Mini Taco Meatballs {appetizer}

Mini Taco Meatballs {appetizers} -

As we near the end of football season the delectable, dip-able dishes are making their appearance on the internet.  Spicy, relaxed food prepared in mass quantities to celebrate (or agonize) with friends over the nail biting games to see who will make it into Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2, 2014.

Coloradoans will be hosting what is expected to be the largest game ever to be played at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.  The weather is expected to hit 60 with sunny skies; not bad for a game played in mid-winter.  You can expect to see a lot of orange and blue filling out the sold-out stadium seats, with all appendages crossed for the local Broncos to secure a seat in the Big Game.

Though there is still time for menu planning, I have some dishes to roll out to kick off the preparation.  It struck me that it seems a cruel joke that this holy grail of sporting events would strike in the middle of New Year’s resolutions, tempting those opting for healthier eating or some weight loss as their starting commitment to 2014.

Mini Taco Meatballs {appetizers} - #glutenfree

The appetizer I have for you today is many things, including kind to one’s health pursuits.  Mini Taco Meatballs are just what they sound, bite-size meatballs full of taco flavors and ingredients.  They are made with no binding fillers so are pure ground beef as well as are on the table less than 30 minutes after you pull the ingredients out to make them.  Not bad, right?

My household taste testers loved them and the frilly toothpicks make them feel like a party.  We happened upon a secondary way to eat them out of necessity, which we all fell in love with.  The evening I made them I had not thought through dinner.  I had the meatballs but felt we needed more.  In the scurry of post after-school sports I realized we had some iceberg lettuce (which I rarely buy but thinking ‘tacos’ I had some on hand to potentially incorporate into the meatball serving).  A flash on chicken wraps struck me and we popped a few meatballs in a large leaf of lettuce, sprinkled on a bit of finely grated Mexican cheese combination (salsa would also be good), rolled them up and ate them as a bit of a Poor-Man’s-Taco-Meets-Spring-Roll.  Everyone loved them for the crunchy texture, flavor combinations and ease of eating.  Of course it made for a healthier taco as well!

Mini Taco Meatballs {appetizers} - #football

Mini Taco Meatballs {appetizer}

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 25 mini meatballs 1-inch in diameter

These quick, easy appetizer-size meatballs are done in less than 30 minutes and are full of taco flavor. Perfect for gatherings or incorporating into other dishes, they have no fillers and are naturally gluten-free.


  • 1/2 cup Yellow Onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon Kosher Salt*
  • 3 tablespoons Taco Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Cilantro, diced
  • 1 large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound lean Ground Beef


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet (with sides to avoid meatballs escaping) with parchment paper or a silpat. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion, cheese, salt, taco seasoning and fresh cilantro. Using a fork, stir mixture together to fully combine.
  3. Add the lightly beaten egg, and again using a fork, stir to combine into the seasoning mixture.
  4. Add the ground beef, and using your hands, mix all the ingredients together fully.
  5. To form meatballs, gather approximately one heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture in your hands. Gently roll the meat into a ball which should be 1 inch across. Place on the prepared baking sheet/pan.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes (or until cooked all the way through). Remove pan from oven, allow to sit for a few minutes before serving. Insert toothpicks or mini forks for ease of eating. Note: there will be some melted cheese around the bottom of the meatballs.


*if the Taco Seasoning being used has added salt, I recommend using 1/2 teaspoon of salt only. If using no-salt taco seasoning, 1 teaspoon of salt should be used.


  1. Colleen says

    Oh my gosh those look so good! And I love the idea of “lettuce wrap tacos.” Anything taco always gets my attention; tacos were my favorite food growing up, I always chose them for my birthday meal, and I don’t make them often now because I can only eat one or two (vs. 5 or 6 when I was 14!) and it doesn’t seem worth it to make a mess of the stove frying the tortillas. You’ve just given me a way to (a) make the meatballs in advance and (b) serve myself easy prep “tacos” on a moment’s notice – thank you for this inspiration!

    • says

      Well I’ve also gotten an email saying you’ve made a batch! I love the lettuce taco too; perfect to keep the calories slim and the flavor and texture big. I’m sure they’ll be great to freeze to have on hand too!

    • says

      Thank you Chris. I love that it helps with the binding and adds great flavor. I completely agree about using this more broadly too. Time to put on the thinking caps…

    • says

      I love that too Julia! There is something so appealing about the size AND the iceberg lettuce Taco made with the meatballs is now is steady demand at my house!

  2. Colleen says

    A Superbowl that keeps on giving! I defrosted a dozen of these delicious little meatballs and made half of them (two meals) a bed for tomatoes, onion, and cheese with a few corn chips crumbled on top. With my move about 6 weeks away, it was “use it or lose it” for special items in the freezer like these. Thank you for a delicious dinner that brought back memories of mid-January’s cold snap as spring truly gets underway here in Sacramento and the only “snow” is the falling petals from the ornamental pear trees.

  3. says

    I love these – at not just because of the adorable toothpicks! I’ll try to make my own taco seasoning, as I find the commercial stuff way too salty. It’s a great way to pack a lot of flavor into a bite without filler.


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