Grandma’s Famous Italian Meatballs

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Grandma’s meatball recipe is the ultimate family comfort food! Spheres of ground beef broil until golden brown, then simmer in a flavorful tomato sauce until tender and juicy. Serve over spaghetti noodles or your favorite pasta.

Three large beef meatballs on a bed of spaghetti noodles and topped with parmesan cheese

Before we got married, my husband, Jason, wanted to make sure I knew how to make all his favorite meals. He comes from an Italian family where a love of food is their bond. After calling up Grandma Rose to ask for her meatball recipe, I learned that she doesn’t use a list of specific measurements and cooks by feel. As a culinary scientist who craves details, I had some homework to do.

After years of testing, that’s how long we dated for; I finally figured it out! The most important elements are the breadcrumb mixture to retain juiciness, broiling to create surface flavors, and simmering to tenderize the beef. This recipe makes plenty of servings to use with pasta or sandwiches, and the leftovers taste even better.

unmixed meatball ingredients in a bowl

Meat selection

I use ground beef between 80% (ground chuck) to 90% (ground sirloin). The percentage corresponds to the amount of lean meat-to-fat that’s processed together. Fat adds flavor, while the meat provides a contrast in texture.

Grandma did say she uses a mixture of veal and pork on occasion, in addition to the beef. For this recipe, you can easily substitute ground turkey or chicken for a healthier alternative.

Using a panade

If using breadcrumbs, you do not have to soak them in liquid before mixing with the meat like I normally would for a classic panade. That’s because the breadcrumbs’ size is so fine that the moisture from the eggs and fat juices in the ground beef is sufficient.

Once you mix and broil, the liquids will absorb into the crumbs and activate the natural starches. During the simmering process, the starches further bind to the liquid and swell to lock in the juices. 

Breadcrumb selection

I recommend using plain breadcrumbs then adding in dried Italian seasonings for herbaceous notes. You can use premade Italian-style breadcrumbs for convenience, but I prefer to control the level of seasonings. 

Alternatively, if I have leftover bread, I make fresh breadcrumbs in a food processor then bake them until dry for a tastier meatball. This option works well for those that want to make gluten-free breadcrumbs if none are available at the market.

Recipe Resources

Broiling creates new flavors

Grandma’s Rose adamantly advises broiling the meatballs before simmering them in the sauce. This process is an integral step in keeping the meat together during simmering and enhancing the surface flavor and texture. The meatballs cook under the broiler on one side, then flip to get the bottoms browned as well.

Grandma was a smart woman! Without realizing it, she was telling me to make sure the Maillard reaction is done and executed just right. In culinary school, I learned that Maillard browning is key to creating hundreds of new flavor compounds and aromas in a dish.

Meat-to-bread ratio

The correct ratio of meat-to-breadcrumb and fat for flavor is crucial to nailing the recipe. If there are too few or too many breadcrumbs, the texture is off (tough or spongy). I find the perfect sweet spot is: 1 pound beef, ½ cup breadcrumbs, and 1 large egg.

Make an easy tomato sauce

Foods rich in glutamates like onions, garlic, and tomatoes serve to boost the meatballs’ savory flavors. Minced garlic and onion saute with the tomato paste to add a hint of sweetness and depth to the sauce. High quality crushed canned tomatoes create a thick but pourable consistency. I make the sauce and simmer it briefly for about 30 minutes while preparing the meatballs. 

Meatballs simmering in a pot of tomato sauce

A good sauce takes time

Slowly simmering the meatballs in the sauce for over an hour allows the liquid to coax out the appetizing browned flavors from the meat. The braising process and acids in the tomato help to soften the tougher connective tissue in the beef, so that each bite breaks down with little resistance. The sauce flavor concentrates over the long cooking period.

This recipe is also ideal to be made in a slow cooker, about 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Jason reminds me that the sauce needs to be thick so that it can cling to the noodles. It’s easy to adjust the consistency with a little water or beef stock to your liking at the end of cooking.

What to serve this with

Meatball sliced in half with a fork on a bed of spaghetti noodles

How to prevent meatballs from shrinking

Adding breadcrumbs to the ground meat mixture creates a starchy paste that holds the moisture in and prevents shrinkage. Usually, when meat cooks, the muscle fibers’ proteins tighten and contract, which causes large amounts of water to squeeze out. If you do not use a classic panade or breadcrumbs, the meatballs will reduce in size and tend to become dry or tough.

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Grandma’s Italian Meatball Recipe

Grandma's tender and juicy meatball recipe simmered in a delicious tomato sauce and served with spaghetti noodles, classic Italian food.
4.87 from 2597 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 14 meatballs
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian


Tomato Sauce

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup yellow onions, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 7 cups crushed canned tomatoes, Cento or San Marzano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  • 2 pounds ground beef, 80% to 90% lean meat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, plain or Italian-style
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup yellow onion, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings, omit if using Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup sliced basil, for garnish


Tomato Sauce

  • In a large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic, sauté until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Simmer covered, with lid slightly ajar to prevent splattering for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


  • Set the oven rack to the lower-middle position and set it to broil. Line a large baking sheet with foil and lightly grease it with olive oil. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, add the ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, minced onion, salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic. Use hands to mix thoroughly until combined.
  • Measure and roll the ground beef mixture into ⅓ cup (3 ounces) rounds, about the size of an egg. Evenly space the pieces on the baking sheet, there should be about 14 to 15 meatballs.
  • Broil the meatballs until the surface is browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn over and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes to lightly brown the other side.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar, simmer on low heat for at least 1 ½ hours, checking and stirring every 20 minutes, or as needed. The meatballs should be fork tender when sliced.
  • At the end of cooking, adjust the consistency of the sauce with water if needed, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve meatballs with spaghetti topped with sauce, sliced basil, and Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Video


  • Storing: Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing: Uncooked meatballs can be stored in a large freezer bag for up to 1 month in the freezer. Defrost before broiling. Cooked meatballs and sauce can be frozen for up to 1 month, then defrosting and reheated on the stovetop until hot. 
  • Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or almond flour.
  • Make it in the slow cooker: Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the sauce ingredients to the slow cooker and broiled meatballs. Cook on high setting for 3 hours, or 6 hours on the low setting.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 14 meatballs
Calories 216kcal (11%)Carbohydrates 9g (3%)Protein 19g (38%)Fat 11g (17%)Saturated Fat 4g (20%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 44mg (15%)Sodium 810mg (34%)Potassium 19mg (1%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 2g (2%)Vitamin A 250IU (5%)Vitamin C 4.1mg (5%)Calcium 120mg (12%)Iron 0.5mg (3%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

495 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Madeleine says

    This looks fantastic! So if I wanted to incorporate the panade, would I simply soak the breadcrumbs in whole milk beforehand?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Madeline, thank you for checking out the recipe! Yes, soak the bread crumbs in the milk until the liquid has been absorbed. Start by adding a small amount of the panade to your meat mixture, I used the ratio of 1 pound beef, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and 1 egg. However since you are adding more moisture with a panade instead of just dried breadcurmbs, maybe start off with 1/4 cup of panade, adding more if needed to get the right texture. The meat mixture should not stick to your hands when you roll into balls, and you don’t want it to be too mushy. You can always add a little bit of dried bread brumbs if the mixture feels too mushy and won’t hold together. I always do a test piece by pan frying a small teaspoon to tablespoon of the mixture to see if the texture and flavor is how I like it, then adjust with more panade/breadcrumbs/seasonings as needed. Let me know if you have any more questions, I would love to help!

      • Madeleine says

        Almost five months later, and I finally tried my hand at meatballs with panade. They turned out wonderfully thanks to all your help and expertise! Growing up, my mom always used dried breadcrumbs in her meatball recipe, and I definitely noticed a difference with using the panade…so THANK YOU for expanding my culinary horizons and sharing this great little tip. The meatballs I made were good, though I think I’ll try your recipe next time as the inclusion of bacon (had to jump on the bandwagon, I guess!) in mine made them just a bit too fatty for my taste.

        Thanks again, and I look forward to trying more of your recipes!

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Yay! I’m so glad that you tried the meatballs and saw that the panade helped! I don’t blame you on adding bacon, I LOVE it, and it’s hard not wanting to add it where ever you can. Please let me know if you have any more questions in the future, I’m here to help!

      • Mary says

        OMG! I have been trying to make soft meatballs for years. I followed your recipe to the tee. My family was in for a surprise and I didn’t tell them I tried something new. They loved it!! We had meatball subs the next day Usually don’t eat that type of sandwich. Thank you Jessica. Please add me to your list if you have any others.

      • Dennis Leary says

        This recipe is reminiscent of my mother’s recipe. The consistency of the meatballs comes perfect with the 2 to 1 ratio of meat to breadcrumbs with the 80/20Hamburg. Awesome taste after simmering in the “gravy” for hours then putting on a fresh crusty Italian roll. YUM!

      • Kara Hall says

        If I sin and use jarred sauce should I still simmer the meatballs in the sauce to help break down the tissue ? If so how long? If my meat is more lean then 80/20 can I add olive oil to make up the fat?

      • Jill Palmer says

        My mom always added some milk to her meatloaf mix for moisture. Do you think this would help with meatballs? Also I finely chop or chop up fine in a chopper/mincer carrot and put in my meatballs. Just something I saw in meatballs and sauce at a restraunt. With my sauce I sautéed garlic, onion, carrot and parsley in olive oil. . When it’s done I add a little hamburger 80/20 to put a little meat in the sauce and I also put these ingredients into the meatballs. I bake meatballs then simmer in the sauce for awhile. Can you tell me why the carrot. I thought it mightbe for a touch of sweetness. I love to cook

      • Jessica Gavin says

        Thank you for your comment! For this particular recipe, since I use dried breadcrumbs that are dried and very fine, the moisture from the eggs was enough to create a panade like effect. However, you can absolutely substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cup panade (fresh bread soaked in milk) to see if you enjoy the texture better with the fresh vs. dried breaad crumbs.

        • Grace Sadowski says

          How can I thank you sufficiently ?
          My daughter in law just had a baby and I spent a week making freezer meals and soups. I doubled the meat ball recipe (except for the salt ) and followed your recipe exactly. The beef was extra lean so I added about a quarter cup of olive oil to the four pounds of ground beef and that was the only tweek. Needless to say the dish was perfect and the little family delighted. My old recipe asked for a combination of ground meat but this recipe is far superior.

    • Val says

      Hi! Are you able to freeze these? We are trying make meals ahead and I wasn’t sure if this would be freezer friendly and at what point would in the cooking process should I freeze them. Many thanks in advance!

        • Michele Hyson says

          How would you then cook them? I want to make a batch for my son who is in college and LOVES this recipe. I am thinking I’ll cut the meatballs in half before freezing. What’s your best guess/instruction on defrosting then?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Justin- I broil on high, but check after 5 minutes. If the tops of the meatballs are a nice golden brown, then I flip them over to cook the other side. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

  2. Frances Scaglione says

    I thought you used a panade in your meatballs? I was anxious to see your ratio of liquid to bread crumbs because I add water to the bread crumbs but am never sure how much to use.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Frances- For this particular recipe I didn’t soak the breadcrumbs, but if you wanted to I would recommend the following: Soak the bread crumbs in whole milk (add a small amount of milk and stir, adding more as needed until the breadcrumbs are moist). Without the panade I use a ratio of 1 pound beef, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and 1 egg. Since you are adding more moisture with a panade instead of just dried breadcurmbs, start off with 1/4 cup of panade, adding more if needed to get the right texture. The meat mixture should not stick to your hands when you roll into balls, and you don’t want it to be too mushy. You can always add a little bit of dried bread brumbs if the mixture feels too mushy and won’t hold together. I always do a test piece by pan frying a small teaspoon to tablespoon of the mixture to see if the texture and flavor is how I like it, then adjust with more panade/breadcrumbs/seasonings as needed. Let me know if you have any more questions, I would love to help!

  3. Amanda says

    These are fantastic. I follow the recipe exactly without the panade (haven’t had the time to experiment with that yet) and they are absolutely delicious! Taste just like my dads. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  4. Mitzi says

    Thank you for sharing your recipe !!! I am making this for the second time .My husband and children were so excited when they found out what was for supper!! I went exactly by your recipe except added a little more garlic and onion to the meatballs .Meatballs are simmering now and we can hardly wait !!!! Thank you Jessica !!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yay Mitzi! My family gets super excited too when they smell meatballs cooking in the sauce 🙂 So glad you like the recipe!

