How To Make Paleo-Friendly Beef Meatballs

Dig into a healthier version of the signature meatball recipe from NYC’s The Meatball Shop.

Michael Chernow

Well-made meatballs are one of the great pleasures of Italian cuisine, and few eateries have mastered them like The Meatball Shop, a popular New York City-based chainlet launched by Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman in 2009 that has spawned five locations and a cookbook

Chernow, an avid bodybuilder who follows the Paleo diet, has shared a gluten-and-dairy-free version of The Meatball Shop’s beef meatball recipe that’s meant to be a healthier, Paleo-friendly twist on his restaurant’s signature dish.

“I’ve removed gluten and dairy from my regular diet based on some auto immune issues, but I refuse to sacrifice flavor,” Chernow says. “This recipe is awesome for anyone, but also does not eliminate those who are eating Paleo like me.”

Chernow recommends using an 85% lean, 15% fat ground beef mixture sourced from a butcher shop or grocery store. “Fattier blends like 80/20 or 85/15 make for tastier and more moist meatballs–because fat equals flavor–and for more of a supple texture,” he says. 

Michael Chernow of The Meatball Shop

“Most butchers make their ground beef 80/20 or 85/15. At a supermarket, pre-packaged ground beef will have the fat/lean ratio on the packaging, but if it’s not listed, expect it to be 80/20 or 85/15 as well.”

Michael Chernow

Ready to make a Paleo version of The Meatball Shop’s beef meatballs at home? Here’s how:

Paleo-Friendly Beef Meatballs


2 lbs 85% lean, 15% fat ground beef mixture

2 eggs

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp ground fennel seed

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

Tomato sauce of your choice

2 tbsp olive oil

9″ x 13″ baking sheet


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Put tomato sauce into a pot and begin bringing up to temperature over low/medium heat.
  • Add meat, almond flour, eggs, herbs and all seasoning to a large mixing bowl. Mix ingredients well.
  • Coat baking sheet with olive oil.
  • Begin scooping and rolling meatballs. You want golf ball-size meatballs, roughly 2 ounces each. Make sure you line them up so they are all touching one another–not squished, just touching. You should get roughly 20-24 meatballs, depending on how big you make them.
  • Place in preheated oven for roughly 17-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  • Pull out your meatballs and let rest for a few minutes. Then place in a bowl and add your favorite tomato sauce.