Grilled Meatballs with Spicy Marinara Sauce (Gluten-free)

Spaghetti and meatballs. The tried-and-true American dinner that fed the bulk of the country through the 1950s and 60s. But these days, meatballs are showing up in a wide variety of preparations and presentations.From the Vietnamese Banh Mi and Spanish albondigas to cocktail bites and turkey meatballs, meatballs are popping up in specialty shops and corner grocers everywhere. This inspired us to try our very own version of the classic dish. Instead of cooking them on the stove or simmering them in a pot of sauce, we wanted the crunchy exterior and smoky goodness that only comes from a grill.



2 tablespoons organic olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half lengthwise, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 can crushed or pureed tomatoes
1 teaspoon sriracha, Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)
1/ 4cup dry red wine, sherry or water
1 teaspoon ground black pepper


350 grams ground pork
350 grams ground turkey or beef (or use all pork)
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
1-2 teaspoons sriracha or other hot sauce
organic olive oil
4 hot dog buns butter
4 slices mozzarella
fresh basil leaves or green onions, chopped for garnish


  1. For the marinara sauce: In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot such as a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is rippling, add the onions. Stir to coat evenly with the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened and translucent but not browned, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and oregano. When you can smell the garlic, but before it browns (about 30 seconds), add the tomatoes, hot sauce, and wine. Add the salt and pepper; stir to combine.
  4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low or low and let simmer for at least 30 minutes and up to 1-½ hours. Add a little water if the sauce becomes too thick.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add more hot sauce if you want a spicier sauce.
  6. If you have a grill with a side burner, you can make the sauce and grill the meatballs at the same time.
  7. The sauce can be made several days in advance. Store, covered, in the refrigerator and reheat before pouring over meatballs. Extra sauce will hold in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for about three months.
  8. For the meatballs Place the pork, turkey, breadcrumbs, cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper, egg and sriracha in a large mixing bowl. Mix well with hands.
  9. Divide the meat mixture into 16 portions and roll into balls about the size of large walnuts. Gluten-Free Grilled Meatballs with Spicy Marinara Sauce; 2014 Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook
  10. Place the meatballs on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and brush each one lightly with olive oil (to help keep them from sticking to the grate). Gluten-Free Grilled Meatballs with Spicy Marinara Sauce.
    HOT TIP – If your meatballs stick to the grill, use a long offset spatula to release the meatballs without losing too much of the crispy coating.
  11. Preheat grill to medium-high heat for 15 minutes or build a two-tiered medium-hot charcoal fire. Bank the charcoal on one side of the grill. Scrape the hot grates to remove any cooked-on foods. It is very important for your grill to be hot before setting the meatballs on it.
  12. When the grill is hot, turn one side down to low. Brush the entire surface with vegetable oil to help avoid sticking. Place the meatballs on the hot side of the grill, oiled side down. If using charcoal, place the meatballs directly over the hot coals. Gluten-Free Grilled Meatballs with Spicy Marinara Sauce; 2014 Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook
  13. Cook the meatballs about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side. Turn them carefully and gently with a long offset spatula (the kind you use for frosting a cake). If they are sticking, leave them alone for another minute until they release on their own. When they are cooked through, transfer to a clean baking sheet using a long-handled spoon. Tent meatballs with foil to keep warm.
  14. Assemble the Sandwiches Split the rolls in half lengthwise, brush the cut sides with butter and set cut-side-down on the grill. Toast lightly.
  15. Transfer cut-side-up to a baking sheet.
  16. Fill each roll with four meatballs. Spoon some of the sauce over the meatballs and top with the cheese slices.
  17. Place the sandwiches back on the grill, on the cool side; cover the grill and cook until the cheese is melted and the meatballs are warmed through.
  18. Sprinkle chopped basil or green onions over the melted cheese if desired. Serve immediately.