The humble meatball gets a fun makeover with these five easy swaps.

Whether served over spaghetti, made into appetizers on toothpicks, or nestled into a sub roll meatballs are one of the easiest and most versatile recipes to have in your dinner arsenal. But what if we could take our tried-and-true meatball recipes and make them even more mouthwatering and delicious? Starting with any ground meat or poultry, try these easy-to-do strategies for leveling up your go-to meatball recipes:

Add Pesto

Classic Italian American meatballs - typically served with tomato-based sauce over a bed of pasta - are made with ground meat, breadcrumbs, milk, eggs, and some seasonings. To keep them from drying out (especially if you're using lean meat like ground turkey) and infuse them with even more tasty Italian flavor, swap out the eggs for prepared basil pesto, using about ½ cup of pesto per pound of meat. The result: A moist, hearty bite filled with basil and garlic goodness.

Stuff with Feta

Usually made with ground lamb, Greek meatballs are loaded with fresh herbs like mint and parsley perfect for serving in pitas or dunking in tangy tzatziki sauce. But what is a Greek dish without feta cheese? Try stuffing a small cube of feta into the center of each of your Greek meatballs, then cooking them as usual. When you bite into one, you'll get a surprise mouthful of creamy, salty, melty cheese - and never go back to unstuffed meatballs again!

Serve with Cranberry Sauce

Made famous by IKEA stores, but originating in Sweden, Swedish meatballs are flavored with allspice and nutmeg, served over egg noodles, and topped with a lusciously creamy gravy sauce. Historically they are also served with lingonberry jam, but that can be hard to come by in the US. Fortunately, cranberries boast a similar sweet and tart flavor, making cranberry sauce a delicious substitute to accompany your Swedish meatballs on the side or drizzled over the top.

Grill Them Up

The Middle Eastern spice blend za'atar, a mix of thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, sumac, and a few other spices, gives Middle Eastern meatballs a rich, savory flavor. To kick the flavor up a notch, try grilling the meatballs instead of baking or pan-frying them. To do so, flatten each meatball slightly into small, thick patties and grill for around 2 minutes per side. Grilling adds smokiness and a delectable crispy crust that will hold up to thick sauces.

Sub in Cornflakes

A variation most often served as an appetizer, the sauce that accompanies sweet and sour meatballs is often the star of the show, leaving the meat itself as an afterthought. But you can show the meatballs some love by replacing the breadcrumbs in your recipe with an equal amount of crushed cornflakes. The meatballs will still stay together better on their toothpicks, but they'll have a light texture and easy chew that makes them endlessly pop-able.

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