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Say hello to THE BEST recipe for Italian Meatballs that you’ll ever try! They’re bursting with flavor, easy to make and have been TESTED and PERFECTED over the last 10 years. The options are endless with these juicy, tender, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs! Serve them as an appetizer, in meatball subs, with spaghetti or added to soup.
I first made these meatballs in 2012 and haven’t stopped since! When I started dating my husband, he told me that his favorite foods were meatballs and anything Italian. So obviously I made it my life goal to PERFECT Italian Meatballs, and I must say, I’m now FAMOUS for my Italian Meatballs!
So what makes these THE BEST Italian Meatballs ever?! Four things:
- Italian Pork Sausage. Instead of simply combining ground beef and ground pork, I use a combo of ground beef and Italian Pork Sausage. This adds salt, fat and flavor to the meatballs which makes them SO juicy and flavorful!
- Homemade Italian Seasoning. Sure, you could buy Italian seasoning at the store, but my homemade seasoning is SO EASY to make and really amps up the flavor of these meatballs, and honestly any other Italian dish as well!
- Egg Yolks. While eggs are a common binder in meatballs, using just the egg yolks adds fat and helps bind the meatballs, without watering them down.
- Broiling the meatballs. While most people fry or bake meatballs, I’ve found that if you broil the meatballs, they cook faster, giving them a beautiful brown crust on the outside, while remaining super juicy and tender on the inside!
These meatballs are in the monthly rotation at our house, and I always make a double batch to freeze some for later. I like to make the meatballs golf ball sized, so they’re easy to toss in soups, add to sandwiches, serve as an appetizer, or pair with our favorite spaghetti sauce and pasta!
I promise you’ll never buy store-bought frozen meatballs again after you try this easy recipe! It only takes 25 minutes start-to-finish to prep and cook the meatballs, and everyone will exclaim “these are the best meatballs I’ve ever had!“
Table of contents
- Olive oil
- Onion – I prefer a yellow onion in this recipe for it’s nice, neutral flavor.
- Ground beef – I recommend a ground beef that’s 80/20, meaning 80% lean and 20% fat. This will give you the perfect amount of fat to make tender, juicy meatballs!
- Italian pork sausage – If you can’t find Italian sausage, not in the casing, you can always use Italian link sausage, and simply remove the sausage from the casing before adding it to this meatball recipe.
- Panko bread crumbs
- Parmesan cheese
- Eggs – you’ll only need the yolks, so feel free to save the egg whites for another recipe.
- Italian seasoning – I highly recommend my homemade seasoning, linked here. It’s so flavorful and easy to mix up in less than 5 minutes!
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
I’ve included step by step photos below to make this recipe super easy to follow at home. For the full detailed recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
If you plan to serve the meatballs with homemade spaghetti sauce, be sure to make that before starting the meatballs. If you plan to serve the meatballs with pasta, you’ll also want to bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove before you start the recipe.
Step 1: heat olive oil in a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Cook diced onions and minced garlic in the olive oil, then set the skillet aside.
Step 2: add ground beef, Italian sausage, panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, egg yolks, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked onions and garlic.
Step 3: use your hands, or a spatula, to combine all of the ingredients. Once the ingredients are combined, form the mixture into about 40 golf ball sized meatballs.
Step 4: turn the broiler on the oven to high. Place the meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet and under the broiler in the oven for 5-7 minutes.
Note: alternatively, you can also bake the meatballs at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.
Step 5: remove the meatballs from the oven when the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 160°F.
Step 6: if you’d like to toss the meatballs in marinara or spaghetti sauce, heat 1 cup of sauce (or more, if you’d like) in a skillet on the stove over medium heat. When the meatballs come out of the oven, immediately add them to the sauce in the skillet.
Toss the meatballs with the sauce and serve with your favorite pasta, topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, like basil or Italian parsley.
Ways to serve the meatballs
- With pasta – there’s no more classic of a combo than spaghetti and meatballs, it really is a match made in foodie heaven! You could also serve these meatballs with tortellini or raviolis, two of my favorite cheese-filled pastas!
- In a sub sandwich – the almighty meatball sub is one of our go-to uses for leftover meatballs at lunch time. Simply load up a hoagie roll with meatballs and marinara sauce, then top it with shredded or thinly sliced mozzarella cheese. Place in an oven under the broiler on high for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- In soup – this Italian Meatball Soup is so easy to make and even more delicious with homemade meatballs!
- As an appetizer – people go crazy for these meatballs every time I serve them at a party! Once the meatballs are cooked under the broiler in the oven, I add them to a slow cooker with 2 cups of warm marinara sauce. Set the crock pot to warm and let people dig into these meatballs throughout the party!
- With mashed potatoes – now this is a meat and potatoes meal I can get down with! Pair the meatballs with Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes for some serious comfort food!
