Breakfast Meatballs

published May 19, 2022
Breakfast Meatballs

Move over bacon — breakfast meatballs will be your new morning meat of choice from now on. Serve over creamy polenta, cheesy grits, or buttered noodles.

Serves4 to 6

Prep35 minutes

Cook35 minutes

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Credit: Sara Tane

Have you ever woken up craving meatballs? Frankly, your answer to that question is irrelevant because you should be. Life is short and unpredictable, so if you want to wake up and help yourself to a plate of breakfast meatballs, then what’s stopping you?

If it’s the fact that you don’t have a recipe for that, I’ve solved that problem. Breakfast sausage is such an underrated ground meat that can easily be turned into a tasty meatball. Soaked breadcrumbs help to add moisture to the meatballs without them turning tough or overly dry. To add a little sweetness to the savory sausage, I added some chopped apple and a generous pour of maple syrup to mimic that perfect moment when the syrup from your pancakes runs into the links of breakfast sausage on your plate.

Top these breakfast meatballs with an extra drizzle of maple syrup and some reserved chives. Serve them on top of creamy polenta, cheesy grits, or buttered noodles. If you have leftovers, use them in a sub for lunch or dinner, use them to build an epic breakfast sandwich, or add them as a bonus topping on the cheesy scrambled egg and tater tot breakfast pizza, one of the other recipes in my Dinner for Breakfast recipe series.

If You Make Breakfast Meatballs, a Few Tips

  • Put your food processor to work. I’m all about shortcuts all the time, but especially in the morning. To make things easier, chop the onion, bacon, and apple in the food processor, pulsing until all the components are pea-sized or smaller.
  • Grease your sheet pan. Make sure your sheet pan is coated with nonstick spray to avoid any stickage issues.
  • Save the bacon fat. The meatballs will render some bacon fat as they cook, but that’s completely normal. You can pour it off the corner of the sheet pan after the meatballs are done cooking and save it for another use. You can sub it in in many places where you’d usually use butter (roasting veggies, rubbing on chicken before roasting) or use it to make a next-level vinaigrette.

Breakfast Meatballs

Move over bacon — breakfast meatballs will be your new morning meat of choice from now on. Serve over creamy polenta, cheesy grits, or buttered noodles.

Prep time 35 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 4 slices

    thick-cut bacon (about 5 ounces)

  • 1

    medium Pink Lady or Granny Smith apple

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1/2 cup

    shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 ounces)

  • 1/2

    medium bunch fresh chives

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup

    fine, dry breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 cup

    whole or 2% milk

  • 1 pound

    uncooked breakfast sausage

  • 2 tablespoons

    maple syrup, plus more for drizzling

  • Serving suggestions: creamy polenta, cheesy grits, or buttered noodles

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and and a second rack in the upper third. Heat the oven to 400°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment as you complete it: Cut 4 thick-cut bacon slices crosswise into thirds. Core and chop 1 medium Pink Lady or Granny Smith apple (no need to peel). Chop 1/2 medium yellow onion into large pieces. Pulse until finely chopped, about 15 (1-second) pulses.

  3. Whisk 1 large egg in a large bowl until broken up. Finely chop 1/2 medium bunch fresh chives until you have about 1/4 cup and add to the bowl. Add 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and whisk to combine.

  4. Place 1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup whole or 2% milk in a small bowl and stir to combine. Remove the casings from 1 pound uncooked breakfast sausage if needed. Add the sausage to the egg mixture and use your hands to thoroughly combine. Add the bacon mixture, soaked breadcrumbs, and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Mix them thoroughly into the meat with your hands.

  5. Form the mixture in 1 1/2-inch meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each), rolling each between damp hands until mostly smooth. Place on the baking sheet so that they are not touching.

  6. Roast on the middle rack until the meatballs are cooked through, lightly browned and they register at least 165°F in the center on an instant-read thermometer, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn the oven to broil on high. Transfer the baking sheet to the upper rack and broil until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drizzle with more maple syrup and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The meatballs can be shaped and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead. Arrange them in a casserole dish or on a baking sheet, but don't squish them together, and cover before refrigerating.

Storage: Refrigerate leftover meatballs in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave.