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Pasta topped with meatballs in a creamy Italian tomato sauce sprinkled with cheese and herbs on a black plate.

Zucchini Meatballs with Beef

Zucchini meatballs are made with ground beef and baked in a creamy tomato sauce! Serve them over pasta, zoodles, or by themselves. Be sure to add plenty of cheese! One of my favorite parts about this recipe is that it can be made ahead of time, then baked about 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 7 Servings
Calories 467kcal
Author Amy



  • 2 whole eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini grated

Pasta Sauce

  • 12 ounces marinara sauce
  • 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley minced

Ingredients for Garnish and Topping

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • basil and parsley

Ingredients for frying meatballs (optional)

  • 2 TBSP olive oil


How to make Zucchini Meatballs

  • Whisk eggs. Add bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  • Add ground beef and grated zucchini. Mix until incorporated but be careful not to overmix. Overmixing creates tought meatballs.
  • Form meatballs, I like using a cookie scoop to make about 2 Tablespoon sized meatballs. Roll meatballs into balls if you want. If not just drop them with the cookie scoop and leave them just like that!
  • Brown meatballs (totally optional). If you don’t want to fry the meatballs skip to the next step. To brown the meatballs, heat about a Tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven style pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs. Brown one side, then flip and brown the other side.
  • Put meatballs in a baking dish, 9 x 13 greased.
  • Set aside.

Pasta Sauce Instructions:

  • Make sure cream cheese is at room temperature. If it's not quite warm enough you can defrost it in the microwave until it's soft enough to stir. Microwave in 15 second intervals to make sure you don't cook it!
  • Stir the cream cheese until smooth and gradually add the spaghetti sauce. Stir until mixed.
  • Add fresh parsley and basil, or reduce the amount by half if you're using dried herbs.

Assemble and Bake

  • Pour sauce over meatballs in the baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes if you didn’t brown the meatballs first, or 20 minutes if you browned the meatballs. Cover with foil if the cheese gets too brown.
  • Garnish with extra herbs if you want.
  • Serve over hot cooked pasta.


To make meatballs ahead of time assemble meatballs and add creamy tomato sauce. Cover with foil and refrigerate until 45 minutes before serving. Add cheese and bake for 35-40 minutes. Garnish with herbs.
To make gluten-free use gluten-free oats or gluten-free bread crumbs.
Serve over spaghetti, linguini, fettuccini noodles, or zoodles. Can also serve the meatballs by themselves.


Calories: 467kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 877mg | Potassium: 566mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 838IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 274mg | Iron: 3mg