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Homemade Italian Meatballs

These flavorful, moist meatballs come together in minutes and are oven baked for a quick dinner. Homemade Italian Meatballs are always satisfying and well received.

overhead plate of meatballs next to breadsticks

Italian Meatball Recipe

This is a great meatball recipe and ready to enjoy in so many different ways. They are great appetizers with marinara sauce or paired with your favorite pasta and spaghetti sauce for dinner.

You can use these tender meatballs for scrumptious, cheesy meatball subs. Always a crowd pleaser.

These are the best meatballs and your prep time is minimal. The oven does all of the work for you and you will have this delicious dish ready in no time.

It’s an easy recipe for freezing and always convenient to have on hand for a simple dinner or last minute appetizer. Give me a glass of red wine and a few of these juicy meatballs and I’m a happy girl.

Serve them over a bed of pasta with sauce, and a side of Italian green beans for a delicious meal!

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.
labeled picture of ingredients in individual bowls

Ingredients Needed for Homemade Meatballs

Milk – Use to moisten the breadcrumbs and make the meatballs tender and juicy. You can substitute half and half or heavy cream for a slightly richer taste.

Italian bread crumbs – You can use any store bought bread crumbs or make fresh breadcrumbs from Italian bread to continue the Italian theme. You can also use gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Ground beef – I use lean ground beef for these meatballs.

Ground pork – You can use all beef if you prefer. Pork or ground Italian sausage is a good option too.

Parmesan cheese – Italian meatballs must have Italian cheese! Parmesan is the traditional choice, but you can use finely grated Romano or pecorino as well.

Onion – White or yellow onion works well in this recipe, but you could also try shallots. Finely mince the onion. Use your food processor for easy chopping and less crying.

Garlic – You can find minced garlic in your local supermarket, or throw 3 cloves in the food processor with your onion.

Italian seasoning – You can play with the seasonings in this recipe. If you want a little heat add some red pepper flakes. Have fresh herbs available? Use fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley and basil instead of the Italian seasoning.

Egg – Use one large egg to help bind all the ingredients together. You can also use 2 egg yolks instead of a whole egg.

Pantry staples – Sea salt or table salt, fresh parsley.

How to Make Italian Meatballs

First: Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or lightly oil with a bit of olive oil. You can also line your baking tray with parchment paper.

Second: In a small bowl, combine the milk and the bread crumbs and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together and then add the soaked bread crumb mixture to the meat mixture.

Third: Using a large ice cream or cookie scoop and scoop out meatball mixture, roll into balls and place on the sheet pan in a single layer. 

Fourth: Place the meatballs in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

For the full recipe and detailed baking instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post.

plate of meatballs with fresh basil

What are traditional Italian meatballs made of?

The main ingredients in Italian meatballs are: Ground beef, pork and/or sausage, eggs, bread crumbs (Italian of course!), parmesan cheese, and seasonings.

Italian meatballs may contain one type of meat or a combination of beef and pork. Use Parmesan cheese because Italians add parmesan cheese to everything.

Typical Italian seasonings would include garlic, parsley, basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, salt and black pepper. 

plate of spaghetti and meatballs

What’s the difference between Italian meatballs and regular meatballs?

Italian meatballs called “polpette”, are usually made with ground beef or veal. They are generally on the small side, and include Italian ingredients such as parsley, basil, Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese.

In Italy you will not see spaghetti with meatballs. They are served alone with a flavorful tomato sauce.

There are so many different ways to prepare meatballs. Check out these meatball appetizers!

fork of spaghetti and a meatball

Is it better to fry or bake Italian meatballs?

Traditionally Italian meatballs are pan fried in a large skillet. This develops a crust on the outside of the meatball and adds flavor.

However, if you don’t want the extra fat and calories that oil adds you can bake them as in this recipe. You can also cook them in the crockpot.

To cook meatballs in your slow cooker simply broil the meatballs 4-5 minutes on each side and then add them to your crockpot with marinara sauce. Cook on low for 4 hours.

How do I know when my meatballs are done? 

Meatballs should reach a temperature of 165° F when cooked. Test for doneness with a meat thermometer inserted into the middle.  

plate of spaghetti and three meatballs

Tips for No Leftovers

  • Switch up the ground meats for ground pork, ground turkey, or Italian sausage.
  • Make a double batch and freeze some for quick use later. Freeze before or after you cook them. Place cooked or uncooked meatballs in a freezer bag and they will last 3-4 months in the freezer.
  • The best Italian meatballs are light and airy. To achieve this, do not over mix the meat mixture. Scoop lightly and roll gently.
  • If you have leftover meatballs, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Have fresh herbs available? Use fresh rosemary, thyme and basil instead of the Italian seasoning – 2 teaspoons fresh chopped of each herb.
  • Use a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to keep the meatballs the same size. This recipe makes large-sized meatballs, but if you are making these for appetizers you may want to use a smaller scoop.
  • When rolling the meatballs, wet your hands to keep the meatballs from sticking.
  • My favorite ways to serve meatballs are over spaghetti with marinara, or in a meatball sandwich, with a marinara dipping sauce. You can buy your favorite jarred marinara sauce use a homemade marinara sauce.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

fork of spaghetti and one meatball with white banner and text

Craving Italian? These meatballs are pure comfort food. Pair with your favorite red sauce, add a side salad and garlic bread and dinner is done. Once you try these homemade meatballs, you’ll never buy frozen again. Enjoy!

overhead plate of meatballs next to breadsticks

Italian Meatballs

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This is the best Italian meatball recipe around! Light and tender and perfect for pairing with sauce over pasta or in a sub sandwich.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (minced)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 400°. Spray a pan with cooking spray or cover with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk. Let sit for 2 minutes to absorb the milk.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, ground pork, Parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, eggs, sea salt and breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Use a large ice cream scoop and scoop out meatballs. Wet your hands with water and roll into balls.
  5. Place the meatballs in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165° F.
  6. Remove from the oven. Either cool and store for later use, or toss in your favorite sauce and serve with pasta or polenta.

Notes

  • Switch up the ground meats for ground pork, ground turkey, or Italian sausage.
  • Make a double batch and freeze some for quick use later. Freeze before or after you cook them. Place cooked or uncooked meatballs in a freezer bag and they will last 3-4 months in the freezer.
  • The best Italian meatballs are light and airy. To achieve this, do not over mix the meat mixture. Scoop lightly and roll gently.
  • If you have leftover meatballs, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Have fresh herbs available? Use fresh rosemary, thyme and basil instead of the Italian seasoning - 2 teaspoons fresh chopped of each herb.
  • Use a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to keep the meatballs the same size. This recipe makes large-sized meatballs, but if you are making these for appetizers you may want to use a smaller scoop.
  • When rolling the meatballs, wet your hands to keep the meatballs from sticking.
  • My favorite ways to serve meatballs are over spaghetti with marinara, or in a meatball sandwich, with a marinara dipping sauce. You can buy your favorite jarred marinara sauce use a homemade marinara sauce.
  • Recommended Products

    This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy here.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 6 Serving Size: 2 meatballs
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 376Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 128mgSodium: 676mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 32g

    This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and we can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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