  5. Katie says

    Wow! These meatballs were fantastic. Thanks for spending 10 years getting the recipe perfect. My Jim gives it an A+ and says it is a keeper!

  6. Rick says

    Tried it and it was great. I did all about 6oz of whole regatta cheese to the meat balls and they were super moist. Making some more today by request from others that I fed before with this recipe.
    Thank’s Jessica

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yay Rick! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipes and will be sharing more with others 🙂

  7. Sharon says

    I am cooking dinner for a lactose intolerant family member. Should i sub the cheese for anything? Or if i just don’t do anything in replacement of the cheese do you think they will turn out okay? Thank you, im so excited i stumbled on your recipe!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Sharon- Great question! The cheese adds a more savory flavor and helps to bind the meatball. I have made it without it so you could try a couple of things. Use a diary free parmesan cheese (vegan) as a replacement. Or you could make a small tester after you mix in the other ingredients. Just cook a quarter sized piece of the meat in a hot pan, then taste it. Adjust the seasoning with more salt, garlic salt, or onion powder until you get the right seasoning level.

  8. Jane Marie Gramza says

    I’ve been searching for a good meatball recipe and I think I just found it! My grandparents are from Sicily but no longer with us, nor are my parents. I do remember my mom always putting a pork chop in her sauce and letting it simmer with the meatballs. Have you ever tried this? It gives the sauce a fabulous flavor! Thank you for what I’m sure will be a great Sunday dinner! Mangia!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yay Jane! Adding a pork chop would undeniably be amazing, I’ll have to give it a try. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

    • Amy Greenan says

      The first time we made this we did our usual process, which includes pan-fried bone-in pork chops. It was incredible! Yes, pork chops do add some really nice flavor. I would do two pork chops, season with salt and pepper and pan-fry in olive oil a few minutes each side. They go right into the sauce along the meatballs and will break down into mouthwatering chunks of meat – just be careful of the bones.

      Jessica, I am at this moment simmering your sauce and meatballs for lunch – this time not doing anything extra, just following the recipe straight. We LOVED the meatballs and the sauce but wanted to see how good it was without added meats and store-bought sauce (I had to add some for volume). It smells amazing and can’t wait to eat it again!

  9. Anne says

    Hi, can I place the raw meatballs in the sauce and just cook them that way? If so, how long do you recommend cooking them in the sauce?
    Thanks for your advice!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Anne! I would recommend browning the meatballs first since it adds more flavor and structure to the meatballs before they cook in the sauce. You could try to add them in raw, but they may become more mushy in texture. I would check it at the indicated time, and continue to cook as needed until no longer pink in the center.

  10. Giovanni Valentine says

    Not once have I been dissatisfied with your food. I love it and this is the best I’ve eatin, it was hard tryna eat right and healthy but now I don’t have to worry about that anymore. Thanks to you my friend.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much for your feedback Giovanni! Looking forward to sharing more recipes with you!

  11. Judy says

    Hi Jessica,

    I printed the recipe a moment ago. I have a little time at home before I need to fly back to WA state so I’m looking through your cookbook and gathering my recipes here too. I look forward to making this recipe tomorrow. I am about to go to the freezer and get the hamburger out. Cannot wait to try this. You have the best recipes hands down!

    xoxo Judy

  12. Judy says

    Oh by the way I love the videos and although I have not had much time to get on your app lately I am glad I have it. When I am in WA I have accessed it to use for my cooking there.

  13. Ken Lew says

    Hi Jessica!

    Thank you for the recipe! Everything looks amazing. I was wondering, I don’t have an oven that broils, do you think I can get away with just searing the meatballs in a pan instead of broiling?


  14. Kimberly Gregory says

    Can I make the meatballs smaller, say 1.5 or 2 ounces, without affecting the flavor? I would just broil them less?

  15. Debbie Sheegog says

    This is a perfect recipe that my 25-year old son found last night after we planned to make meatballs in a red sauce! It worked beautifully paired over both angel hair and fettuccini, since the family wanted two kinds of pasta. .
    He loved the idea of larger meatballs, and this was his first attempt at cooking this sort of dish. Using your recommended ingredients down to the smallest detail we knew we would never need to make them another way again!
    My past experiences with different ways of cooking meatballs have lead me to prefer your same technique using breadcrumbs and egg ingredients and the amounts of onion, garlic and spices were also perfect.
    Since we ended up cooking later than expected I did a sauce starting with the same way of sautéing the aromatic things together followed by one small can of tomato sauce, one of crushed tomatoes and one, 23.5 oz. jar of Newman’s Own Common Good Organic Roasted Garlic Sauce so that we could have it ready sooner. The other change then was adding additional liquid using both water and about 1/4 cup of wine with enough time still to allow it to cook down into a fabulous red sauce that was the perfect match for the braised meatballs.
    I loved watching my younger son’s face when he realized what a success this was as he had carefully created additional cooking time to be sure your grandmother’s family secret worked!
    It is a joy to have made new family memories of our own together in the kitchen. Thank you for sharing this. We all loved them and the guys wanted to, but could barely, eat more than one or two meatballs!
    (I actually am a vegetarian yet had to try a part of one. The taste and texture were the best I have ever had, hands down and was thrilled not to have added pork),

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, I am so blown away by this lovely comment and hearing the story unfold about you and your son’s experience! You truly made my day and so happy. I hope you have more wonderful bonding moments together in the kitchen!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Shaun- yes, typically most Dutch ovens can withstand the heat in the oven. Check the temperature rating with your pot. Also, I would avoid broiling in it though because the heat is very intense and more direct to prevent cracking.

  16. Andrew Kundratic says

    Great recipe! A keeper for sure. The only thing I did different I used a can of puree because I only had one can of crushed tomatoes.

  17. Kerry says

    I had to adapt the recipe because my home canned tomatoes were, well…. Let’s just say they are in the trash. I never knew tomatoes could smell like that. Plus I wasn’t going to go back to the store….So I used fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chilis and a can of tomato sauce, beggars can’t be choosy. I followed the meatball recipe exactly. They smelled so good as I put them in the sauce. I cannot wait until dinner tonight. Probably will be a little spicy, but I don’t mind it. I cut the heat with a little sugar. If I wasn’t lazy I would have gone back to the store to get the right ingredients for the sauce. I will be doing that next time!

