One-Pan Bison Meatballs with Broccolini and Tomato Sauce

These One-Pan Bison Meatballs come together in just under an hour, with only 15 minutes of hands-on time. They’re tender and juicy, and perfectly complimented by charred broccolini, an herby tomato sauce and melted Fontina cheese.

An overhead shot of a pan of bison meatballs with broccolini and tomato sauce. The pan is tied off with a hand towel and there are tomatoes and bread on either side.

If you’ve never treated yourself to bison before, you’re in for a huge treat with these One-Pan Bison Meatballs with Broccolini and Tomato Sauce! They’re tender and juicy and full of flavor. In fact, you may never want to go back to regular old ground beef again.


You can think of bison as beef’s fancier and more flavorful cousin, although, bison is actually lower in calories and higher in protein than both ground beef and turkey. It does tend to be more expensive, so I say save the bison for a once-in-a-while treat as opposed to an everyday thing.

You can usually find ground bison wherever ground beef is sold. In fact, I found a high-quality double-pack of ground bison at Costco. I popped one of the packages in the freezer (because we all know how helpful it is to have freezer options on hand!) and used the other one to make these delicious One-Pan Bison Meatballs.


When it comes to cooking, ground bison can be prepared in the exact same way ground beef is prepared. Aside from meatballs, you could also use ground bison to make burgers (bison burgers are a favorite of mine), taco meat or even a meat sauce for over pasta.

A close-up view of One-Pan Bison Meatballs with Broccolini and Tomato Sauce with some crusty bread in the background.

But today we’re here to talk about meatballs, so let’s get to it!


Making the meatball mixture itself is the longest hands-on part of the process, and you’re going to have to get a little bit dirty. After all, I find the best way to mix up some meatballs is to get your hands in the mixing bowl to blend it all together.

You’re going to throw all of the typical meatball ingredients into the mix – egg, breadcrumbs, garlic, shallots, oregano – you don’t need anything special because, when it comes to bison, it already has so much flavor.

I guess this recipe is technically a two-dish one (if you count the mixing bowl), but once it comes to cooking, you’ll only need a large cast iron skillet [*affiliate link] to make these meatballs come to life.

You’re going to place your meatballs in a piping hot cast iron skillet on the stove first – you want to give them a good sear so they have that nice crispy outside before baking – then pour all of the tomato sauce ingredients over top (with the exception of the pancetta, which goes in first so you can use some of the oil for cooking the meatballs). Top all this with broccolini and delicious grated Fontina, throw it in the oven for just under 30 minutes (boil up some pasta or quinoa while you’re waiting) and – voila! – your One-Pan Bison Meatballs with Broccolini and Tomato Sauce are ready to be devoured by the fam.

A plate of pasta topped with bison meatballs, broccolini and tomato sauce.

Have you ever tried cooking with ground bison before? Let me know in the comments below!

One-Pan Bison Meatballs with Broccolini and Tomato Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
50 mins

These One-Pan Bison Meatballs come together in just under an hour, with only 15 minutes of hands-on
time. They’re tender and juicy, and perfectly complimented by charred broccolini, an herby tomato sauce and melted Fontina cheese.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bison, dinner, family-friendly, Italian, kid-friendly, meatballs, one-pan
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 636 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
For the meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs or panko
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Other ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 8 ounces broccolini
  • 3 ounces Fontina cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Place all meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl and, using hands, blend together until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

  3. Begin heating 2 tablespoons olive oil in cast iron skillet on stove over medium heat. Add pancetta and begin cooking, stirring occasionally while you form your meatballs. Also add the garlic at this time.

  4. Form meatballs into 2- to 3-inch rounds and place in cast iron skillet along with pancetta (which should be mostly cooked by now.) Allow meatballs to sear (about 2 minutes) and then flip them over to get the other side browned as well.

  5. Turn heat down and add entire can of tomatoes (including juice.) Sprinkle basil over top and tuck broccolini in amongst everything.

  6. Finally, sprinkle the entire mixture with Fontina cheese and place in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.

  7. Serve over cooked quinoa or pasta and enjoy!

Recipe Notes


Weeknight One-Pan Apple and Herb Pork Chops

An easy one-pan meal featuring juicy bone-in pork chops, apples and loads of fresh herbs. It’s a family-friendly meal that will be on the table in 30 minutes or less!

A beautiful skillet of Weeknight One-Pan Apple and Herb Pork Chops tied off with a black and white gingham hand towel, with a pile of fresh apples off to the side.

You asked, so you shall receive. A couple of weeks ago on Instagram, I asked you all what you wanted to see more of here on CaliGirl Cooking. Responses were a pretty even split between easy, weeknight meals and more ideas for babies and toddlers, so I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to continue to bring you BOTH of these types of recipes.

