How to make delicious gluten-free, egg-free meatballs


Janelle Holden

My sister said to me from the front of the car, “You can make meatballs, right?”


“Sure,” I mumbled, worried that a gluten-free, egg-free meatball might just be a culinary experiment no one would enjoy eating.

Meatballs typically contain bread crumbs, oatmeal, or eggs to make the meat stick together and stay moist. You can use gluten-free bread or certified gluten-free oats to bind the meat, but since I don’t eat rice or oats, most of those options aren’t available to me.

Happily, I came up with a solution that worked. Ground chia seeds are a great egg-substitute, and combined with buckwheat flour (which is a fruit), and arrowroot starch it makes a great binding for meat.

Here’s the meatball recipe:

For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound beef or pork
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons ground chia seed
  • 1/4 cup ground buckwheat groats or buckwheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • salt and pepper or other seasonings to taste

 For the sauce:

  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Seasonings to taste


  1. Place all of the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and mix together with your hands until well mixed.
  2. Form small, 2-inch meatballs and place in a separate dish.
  3. In a large pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and then brown the meatballs on the stove until almost cooked through.
  4. Transfer the meatballs to a crockpot or slow cooker and put the cooker on high.
  5. In a small saucepot on the oven mix the sauce ingredients together and bring to a boil.
  6. Keep tasting your sauce and adding your favorite Italian seasonings.
  7. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and turn the crockpot down to low.
  8. Let simmer for several hours on low until completely cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
  9. Eat and enjoy!


Janelle Holden is president and founder of The Gluten-Free Life Coach, where she helps people grab control of their diets and their lives so that they can look and feel their best. To get more great recipes, ideas and coaching from Janelle, click here to grab a copy of her complimentary e-zine, “Gluten-Free Notes.”



About Janelle

Janelle Holden has spent hundreds of hours coaching people world-wide with celiac disease and food sensitivities how to transition to a gluten-free diet, stop struggling with food, travel with food sensitivities, and do more of the things they love. She is the author of, "Six steps to grab control of your diet and love what you eat" and an award-winning journalist, international coach, and speaker.

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