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Tender, juicy homemade Italian Meatball Recipe
Everyone needs a great Italian Meatball Recipe!
Our tested and perfected Italian Meatball recipe is easy to make and the results are consistently terrific. This recipe produces super juicy, tender and delicious meatballs with easy make-ahead and freezable directions too!
Have you ever done one of those Ancestry DNA Tests for Ethnicity & Genealogy? They had a big sale during the holidays so my husband and I bought two kits as a gift for ourselves. It takes 6-8 weeks for the results so I haven’t gotten mine back yet, but I’m pretty sure it will say I’m from Irish and Scottish heritage.
However … I’ve been channeling my inner Italian grandmother lately so perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something. Wouldn’t it be fun if my test came back with Italian roots?! Can’t wait to find out 🙂
Italian roots or not, we absolutely adore Italian food.
I long to visit Italy and drink copious amounts of red wine, eat my weight in fresh crusty bread dipped in olive oil, savor salty bites of amazing olives and cheese, and of course, slurp up bowls of homemade pasta topped with plenty of tomato sauce.
If we’re dreaming here, I would give anything to spend a day with an Italian grandmother working side by side in her kitchen, making authentic homemade sauce (a/k/a gravy), gnocchi, and of course handmade pasta. (heavy sigh)
There are so many things I love about these meatballs and they’re easily adaptable too.
I like to use a combination of beef, veal and pork for these meatballs. Our butcher sells it all in one package making it super easy. However, if your butcher doesn’t assemble it that way, no worries. Just use a combination of beef and pork or just a package of 80-85% beef.
My mom always used beef and her meatballs were terrific. She also used white bread soaked in milk as a filler, but I never have white bread in the house. We normally use Panko or seasoned breadcrumbs, whatever we have on hand.
The only ingredients that are essential and not negotiable are fresh garlic, fresh parsley, and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Ingredients needed to make our homemade Italian Meatball Recipe:
- sweet onion – grated on a large box grater
- breadcrumbs – panko, fresh or seasoned breadcrumbs all work well
- fresh ground black pepper
- crushed red pepper flakes – to add a little zing!
- milk – whole milk is best but 2% will do in a pinch
- Parmesan – fresh grated is a must in this recipe!
- Italian parsley leaves – again, fresh is best
- ground meat – any combination of ground beef, ground pork and/or ground veal works well
- olive oil
How to make the BEST Homemade Italian Meatball Recipe:
Start by grating the sweet onion on a large box grater over a large mixing bowl. Combine the grated onion with garlic, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, egg, milk, Parmesan and parsley. Set aside to allow the breadcrumbs to hydrate, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Next add the ground meat and gently squish together using your hands until well blended.
Shape the meat mixture into golf-ball sized firm meatballs.
Brown the meatballs in a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Finally, transfer the meatballs to a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Make-ahead and freezable directions for Italian Meatballs!
If you’re using the meatballs right away, brown them lightly in a skillet then add them directly to your sauce on the stovetop. Simmer in your favorite marinara sauce until cooked through.
If you want to flash freeze the meatballs to use later, brown in the skillet then bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool the cooked meatballs completely, lay them out on a rimmed baking sheet then pop the whole pan in the freezer.
Once frozen, transfer the meatballs to a freezer safe container or freezer bag. Once frozen, the meatballs won’t stick together so you can remove the exact amount needed for your next amazing meal.
Since we have large monthly family dinners with the whole gang, I like to have a good portion of our meal prepared ahead. This Italian Meatball Recipes makes serving our hungry crowd very easy. I often make a double batch of meatballs and freeze until needed.
Also, these meatballs are perfect to have on hand for a super quick and easy dinner for two. Remove the amount of meatballs you need, and add to the sauce. Cook until heated through then serve over your favorite pasta. Be sure to add loads of fresh grated Parmesan!
Our Italian Meatball Recipe is a must try for the Italian food lovers in your family.
There are so many ways to use these meatballs in other dishes, too.
Drop the cooked meatballs in a saucepan filled with your favorite marinara sauce and heat until tender.
Chop up a few meatballs and scatter on your homemade pizza.
Add a layer of chopped meatballs to our Rich & Meaty Classic Lasagna Recipe.
Use these meatballs as the base for our Skillet Meatball Calzones with Herbed Butter Sauce.
We haven’t even started on the sandwiches yet! Homemade Meatball Sub Sandwiches are incredibly delicious and so much better than store-bought.
One recipe, multiple meals, perfect for weekend cooking and terrific weeknight eating!
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Homemade Italian Meatballs
- ¼ large onion grated (using a large box grater)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¾ cup breadcrumbs panko, fresh or seasoned will work
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup whole milk more or less as needed
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese fresh grated
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 ½ pounds ground meat (any combination of beef, pork and/or veal for a total of 1 ½ pounds)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Set a box grater inside a large mixing bowl. Grate the onion into the bowl. Add the minced garlic, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, red pepper (if using), egg, milk, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Mix well with a spatula and allow to rest for 5 - 10 minutes. The mixture should be very wet but not soupy. Add a little more milk or water if needed, just a few tablespoons at a time.
- Add the ground meat mixture to the bread crumbs and squish with your hands until well blended. Shape and roll into golf-ball sized meatballs and set aside on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a large skillet with the olive oil and heat on medium. Brown the meatballs, in small batches, on all sides then place on the rimmed baking sheet. (Do not cook the meatballs all the way through.)
- If using the meatballs right away, carefully add the amount needed to a saucepan filled with your favorite pasta sauce. Cook, simmering gently until the meatballs are cooked through.
- If storing or freezing the meatballs for later, bake the meatballs on the rimmed baking sheet in the preheated 350°F oven for 15 minutes. Cool the meatballs completely and then freeze (see NOTE.)
- Different bread crumbs will yield different results. You may need more milk if using Panko, etc. The meatball mixture should be soft and very moist, but not dripping wet.
- To freeze meatballs - cool completely, then place on a baking sheet and set inside your freezer. Once flash frozen (about 2 hours), remove from the baking sheet and place in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
- Recipe is easily doubled