Apple-Quinoa Meatballs

Before my first pregnancy, I had never ordered nor cooked a hamburger. However, while pregnant, I had cravings for red meat and developed a taste for ground beef.

Today, I still enjoy the occasional burger, but I really love meatballs, especially when they accompany my mom's homemade marinara. For this recipe, I decided to have a little fun with with a sweet and savory mix of apple, beef and quinoa.

Apple-Quinoa Meatballs

Recipe by Jessica Corwin, MPH, RDN


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • ½ cup dry quinoa (yields roughly 2 cups cooked)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apple, grated
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon basil paste (or ⅔ cup chopped fresh basil)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a dark baking pan with nonstick pan spray. A dark pan will help provide a nice crisp finish to your end product.
  2. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Allow to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, grated apple, tomato paste, cumin, smoked paprika, basil paste or chopped basil, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mash together well. Be sure to wash your hands often when handling raw meat such as ground beef.
  4. Once quinoa has cooled, add quinoa and beaten egg to the beef mixture. Again, mash together until evenly combined.
  5. Using your hands (or a cookie scoop for a consistent size), mold mixture into bite-sized meatballs. Place onto baking sheet and lightly spray entire sheet, including meatballs, with cooking spray.
  6. Bake 30 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden brown and slightly crisp. Makes 20 to 30 meatballs.

Cooking Note

  • Serve with zucchini noodles or whole-grain pasta and marinara sauce.
  • You can use this recipe to make miniature meatloaves. Instead of a baking sheet, fill a muffin tin with meat-apple-quinoa mixture. Cook for at least an additional 10 minutes.
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Jessica Corwin
Jessica Corwin, MPH, RDN, is a community dietitian nutritionist based along the beautiful West Michigan shoreline. She is owner of Eat Grow Live LLC. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for the latest on her adventures raising three age 5 and under.