How to pan fry the meatballs
While there are dozens of ways to serve these meatballs, there are also several ways to cook them! In addition to baking or broiling the meatballs, you can pan fry them or cook them in an air fryer.
To pan fry the meatballs, simply add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs to the pan, 10-15 at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Pan fry the meatballs on each side for 2-3 minutes, or until the meatballs are golden brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside.
If you’d like to add tomato sauce directly to the pan after frying the meatballs, be sure to drain out any grease first, or else the sauce will become very greasy.
Allow the meatballs to simmer in the sauce for 5-10 minutes, then serve with your favorite pasta, or in a meatball sub sandwich!
How to make them in an air fryer
My second favorite way to cook these meatballs is in an air fryer. They cook up fast and are still so juicy and tender, with no added oil.
To cook the meatballs in an air fryer, add the meatballs to the air fryer basket, making sure there’s room between each meatball. Cook at 380°F for 8 minutes.
How to make large meatballs
The balls pictured above are about 5 times the size of the other meatballs pictured throughout this post. If you love a giant juicy meatball, then this section is for you!
This meatball recipe will make either 40 golf ball sized meatballs, or 8 big Italian meatballs. To make the larger version of these meatballs, simply form the meatball mixture into 8 baseball sized meatballs. Bake the meatballs at 400°F for 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.
Remove the meatballs from the oven and immediately toss in marinara sauce in a skillet on the stove. Serve over pasta, or with a side salad and garlic bread.
Tips and tricks
- Do not over-mix the meatball ingredients! Only mix the ingredients enough to combine them. Over-mixing will cause the meatballs to become tough.
- Make even-sized meatballs. If your meatballs are different sizes, it means they won’t cook at the same time and you’ll get some over-cooked and some under-cooked meatballs, which no one wants! If you have a hard time eyeballing the correct size for each meatball, simply use a cookie scoop to make perfectly even-sized meatballs every time! I recommend spraying the cookie scoop with cooking spray first, so that the meatball mixture doesn’t get stuck in the scoop.
- Do not overcook the meatballs! The meatballs will dry out and become tough if they’re overcooked. Follow my cooking times for perfectly cooked, tender meatballs every time!
- To make gluten free meatballs, simply swap out the panko breadcrumbs for gluten-free panko bread crumbs.
Storing and freezing meatballs
Leftover uncooked meatballs will stay good in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Leftover cooked meatballs will stay good in the fridge for up to 6 days. If you want to store them longer, toss them in the freezer!
I love freezing these meatballs to have them on hand for meals down the road. The meatballs can be frozen either raw or cooked.
- If freezing the meatballs raw, I recommend placing them about 1/2 inch apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and into the freezer for 30 minutes before transferring them to a freezer bag. This will allow the meatballs to freeze on the outside and will prevent them from getting stuck together in the freezer bag.
- If freezing cooked meatballs, make sure the meatballs have cooled completely, then transfer them to a freezer bag and place in the freezer.
- These meatballs can be frozen for up to 6 months. I always recommend writing a date on the bag before placing it in the freezer.
- To defrost the meatballs, transfer them from the freezer to the refrigerator 12-24 hours before using them in a recipe. In a hurry? Transfer the frozen meatballs to a plate and use your microwaves defrost function to defrost the meatballs in just a few minutes.
- If the meatballs are already fully cooked, you can add them directly to a pot of marinara sauce, or soup, to heat them up.
- If the meatballs are raw, you’ll want to cook them using the broil, bake, air fry or pan fry methods I’ve listed above.
More Italian recipes
Try these other TESTED AND PERFECTED Italian recipes from my kitchen to your home!
- Three Cheese Manicotti
- Italian Sausage Shells and Cheese
- Vegetarian Lasagna
- Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
- Kurt’s Famous Pan Pizza
- Pasta Fagioli Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound Italian pork sausage
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, click link for homemade recipe
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven broiler to high.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet on the stove over medium high heat.
- Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, Italian sausage, panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, egg yolks, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Add the cooked onions and garlic, then use your hands, or a spatula, to combine all of the ingredients.
- Once the ingredients are combined, form the mixture into about 40 golf ball sized meatballs.
- Place the meatballs on a foil lined baking sheet and under the broiler in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Alternatively, you can bake the meatballs at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the meatballs from the oven and immediately toss with your favorite sauce, add to soups or subs, or freeze them for later.
- This recipe makes 40 small (golf ball sized) meatballs or 8 jumbo (baseball sized) meatballs. If making the jumbo size meatballs, bake them in a 400°F oven for 20-25 minutes.
- These meatballs can be frozen raw or cooked. I recommend only freezing them for up to 6 months. They can be defrosted overnight in the refrigerator or in a microwave, using the defrost function.
- To make gluten free meatballs, simply swap out the panko breadcrumbs for gluten-free panko bread crumbs.
- For instructions on how to pan fry or air fry the meatballs, refer to the blog post above.
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