Italian tuna balls

Italian tuna balls

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(51 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Ready in 20 mins


Serves 4
A superhealthy twist on a family favourite that can be served with spaghetti or squashed flat and cooked as burgers

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Easily doubled / halved

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal594
  • fat12g
  • saturates2g
  • carbs92g
  • sugars8g
  • fibre4g
  • protein35g
  • salt1.42g
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  • 2 160g cans of tuna in sunflower or olive oil, drained (reserve a little oil)



    A member of the mackerel family, tuna are mainly found in the world's warmer oceans. They…

  • small handful of pine nuts
  • freshly grated zest 1 lemon



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…

  • small handful parsley leaves, roughly chopped



    One of the most ubiquitous herbs in British cookery, parsley is also popular in European and…

  • 50g fresh breadcrumb
  • 1 egg, beaten



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 500g jar pasta sauce


  1. Flake the tuna into a bowl, then tip in the pine nuts, lemon zest, parsley, breadcrumbs and egg. Season and mix together with your hands until completely combined. Roll the mix into 12 walnut-size balls. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil, then cook the spaghetti according to pack instructions.

  2. Heat a little of the tuna oil in a large non-stick frying pan, then fry the tuna balls for 5 mins, turning every minute or so until completely golden. Drain on kitchen paper. Heat the tomato sauce, then toss together with the pasta and tuna balls.

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Comments (60)

mmebutterfly's picture

These were good. I will make them again. I kept them in the fridge for some hours before frying and they held their shape very well. The lemony taste gives it that special something.

loupdelou's picture

We love this dish. First time I made it I didn't have any breadcrumbs so used porridge oats and didn't have any problems with breakage so always use them in any meatballs now. I also leave out the nuts for less calories.

Hannah_Melling's picture

This has become one of our family favorites!!! Will definatly recoment this one!!! Also freezes well so i always make a large batch!! Might even make them tonight :)

rosehadley's picture

does this recipe NEED nuts?? :(

aureliecjohnson's picture

I made these and they are very easy to make. However we enjoyed them but my children hated them. So I won't be doing this again! I think it is the lemon which was too strong.

vicksfizzy's picture

Wasn't sure about this to start with but the more we ate, the more we liked it! You can always make it healthier by making your own tomato and veg sauce.

sminki's picture

Love this recipe, really tasty and a big hit with my 3 yr old. The lemon makes it. Have used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts in the past which work quite well too. Also chill in the fridge before cooking and find they are less likely to fall apart.

suzanne3d's picture

Really tasty and very simple to make. Chilled in the fridge before cooking and no problems with them breaking up. Two cans was enough for 2 adults and 2 kids. Will definitely cook again, the lemony taste was lovely.

kasiakoczwara's picture

One hour in the fridge after shaping them and no problems. And very gently turning over while frying.

fizzh89's picture

I've made this a number of times. My 4 year old loves them.

If you had problems with them collapsing, don't turn them until they are golden brown.
Couldn't get fresh parsley last time so blitzed up 3 spring onions with the breadcrumbs, delicious!

missyalexhill's picture

I added some finely chopped onion for texture the second time round. Both times I made them in advance and refrigerated them for an hour. No major problems with them falling apart.
I also used shop bought breadcrumbs.
Lovely taste - a real change from beef meatballs.

denisejura's picture

the whole family loved it. My husband doesn't usually like hot tuna but this went down a treat!

jenniferatkinson's picture

Awful. Dry, bitter tasting and didn't go down well at all.

undogrel's picture

just made this, turned out great. By "this" I mean the tuna balls - I simply enjoyed them with a slice of bread and a glass of beer. I added an extra egg, and they didn't fall apart at all. Also, I used pistachios instead of pine nuts. Fantastic recipe, will make again.

markusvip40's picture

Just made this for my family both kids and wife loved it thank you great meal this :D

jburton's picture

Instead of frying these i think i would be inclined to cook them in the oven say for 30mins 180* (160fan) turning once. Not only is this healthier but also they dont fall apart as they are not being moved about much.

locket31's picture

Really tastey and nice and easy to make, this is the first time I have made the recipe and I also found it didnt bind properly, though the taste made up for this!

tamsinthefoodie's picture

These were great but they fell apart easily when cooked. If you don't like lemony flavours you won't like these though as I found out from one of my children, the others lapped them up though.

vickpole's picture

Mega quick to prepare and tasty. I squeezed out the excess liquid added toasted pine nuts and garlic and and baked them rather than fried them and they came out really well. I cheated and used a jar of tomato sauce with garlic and served with spaghetti. As a quick mid-week meal it's great, it can be prepared earlier in the day and baked when needed.

melaniesunflower's picture

made this tonight. I made slightly in advance and chilled in the fringe then baked in the oven for approx 15 mins. I made a tomato sauce with a tin of tomatoes, garlic, chilli and mushrooms. Like some others have said it doesn't seem to stretch to 4 adult servings, it fed three of us. Everyone was impressed and i will be making this again.


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