Side on view of juicy gluten free spaghetti and meatballs on a table with red wine

Hearty, comforting and so easy to make, gluten free spaghetti and meatballs are one of my all-time favourite dinner recipes and after you try this recipe I think they’ll be yours too! We’re talking juicy and full-of-flavour meatballs, perfectly al-dente golden yellow pasta strands and a rich, but couldn’t-be-simpler-to-make, tomato sauce. All topped with generous gratings of parmesan cheese and fresh, bright green basil leaves. If you don’t have tomato splatters all over your front once you’ve finished eating spaghetti and meatballs, were you really enjoying it?

I read Stanley Tucci’s (brilliant) Taste: My Life Through Food over the new year and in it, he talks about how meatballs should be almost half bread and half meat. While this recipe doesn’t go THAT far, it does include a few slices of gluten free bread for binding (from experience any bread you’ve got on hand will do the trick), along with creamy, tangy ricotta and an egg. To make this recipe work for a lower FODMAP diet, I’ve reduced the amount of tomatoes used and added in more stock to the sauce. As a result, this tomato sauce is a bit lighter than you might expect, which actually works wonderfully with the richer, juicier, flavour-packed meatballs.

Making the meatballs

To make the meatballs, you simply add all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix. They’re wonderfully simple. Start with a fork to bring everything together and then get in there with your hands. The only thing you need to be mindful of is not overworking the meat and mixture, or your meatballs can get tough. I find that bringing everything together with a fork first and then rolling small golf ball sized meatballs with my hands is the best way to do that. Have a lightly oiled tray or container next to you ready to place the meatballs down and save any back and forth across the kitchen.


The power of meatballs and Prepping ahead

This recipe works just as well on a chilled weeknight as it does on a fun date night or as a dinner party dish to serve to friends on a weekend – that’s the delicious power of spaghetti and meatballs! It’s easy to double up on ingredients and you can prep ahead of time. Make the meatballs a few hours in advance and keep them in the fridge and you can do the same with the tomato sauce. Once part-cooked, bring the tomato sauce down to room temp and then store in the fridge for later. Rewarm the tomato sauce on the hob while you fry the meatballs and then once the meatballs are nestled within, cook your pasta. Sorted!

Plate of gluten free spaghetti meatballs in rich tomato sauce

Key ingredients for gluten free spaghetti and meatballs

Gluten free bread – I prefer using fresh or slightly stale gluten free bread, rather than dried gluten free breadcrumbs in this recipe. The latter is more expensive, not something I always have on hand and I actually think fresh works best! 2 slices blitzed into crumbs is perfect and I’ve used lots of different types of bread when making this recipe and all have worked a treat

Egg – 1 medium free-range egg adds richness to these gluten free meatballs and helps to bind the mixture together so that they don’t fall apart in the pan

Ricotta – Since adding ricotta into my meatball recipe I am fully converted. This recipe doesn’t call for much, but just 50g adds such a delicious richness, tangyness and creaminess

Ground beef mince – I like to use at least 10% fat beef mince when making a recipe such a meatballs. As the star of the show, use the best quality mince you can afford for the best flavour and texture

Parsley, basil, fennel, oregano and chilli – Fresh and dried herbs and chillies make these gluten free meatballs sing. Be generous with the fresh herbs especially. There’s also fennel in the tomato sauce instead of usual onion, which is better suited for those of us with sensitive tums and just as delicious

Salt – Salt brings out the flavour of all ingredients – if you’ve ever had a meal that was bland or a bit meh, it was probably because there wasn’t the right amount of salt in it. This article came into my inbox the other day and explains the importance and power of salt so beautifully

Black pepper – You can really generous with the black pepper here, the meatballs are all the better for it. Always freshly ground

Garlic infused oil – Garlic infused oil is such a great way to add that garlic flavour without FODMAPS for those that need to avoid, but you can sub in regular olive oil also

Plum tomatoes – Sweet, rich, juicy plum tomatoes are the base of the sauce. I would always pick plum over chopped where possible, as they tend to be less processed, but both work. Break up the plum tomatoes with the back of your spoon when in the pan – and I always like to swill out the can with a little bit of cold water, so you don’t miss any of that juice

Beef stock – A good quality stock can boost the flavour of a sauce so much. If you’re making this recipe low FODMAP and haven’t got any homemade on hand, know that Bay’s Kitchen do concentrated stocks and FODMarket sell Massel 7’s onion and garlic free stock cubes – always useful in the cupbboard!

Sugar and red wine vinegar – Adding a pinch and splash of these into your tomato sauce will make it so much better and totally elevate it into something silky and punchy and delicious

Gluten free spaghetti – By all means, please feel free to make your own spaghetti, but on this occasion, I’ll be reaching for my favourite dried variety

Parmesan cheese – Do I need to explain??

45 minutes
Serves 4


For the gluten free meatballs:

2 thick slices gluten free bread, blitzed into crumbs
1 medium free-range egg, whisked
50g ricotta
500g ground beef mince, at least 10% fat
Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Generous few grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons garlic-infused oil

For the tomato sauce:

2 tablespoons garlic-infused oil
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped (max 190g for FODMAP)
1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
1 small bunch basil
1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
400ml low FODMAP beef stock, hot
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

For the spaghetti and to serve:

400g dried gluten-free spaghetti
Chunk parmesan cheese
Small bunch of basil leaves


  1. To make the meatballs, add all of the ingredients, except the oil, into a large bowl. Use a fork to bring the ingredients together, then get in there with your hands and gently form the mixture into small golf balls. You should have around 20-24 in total. Place the meatballs on to a tray and place the tray in the fridge while you make the tomato sauce.
  2. To make the tomato sauce, add the garlic-infused oil to a large pan and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot and glossy, add the fennel and chilli flakes and cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the fennel has softened. Add the in the bunch of basil, stems and all, followed by the tomatoes, crushing them with the back of your spoon. Add in the beef stock, sugar, salt and red wine vinegar, then bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, and simmer until thickened.
  3. Add the remaining garlic-infused oil to a large frying pan (with taller sides if you’ve got one, for less splashing) and place over a medium-low heat. When hot and glossy careful add the meatballs and cook for 7-8 minutes, turning often, until golden brown all over.
  4. Gently turn up the heat on the tomato sauce, remove the wilted basil stems and add in the meatballs, along with any delicious juices or crispy bits from the frying pan. Cook the meatballs in the sauce for another 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through. If the sauce is reducing too much, add a little more hot stock or water to loosen.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add a generous amount of salt, followed by the pasta and cook until al-dente.
  6. Drain the pasta, divide between bowls and top with the tomatoey meatballs, a showering of parmesan and a few fresh basil leaves, if you like. Extra parmesan on the table, always.

FODMAP recipe notes:

  • These recipes use FODMAP friendly ingredients and should fit in with FODMAP limits. I follow the Monash University app data to create FODMAP friendly recipes – if unsure, as always, please ask your dietician or GP
  • Higher FODMAP adaptation – use 1 ½ slices of wheat bread in the meatballs instead of gluten free, add another tin of tomatoes into the tomato sauce, along with a little onion and garlic, if you like
Juicy gluten free meatballs cooking in a pan with herbs
Overhead shot of gluten free spaghetti meatballs in a bowl topped with lots of cheese

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I love seeing what you’ve created – so if you make this recipe (or any other from this site) don’t forget to take a photograph and tag me @shecanteatwhat or with #shecanteatwhat and #fodmapfriendlykitchen on social!

Images by Jenni Helin.