Meatball Tray Bake is a super quick and easy dinner recipe that the whole family will love! With juicy beef meatballs and baked vegetables this recipe is a home run. The whole family will love this Mexican meatball traybake and ask for it to be made again and again.
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Simple ingredients: we use a combination of everyday, grocery story ingredients that are readily available.
- Super quick recipe: this is a recipe with minimal prep that comes together very quickly. It works for busy weeknights when you want home cooked but not one that takes a lot of time and effort.
- Combination of flavors: there is something seriously yum about biting into a juicy meatball with a soft tortilla packed with baked vegetables dolloped with sauce. It is an irresistible flavour combination!
- Simple and affordable: whilst there are great flavours in this recipe. It is not costing us a lot of money to create. This meatball tray bake recipe won't break the bank!
- Family favourite: this is a recipe that the whole family can enjoy. A packet of soft tortillas and juicy lime wedges the perfect way to scoop and serve!
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Beef mince: also known as ground beef. It is a budget friendly, freezer friendly cut of meat that is always available in the meat section of the supermarket.
- Panko breadcrumbs: these are bright white, popular in Japanese cooking and have a larger crumb than regular breadcrumbs.
- Chilli powder: a spice commonly found in Mexican recipes. We moderate the amount of it as to not make the meatballs 'too spicy'.
- Garlic powder: adds flavour in a super convenient form, an excellent spice to have in the pantry at all times.
- Onion powder: as above. This one saves us time and tears, yet still delivers when it comes to flavour.
- Cayenne pepper: this spice has a little heat to it. So again, we don't want to use too much of it. It has a lovely vibrant reddish orange colour.
- Paprika: a milder spice than the cayenne pepper, paprika is made from capsicums.
- Cilantro/coriander: a dried spice that is great to use in Mexican recipes. (Save the parsley and oregano for Italian meatballs!😉👍 )
- Salt and black pepper: we only need to use a little salt and pepper. We use it to season the meatballs before cooking.
- Egg: this helps to bring the meatball mixture together and acts as the glue to help them stay whole and not fall apart.
- Avocado oil: used to brown the meatballs on the stove before placing in the oven.
- Onion: skin peeled and thinly sliced.
- Green capsicum, red capsicum and yellow capsicum: these are also known as bell peppers. We cut them open, remove the seeds and then cut into long thin strips. Repeat for each.
- Avocado oil: this is to drizzle over the vegetables before we put them into the oven.
Tasty Tip: I like to provide you with a number of substitutions and variations giving you an array of options when making the recipe. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section (further below) before jumping into the instructions on how to make the recipe which are coming next 😉👌.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by making the meatballs. A medium size bowl will be the perfect size.
- Gather meatball ingredients (Photo 1)
- Mix together (Photo 2)
- Roll into balls (Photo 3)
- Brown outsides (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Meatball Tray Bake
We start the recipe by gathering the ingredients to make the meatballs and then mixing them together.
Add the beef mince, panko breadcrumbs, garlic powder, onion powder, chilli powder, dried coriander, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and egg to a medium sized mixing bowl.
Then use clean hands to combine the mixture till it is consistently pushed together.
Next take a small portion of the wet mixture and use the palms of your hands to roll it into a ball. Or bigger portions if you want to make large meatballs.
Place the rolled meatball onto a chopping board. Then repeat until all of the mixture is used up.
Then we want to take a fry pan, place it on the stove, turn the heat to high and add the avocado oil.
Use a pair of tongs to place each meatball into the pan and cook so the outsides of the meatballs become golden brown and crispy. This will take around 4-5 minutes. You can use a wooden spoon to help move them around in the pan as you go.
- Brown the edges and outsides of the meatballs (Photo 5)
- Add the onions and capsicum to the baking tray (Photo 6)
- Add the browned meatballs (Photo 7)
- Drizzle the avocado oil over the dish (Photo 8)
The next step is to spray a little oil into a large baking tray (or large roasting tin). Then we want to add the onions and capsicum to it.
Place the browned meatballs on top of the vegetables and then drizzle a little avocado oil on top.
Once done, you can pop the baking tray into a preheated oven on the middle shelf.
The meatballs need to cook for 15 - 20 minutes.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Lime wedges are a great starting point for serving the dish. You will need 2 to 3 whole limes. I also like to use soft tortillas so that people can scoop the veggies and meatballs into these, drizzle with lime juice and give them a dollop of sauce.
It is an easy way to make it a meal in one without having to cook additional sides or make a salad.
