Homemade Italian Meatballs Recipe

Serve Homemade Italian Meatballs for an easy dinner and leftovers on a bun for lunch.  Italian meatballs make a great freezer meal and the meatball recipe is perfect paired with our easy homemade spaghetti sauce.

We love Italian food. Every now and then we make pasta with sausage or a creamy pasta sauce. We even love meatless pasta recipes. But every so often we just have to take it back to a classic. Homemade meatballs.

So I’ve been keeping a secret. A very delicious secret. And it’s these Homemade Italian Meatballs.

You know we share only the best of our family recipes and this one definitely ranks as one of the top. This is an old family recipe from my mom’s side of the family. Although we are not of Italian heritage in any way, a relative married an Italian woman, who then let the family in on her family’s Italian meatball recipe.

spaghetti and meatballs on a plate with a fork

Although I’m sure Italian meatballs are made many different ways, we are so in love with this version from my Italian relative.

Of course I’d have to say what I love the most is the taste and texture of the meatballs. Tender and savory, just the way a meatball should be. But a close second is how versatile this recipe is. Let me take you through an example of how you can make this into an easy freezer meal, slow cooker dinner, and yes, even a school lunch for the kids!

What is the Best Meat for Meatballs

For our homemade meatballs we use a mix of lean ground beef and Italian sausage (either sweet Italian sausage or hot, depending on what you like). If you can find ground veal, add some of that. Those three meats together make a fantastic meatball.

Have plain ground pork? Season it with our Italian sausage seasoning.

Can I use ground turkey? Yes, but it will alter the flavor and the meatballs may be just a little bit drier due to the lean turkey. The meatball mixture will be slightly stickier and softer as well.

What ingredients go into meatballs?

You may think that meatballs well…just meat. But if you want tender, moist meatballs with amazing flavor, there is a few other things to add:

  • Ground Beef & Bulk Italian Sausage.
  • Parmesan cheese. Because we add parmesan cheese to everything.
  • Eggs. Eggs act as a binder in this recipe.
  • Italian breadcrumbs. This helps soak up some of the juices and keeps the meatballs tender. Use gluten-free breadcrumbs if you’d like.
  • Parsley and Basil. We use dried herbs, but you can use fresh herbs if you’d like.
  • Garlic salt and black pepper. For flavor!

How to Make Meatballs

Meatballs are easier than ever to make.

Simply mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. It may be easiest to whisk the eggs in a small bowl first so that they are easier to mix in. We often find ourselves setting aside the spoon and simply using our hands to mix. It’s messy, but it’s just faster this way.

For perfectly uniform meatballs, use a cookie dough scoop to scoop up the meat mixture. Roll balls and place them on a baking sheet to get ready to bake!

How do I get my meatballs to stick together?

When making meatballs, you want to be sure there is not too much moisture added. The beef mix should be moist, but not soggy. Eggs help bind the meatballs together, but if there are too many eggs (or milk or other liquid), the meatballs will fall apart.

When you are mixing the meatballs, if you think the mixture feels soggy, add ¼ to ½ cup of Italian bread crumbs.

How to Bake Meatballs

Is it better to fry meatballs in skillet or bake them in the oven? Italian tradition will pan-fry meatballs in olive oil, then let them finish cooking while simmering in marinara sauce.

I prefer to bake our meatballs for several reasons:

  • It is less messy.
  • It takes less time because you can cook a lot of them at once in the oven.
  • It fully cooks the meatballs so that you can freeze them.
  • It helps reduce the fat by baking the meatballs fully before adding them to sauce.
baked meatballs in a pan

*Pro Tip: Place a wire rack on a large baking sheet. Bake the meatballs on the wire rack so all of the fat drips down during baking.**

Can you freeze meatballs?

Yes! Cook the meatballs and allow them to cool. Split the meatballs up in whatever size Ziploc bags you’d like and pop them in the freezer to use at another time. Meatballs will freeze well for up to 2 months.

Reheat Meatballs in the Slow Cooker

We are crazy about meatballs that we’ve simmered in sauce. They taste amazing. Whether your meatballs are fresh or frozen, you can put the meatballs in the slow cooker, cover them with homemade sauce and let them simmer all day.

Let me tell you that this is by far my most favorite way to eat these meatballs. That extra time in the slow cooker gives them a depth of flavor that will make you swoon.

What should I eat with meatballs?

