Quinoa beef meatballs recipe – baby finger food


Meatballs are such an easy picky eater pleaser 🙂 Here you are four reasons why I love them

1 – They are super versatile: you can really add anything you want and hide tons of veggies inside!!

2 – They are Super Easy to prepare. The concept is very basic: trow all the ingredients in a bowl + mix + create tiny balls with your hands + bake. And even if the balls are not perfectly round…that’s fine 🙂

quinoa meatballs long

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3 – They freeze perfectly. I usually double the quantities of the recipe, prepare the meatballs on two trays, bake one and freeze the other. Once frozen (after 2/3 hours) I remove the meatballs from the tray and place them in a freezer plastic bag or container as it takes less room.

When I’m in a hurry for dinner (or I do not want to cook – yes, it happenes to me too!!!!), I simply place them back on a baking sheet, drizzle some Olive oil on top and bake them directly from frozen just adding 6/8 more minutes to the usual baking time.

4 – They are a wonderful leftover. The next day they are a perfect school lunch idea or they can be mixed with some fresh marinara sauce and be a lovely dressing for a pasta (aka Pasta with meatballs)

Now you know why I love meatballs and I keep sharing with you new recipes how to make them 🙂

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Today I wanted to try a different texture and flavor.

I added quinoa (super healthy super food, naturally gluten free) and few spices.

I also added an unusual ingredient for meatballs: grated apple. The apple keeps the meatballs moist and balances the spices flavor.

quinoa meatballs

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Considering the ingredients and the texture, this is a wonderful toddler recipe (or a baby recipe starting from 10 months due to the grainy texture of the meatballs).

4.67 from 6 votes
Quinoa beef meatballs recipe – baby finger food
  • 16 oz. Organic ground beef 500gr.
  • 3 Cups cooked quinoa 900gr.
  • 1 large Fuji apple grated
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste no salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Preheat the oven at 350F/180C
  2. Place all the ingredients in a big bowl in the sequence you prefer
  3. Mix everything
  4. Place one tablespoon of mix in your hands and roll it forming a small ball
  5. Place the meatballs on a parchment paper on a baking sheet
  6. Drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil on top of the meatballs
  7. Bake for 30 minutes
  8. Enjoy!


Did you make this recipe? Share the love, tag @buonapappa on Instagram and hashtag it #buonapappa I would love to see your creations!

  • Reply
    Arlene Ophof
    June 9, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I made this recipe for my 11 month old grandson who was visiting and I followed the printed list of ingredients and then after mixing all the ingredients together to include the “uncooked” quinoa, I relooked at your video that said to use “cooked” quinoa.
    I ended up throwing the whole mix away after baking them since the uncooked quinoa did not cook! You might want to change the printed version to say ..cooked quinoa!

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      June 9, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Hi Arlene! I’m so sorry for the misunderstanding. I usually start from 1 Cup of uncooked quinoa, I cook it and I obtain 3 Cups of cooked quinoa. I changed the ingredients’ list from uncooked to cooked quinoa (changing the quantities too) to avoid any more misunderstandings.
      Thank you so much for your comment and I hope you will try the recipe again. Ciao! B

  • Reply
    August 4, 2016 at 3:13 am

    I loved making this treat and I loved tasting it to make sure it was safe for my 11mo. I can’t wait for her to try it and hope she enjoys it as much as I did when I first tried it! Thank you for your amazing, healthy, and fun videos. My little one loves watching me cook your recipes and especiallyyyy when I’m able to give her a taste (of fruits or veggies) before all is put together.

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      August 18, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      Hi Kat!! Thank you so much for watching BuonaPappa and I’m so glad your little one is enjoying my recipes!!!!! xoxo, b

  • Reply
    Chelsie Makus
    October 4, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Can I bake these and then freeze them?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      October 17, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      If you used all fresh ingredients, sure, you can freeze them. My suggestion is to prepare them and bake only the quantity that you are going to enjoy right away. Freeze the rest and than, when you need them, bake them directly from frozen just adding 4/5 more minutes. You will not notice the difference!!! Thanks for watching!! b

  • Reply
    October 25, 2016 at 1:50 am

    Is anyone concerned that meatballs are choking hazards??? Especially for children just starting to eat solid food?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      November 1, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Lia! I totally understand your concern. When you serve meatballs to a young toddler you usually break them with a fork in tiny tiny bites. In addition to that consider that meatballs have a grainy texture, so it means that even the tiny bite will be broken in even smaller pieces when your toddler will start mashing it with his lower gums or teeth if he has some 😉
      The suggestion is, no matter what your baby/toddler is eating, always supervise and be there to help him enjoying his food. I hope I was helpful and let me know should you have any questions! ciao 😉 b

  • Reply
    November 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    My Daughter is allergic to eggs- can i make these without the egg?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      November 1, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      Hi Katie! sorry to hear that, allergies are no fun at all. The egg in this recipe has a binding role, I would say, yes, you can skip it. The balls will just come out less compact, but still yummy!! Let me know if she likes them, ciao!!! and thank you for watching BuonaPappa!! b

      • Reply
        Shannon Stambach
        June 18, 2019 at 6:12 pm

        My son is also allergic to eggs and I usually sub flaxseed- I tablespoon water to 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed. I plan on trying that when I make this recipe

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    7 Beef Baby Recipes That are Easy to Make (#2 is the Easiest!) - Baby Journey
    November 8, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    […] Ingredients like Fuji apples, eggs, virgin olive oil, tomato paste and spices parade through this recipe with a single goal in mind: to create a mouthwatering beef baby meal. Give Quinoa and beef meatballs a try by clicking here. […]