  18. Sarah says

    Never made meatballs before, just finished making this an hour ago! I’m crunched for time so I didn’t make it with the sauce, but this was a good first start.

    I aired on the side of caution when I was broiling them because the neatballs weren’t done all the way (though I bet they would if I let them simmer for longer in the sauce you’re supposed to make it with).

    Real tasty, real juicy even when broiled for a few extra minutes! I love the flavors and it was a lot easier to make meatballs than I thought it was. Thanks for sharing the great recipe!

  19. Marcela says

    The recepie is amazing! Thank you for sharing.
    I’m just wondering why you take the meatballs out of the sauce and store them separate. Can I just refrigerate them all together?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Marcela! You can refrigerate the meatballs and sauce together, just make sure they are at room temperature before closing with a lid and placing in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage.

  20. MelT says

    I made this last night and it was delicious. My boys had seconds and even my picky eater made them disappear. My husband said, “Add this to the rotation!!” I need gluten free so I toasted a gluten free bagel and made fine bread crumbs and it worked out great. I had a question about seasonings…do you add Italian seasonings like oregano to this ever or is it just salt and pepper with fresh basil garnish? This is my first time making sauce so I don’t know what is traditional and what isn’t. Thank you

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You are a rockstar Melissa! So genius using the GF bagel and making your own breadcrumbs. You can absolutely add some fresh or dried oregano to the sauce.

  21. Sherill says

    Thanks for this amazing recipe. I followed the meatball recipe you gave and the the family loved it. The meatballs were perfectly cooked and juicy.

  22. Blair says

    I used this recipe for my first attempt at making meatballs, and was not disappointed! I love making sauce from “scratch” too so the sauce recipe is fantastic as well. Hubby loved it too…no leftovers! I dont care for onions so I did omit those, however I added sliced baby bellas to the simmering sauce (about half way through).
    Awesome recipe, thank you for sharing!!

  23. Nikki says

    Hi there. My sauce is already in a Crock-Pot for the day. If I wanted to make these and put them in the crock pot with my sauce for tonight would I just put them in raw and let them cook in the sauce all day?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Nikki- Make sure to broil the meatballs first and then cook them in the slow cooker on low setting for 4 to 5 hours.

  24. Seth says

    These are the best meatballs I’ve ever made. The only thing I changed was to add 3 tsp (1 Tbs) of kosher salt instead of 2. We like salty food 🙂 Thank you for the recipe!

  25. Yesenia says

    Hi Jessica,
    I came across this recipe after already buying a meatball mix (1/3 each beef, veal and pork). It’s 1.4lb total so I adjusted accordingly. My question is I only used one egg for this amount of meat. Should I add another egg or will the meat mix be enough? This is my first time making meatballs from scratch! I am really looking forward to making these :). Thanks!

  26. Denise says

    Fantastic! I can finally make meatballs Just like my mom’s! Thank you! She cooked like your Grandma and I just couldn’t eyeball it.

  27. Ramah says

    I made these for my in-laws and everyone loved them! Even my husband who always says he didn’t like meat balls. He ate a bowl full before guests even arrived. I simmered them in the sauce for almost two hours and then kept them warm in a crock pot. Thank-you so much for sharing this delicious recipe!

  28. Shannon says

    Hi Jessica,
    I’ve used your recipe before for the meatballs only I added some Italian seasoning, oregano, basil and parsley as well to add more flavor. I always omit the parmesan cheese because I personally don’t care for parmesan. I used mozzarella cheese instead and they turned out awesome! I also doubled the recipe because I cook for a crowd. We ate them on subs. Everyone really loved them. Ilove making homemade food from scratch. Thank you for this wonderful recipe and I look forward to more of your recipes.

    Thanks again for sharing,

  29. Bruce Green says

    Wow so delicious! I added two pieces of cooked bacon I minced and mixed in with the meatball mixture. Also I used seasoned Italian seasoned bread crumbs. I also added two bay leaves into the sauce. The broiling of the meatballs really helps (I experimented and tried it both ways). I’m tempted to add some red pepper flakes but some in our family don’t like spicy so I won’t. Thank you.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow Bruce, you took the meatball game to the next level! My husband would love some bacon in the next batch of meatballs. Cheers!

  30. Brent says

    Thanks for a really great recipe! This was delicious and I really enjoyed the time it took to make it. I wouldn’t change a thing…and I always change something.

  31. Jim Parcels says


    At the start of this post you mentioned making beef and pork meatballs for years, but I don’t see any pork listed in the recipe. Did I miss something?

    That aside, thanks for all the great info in your post!

  32. Scott says

    Going to make these again! The first time turned amazing! I have switched from my old standby to this new standby!


  33. Shauna Soto says

    This recipe is a few years old, but I just found it tonight. With Washington’s recent snow storms, I needed something fun and productive to do with kids. We agreed on meatballs. And let me tell you– these are the best meatballs I have ever had. The only thing I changed was 1 lb. Beef, 1 lb mild Italian sausage. The sauce went from almost too simple, (I should have gotten better tomatoes) to an amazing depth of flavor after simmering with meatballs. So great! My 3 and 5 year old love every bit of it, too!

  34. Jennifer says

    From my grandma to your grandma: “Grandma’s Meatballs are perfect, finally I can stop making suggestions for making better meatballs!” And from me: the sauce is so much better than a jar (I’ve never liked jarred sauce but everyone always told me it was too much time/mess to make homemade. They were WRONG!)

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, this is a HUGE compliment. Thank you for trying the recipe and having your grandma give approval. Cheers!

  35. Elizabeth Alkire says

    Oh, Jessica. I normally can’t staaand meatballs but they’re my husband’s favorite so I came across your recipe with low expectations… Oh. My. God. This spaghetti and meatball recipe is orgasmic. Legitimately, this is my husband’s favorite thing I cook now (I’ve made it twice in a week – tonight a double batch while having my husband’s grandfather over for dinner and so there would be plennnty of leftovers!) and I can’t get enough of it, either.

    SO GOOD. Thank you so much!

    I also appreciate you explaining the actual mechanics behind what’s happening with the food… the “food science” lol. I’m a fan!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much for the stellar review. It freezes really well too. Just form the meatballs, place them in a few resealable plastic bags, then defrost overnight. Happy cooking!