Pasta is a classic choice for meatballs. But what if you don’t want the pasta? We love serving meatballs with baked potatoes, corn casserole, a side salad and Italian bread. So, so good!

meatball sub sandwich with mozzarella

Meatball Sandwich Recipe

One of my favorite school lunchroom lunches was “Meatball Splash” which was simply homemade Italian meatballs smothered in spaghetti sauce, served on a hot dog bun. Our lunch ladies served these often and I loved them!

I take this best meatball recipe and serve it on buns for our own homemade meatball sub sandwiches. And your child can enjoy these at school by simply putting the warm meatballs and sauce in a thermos. Send along spoon and a hot dog bun in a baggie and they can make their own sandwich at school.

If your kids are like mine, they grow tired of peanut butter and jelly very quickly. They’d be super happy to have a home cooked comfort meal for their school day.

homemade italian meatballs over spaghetti
homemade italian meatballs over spaghetti

Homemade Italian Meatballs

4.93 from 13 votes
Here’s a recipe for classic, Homemade Italian Meatballs. Serve them for dinner topping a plate of spaghetti and send the leftovers with your kids for lunch to make a meatball sub sandwich.
Servings 10
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3/4 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. 
  • Roll into 1 1/2" balls and place them closely together in 9×13 pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray. **You can place a wire rack on the baking sheet and bake the meatballs on the rack so that the fat drips down if you'd like.**
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  • Serve the meatballs immediately with sauce and spaghetti, put them in the slow cooker along with sauce to have them simmer, or freeze the meatballs in Ziploc bags to use another time.
  • If you freeze the meatballs, allow them to cool completely before packaging them.

Video

Notes

The calories shown are based on the recipe making about 30, with 1 serving being 3 meatballs. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 811mg | Potassium: 458mg | Vitamin A: 205IU | Vitamin C: 1.2mg | Calcium: 159mg | Iron: 3.4mg
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 333
Keyword authentic meatballs, easy meatball recipe, how to cook meatballs, how to make meatballs, the best meatballs recipe

Other Meatball Recipes 

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Comments

  1. My husband is Italian and is missing his Granddaddy and his Mom’s Sunday gravy and all of their recipes. Unfortunately they are no longer with us nor are their recipes. We have your recipe in our over right now and I can’t wait for him to taste them and let the memories flow. I’d love any old school Italian recipes that you would share with me. This was fun to make. Here’s to good eating!
    Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    I didn’t want to cook. But too bad for me. I found this recipe and within an hour I had a great sketti and meatball dinner. Just as my husband and I sat down to eat my grandkids came in and NEEDED food and gramma had plenty.
    I would like to make another batch for the freezer. My grandkids have hollow legs😁, got to fill em up!!

  3. When your recipe calls for Parmesan Cheese, do you use the Kraft version in a canister, or fresh grated Parmesan? Thank you.

    1. Generally I grate my own parmesan cheese. But for this specific recipe I’ve used the canned when I am in a hurry.

    1. For 3/4 of a pound of Johnsonville sweet italian sausage links use 3 and 3/4 links, hope that helps. I cut the recipe in half and use 1 pound of ground beef and 2 sausage links with the casings removed.
      Katherine

  4. 5 stars
    I substituted Romano cheese instead of Parmesan cheese. I also used Italian seasoning instead of the parsley flakes. I made both the substitutions because I didn’t have Parmesan cheese or parsley flakes. These meatballs were amazing! They were almost as good as my Italian grandmother used to make them.

  5. 5 stars
    Just made these…I just had to try one immediately…absolutely delicious. I can imagine they will even be better after
    bathing in sauce for a bit. I will be making again, again and again I’m sure!

  6. Please tell me what makes the meatballs authentic? I love meatballs. Lost my recipe. So hoping these are what you say.

  7. 5 stars
    Black 21 year old female here making Italian Meat Balls! I do not eat pork or beef, so I used 1lb of lean turkey (Jenni O) and half the amounts. This recipe was flavorful, juicy, quick, and simple. I have a 10 year old sister who is PICKY, she loved these. Said “she felt like she was at fancy Italian Restaurant” and wanted to do cartwheels after eating them LOL. Loved it. Thank you (2020)

  8. Made the meatballs last night. Big pot of spaghetti going. They are delicious and can’t wait to add them to my sauce!

  9. 5 stars
    Just made these meatballs & they are 2 die for. Your video also made everything so simple. Definitely will check out more of your recipes. Thanks

  10. 5 stars
    I just made these and of course had to try one right out of the oven. The rest are in the crockpot with sauce to make meatballs subs later. These came out great. I did change it up a little by using hot italian sausage (our family likes spicy food), but otherwise made it as written! Will use this recipe again

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