Add more vegetables to your meals with easy freezer zucchini meatballs - they are delicious and most people won't know there's anything different about them. Plus, it's a great way to preserve seasonal zucchini in a super convenient way - as freezer meatballs!
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Unlike bags of frozen shredded zucchini that linger in the back of the freezer, usually never to be used. I'm sure other people use it up, but I just find it doesn't make baked goods the same as fresh.
So when I saw that people were adding zucchini to meatballs, I immediately thought how great that would be to make and freeze when zucchini was in season!
I did recipe testing last season, trying it with beef and turkey, and not only did they turn out terrific, I LOVED having them available in the freezer for the next few months - and I'm pretty sure you will, too!
Of course, you can make these zucchini meatballs any time of the year that you want to make healthier meatballs using store bought zucchini.
You can even bake these right away without freezing. So you've got options!
I just like to have another way to use up the zucchini that is always so prolific in the garden - especially one that isn't a sweet, lol.
Zucchini Meatballs - Freeze or Bake
Simple, simple, simple - gotta love that!
- ground meat - turkey, beef, chicken, or pork
- rolled oats (or breadcrumbs, or cooked quinoa, etc.)
- Italian seasoning
- salt & pepper
- optional: grated cheese like parmesan or asiago
I used to think making meatballs was time consuming and, well, gross and sticky - all that rolling of raw meat kind of turned me off.
Well, enter the cookie scoop! No mess, no fuss - I love it.
Do my meatballs have a flat side? Yes. Do I care? Nope.
If you haven't tried making meatballs with a cookie scoop, I encourage you to try it!
Pictured above are the two most common sizes - 1 tablespoon and 2 tablespoons (approximately). I have made meatballs with both, depending on the size I wanted (I like smaller for appetizers and soup recipes, larger for meatballs for a sauce).
Supplies you'll also need:
- large tea towel
- large mixing bowl
- wooden mixing spoon
- cup measures (I like metal measuring cups - no static sticking with sugar or flour)
- baking/cookie sheets
- silicone liners or parchment (makes it easy to remove the raw frozen meatballs and keeps baked meatballs from sticking)
- gallon freezer baggies or other freezer containers
- straw (for removing air like this)
You will need to squeeze some of the liquid out of the zucchini before mixing up the ingredients.
It's easiest to dump the grated zucchini in the middle of a tea towel and then twist it together tightly over the sink until you see the liquid coming from the bottom of the towel. Squeeze until you get the most out.
If you're grating a lot of zucchini or have the time, you can lay it out evenly on a towel for about 20-30 minutes.
Then it's simply a matter of mixing up the zucchini with the remaining ingredients in a bowl until it's all combined.
Use the scoop to shape the meatballs, placing them on a silicone or parchment lined cookie sheet about an inch apart.
The next step is your choice:
- Place the baking sheet into the freezer to freeze the raw meatballs until firm.
- Bake the meatballs, let cool and then freeze them cooked on the tray until frozen.
- Bake the meatballs and eat them right away.
Once the meatballs are frozen, then package them up with a label and the date and freeze for 6-8 months.
I froze both raw and cooked meatballs and found I liked the cooked ones the best as they were super easy to use.
But it was nice to throw the frozen raw meatballs on a tray and bake with vegetables as a sheet pan meal, too! So I will probably do some of both every year when I have garden zucchini coming in.
Ways to Use Zucchini Meatballs
- Appetizer: Bake up raw meatballs (or reheat cooked ones) and serve with heated freezer roasted tomato sauce on the side as a dip.
- Dinner: Heat up roasted tomato sauce, balsamic roasted cherry tomato sauce, or canned roasted tomato sauce with some of the cooked meatballs and serve over pasta or zoodles. (I just throw the cooked meatballs in frozen and let them heat together - easy!)
- Sheet Pan Dinner: Place frozen raw meatballs on one side of a large rimmed baking sheet and your choice of vegetables on the other that will cook in 30 minutes (potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, onions - or your frozen green beans!). You can also add quicker cooking veggies at the 15 minute mark, like fresh green beans, broccoli, or asparagus. Toss the veggies with oil and a spice rub and bake all at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.
- Lunch: Grab a few frozen, cooked meatballs and heat in a microwave or toaster oven to add to a salad or leftover vegetables.
Or in any recipe that calls for frozen meatballs!
Easy Freezer Zucchini Meatballs
- cookie scoop
- baking sheet
- large mixing bowl
- 3 cups grated zucchini about 2 medium
- 1 pound ground meat - beef turkey, chicken, or pork
- 3/4 cups rolled oats or quick oats, breadcrumbs, cooked quinoa
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup OPTIONAL grated cheese (parmesan, asiago, etc.)
- Place grated zucchini on a tea towel, bring up ends and twist ends to squeeze juice out of bottom of towel held over a sink or bowl. Remove as much juice as possible.
- Add zucchini and remaining ingredients, including cheese if using, to a large bowl - mix until combined.
- Use a cookie scoop to shape the mixture into balls and place about 1 inch apart on lined baking sheets.
- Bake immediately or freeze for later.
To Bake and Serve:
- Cook in a preheated 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through. Cool a few minutes and serve.
To Freeze Raw:
- Place baking sheet(s) with raw meatballs into the freezer and freeze until firm, 1 to 2 hours.
- Use a spatula to transfer the frozen balls into a labeled gallon freezer bag or other freezer container.
- Seal and freeze 6-8 months.
To Freeze Cooked:
- Bake as directed above, then allow to cool completely on the baking sheet.
- Add cooled meatballs to labeled gallon freezer bags or containers, seal and freeze.
- To reheat, remove as any meatballs as you'd like from the bag and heat in the oven, toaster oven, or stovetop until warmed through (can also microwave for 1-2 minutes).