  36. Daniel says

    Trying it right now (the meatballs at least!!!) I will tackle the sauce recipe another day when I have more time. My wife put out a hamburger for spaghetti tonight and I decided that I would like to have meatballs instead of a meat sauce. I was kind of worried at first with broiling the meatballs then turning them,… I was afraid they would get too brown. But, they browned just enough to hold shape and they are simmering away in the sauce. Can’t wait to eat in a couple hours and let you know how everything was.

  37. KATHY says

    Oh. My. Goodness! We made this weekend and it was, without a doubt, the very best meatballs and sauce we have ever had! The first night we had it over penne pasta, the second night, we stuck ciabatta rolls under the broiler with garlic/Parmesan butter then added sliced meatballs (sauce clinging) and a slice of mozzarella to make the WORLDS BEST MEATBALL SANDWICH. Seriously, any restaurant that copied your recipe would become the neighborhood favorite. I made no adjustments, no changes to your recipe. SO GOOD.

  38. Vincent says

    Half ground beef and half ground veal yields an exquisite velvety texture. Veal may be politically incorrect – but it is simply magnificent.

  39. Addie says

    Hi Jessica,

    This was my first time making this meatball recipe and they were better than any that I had ever had before!!! They didn’t fall apart, they were juicy and they were tender! If I could I would eat these everyday. Thankyou

  40. Kaila says

    I love this recipe! I like to puree the tomatoes. I do the same to the garlic and onion because I dont like chunky onion. I added parsley to the meatballs and instead of broiling them I fried them up on the pan.

  41. Beth says

    I’ve made these meatballs two times, and they turned out delicious. The only thing I can recommend is that instead of cooking them on aluminum foil, I would cook them on parchment paper, because they do not stick, if you use parchment paper.

  42. Susan says

    Sooo DELISH! Thank you for sharing this meatball recipe! I used 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb Italian sausage. Force of habit, I added fresh chopped parsley and used both Parmesan and Romano cheese.
    Your ingredient ratios are perfect.
    Broiling is genius. Keeping them about 2” under the broiler, I achieved a fantastic brown crust without over cooking them before their long saucy soak.
    After dinner and many rave reviews, I made sure to copy your recipe because I never want to lose it!

  43. Carol says

    I have a question. I am making these meatballs & sauce for a party for a bunch of Construction Workers but as sandwiches. If I triple this recipe do you think I should triple all the ingredients including the eggs? Thank you!

  44. Judy says

    All your recipes I have made are wonderful. I have such a treasure in your cookbook Jessica and in you. That extra scientific information and the balance of it all, the right amount of spices make it so easy for anyone to have a wonderful dish to enjoy and no fears of sharing it with others. Thank you and bless you. Judy

  45. Ernest Contreras says

    After 40 years of high volume kitchens, I have always put my efforts on two basic points in my cooking one being quality ingredients, and simple yet proper Methods, I admire your knowledge as well as your methods, your cook smart. you do not cook under stress, and by this, you make it fun as I do. I love your work.
    You know what your food is doing deep down.

    See you more
    Chef Ernesto`

  46. John says

    Hi Jessica,

    Your recipe looks amazing and I’m so keen to try it out.

    Probably a silly question, but what happens to all the sauce left in the pan? In the video, it shows you removing the meatballs from the sauce and the next shot shows the meatballs sitting on top of the spaghetti which has been lightly covered in sauce.

    I see no quantity for the spaghetti in this recipe also?

    Sorry about the bloke questions, which are probably obvious to most other people. 🙂


  47. Kimikins84 says

    I used your revised husband enjoyed meatballs haha and these are the BEST meatballs ever !!! I had never made meatballs before I added minced celery but omg yes! Your grandmothers recipe is amazing!♡

  48. Ginger Napier says

    My Italian grandmother always soaked bread in milk then tore it into tiny pieces to add to her meatball mixture. She never used breadcrumbs. However, thinking about it, she always,made her own bread (about 8 loaves a month) so bread was always handy. I use bread that’s a few days old and grate it on a box grater then add enough milk to moisten. But I never knew it was called a panade and thought my grandmother’s method was unique to her. If she was still alive would be about 140 years old.

  49. Shawn says

    Hi Jessica. I found your recipe today and my whole house smells as good as it tastes. The only thing I did diffrent was I put the meatballs in a cast iron pan, seared them over the stove for a minute, then put them in my oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes since I couldn’t figure out how to use my broiler. Lol thank you so much for sharing!

  50. Karolynn Schofield says

    Can’t wait to try your recipe. I always add minced water chestnuts to my meatballs, so I will do that with yours. In your video I thought I saw you chop celery, but in the recipe it does not list it. I thought it was interesting to see the celery. Yes or No w celery?

  51. Claudia says

    Oh my goodness! These are the best meatballs I have ever had. So much better than the ones I used to make. I just finished them, I can’t wait for the family to try them. Thank you for sharing. Gramma’s recipes are always the best!

  52. Tina says

    Hi, I’m from Australia and just wanted to ask when you say broil do you mean the grill setting from above in the oven? Or just bake on high in the oven? Thanks

  53. Emma says

    I have to say, as someone who routinely messes up meatballs, this recipe was OUTSTANDING! Honestly, I’m so happy I can finally satisfy my meatball cravings at home!!

  54. Yana says

    Hi I was wondering how do you prevent the meatballs from sticking to the tinfoil? When I tried to take off the meatballs the tinfoil came with it

  55. Brynn says

    Do you add the broiled meatballs after combining the tomatoes to the paste? Or simmer the tomatoes and paste for 30 mins first, then add broiled meatballs? Thanks!!

  56. Ryan says

    Made this recipe exactly as written tonight (As I usually do when testing a new method) – totally delicious. This will be my go-to base recipe for tomato sauce AND meatballs from here on out! I’m going to play around with things (spices, etc) in the future, but texture and taste were perfect with this recipe. You’ve got a new reader Jessica, well done!

  57. Laura says

    These turned out great. Typically I’ve trusted my husband who takes pride in making them for us. Yesterday when I prepped them, he said let’s find a new recipe and tweak it to make it our own. And I’m so glad I did! Everything from the meatballs to the sauce was delicious. I added veggies to the sauce after sauteing (mushrooms and chopped collards) to bump our nutrients. Thanks for sharing the recipe and ratio that works!