Whilst we don't want to put sauce into the dish as we cook the meatballs, dolloping a good spoonful of sauce on top for serving will tick all of your boxes.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers of the meatball tray bake in sealed, airtight containers in the fridge. They can be refrigerated for 3 days and are best consumed hot.
How to Freeze
Allow the dish to fully cool. Then portion into air tight containers or zip lock bags, squeeze the air out then seal. Frozen portions of the dish can be kept in the freezer for 3 months.
How to Reheat
Allow frozen portions to fully thaw in the fridge overnight or on the bench during the day before reheating. Reheat in the microwave (fastest) covered for 2 to 3 minutes. Or you can add the cooked meatballs and vegetables to a pan on the stove, turn to medium heat and stir till they are heated through.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- Olive oil or vegetable oil are other options that will work to cook the meatballs. As well as being drizzled over the vegetables for serving.
- If you want to explore other options you could switch up the vegetables and make it a meatball and potato tray bake. If keen on this idea, thought needs to be given to cutting the potatoes thinly as otherwise they will take longer to cook than the meatballs.
- Or you can switch up the protein and make lamb meatballs using lamb mince (ground lamb). These will still work with the Mexican spice flavours in the recipe card.
- You can also switch up the vegetables and use sliced mushrooms, red onion, mini corn on the cob, jalapenos, garlic cloves or squash.
- When drizzling the oil into the baking tray before serving, you can use a spray oil in place of the liquid oil of you wish to.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- We want to brown the edges (outsides) of the meatballs on the stove to lock in flavour. But they get cooked through in the oven cooking period.
- Moving them around in the pan as they brown is necessary so that they don't become really browned on one side and completely pink and raw on the other side.
- When drizzling the oil into the baking dish to coat the vegetables, we only need to use a small amount. This is so that the vegetables won't become too wet or mushy.
- Once you have put the baking tray into the oven, you can be 'hands off' for the 20 minute cooking period.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
Should I brown meatballs before baking?
Although it is not essential, it is a good idea to brown meatballs before baking. This helps to seal the outsides of the meatballs, ensuring that the juicy flavour stays inside the meatballs.
Should I coat meatballs in flour?
It is not necessary to coat meatballs in flour before cooking. This step comes down to whether or not the recipe you are following suggests taking the need for this step.
Why add breadcrumbs to meatballs?
The reason why you add breadcrumbs to meatballs is to lock in moisture to the meatballs. The breadcrumbs absorb this moisture so that it doesn't flow out as the meatballs are cooked.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Make it easy, take a long time or switch up the manner in which you cook. These ideas will all get dinner sorted across a 7 day week.
Here I like to provide you with options that will tick a lot of your boxes. I hope that you love these recipes:
- Kottbullar (Swedish Meatballs)
- Baked Meatball Subs
- Red Wine Short Ribs
- Crumbed Mushrooms
- Macaroni Alfredo
- Crumbed Lamb Cutlets
- Garlic Pepper Beef
- Braised Beef Ribs
- Greek Lamb Shanks
- Sticky Pork Ribs
It's time to get our bake on my friend, meatball style! You can also find all of my dinner recipes in the one spot!
Meatball Tray Bake
- 1 Baking dish with 1 - 2 inch rim
- 1 Kitchen Tongs
- 1 Spray oil
- 500 grams/16 oz beef mince
- ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried coriander (cilantro)
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 egg free range
- 2 tbs avocado oil
- 1 medium red capsicum (bell pepper) deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 medium red capsicum (bell pepper) deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 medium yellow capsicum (bell pepper) deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 large onion skin peeled and cut into long strips
- Preheat the oven: preheat the oven to 180°C / 350-375°F / Gas Mark 4-5.
- Make the meatballs: add the beef mince, panko breadcrumbs, chilli powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and egg to a medium bowl. Use clean hands to mix together then portion and roll into meatballs with the palms of your hands. Repeat till the mixture is all mixed up.
- Brown: add a little avocado oil to a fry pan, turn the heat to high and use tongs to place the meatballs into the pan. Brown the outsides of the meatballs, using tongs to rotate to the other side to ensure consistent browning.
- Oven bake: spray a deep baking dish with a little oil then add the onion and sliced capsicums. Place the browned meatballs on top of the vegetables and then drizzle a little avocado oil over the contents of the baking dish. Place the tray into the oven on the middle shelf and allow the meatballs to cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Serve: once cooked, remove the baking tray from the oven. Let sit for a couple of minutes. Then spoon the meatballs and vegetables into soft tortillas and provide lime wedges and yogurt sauce for eating.