If you’ve already signed up for my email list, you’ll also see I’ve changed up how I bring that content to you. In an effort to get more personal with you and keep the conversation going, I’ll now be sending out weekly updates chatting about whatever new content I’ve posted each week as well as well, #life. My hope is that it becomes more of a two-sided conversation between you and me because, after all, I’m here to make your life easier and it’s up to YOU to tell me how to do that.

With this Weeknight One-Pan Apple and Herb Pork Chops recipe, I’m also excited to announce a feature I’ll now be including on ALL of my new recipes: Dish Density! I mean, how many of us would cook wayyyyy more often if we didn’t have to worry so much about that big sink full of dirty dishes staring us in the face when it’s all said and done? My goal with Dish Density is to both clearly outline what dishes and tools you’ll need with each recipe before you get started, and also to minimize the amount of dishes and tools needed, presenting the Ingredients and Instructions in a way that will help you reuse things when possible (food safety permitting, of course). I’m still working on the best way to present this to you, so bear with me as I feel things out and, as always, I’m open to suggestions!

A close-up view of Apple and Herb Pork Chops in a cast iron skillet, with whole apples in the background.

Okay, all that fun new business stuff aside, let’s get to talking about these pork chops. Because you need them in your life ASAP. These were inspired by the garage freezer full of meat we happen to have at the moment, thanks to my Costco- and Food Saver-loving hubby [*affiliate link]. (I mean, really though, sometimes you just can’t beat the price and quality of Costco meat and seafood.) He’d been encouraging me to use some of it up, so I started brainstorming dishes I could reasonably manage on any given weeknight.

I love the pairing of apples with bone-in pork chops (thanks, Mom!) so that’s naturally where my mind headed. I also love a dish where I can throw in all the ingredients at pretty much the same time, pop it in the oven, and pull it out to serve less than 20 minutes later.

Before I go any further, I’m going to let you in on my #1 trick for one-pan meals…

The #1 thing you want to keep in mind when cooking one-pan meals is that, no matter what method you’re using to cook them, all of the ingredients need to cook at about the same rate. I find it’s easiest to start with whatever protein you’re using (in this case, pork chops) and build the rest of your ingredients from there.

Because the pork chops would only take 10-15 minutes to cook in the oven once I seared them, I wanted to make sure my apples, onions and herbs would be at a good point after this amount of time as well. In order to achieve this, I cut the apples and onions into smaller pieces and wedges so they’d be sufficiently cooked in this amount of time. This is a great rule of thumb to follow every time you make a one-pan meal!

Another close-up look at Weeknight One-Pan Apple and Herb Pork Chops in a cast iron skillet with a black and white gingham napkin tied around the handle.

Now back to the recipe…

The majority of this dish is cooked in the oven, but I wanted to get a nice sear on my pork chops before I popped them in. I placed my pre-seasoned chops in a hot cast iron skillet [*affiliate link] with some butter, and just got them nice and brown (without worrying about cooking them through) before adding in the apples and onions (plus a little more butter and some apple cider vinegar) and popping the whole thing in the oven.

Less than 15 minutes later, the pork chops registered a safe 145 degrees, and dinner was served!

I love that these Apple and Herb Pork Chops come out with so much flavor with so little cooking time. This makes them the perfect, easy weeknight meal, and your kids are bound to love them as well. To really round out this meal, I recommend serving it with fluffy gnocchi and oven-roasted asparagus (which, hey, you could also roast at the same time as the pork chops!)

Do you have a favorite one-pan meal you’d like to see me make? Let me know in the comments below!

An overhead shot of a cast iron skillet filled with Weeknight One-Pan Apple and Herb Pork Chops, tied off with a black and white gingham napkin with whole apples on the side.

Weeknight One-Pan Apple and Herb Pork Chops
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins

An easy one-pan meal featuring juicy bone-in pork chops, apples and loads of fresh herbs. It’s a family-friendly meal that will be on the table in 30 minutes or less!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple, cast iron skillet, family-friendly, one-pan, pork, weeknight
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 398 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 bone-in pork chops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more whole sprigs for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more whole sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 onion, cut into small wedges
  • 3 small Fuji apples, cut into thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Balsamic glaze (optional)
Dishes needed:
  • Chef's knife
  • Large cast iron skillet (12-inch)
  • Plate or meat-friendly cutting board (for seasoning meat)
  • Tongs
  • Butter knife
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Place cast iron skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and let melt.

  3. While skillet is warming up, season both sides of the pork with salt, pepper, chopped rosemary and chopped thyme.

  4. Once skillet is piping hot, place pork chops on it and sear for about 3 minutes each side. Now that the pork chops are seared, turn the heat down to low.

  5. Add the onions and sliced apples. Pour the apple cider vinegar over top and divide the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over the top of each chop.