  58. Helene Montini says

    I have been using your recipe for the past few batches and I love it. It most resembles and tastes like what my Grandmom used to make. I usually use a beef/pork/veal mixture but I pulled the ground beef out mistake today and I know it will still be great. I used to pan fry the meatballs but have switched to broiling and don’t make any changes to the meatball mix and only add a little oregano and red pepper flakes to the gravy. I cook for one so the freezer is my friend for weeks to come after I make a batch.

  59. Mike G says

    This has become my go to recipe for meatballs… I tweak it a little but the ratios are spot on in my opinion. And broiling was a game changer for me. I had tried pan frying and baking, but broiling is the perfect set up for the simmer in the sauce.

  60. Gina says

    Thank you so much for this great recipe and the science tips! This was my first time making meatballs with a panade and the difference was so noticeable. My family loved them. Only thing I did differently was I made the panade with all the ingredients except the meat. It made everything incorporate nicely so that all of the meatballs had the same texture and taste. I always broiled them, but never followed up with the extra cooking time in the sauce. It was usually just a quick coat and serve, but I am a believer! The sauce was much more flavorful even with using the canned tomatoes. Thanks so much for your expertise and knowledge.

  61. Katharine says

    The meatballs were delicious! I did use the panade as I thought it sounded like a nice touch. And I since I had it on hand, I used ground venison!

  62. Jeannie says

    How many servings does this recipe make? Nutrition facts say per serving, but it doesn’t say how many.
    I’ve made these several times and we love them!

  63. Jeannine says

    Made these meatballs the other night two ways – one using the 80/20 ground beef and the other using a plant based “meat”. Both turned out amazing! Thank you for your recipe. I’ll be making it again, and again.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m thrilled to hear that using meat and a meatless option works! I’m curious to know if you could tell the difference? Which kind of plant-based product did you use?

      • jeannine says

        Yes – I used Impossible Burger. They turned out a little tougher than the beef. Other than the slightly darker color to the Impossible Burger they were VERY difficult to tell the difference once sauce was on them. The flavor from the spices and cheese was there.

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Thank you for the feedback! I tried the impossible ground meat and like it as an alternative, I will have to try it with the meatball recipe next and see if my husband can tell the difference.

  64. Carole Arborio says

    Tried this recipe for the first time. Followed directions to a tee! They are the perfect size, taste & tenderness to use in sauce with pasta, subs or to munch on…love em’.

  65. Frederick says

    Real meatballs made with veal, pork, and beef. Browning meats as well as low long simmered sauce. I’ve had it concentrate w/o paste I like to put paste on ribs or neck bones bake till almost burnt. if u make just beef meatballs. a great gravy must have pork bones either ribs or neck bones depends on budget. When u bake that paste in the bones depth of flavor insane also deglaze red wine. I’ve made your exact recipe when I couldn’t get all my ingredients. Its great as well. Your ratio 1 egg per and 1/2 cup crumbs sounds good. I like to soak inside of Italian or French bread in milk over using processed fine crumbs

  66. Michele Hyson says

    Jessica?, I want to know if your husband could tell the difference using Impossible beef? I am making both tonight because my daughter, the vegetarian in the family, is home for the holidays! What did he think? Did you have to make any adjustments

  67. Marge Nath says

    I always love your video’s. The meat balls get a thumbs up.

    Coming from marry into a Italian family I still all your
    cooking ideas.

  68. Ian Maxwell says

    Hi Jessica, first many thanks for your comments on a ketogenic diet. It is a great idea and one on which I intend to embark after I see my doctor this week.
    Question; in your Grandma’s Italian Meatball recipe you mentioned in your notes you say that it’s okay to use gluten free flour(almond flour etc). Will I need to use xanthan gum as well?
    FYI, I’ve cooked a lot of your recipes and as yet had a failure (I guess I never will) because your recipes are so precise and easy to follow.
    I’m a 80 year old man who lost his love of cooking many years ago but you’ve inspired me to take up an interest that I used to love. Thank you so very much. Please stay safe in these terrible times and keep up the excellent work that you are doing.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You’re welcome Maxwell! You don’t have to add additional xanthan gum for gluten free flour. You could add a small amount if using nut flour to creating a consistency to binds the moisture like the starches in the breadcrumbs. Let me know how it goes! Happy cooking, happy to be on this culinary journey with you!

  69. John says

    Hi Jessica,

    You mention Kosher salt in a lot of your recipes and I’m wondering if this is a cultural thing, or indeed Kosher salt is actually a better type of salt?

    Kosher salt here in Australia is something you would really have to search for as it’s not a common salt here.


    • Jessica Gavin says

      Kosher salt is more of a preference. I like the larger granules, easier to grab with my fingers for seasoning and stick to the surface of foods without being overly salty compared to really fine table salt. Sea salt is also a great option of kosher salt is not as available.

    • Andy says

      Hi John – I’m from the UK and wondered about why ‘kosher’ salt. All this means in US recipes is ‘salt flakes’. Koshering Salt is the US name for sea salt flakes, abbreviated to ‘kosher’ salt – probably they use a different term for rock salt (crystals) too – cheers Andy C

  70. Richard says

    I learned from a highly opinionated 2nd gen Italian a similar recipe, and she also did not give actual specifics. As for the bread crumbs she just said “keep adding until it feels tight”. She also insisted on 1 lb beef, 1 lb pork, 1 lb veal. I have found the veal can be eliminated with a 50-50 combo of beef and pork, and no one seems to notice. Two items she insisted on were anchovy paste, and red pepper flakes (to taste)

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I love hearing your meatball story, Richard! I will definitely have to try the anchovy and red pepper flakes for a spicy kick. Anchovy if a really delicious flavor booster!

  71. Rob says

    Coming from a FBI family(full blooded Italian) and making meatballs for the better part of 50 years, I have never heard or have seen my grandmother or mother put onions in a meatball

  72. Zac says

    So good. I’ve made these many times, it is a meal all of my 7 grandkids will eat. And you are right about the broiling, it adds a dimension and is way easier and faster than pan frying. I made these earlier this week and was out of breadcrumbs so I grabbed a box of crackers and dumped some in the food processor.
    I also saw somewhere that it wasn’t “authentic” to cook them in the sauce. If so I don’t like authentic since simmering in the sauce for a half hour or so does some magic, for both the sauce and the meatballs.
    I make mine about an ounce in size. Much easier for the little ones to handle (and fit better on a meatball sub the next day). And what Richard said above is spot on, a few anchovy filets and 50/50 with some good pork sausage are awesome.

