cook in slow cooker on low 2-4 hours or high 1-2 hours.
  • All ready! Serve over pasta, rice, or even all on their own! (Optional: garnish with fresh parsley and mozzarella cheese).

Freezer Directions:

  • Label Freezer bag with Recipe name, cooking from freezer directions and expiration date (todays date plus three months).
  • Follow directions above up to make meatballs then let cool completely after cooking in oven. (Make sure meatballs are completely cool before placing into a labeled gallon freezer bag).
  • Label gallon freezer bag with recipe name, cooking from frozen directions, and expiration date (three months plus today's date).
  • Pour sauce over meatballs into freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible and seal bag. Freeze for up to three months.

Slow Cooker Cooking from Frozen Directions:

  • If desired, Thaw overnight in fridge or in the morning in water (meal may not be 100% thawed but that is ok).
  • Dump contents of gallon freezer bag into slow cooker.
  • Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-4 hours. (If completely frozen check for donness, may have to add 30 minutes cook time.)
  • Then stir and serve! (Optional: Garnish with fresh parsley and mozzarella cheese).

Instant Pot Cooking from Frozen Directions:

  • If desired, Thaw overnight in fridge or in the morning in water (meal may not be 100% thawed but that is ok).
  • Dump contents of gallon freezer bag into instant pot
  • Secure the lid and be sure it is sealed. Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes.
  • NPR for 10 minutes then quick release. Enjoy!

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Tag @My_FamilyDinner or #MyFamilyDinner

How freezer meals will change your life.

Makes homecooking Easy

Only spend one hour in the kitchen for a whole week of dinners. Day of, throw your freezer meal in the slow cooker or instant pot and enjoy dinner!

feel confident

Knowing you have a fool proof systen for something that is easy and works gives you confidence in the kitchen. So wether you're a seasoned chef or occational home cook the method of freezer cooking will work for you!

Eat Healthier

Because you're prepping the freezer meals with fresh foods you're eating healthier. Anytime you cook at home instead of eating out you get the benefits of healthier food.

Enjoy less stress

Have you ever felt the pressure of forgetting about dinner, or having to cook at the end of a long day?! No more, just grab something out of the freezer and you're good to go.

Frequently asked questions

No problem! Just throw the freezer meal in your slow cooker and you’re all set. If it doesn’t fit thaw it for a few minutes in warm water. (You may need to add an extra 30 minutes cook time if completely frozen when cooking).

You can but if you only use Italian sausage for this recipe it may be too heavy in the fat content. I always recommend using a lower fat content meat when mixing ground sausage into your meatball mixture. 

Roasted or grilled veggies are great! A side salad or slaw. Some crusty gluten free artisan bread. Fruit bowl. 

A serving size assumes 1 cup of sweet Italian meatballs and sauce at 374 kcal per serving. 

Absolutely. Making a homemade frozen meatballs make this the perfect recipe for homemade instant pot frozen meatballs!

You may have to play around with cook times. If you’re interested in an instant pot cheat sheet for cook times click here!

You can. I would recommend not doing it though because they will not stay together as well. I always prefer to at least sear or cook the meatballs in the oven for 5-7 minutes before freezing or placing in the slow cooker or instant pot. 

Yes! In fact it can make for an amazing meat mixture because the fat content in pork is higher. So a beef and pork combination is wonderful!

So if you’re wondering, can you eat beef and pork together? Its a hard yes! Best when you are using ground meats and mixing together. 

No, sausage is usually made of pork while ground beef comes from beef. 

Any and every! I love to using spaghetti or a rotini. But enjoying with gnocchi or rice noodles is also great. I would recommend using whatever noodles are your favorite and meet your dietary standards. 

My family loves gluten free lentil pasta with these meatballs with Italian sausage and ground beef. 

Mixing a beef/turkey with sausage really makes the meatballs juicy and tender! By combining these meats together you get an old school Italian feel resulting in the best Italian meatball recipe ever!

Meatballs with Italian sausage and ground beef is by far my favorite!

These meatballs can be homemade frozen meatballs great for the slow cooker or instant pot. 

Not at all! This recipe uses egg as a binder and fruit (the secret to the best Italian meatball recipe ever!) to soften the mixture and adds a perfect amount of sweet and savory. 

There are many gluten free brands but to enjoy eating clean try making your own. You know exactly hat is in the recipe and homemade food is always better then prepackaged. 

Its super common to buy frozen meatballs which is why I love this recipe! Make homemade frozen meatballs then cook an instant pot pasta and meatballs for a fast and easy family dinner. 

Don't forget to pin this recipe and save it for later! 👇

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