Pre-made frozen meatballs make quick work of getting dinner on the table for spaghetti or for Italian sub sandwiches when you're in a hurry and want a crowd-pleasing meal, but they have lots more potential. Go beyond the basics with creative entrees and appetizers, using the meatballs as they are or deconstructing them to use as ground meat. You can begin cooking with the meatballs still frozen or thaw them for a few hours in the refrigerator.
Soups, Stews and Stir-Fries
Whether your meatballs are chicken, beef, pork or veggie, they turn a big bowl of soup into a complete meal. Buy a brand of small meatballs and add them toward the end of cooking. Choose chicken meatballs for chicken noodle soup and Asian-flavored meatballs for a sweet and sour soup. For stews, such as Stroganoff, choose either beef or chicken meatballs, and for a Chinese stir-fry, choose pork meatballs or ones flavored with soy sauce and ginger.
Ground Meat Options
When you break apart frozen meatballs in a skillet, the meat is the right size to use for taco salad -- add a can of beans, lots of salsa and lettuce, and dinner is ready. Or, use the meat for chili or shepherd's pie. If you're feeling like breakfast-for-dinner, mix thawed meatballs with crushed fennel and cumin seeds, sage, salt and pepper and turn the meatballs into sausage patties to serve with eggs or waffles.
Frozen meatballs work as well as homemade for ethnic dishes such as Greek pita bread sandwiches with diced cucumbers and tomatoes and a garlicky yogurt dressing. For Swedish meatballs, cook either chicken or beef meatballs in a creamy sauce, stir in a cup of sour cream after cooking and garnish the dish with fresh dill. And for Italian wedding soup, cook thawed meatballs in a breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese coating, then add them to a soup with plenty of spinach or kale.
Begin with thawed meatballs for sliders to serve at your next party, pressing down gently on each meatball before cooking so they transform into the right shape and size for slider buns. Look for meatballs with interesting flavors, such as teriyaki or mango flavors, to serve on their own, arranged decoratively on a platter with toothpicks or small forks.