  73. Bob says

    Amazing meatballs! We’ve made these several times and feel they beat any fancy Italian restaurant offerings. Want to mention that if you don’t feel like making homemade marinara they turn out great using a good quality jarred marinara like Paul Neumann’s. We do it both ways and always great. Also these make a fantastic meatball sub when you stuff the meatballs in nice greasy sub rolls and coat with mozzarella cheese before a light broiling in the oven. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe for meatballs that we make at least once a month here at our home in New Hampshire.

    Bob and Susan

  74. Elizabeth B says

    These are currently broiling! I’m wondering if I can broil some and not simmer in sauce and freeze for later? Should they broil for longer?

  75. Sally Harper says

    Not tried this recipe yet but going to make it on the weekend. I’m not able to get tomato paste what can I use instead please.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can cook the sauce down a little longer to concentrate it down if you don’t have tomato paste. However if you want a sweeter sauce, you can use ketchup or tomato puree for a thicker sauce that’s not as sweet.


    Best meatball recipe I have had and I’ve been cooking meatballs for over 40 years.

  77. Camille says

    These meatballs were tasty but not soft. I used breadcrumbs and did not moisturize them which I think I should have. I will try that next time.

  78. William Beckenhaupt says

    My mother taught to put grated potatoe in the mix, not too much but it helps keep them soft!

  79. Leigh says

    I’m quite an experienced cook and I know it’s always good to try new recipes.
    Broiling. BROILING! What a terrific idea! The recipe was great, too. Mine turned out a little bland, but I usually use a meat mix and today just used beef so that was probably it. Good job, good recipe. Will pass along and make again.

  80. Tina Kedikian says

    Thanks Jessica! I made them tonight and they were a hit. I used the seasoned breadcrumbs but also the Italian seasoning and put a bocconcini in each one. Turned out amazing and my family asked me to make them again!

  81. Kathleen says

    Killer recipe! It’s been put into regular rotation at our house. I’ll make a huge batch this fall when fresh tomatoes are in season, and freeze in portions, for those “I can’t be bothered to cook” days. Thank you!

  82. Elaine says

    Made these today and they came out delicious! Just a question though – is one serving one meatball? Thank you ?

  83. Barb Weaver says

    Thanks Jessica!
    I will never be making meatballs again because my husband found YOUR recipe and HE will be making them because they are FANTASTIC!! He used Mutti whole tomatoes, an emersion blender and less salt.

  84. Kirsten Olson says

    I just had to say thank you. My gourmet chef of a Mother, said my meatballs have now surpassed even hers. HUGE praise from an Italian Mom. Of Course I told her where they came from.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      High five! I know that making meatballs is quite a feat, you rocked it. You made my day, that’s a huge compliment coming from your amaing mama. Tell her thank you!

  85. Stephanie says

    Site recommends a blog post question…so here it goes….

    Can I make this without parmesan cheese ? What would I substitute ?
    Neither my husband or I like Parmesan but love meatballs and the science info is great !

  86. Joy Noonan says

    I made this recipe using a meatball mix of 1/3 each of veal, beef & pork for a total of about 1 pound and a half (all I had on hand) and I air fried them because my stoves broiler is absurdly located in a drawer next to the floor. They came out spectacular! I simmered them in a fresh sauce I made with excess grape tomatoes from my garden for a couple hours and this is now the only way I ever want spaghetti and meatballs. Thank you for sharing this recipe, it was a great guideline.

  87. Surati says

    I found the meatballs on the dry side. I think cooking the meatballs in the sauce for one and a half hours too long. Could you more herbs also.

  88. Samantha Moffett says

    Made these a day before I used them for meatball subs they were excellent. My family loved them and I have leftovers as well.

  89. Jason says

    Watching the Sopranos made our family crave for authentic spaghetti and meatballs. I wanted jumbo meatballs like in the show. I was worried that broiling them wouldn’t cook them enough because they were so large and ended up baking the meatballs on 375F for 30 minutes before putting them in the sauce. Could I still broil jumbo sized meatballs? Despite not having tomato paste, the recipe we overall a hit. Will make again and next time allow the sauce to simmer longer.

  90. Josh Baker says

    I’m making this recipe for the second time in two weeks. I’m so glad to have come across this recipe, I feel as if I should give back. So if you want a night off, send your husband over (if he’s vaccinated) and he can let me know if I’ve gotten close to the “real deal.” And thanks!

  91. Raymond Hundley says

    My compliments to you and your husband Jason and his grandmother. This dish was a trip down memory lane. My great aunt wo
    uld have the traditional Sunday family dinner and her meat balls and spaghetti was a family treat. I h;ave tried and tried to duplicate it and never quite got there. Now after trying grandmas recipe and ;your instructions and your explanation of steps to prepare this dish, has made a 100% improvement and I am
    so pleased with the results. I shared a dish with my neighbor and she was so impressed with it that she called her daughter and raved about the dish. I gave her your site.
    So glad I found ;you and will try other recipes you have posted.

  92. Nikki Wyscaver says

    I was very pleased with your meatball recipe. Simply delicious. I will have enough for dinner, lunch and another dinner. Thank you very much for your instructions.

  93. Bianca Tavarez says

    This recipe sounds delicious, I want to know if there is another option other than broiling ?as I don’t have a updated stove, thank you !

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can sear the meatballs in a nonstick pan in some olive oil over medium heat until browned. If you can set your oven to 450 or 500ºF, that would work well, similar to broiling. You may just need more roasting time to brown the surface. Let me know how it goes!

  94. June Gallo says

    Love your recipes. Because of heart health issues, only use ground turkey breast. Is there anything I can add to get the same results as the ground beef with fat?

  95. June Gallo says

    I am back again with another question…I would like to try the meatballs. The broiler in my oven is a pullout drawer at the bottom of the stove. The meatballs would be much closer to the heating element. Do I broil them for the same amount of time?

