These versatile broccoli cheese balls are so simple to make—with only 4 ingredients—that they’re sure to become one of your low-carb staples. Enjoy these gems as a snack: just pop a couple into your mouth when hunger hits. Or serve them as an appetizer, side dish, or party food (they’re especially delicious alongside a sharp, flavorful dip). They’re a great way to sneak some veggies into your kids’ diet, too!
Tips for making the Baked Keto Broccoli Cheese Balls
I recommend using as finely ground pork rinds as possible here. I crush mine with a food processor. It’s not a very powerful machine, so I need to let it run for a relatively long time. But it’s worth it; the result is best when you patiently (not a virtue that applies to me!) wait until you get a coarse meal with an even texture.
Also, when you cook the broccoli, make sure it’s cooked until tender. Don’t leave it al dente. You’ll need to mash it, and tender broccoli is easier to mash, producing a smoother result.
I don’t think there’s any reason to add salt here because pork rinds and cheese already contain salt. And I always like to cook my broccoli with an ample amount of salt—so, if you also use salt while cooking your broccoli, you shouldn’t really need to add any. That said, just adjust the taste to your liking, whether that means adding salt or not.
Let’s take a look at how to make this super-simple recipe:
First, grab the broccoli.
…until soft and tender. Drain it well and let it cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the broccoli into a medium or large bowl.
Add the crushed pork rinds…
…and the eggs.
Beat with an electric mixer…
With oiled hands, shape the mixture into 20 balls…
…and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven…
…until done, about 25 minutes.
Let cool until warm and enjoy!
My broccoli balls experiments
When I was writing my Low Sugar, So Simple book, I wanted to be sure to include some healthy snacks. And it took me ages to come up with healthy sugar-free snacks that would please kids and adults alike. I was obsessed with a need to develop something involving veggies, either cauliflower or broccoli. And I actually ended up using both; there is a recipe for Magic Cauliflower Popcorn and Easy Broccoli “Tater Tots” in the book. (There are lots of other simple and scrumptious recipes in it, too, so it’s in your low-carb kitchen!)
Later, I wanted to develop a variation on my Easy Broccoli “Tater Tots” for this blog—with a maximum of 5 ingredients, naturally. At first, I was planning to use almond flour, like in the recipe in my book, but suddenly I realized that crushed pork rinds would be a perfect zero-carb option. (It’s also ideal for people with nut allergies.)
I also wanted my broccoli balls to be cheesy. In the book, I use mozzarella cheese: that’s a great option, but for this variation, I wanted something with a stronger flavor—like sharp Cheddar or Swiss, I thought.
I still had to think of the amounts and do some serious calculations and estimations in my head. Not that my calculations were that serious in the end; finally I just decided to grab some ingredients and wing it.
As always, I didn’t want to include too many steps when making this recipe, so I thought it should be enough if I just mixed everything together with an electric mixer, shaped the mixture into balls and baked them until done. Sounded simple enough—a godsend for my busy-mom lifestyle!
So, for my first experiment, I took 1 head of broccoli (about 1 pound, or 450 grams), 1 cup (240 ml) finely crushed pork rinds, 1 cup shredded cheese (I only had mozzarella in my fridge), and one egg. I placed all these into a medium bowl and started mixing them with an electric mixer. However, I soon realized one egg was far too little and the mixture didn’t hold together very well.
After adding two more eggs, I thought the mixture looked perfect. It was easy to shape into balls and it held together well.
I placed the broccoli balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I decided to use a temperature of 350 °F (175 °C) for baking. I think I use that temperature most often — it’s kind of a general, one-size-fits-all baking temperature. Well, sometimes I do use a lower temperature for baking—like when I’m making low-carb treats with erythritol and almond flour, which turn out better when baked at a lower temperature. But for savory things, I usually stick to 350 °F (175 °C).
I didn’t have a clue when it came to the baking time, so I just placed the baking sheet with the broccoli balls into the preheated oven and decided to see what would happen if I just waited until they were baked through.
After 20 minutes I took one ball from the oven and checked it (and almost burned my fingers in the process!). The ball was still a bit too soft in the center, so I baked the rest of the batch for 5 minutes longer, 25 minutes in total. They got some color and rose slightly. And they also flattened out a bit, but I still wanted to call them balls rather than bites, because “broccoli ball” sounds more exciting and inviting to me than “broccoli bite:” a broccoli bite might even bite you back!
But seriously, after 25 minutes, the broccoli balls looked just perfect and I had to taste one as soon as it had cooled down a bit. The taste was wonderful and the texture was soft and juicy! Alas, as I didn’t crush the pork rinds properly, there were a few bigger and harder chunks: not a huge deal, but not terribly appetizing, either. Therefore, it’s important to process the pork rinds until you achieve an even, coarse meal. You will be rewarded!
What made me even happier was that even my mom liked the broccoli balls! Usually she doesn’t eat anything involving pork, but she tried them and was very happy with them—even though they contain pork rinds. (Besides, you can’t really taste the pork rinds, especially if you use a sharp cheese.)
Even though I was perfectly happy with the broccoli balls, I still wanted to see if I could improve the recipe further. I was wondering if they would be even tastier if I added more cheese and reduced the amount of pork rinds.
So I did yet another experiment, in which I used 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) shredded cheese and 1/2 cup (120 ml) crushed pork rinds. The balls turned out flatter than in my previous experiment and there was little to no difference in the taste. In my opinion, the first recipe was a winner — and my family thought so, too.
And here is the recipe:
|Per ball if 20 balls in total:
Tips for variation
You can easily make these 4-Ingredient Baked Keto Broccoli Cheese Balls without pork rinds. Simply replace them with the same amount of almond flour. Actually, you’ll get an even better texture and taste by using 1/2 cup (120 ml) almond flour and 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) shredded cheese.
I have intentionally kept the flavor mild so that it’s suitable for kids’ palates. However, these broccoli balls aren’t exactly bland, especially if you use sharp cheese. In any case, you can season them to your heart’s content. Add curry powder, taco seasoning, cayenne, or chipotle to make them something really special.
Another option is to serve these cheesy broccoli balls with a sharp, piquant sauce, like this Sugar-Free Sweet Chili Sauce or simply Sriracha sauce. And you’ll find plenty more delicious condiments in my Low Sugar, So Simple book, like Low-Sugar Sweet and Sour Sauce. Have you tried it yet?