Keep dinnertime simple with my easy-to-make, savory and delicious Pork Meatballs with Apple and Onion – InForum

FARGO — This week’s savory Pork Meatballs with Apple and Onion are the perfect recipe to help you sink into comfort food this fall, and they can be on your table in less than 45 minutes. These meatballs are easy to make, full of juicy, fall flavors and a great way to celebrate National Pork Month.

I use ground pork (not sausage) for this recipe, which is an excellent source of lean protein and an affordable alternative to ground beef. The meatballs are a combination of ground pork, apple, sweet onion, egg, plain breadcrumbs, seasoning and a blend of warm herbs and spices, including ground sage, cinnamon, ginger and garlic.

Ground pork is an excellent source of lean protein and an affordable alternative to ground beef, and Sarah combines the meat with shredded apple and finely chopped onion for this recipe.

Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Pork and apples are a natural flavor combination. The apple brings moisture and a hint of sweetness to the meatballs, and you can use any variety you prefer (I choose whatever is on sale). When I first developed this recipe, I chopped the apple into fine pieces, but the small bits of apple would fall out of the meatballs as I shaped them. Now, I use a box grater to quickly shred the apple so that it binds better to the ground pork. The shredded apple melts perfectly into the meatballs as they bake, for added succulence and flavor.

To make the meatballs, I put all the ingredients in a large bowl, except the ground pork and breadcrumbs, and stir them together until combined. Next, I add the ground pork and use my hands to knead it fully into the mixture.

Finally, I add the breadcrumbs. I start with one cup and add another quarter to half cup, as needed, until the mixture can be formed into a ball. I use fresh breadcrumbs for this recipe, which I make by blitzing stale or unused bread in my mini food processor. This is a great way to use up leftover hamburger or hot dog buns, or any bread, and the breadcrumbs can be frozen for several months.

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Plain breadcrumbs are added to bind the meatball mix together, and Sarah uses fresh breadcrumbs made with leftover hamburger and hot dog buns.

Sarah Nasello / The Forum

This meatball mixture is sticky, so I pop it in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes until it becomes firm enough to hold its shape. To keep the pork from sticking to my hands, I sprinkle them with two or three drops of water, then rub them together before shaping the meatballs. This simple step can be repeated every third or fourth meatball and it makes the process so much easier.

I place the meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until they are fully cooked with an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees. When ready, they should be opaque in the center, not pink, and golden brown on the bottom.

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Sarah bakes the meatballs until they are fully cooked to at least 160 degrees, with an opaque center and golden brown bottom.

Sarah Nasello / The Forum

These meatballs can be served on their own or with your favorite sauce or gravy – I often cheat and use a packet of pork gravy from the grocery store, and I will not tell anyone if you do this, too. Keep dinnertime simple with my easy-to-make, savory and delicious Pork Meatballs with Apple and Onion.

Pork Meatballs with Apple and Onion

Makes: about 25 1½-inch meatballs


½ cup apple, peeled and grated (or finely chopped)
½ cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon ground sage
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound ground pork (unseasoned)
1 to 1 ½ cups fresh or plain breadcrumbs


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add all the ingredients, except the ground pork and breadcrumbs. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir the ingredients together until well combined. Add the ground pork and use your hands to knead the mixture together until fully incorporated, about a minute or two.

Starting with 1 cup, add the breadcrumbs and use your hands or a rubber spatula to work them into the mixture. Add the remaining half-cup of breadcrumbs as needed, starting with ¼ cup, until the mixture is firm enough to form into a large ball within the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes so that the mixture becomes firm enough to shape into meatballs.

Use an ice cream scoop, two spoons or your hands to scoop the mixture into even-sized dollops and place them on the prepared baking sheet.

Use both of your hands to roll each dollop into a smooth ball – if the mixture is still sticky, wet your hands with 2 to 3 drops of water, rub them together and then shape the meatballs, placing them back on the sheet about an inch apart. Repeat this step as needed until all the meatballs are formed.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the meatballs are fully cooked and have reached an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees, about 18 to 20 minutes. They should be opaque in the center and golden brown on the bottom. Let cool on the baking sheet for 3 to 5 minutes.

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The meatballs can be served plain or with a simple pork gravy made from scratch or with a pre-made packet.

Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Serve plain or with your favorite sauce or gravy. Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for 3 months.

Sarah’s Tips:

  • The meatballs can be shaped and refried for up to one day before baking or frozen for up to 3 months (no need to thaw before baking, just add a few minutes to the baking time).
  • Refrigerating the mixture and sprinkling your hands with a few drops of water before shaping will make it easier to roll the meatballs.

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