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)

stephjeff's picture

These tuna 'meatballs' were a success. I added very finely chopped
onion and missed out the lemon zest (only because I didn't have any lemon) I also fried the balls until they were very crispy and the onion cooked. I will make again using the lemon and I also like the sound of the tex mex tuna burgers.

kirsten132's picture

Yes, I would say definateley add breadcrumbs and leave in fridge for a while

kirsten132's picture

I cook these very often for a quick tea with Jamie Olivers easy tomato sauce and spaghetti. My 1 year old daughter loves them too, I leave out the nuts and add red onion and sweetcorn.

jamescourt's picture

Vicky made this and the steamed chocolate pudding.
We found making fresh breadcrumbs a bit difficult but the bread quickly mixed in with the other ingredients and the balls stayed together quite well. We made a tomato sauce with an onion softened in olive oil and a tin of tomatoes.

dee3000's picture

This was a tasty meal, and was easy to make. We used Asda spicy tomato pasta sauce for the sauce and "mmm", was really good. Our little girl ate some of it too, which was good as she is fussy!

Frantic Flapjack's picture

I added some more breadcrumbs to the mixture which seemed to work well binding it all together. The first batch fell apart a bit but the second batch were fine. All in all, a tasty, filling dinner.

vfirby's picture

i made them and put them in the fridge for an hour prior to cooking and had no problems with them falling apart.

djmcnae's picture

Yes the meatballs are a bit fiddly to cook but the result is well worth it, I didn't use parsley as I made a tomato and basil sauce to go with it but they were very tasty and enjoyed by all. I would agree however that there is no way that this would feed 4, it just fed 2 adults and two little ones!

leannebookless's picture

Tuna made a great eqivalent to pork or beef! Also used whole wheat pasta and burgen breadcrumbs to cut the cals.

lush_loni's picture

I found this quite tricky to make, my tuna balls fell apart a bit, not sure where I went wrong.

I was embarassed presenting my boyfriend with it..... I would attempt to make them again but I was disappointed at first try.

mshelenjackson's picture

This was a great receipe, would definately make it again. It was the first time my 4 year old would eat tuna (I told her they were meatballs and she happily scoffed the lot!)

kate1edwards's picture

This was very nice and really easy to make. I have been looking for a meat free - meat ball recipe and this one is perfect! Thanks!

sarah_llew's picture

Was nicer 2nd time with some adjustments! Did have to make more to serve 4 (2 adults, 2 teenagers) so i used 3 tins of tuna instead of 2 i also added 1 clove of chopped garlic, 1 small finely chopped onion and substituted the parsley for chives (1 daughter hates parsley) also added a sneaky pinch of chilli powder and they tasted great!

teresaaregreen's picture

Very nice, but next time I will do double the amount to serve four.

psyren's picture

It was nice altho it wasnt quite to my taste. I think I would add more seasoning.

6dinnersid's picture

We have made this several times, and it is a great hit, even with my 11 year old daughter who says she doesn't like tuna!!!

amd123's picture

Made this several times and its one of my favorites. Love it the taste of tuna and lemon.

deerussell's picture

For even the children to sit and eat with no fuss this was a real winner! We omitted the parsley as they both hate it but had loads of basil in our sauce.

angelaedgerton's picture

very nice

lyndsey_allison0506's picture

Very quick to prepare and so light tasting - a real alternative to traditional beef meatballs. I made this for the family, and everyone asked where i had got the recipe from!


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