  6. Place skillet in the preheated oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oven and garnish with additional rosemary and thyme sprigs. Let cool slightly and drizzle with balsamic glaze (if using) before serving.

Recipe Notes


Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese

Cornbread gets a delicious makeover when it’s loaded with sausage, green onions and shredded cheddar cheese and cooked in a seasoned cast iron skillet. 

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese |

I promised to balance out all that healthy stuff I brought you on Monday, didn’t I? Well, let me tell you, this Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese truly delivers. We are, after all, in the season of comfort food (and Super Bowl Sunday!) so there’s no time like the present to indulge just a little bit. Plus, we’ve got to bake allllll of the things before the weather once again gets too warm for us to even think about turning on the oven.

As I was dreaming up this recipe, I originally thought I’d just make my loaded cornbread in a classic glass baking dish and serve it up in thick, hearty squares. But then, as I was putting away dishes and reorganizing all of my pots and pans, my eyes fell upon my extremely neglected cast iron skillet and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to give it some lovin’.

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese |

The last time I used my trusty Lodge cast iron skillet for a recipe on this site was way back in April of last year, when I brought you this incredibly delicious (and still a reader favorite) Greek Skillet. It turned out so well, and has continued to serve me well in times of easy, healthy dinner needs, that I’m not sure what has taken me so long to break the skillet out again and put it to good use. Now that I’ve done it, I’m eager to start trying even more cast iron skillet recipes in the very near future…Do you have any suggestions of recipes I should try??

Not only is this Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese incredibly decadent and drool-worthy, it’s also soooo easy to make. Yes, the batter is made from scratch, but I kid you not when I say it comes together in less than 15 minutes flat. With only 20 minutes of baking time, the cornbread would be a welcome addition to an easy weeknight dinner. I’m thinking it would be the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of Warming Minestrone Soup or a big Winter Kale Salad.

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese |

Oh, and did I mention we grease the pan with bacon fat? I know, I know, it sounds indulgent, but I’m really just jumping on the “no waste” cooking trend that’s predicted to be a huge trend in the world of food in 2017. I don’t know about you, but the hubs and I have a huge Mason jar full of bacon grease leftover from our weekend breakfasts, and prefer to put it to tasty use as opposed to having to discard of it in an old tomato sauce can. That being said, if it sounds just a bit TOO indulgent for you, you could always use butter (just know that you’ll be missing out on some delicious bacon-y flavor in this already indulgent dish!)

The only prep that you’ll need to do in preparation for this deliciousness is to cook up some Italian sausage, grate some cheddar cheese and slice some green onions. Once that’s all done, the batter will come together in no time flat, while your cast iron skillet is busy warming up (and getting seasoned with bacon grease) in the preheating oven.

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese |

If you’re looking for an easy dish that will “wow” your guests for Super Bowl Sunday, this Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese is your answer. It might as well be deemed a “meal” with all of that protein from the sausage and cheese, and there’s even some “green stuff” hanging out in there. I might also add that it’s incredibly tasty with a little drizzle of honey over top, or if you REALLY want to be indulgent, slather on some creamy, high-quality butter.

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese |

So now you have a healthy dish and this indulgent dish for your football-noshing pleasure this weekend. How about on Friday I bring you a cocktail??

Happy humpday friends!

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins

Cornbread gets a delicious makeover when it's loaded with sausage, green onions and shredded cheddar cheese and cooked in a seasoned cast iron skillet.

Course: Side Dish
Servings: 8 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 6-7 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (about 2 links)
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large green onion, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place bacon grease in a 12-inch cast iron skillet and place in oven as it is preheating. 

  2. In a small nonstick skillet, brown the sausage, then set aside. 

  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. 

  4. Add the buttermilk, eggs and butter to the same mixing bowl and whisk until combined. 

  5. Stir in the cooked sausage, green onions and cheddar cheese. 

  6. Using potholder, remove the cast iron skillet from the oven. Pour in the batter and then return to the oven for 20 minutes. Remove when a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before serving.

Recipe Notes

This recipe should also work fine if you only have a 9-inch cast iron skillet. The bread will turn out a little thicker, so you will probably need to increase the baking time 5-10 minutes.

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese |

Veggie, Bacon and Fresh Herb Breakfast Nachos

Nachos are given a morning spin when served with a waffled hashbrown base and topped with all the goodies in these Veggie, Bacon and Fresh Herb Breakfast Nachos.

Breakfast Nachos | CaliGirl Cooking

Yes, I went there: Breakfast. Nachos. Comin’ in hot. Now why, you ask, are we calling these “Breakfast Nachos” as opposed to chilaquiles or something of the sort? Well, we’re doing something a little special (and a lot more breakfast-y) with these here Veggie, Bacon and Fresh Herb Breakfast Nachos. You see, in lieu of the classic tortilla chip base, we’re going all out and making waffled hashbrown chips. Yes, you read that right. I said waffle hashbrown chips. And then we’re topping said waffled hashbrown chips with all of our favorite breakfast foods AND our favorite nacho toppings. Can we even go wrong with this recipe? I think not.

