These baked oatmeal meatballs are a healthier spin on traditional pan-fried meatballs with bread crumbs. You’ll love how juicy they are!
Traditionally, my family has always made meatballs with white bread soaked in milk. Then, we’d pan-fry them until golden brown and finish them off in the oven. This method is delicious, but I was curious if I could make meatballs a bit healthier. After a little experimenting, I swapped out the bread for oatmeal and baked them in the oven from start to finish. With great risk comes great reward, because these turned out incredible. I know you’re going to love them just as much!
Love baked meatballs? We get it, baked meatballs are healthier and easier to prepare (goodbye grease splatter!) Try our baked lamb meatballs, too!
What Happens If You Don’t Use Bread Crumbs in Meatballs?
If you’re a meatball purist, you might be doubting what will happen if you don’t use bread crumbs. Don’t fret! So long as you use some kind of carb – whether it’s oats, bread crumbs, crackers, or soaked bread – you’ll get that signature meatball texture.
Making Baked Oatmeal Meatballs
To kick off the process, first place the ground chicken, quick oats, mayo, egg, onion, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Knead the Meat Mixture: Then, knead the ingredients together with your hands and let the mixture soak for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the Oven: Next, preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Portion the Meatballs: While the oven is heating up, portion out the meatballs and roll them in the palm of your hand.
- Bake the Meatballs: Assemble the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or in a baking dish. Then, bake the meatballs for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!
Hot Tip: Like a finer meatball? Pulse the oats in a food processor until fine in texture.
3 Pro Tips for the Best Oatmeal Meatballs
While this recipe is hard to mess up, there are a couple of tips that will help you make it your very own.
- Use quick oats versus rolled oats. Since quick oats cook much faster than rolled oats, they will yield a much creamier texture.
- Play around with different kinds of lean ground meat. If you’re not a fan of ground chicken, go ahead and use lean ground beef, ground turkey, or ground pork. If you want to experiment further, play around with different combinations of meat.
- Experiment with your favorite ingredients. While we keep this recipe nice and neutral, feel free to play around with different ingredients to fit into the meal you’re serving. For instance, add fresh basil, oregano, minced garlic cloves, and parmesan cheese if you’re serving the meatballs over pasta.
Ideas for Serving Oatmeal Meatballs
If you’re trying to keep it healthy, serve the meatballs as a main dish alongside your favorite veggies. Air fryer zucchini or roasted cauliflower steaks are both great options. Alternatively, add these healthy oatmeal meatballs to your favorite pasta and marinara sauce.
Storing & Freezing Your Oatmeal Meatballs
This meatball recipe is perfect for batch cooking, meal prep, and leftovers. Below, find some best practices for storing and freezing them.
- Refrigerator: To keep oatmeal meatballs on hand for up to a week, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. This will keep them from turning stale and drying out.
- Freezer: To have meatballs on hand for up to 3 months, you can freeze them baked or raw. To do so, assemble them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pop the baking sheet in the freezer uncovered. Once completely frozen, transfer the meatballs into a freezer-safe bag.
How do you keep meatballs from falling apart?
Adding egg to the meat mixture is the key to ensuring your meatballs don’t fall apart.
Is it better to use milk or water in meatballs?
Milk is always better than water. It gives the meatballs a creamy touch.
Why won’t my meatballs stick together?
Your meatballs won’t stick together if you didn’t get the proportions right or you used too much liquid.
How do you keep meatballs from cracking?
Keep the meatballs from cracking by ensuring you’ve needed the mixture until well-combined. If there are too many chunky bits, they will fall apart during baking.
How do you keep meatballs fluffy?
The key to fluffy meatballs is adding a bit of milk to them.
More Meaty Recipes to Try
- Chicken and Cheese Kotleti – Moist and cheesy Slavic meat patties
- Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs – These are crispy on the outside but still juicy and tender inside.
- Chicken & Asparagus Recipe – One-pan chicken stir fry
- Swedish Meatballs (Ikea Copycat) – Meatballs in cream sauce
- Crazy Easy Chicken Loaf Recipe – Savory chicken meatloaf
- Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Veggies – An easy one pan meal with dark meat and brussels sprouts
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup quick oats
- 1 egg
- 1/2 large onion finely diced
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp salt adjust to taste
- 1 tsp pepper adjust to taste
- In a large bowl, knead all the ingredients together. Let them sit for about 30 minutes so the flavors can meld together.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Using a large ice cream scoop, portion and shape the meatballs. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the meatballs for about 30 minutes, or until browned on the outside and the internal temperature has reached 165°F.
When I saw these, I couldn’t wait to try them and I gotta tell you, they really are good! Except 1 tsp salt is perfect for 1 lb (don’t you even have another kotleti recipe where you use a tbsp for 3 lbs? So how does that work?..)
And I ground the onion cuz that’s what I prefer. Again, SOOO good! And love that it’s healthier and doesn’t take nearly as long with dredging and frying. Thanks for this recipe!
Hey Nelya, Thank you for sharing your feedback. I think it depends on the salt you use, we currently use Himalayan Salt and its more mild. But also, oats absorb more salt as well, they need to be considered because they are plain. Thank you for sharing your feedback. Glad you loved the recipe.
Is that 1 “Tablespoon” of salt??
Hi Susan. That is correct. If you would like to use less, you are more than welcome to adjust the recipe to fit your needs!
Hi there! What would be a good alternative to replace the milk and mayo for people allergic to eggs and milk?
Hi Maf, without milk and mayo, this recipe would not be the same. I recommend that you try this recipe out instead, https://momsdish.com/recipe/4… You can skip on the milk in the recipe and use bread or bread crumbs instead.
I've never seen meatballs done like this before. I'm excited to try them out!
Please let us know how you like them, Katie!
I love these chicken meatballs so much! I try to stay away from most red meat, so finding this recipe has made a world of difference for me!
Glad you found this recipe, Michelle!
My mother also always made meatballs with bread, but I love the idea of swapping bread for oats. Turned out great!
Hi Diana! I agree, the bread or breadcrumbs are the classic way, but the quick oats are a unique swap. Thanks for sharing!
What size are your meatballs? You said size of small ice cream scoop but ice cream scoops are all different! ??
Hey April, they about 1 inch in size. You really cant mess up with the size.
Yes I believe you , it’s just for time purposes ! I made them bigger but than I’m alwsys worried that they ll be still raw inside and I feel like I’m over cooking them ! So yours are about 1 inch in size ?
Yes, thats correct.
On step #2 you can’t see what temperature to preheat the oven !
Pre-heat oven to 375F.
What size are they approximately?
Usually I use a small Ice cream scoop for them.
These are really good!!!! thanks for the great and such an easy recipe! I used to always make the original kotletu recipe with sauteing and stuff, but now I almost always make these, I love that they are so easy, u don have to dredge each one in flour, you add oatmeal instead of bread, and u don have to fry them!! easier and most important healthier!! 100% perfect
Lily, thank you for such a great review. Appreciate your sweet words.