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.

BISON VS. BEEF

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.

HOW TO COOK IT

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!

LET’S MAKE SOME MEATBALLS!

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
Ingredients
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
Instructions
  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

DISH DENSITY: Medium

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
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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

DISH DENSITY: Low