Before we get into the dirty deets, tell me, how is your week treating you thus far? We’ve made it to Hump Day, so there’s that, but I for one can’t wait for the weekend to roll around. I’m headed up north for my first Bridal Shower and I can’t wait to see tons of friends and family. It’s always nice to be back in the old stomping grounds for a day or two. Perhaps we can use these Breakfast Nachos as something delicious to look forward to on a lazy weekend morning visiting with family and friends? Sounds good to me!

So let’s get to it. I’m going to start with the aforementioned waffled hashbrown chips because they are bomb! First off, you have to go into this project knowing that these chips MAY not hold up to our toppings as strongly as tortilla chips will, so be gentle (and don’t be afraid to dig in with a fork!) We’re still going to have that crispiness, we just may not have that structural soundness that you can count on with a nice, hearty chip. Trust me, the taste will totally make up for it.

Breakfast Nachos | CaliGirl Cooking

So, we shred up our potatoes (using either a cheese grater or a food processor, I’m a slave to my Cuisinart, makes it so easy!) and then we cover them with a damp paper towel and give them a quick nuke in the microwave. This will prevent the potatoes from browning too much as we go through the process of making our waffled hashbrown chips in batches.

We heat up our waffle iron and give it a loving bath of melted butter before adding the potatoes. This will give our chips a nice golden exterior. Then we load in our first batch of potatoes and cook until crisp and golden. Since we have to work in batches (unless you have a ginormous waffle iron, then kudos to you), we keep our chips warm in the oven or microwave until we’re done cooking all of the potato.

Breakfast Nachos | CaliGirl Cooking

Once all of our “chips” are done, we lay them out in our cast iron skillet and put them in the oven on their own for about 5 minutes, just to make sure we really get them as crisp as possible before adding the toppings (without burning them, of course.) Take them out, add the toppings (the ones that need to be cooked, anyway) and pop the skillet back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so. Take ‘em out, add some fun things like avocado and fresh cilantro, and voila! We have a delicious breakfast of waffled hashbrown chip nachos.

Breakfast Nachos | CaliGirl Cooking

Breakfast Nachos | CaliGirl Cooking

And although I never fail to find an excuse to enjoy a mimosa with my weekend breakfasts, if YOU need more convincing, I’ll just leave these right here and let you peruse at your leisure….

Harvey Wallbanger Mimosa

Lychee Lightning

The Seelbach

Peachy Tangerine Kombucha Mimosa

So, are we ready for Saturday morning yet?

Breakfast Nachos | CaliGirl Cooking

Veggie, Bacon and Fresh Herb Breakfast Nachos
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins

Nachos are given a morning spin when served with a waffled hashbrown base and topped with veggies, bacon and fresh herbs. 

Course: Breakfast
Keyword: bacon, breakfast, eggs, hashbrowns, nachos, potatoes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 393 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 3 medium baking potatoes
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • Salt
  • 3 pieces bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Serve with salsa (optional)
  1. First, make the hashbrowns. Using a grater or a food processor, shred the baking potatoes. Spread out on a plate, cover with a damp paper towel, and immediately microwave for 30 seconds. This will prevent the potatoes from browning too much. Heat up the waffle iron and brush with melted butter (you will need about 3 tablespoons to cover all of your hashbrown batches, but this will be applied in stages, don’t do it all at once.) Spread a thin layer of the shredded potatoes on the waffle iron, sprinkle with salt and close to cook. You may need to cook the potatoes for longer than the recommended time of the waffle iron. Just keep checking as you go and you will get a feel for when they are done. You want them to be golden and crispy without being burnt. Once each batch is done, place them on an oven- or microwave-safe plate and keep in low heat while you finish the others.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter all inside the bottom of your cast iron skillet. Once all hashbrown chips are cooked, place in a single layer (or as close to a single layer as possible) in your buttered cast iron skillet. Place skillet in preheated oven for 5 minutes.

  3. Remove skillet from oven and add bacon, jalapeno, onion, tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese. Place back in oven for an additional 10 minutes.

  4. While this is cooking, scramble your eggs, using your last tablespoon of melted butter. Keep eggs warm until nachos are done baking.

  5. When nachos are done, remove from oven. Immediately add scrambled eggs, then chives and cilantro, and finally avocado. If you’re like me and want salsa on every savory breakfast dish you’ve ever had, you can douse the nachos in salsa at this time.

  6. Serve immediately and with mimosas for best results.


Breakfast Nachos | CaliGirl Cooking

Now that’s what I call breakfast!