Italian tuna balls

Italian tuna balls

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(64 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, questions and tips

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jburton's picture
25th Jul, 2012
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.
23rd Apr, 2012
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!
15th Jan, 2012
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.
4th Oct, 2011
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.
26th Jul, 2011
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.
13th Jul, 2011
These were nice, but next time I will use less egg to make them a bit more firm. I made them with brown rice and I agree with other comments that they would not really feed four. I'm not sure what I was expecting, I will make them again as a handy mid week dinner without having to get extra items from the shop, they weren't amazing though.
6th Jul, 2011
I also used tuna in brine but tipped into a colander to wash off the brine. I toasted the pine nuts to release that intense nutty flavour, and used passata instead of 'pasta sauce', tipped into some fried onion and garlic. Great advice for keeping the tuna balls in shape are 1) to put them in the fridge for 20 mins and 2) not to touch them for a good 3-4 mins to develop a crust before turning them. They came out brown, crispy and delicious!
6th Jun, 2011
Really enjoyed this. Didn't have parsley, but still lovely lemony flavour. I was making for 2 and still used 50g of breadcrumbs and added onion and would say this was right amount. I made my own tomato sauce with onion and pepper.
21st May, 2011
Love it, love it, love it! These are so easy to make and taste so good! I made them the third time round with tuna which had been in Brine (as it's cheaper) and added a very small amount of sunflower oil. The meatballs stayed together better this time round. I agree that 2 tins won't serve 4 people, 2 tins only just made 8 decent walnut-sized balls for me and hubby.
9th Feb, 2011
A family favourite, and a regular part of our weekly menu!


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