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Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs (with Everything Sauce!)

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You have no idea. Ok? No idea! I miss cheeseburgers.

A LOT.

I miss everything about them. I miss the meaty, juicy burger. I miss the melty cheese. I miss the pickles and ketchup and mustard. I miss the bun. Oh, how I miss the bun! And, yes, I even miss the French fries. Sigh. I miss the whole damn thing.

Now I’m more than 10 years post-op so I don’t want to give you the impression that I have never had a burger or never had fries or the like. But I don’t very often. And when I do they tend to be wrapped in lettuce and I can’t finish it all, which still messes with my brain a little bit. With fries, I let myself have a few here and there but in a world where Nikki is subject to blood sugar drops if I tip the carb scale in the wrong direction? Sigh. Just not worth the risk most days.

But it’s ok. It’s alright. I play with my food!

This recipe is a long-time favorite although it’s just now making its debut on the site.

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I find meatballs to be a particularly effective replacement for a variety of foods I don’t want to eat. For example, my Buffalo chicken meatballs provide a good and hearty stand in to wings. My Thanksgiving meatballs give me my fave flavors of the holidays in a little bite. This recipe was created in the same spirit.

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My big ol’ jar of textured vegetable protein.

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Before I send you to the Celebrate website to get the recipe, I wanted to share with you three tips on meatball making after WLS:

  1. TVP (textured vegetable protein, click here for the 4-1-1): I use it instead of bread crumbs as a binder. Each 1/4 cup serving has 12 grams of protein and is 80 calories. So it really is a handy thing. My big piece of advice there is to make sure your meatball has enough moisture because TVP sucks moisture from around it. Which brings me to the next thing.
  2. Zucchini: It’s not just for zoodles! I use grated zucchini in my meatloaf as well as meatballs. As I say many times in Oodles of Zoodles, zucchini is about 95% water. So as your meatballs cook, it will release water, resulting in a juicy meatball!
  3. Bring the smoke: The key to making this meatball taste like a burger is to infuse a smoky flavor that sorta mimics the smoke you’d get from a grill. In my recipe I use smoked paprika (because I’m kind of obsessed with the stuff right now) but you can also use liquid smoke.

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As for the sauce, I call it Everything Sauce. Think of it as more of a methodology than a hard and fast recipe. I make mine with ketchup, mustard, mayo and pickle relish. But you could make yours with any number of things. The general idea is to make a sauce out of your essential burger toppings to dip your meatball – and to make sure those toppings don’t add too much sodium and sugar and, if possible, maybe adds some protein.

So…in reality I guess I need not miss burgers. I just need to make these more often!

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Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    16 meatballs 20 minutes
    Cook Time
    30 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    16 meatballs 20 minutes
    Cook Time
    30 minutes
    Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      16 meatballs 20 minutes
      Cook Time
      30 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      16 meatballs 20 minutes
      Cook Time
      30 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: meatballs
      Instructions
      Meatballs
      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, egg, zucchini, onion, and textured vegetable protein. Mix well.
      2. Add spices, bacon bits, and half the cheddar cheese. Mix again.
      3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out heaping spoonfuls and shape into balls with your hands (mixture may be very soft) and place on lined cookie sheet.
      4. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until done through. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Top with Everything Sauce or use it as a dipper.
      Everything Sauce
      1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until using.
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      2 comments

      1. This looks yummy but I’m curious, why not use 97% lean ground beef instead of turkey? I’m pre-surgery so maybe that’s not something that can be tolerated?

        • Hi Jennie,

          You have it 100% correct. My tummy and beef have a sometime-y relationship, so I usually opt for ground turkey. That doesn’t mean you’ll have the same, so be sure to revisit this recipe and play with it when the time comes!

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