  • Reply
    December 3, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Can this be put into meatloaf pan and baked and cut up into slices?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      December 3, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      That’s a brilliant idea! It might result not too compact when you slice it, but if you don’t care a lot about the slice presentation will be fine 😉

  • Reply
    karen li
    February 22, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    if i dont want to use tomato paste, paprika and cumin, can i still make the meatballs?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      February 22, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      Hi Karen! yes, they will taste differently but the consistency and texture will be the same. Let me know how it goes!! ciao, b

  • Reply
    March 3, 2017 at 1:51 am

    is it possible to leave out the apple?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      March 3, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Hi! yes, they simply give a sweet touch to the recipe. For a more savory taste, simply skip them. Ciao! b

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 3:20 am

    Can I use ground turkey instead of ground beef?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      April 11, 2017 at 3:47 am

      Hi! yes, sure. The turkey is a bit drier than the beef as it is leaner, but I think the quinoa mix is moist enough to balance it. Enjoy! b

  • Reply
    May 31, 2017 at 9:13 am

    These came out so good! Even though a once in a lifetime event happened when I ran out of cumin in my pantry. I made them with some turmeric and a bit of sweet basil flakes instead. My 1yr old miss loved them!

  • Reply
    June 2, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    I misread the directions and baked before freezing. Can you heat in the micro from frozen?

  • Reply
    January 24, 2018 at 2:07 am

    I just made these today and my 11 month old loved them. He ate 3 of them. Thank you for the recipe. Once baked, how long are these good in the fridge?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      February 23, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      awww, I’m so happy to hear that!!! I would keep them in the refrigerator for max 2 days or freeze them for max 3 months. Thank you so much for following BuonaPappa!!! ciao, b

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Can this be made egg free?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      February 22, 2018 at 10:08 pm

      Yes, the egg has a binding role in the recipe, you can substitute it with 1 Tbsp flax meal and 3 Tbsp water. Mix them, create a paste and add to the mix. Ciao! b

  • Reply
    May 16, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Are you sure it’s 900gr of quinoa? I had only 500gr in the cupboard and after cooking it and mixing the whole thing, the quinoa was about 3 times more than all the other ingredients.

    I’m going to be throwing them away now, because my son doesn’t like them. I think the quinoa is overpowering and they’re falling apart. Such a shame!

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      May 30, 2018 at 6:44 pm

      Hi! I think the misunderstanding is about cooked or not cooked 🙂 You will need 3 cups (more or less 900gr) of cooked quinoa. That means 1 abundant cup uncooked quinoa. Usually quinoa more than doubles its quality once cooked. Sorry if I was not clear in the recipe 🙁 ciao, b

    • Reply
      November 14, 2019 at 6:54 pm

      I made this and the mixture was too watery and didn’t hold. The flavor was very good, though. Perhaps the Apple was too juicy or the cooked quinoa had too much moisture in it.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    July 20, 2018 at 2:20 am

    I loved them, they taste great – but Mine are crumbling apart while eating – is this usual, or can you suggest what I may have done incorrect?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      August 17, 2018 at 8:20 pm

      Hi! It’s the quinoa texture, it always stays a bit grainy 🙂 I’m glad you liked them!! ciao, b

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    August 26, 2018 at 7:56 am

    Hi can I substitute some of the quinoa for veggies like broccoli and carrots or add them on top of the 900g of quinoa?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      September 11, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      Hello! I would add them on top of the quinoa. The final consistency will be softer and creamier! Thank you for watching, ciao. B

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 3:28 am

    What temperature should i use to bake?

  • Reply
    Angelique Wong
    October 16, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Could parmesan be added to this?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      October 16, 2018 at 9:59 pm

      Sure! I would add Parmesan cheese to any savory recipe 🙂

  • Reply
    January 13, 2019 at 7:59 am

    I made these today for my 10 month old and he just loved them! They crumble apart just enough that he didn’t have any trouble eating them. My husband and I also tried them and thought they were delicious. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Reply
    January 30, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    350 or 400?

  • Reply
    April 26, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    I just made them! Delicious and easy! Thank you for sharing the recipe with us. How long can I keep them in the freezer?

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      September 26, 2019 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Natalia! I’m so happy you liked them!!! You can freeze them for up to 3 months. Thank you and ciao!! B

  • Reply
    June 16, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Great recipe ! Silly question , the 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil is it to b added along with the other ingredients or is it only to drizzle over the meatballs before baking ?
    Just tried cooking it and they are a bit dry on the outside and falling apart but I still like them and I hope my baby will enjoy it too !
    Thank you for your wonderful recipes 🙂

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      September 25, 2019 at 6:17 pm

      Hi Yamile! Good question indeed and sorry if it was not clear in the recipe. The oil is to drizzle on top before baking so that the surface will not dry out too much. I’m so glad your little one liked the meatballs, even if a little dry 🙂
      Ciao! B

  • Reply
    October 21, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    I made some changes to recipe. Instead of bear I added turkey and not as much quinoa since babies don’t really like it. No olive oil and no spices. Still tasty.

  • Reply
    September 4, 2020 at 4:21 am

    My toddler loved this recipe! He doesn’t eat much and these are perfect for a healthy snack or meal, so thank you! I only made half the recipe and it still made enough to stock the freezer

    • Reply
      Barbara Lamperti
      October 19, 2020 at 5:31 pm

      Yeah!! So happy to hear that. I love freezable recipes as they save so much time 🙂

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