Juicy meatballs with hidden veg served in a tomato and pepper sauce with gooey melted cheese. These Hidden Veg Meatballs are a great way to get the kids eating more veg without them knowing (or at least complaining too much)!

a meatball with hidden veg, served in a tomato and pepper sauce with gooey melted cheese being lifted on a spoon from a pan
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My kids claim they don’t like courgette, mushrooms and onion, but that doesn’t stop them from eating these meatballs with sighs of pleasure.

If there’s one thing I love in life, it’s fooling my kids into eating their veg.

I don’t know why getting one over on them is so much fun, but now I think about it, I do seem to spend a fair amount of my time either fooling, fibbing or bribing them.

Kids: ‘These meatballs are yummy mummy, what’re they made of?’

Me:‘erm, I’ll tell you later – eat them all up first’.

Kids: ‘What’re those green speckles in them?’ (the courgette)

Me: ‘Just a few herbs to give them flavour’

Kids: ‘Can I have another meatball mummy?’

Me: ‘Yes of course, I’ll pay you a meatball for emptying the dishwasher for me’.

Kids: ‘two meatballs’

Me: ‘Deal’

Oh dear, that was fooling, fibbing and bribery all in the same conversation.

I’m expecting my mother of the year award very soon….

Process of making the hidden veg meatball mixture

Coming back to the meatballs, they feel like hearty, not-very-good-for-you comfort food.  But they’re healthy! Yes, there’s cheese in there, but I use reduced fat cheese (the low fat mozzarella still stretches nicely).

Ovehead shot of a pan full of hidden veg meatballs on a blue background

I’ll sometimes serve it with a mix of courgette spaghetti and regular spaghetti to make it even lighter, and it still goes down just as well (I could never forego my regular pasta completely, courgette spaghetti is great, but it is NOT real spaghetti).

Close up photo of meatballs with hidden veg in a white pan

Do you fib to your kids to get them to eat things they say they don’t like?

Anything I can use? 😀

More Meatball Recipes:

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5 from 2 votes

Hidden Veg Meatballs

Juicy meatballs with hidden veg, served in a tomato and pepper sauce with gooey melted cheese.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 6
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian



  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250 g (8.8 oz) pork mince
  • 500 g (17.5 oz) lean minced beef/ground beef
  • 1 small grated courgette/zucchini
  • 4 mushrooms finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ tsp of salt and pepper


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 red pepper finely chopped
  • 800 g (28 oz) tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree check for gluten-free if required
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 140 g (5oz) mozzarella, roughly torn I used reduced-fat
  • 75 g (2.5oz) cheddar, grated/shredded I used reduced-fat


  • 450 g (15.8 oz) dry weight – of spaghetti (75g per person)
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan and a bit of parsley or basil to serve
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  • Preheat the over to 200C/400F (fan).
  • Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl with your hands. Squash it all together but don’t overmix as this will make the meatballs tough. Shape the meatballs into little balls – the size of a golf ball – and place them on a baking tray.
    1 tbsp olive oil, 250 g (8.8 oz) pork mince, 500 g (17.5 oz) lean minced beef/ground beef, 1 small grated courgette/zucchini, 4 mushrooms, 4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan, 1 small onion, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, ¼ tsp of salt and pepper
  • Put in the oven for about 20-25 mins. Keep an eye on them toward the end of the cooking time and turn the oven down a little if they start going too dark. They will seep a little in the oven due to the moisture in the courgette (but they’ll still taste great).
  • Whilst the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. Fry the onions in the olive oil on a low heat for about 5 mins. Add the garlic, and red pepper and cook for another couple of mins.
    1 tbsp olive oil, 1 large onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 red pepper
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano, sugar, and salt and pepper to the sauce and let it bubble until the meatballs are ready, then take the cooked meatballs out of the oven and add them to the tomato sauce (leave the oven on). Sprinkle the mozzarella and cheddar on top and place back in the oven for 15-20 mins until the cheese is melted and golden (you can put your spaghetti on to cook at this point).
    800 g (28 oz) tinned chopped tomatoes, 1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tbsp sugar, pinch of salt and pepper, 140 g (5oz) mozzarella, roughly torn, 75 g (2.5oz) cheddar, grated/shredded
  • Drain the spaghetti and serve with the pan of meatballs (I usually serve 4 meatballs per adult and 2-3 for children) and garnish with some grated parmesan and parsley or basil.
    450 g (15.8 oz) dry weight – of spaghetti (75g per person), 3 tbsp grated parmesan and a bit of parsley or basil to serve


Any leftover meatballs and sauce should be cooled and then frozen (you can freeze the meatballs and sauce together). To reheat, simply defrost thoroughly and heat through in a pan for about 15 minutes until the meatballs are hot all the way through.
Nutritional info is per serving (serves 6), including spaghetti


Serving: 422g | Calories: 778kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 178mg | Sodium: 732mg | Potassium: 1153mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1356IU | Vitamin C: 49mg | Calcium: 376mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

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Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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  1. Taz says:

    5 stars
    Hi, this recipe looks good. Would it be okay to just use only beef mince in these or would they be slightly dry? I’m always looking to up my veg intake while still eating healthier versions of comfort food or fake-aways. Your recipes are always my go-to by the way.

  2. Katy says:

    5 stars
    Little smile to myself last night – my son hates courgettes! What for it….. asked for seconds ‘ these meatballs are so yummy’ . Result😘

  3. Sabrina says:

    These meatballs sound amazing! Love the addition of extra veggies 🙂

  4. Heidi says:

    Do you think this would pair well with parmesan risotto?

  5. clairekim112 says:

    HI! I have a few questions about your recipe. I’m living in Asian so there is no way I can find Worcestershire sauce. Is there any other sauce I can use instead?? Also, will the meatballs be as delicious if I contain them in the freezer so I can use them later?

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Hi Claire, you can freeze the meatballs. I find it’s better to cook them, then freeze them – just make sure you thoroughly defrost before reheating.

      Hmmm, worcestershire sauce has quite a tangy, salty taste to it. You only need a little, so I think i’d replace it with A1 steak sauce or HP brown sauce, or if you can’t get those, then try a little bit of tamarind paste mixed with a couple of drops of soy sauce.

  6. Amy says:

    Ooooh so you’re only supposed to lie to kids to get them to eat their veggies? Not 28 year old men….
    Can I use the same tricks on Chris because I’m pretty sure he’s going to gobble down these meatballs like there is no tomorrow! I can’t wait to make these for him! Just look at that cheese stretch!
    Also, I’m with you! I love my courgette spaghetti but I could never give up pasta entirely!

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      oh yes, you’ve absolutely got to fib to Chris too 🙂
      I didn’t tell my Chris before he ate his……

  7. Angie@Angie's Recipes says:

    What a great way to enjoy more veggies! These meatballs look sensational, Nicky.

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Thanks Angie 🙂

  8. cupcakes says:

    I love what is hidden inside this delicious meal

  9. Joshua Hampton says:

    What you call fooling, fibbing and bribery, I call smart parenting. And yes, I try to trick mine into eating more veggies as much as I can, but those wee devils are becoming too clever. Thanks for this clever recipe – a great way to fool the kids.

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Smart parenting? Yeah I’m definately going with that 😉
      Hope you manage to fool your kids with the meatballs 😀