  96. Jaz says

    I am using fire roasted crushed/diced tomatoes from a can. Do I still cook the sauce for 1.5 hours after broiling meatballs? I’m afraid there isn’t much liquid so the tomato mixture would burn.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      The meatballs need time to simmer in the sauce. You can always add some more water if needed as you check in every 20 minutes to make sure there is enough moisture to prevent the sauce from burning.

  97. June Gallo says

    Followed this recipe as written. THE BEST. It is a keeper. I used ground turkey breast and followed your suggestion of adding 2 tbsps. Olive oil to the turkey.


  98. Sheila says

    Tried the meatballs today, the best I’ve ever made! Thanks so much, I think the ratio instructions really helped me. In the past, I could never get the texture right, either to loose or shrinking was the issue. Thank you so much Can’t wait to dive into more of your recipes.

  99. Alice says

    Amazing Meatballs and Sauce. I added pancetta to the sauce for deeper flavor. My husband was amazed that I made this lol This will be a weekly staple now! Thank you so much for sharing

  100. Maggie Sanderson says

    My meatballs completely fell apart in the sauce and some were pink in the middle. Very disappointed.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Sorry to hear that! I’ve never had the meatballs fall apart. What percent lean beef did you use? Used eggs, cheese, and breadcrumbs as a binder? Did they hold their shape after broiling?

    • Nick says

      Like for you to comment on this and try and make her recipe look bad is ridiculous. You just clearly didn’t follow directions and messed the recipe up. I made it and everything was beyond great.

  101. Cher Hayou says

    Hi, I don’t have a broil option. I have a pretty old stove/oven. What would you recommend putting the oven degree to?

  102. Bree Seldat says

    Cooked this for my family and it was amazing. I added a couple tablespoons of water at the end and the sauce was still nice and thick. I did half ground beef/half Italian sausage for the meatballs and it turned out amazing! Definitely will use this recipe again.

  103. Marcy says

    This recipe is the bomb!! I halved the ingredients because there are only two of us. I changed nothing! The secret sauce here is broiling the meatballs. I used my toaster oven (Breville) on broil but lowered the rack. Ten minutes on broil and they were done. I added them to my sauce and simmered for about 45 minutes. Couldn’t have been easier! We loved it! Half recipe made about 24 meatballs (used my cookie scoop as recommended) and gave each a light squeeze and hand roll and into the pan!!

  104. Jacqui says

    My husband made this and it was absolutely delicious. It will now be a ‘go to’ in our household. Thank you for sharing it. x

  105. Adrienne says

    Is the broil setting supposed to be on low or high? I am making these for lunches for my 10 month old son. I’m going to be freezing them and using two or three at a time for a meal for him. What do you recommend the best way to reheat once frozen?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I use a high broil setting, but keep a close eye on monitoring the color change. You can defrost in the refrigerator 1-2 days before, or defrost in the microwave. I also like to reheat in the sauce you plan to serve over a simmer, covered, until warmed through.

    • Bonnie says

      Jessica, I have avoided making meatballs since my mother-in-law passed away. I didn’t think I would ever come close to her excellent meatballs. THANK YOU for helping me bring meatballs back on our home menus!! When my granddaughter reached for a second one, my heart was happy!!!!!

  106. lu says

    I haven’t tried this recipe but it’s very close to my own. If you add parsley, use 1 cup of parmesan, and brown in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil, instead of broiling, you have my recipe. I’m sure they’re both delicious!!!,

  107. Alyssa says

    I’m here for the meatball recipe, not the sauce currently, and am wondering if the oven time changes if I don’t simmer them after? Should they be baked longer? Thank you!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great question, Alyssa! If you plan on just making the meatballs, I recommend baking them at 400ºF until golden brown on the surface and the inside is cooked through, it should reach about 160ºF, about 20 to 25 minutes.

  108. Beverly Blackwelder says

    Wonderful recipe for meatballs and sauce! This will be my new go to recipe for spaghetti. I am so glad I found your website. I am 71 and have been cooking for years, but I have learned so much from you and the science behind the recipes. It just goes to show you can teach an old dog new tricks. Thank you!!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You’re so welcome, Beverly! This is a special family recipe, so I’m so happy to hear that you like it. Grandma Rose is smiling! I’m thrilled to help you in the kitchen in any way I can. Keep trying new recipes and most importantly, have fun!

  109. Katherine A Dietz says

    If you make the panade do you omit the breadcrumbs? If you use the panade should you use 2 lbs of ground chuck (80 -20) or 50% ground chuck 80/20 and 50% ground sirloin (90-10)?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      For my recipe, the panade is created when the bread crumbs are mixed with the eggs. However, if you wanted to make a separate panade, soaking them in milk or stock before adding them to the ground beef, you can. I would use the same amount of bread crumbs called out for in the recipe to keep the meat-to-bread ratio the same. For the juiciest meatballs, use 80-20 ground beef.

  110. Katherine A Dietz says

    Could you please reply to my comment above; I started dinner yesterday and I am still waiting for a reply? Thanks so much for your help. Also I still haven’t received your secret #1, could you resend? Thanks

  111. Lindsay M says

    We tried this with Beyond Meat (plant-based meat) tonight and it was incredible! Followed the instructions exactly and loved it. Well, there may have been an intentional deglaze with Chardonnay 😉

  112. Kelly F says

    I made these tonight and they are phenomenal!!! I used a beef/pork/veal mix and because we are obsessed in my house with garlic we used 5 cloves lol. But these were so moist and delicious! My husband these were the best ones I ever made! I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  113. Mara Levitz says

    The recipe was authentic, everything was perfect and the meatballs were great.

    My only criticism is the use of the term “spaghetti noodles” it’s technically inaccurate. Yes “noodle” might be considered an umbrella term for pasta. But it is so much more effective to actually identify the spaghetti. As a cooking school student you may realize there’s a number of variations of spaghetti: thin spaghetti, capellini, linguini, vermicelli, and others. Not criticizing just offering a constructive suggestion. 😁

  114. Sabrina Dyer says

    This was absolutely amazing! My first time making sauce and meat balls on my own and it couldn’t have been easier to follow. I did add some oregano and basil to the sauce which was very good. It fed my boyfriend and I with plenty of leftovers. Thinking of doing a meatball sub with some of it!

  115. Michelle says

    I made this recipe and my husband said it was the best spaghetti he ever had. I agree and didn’t substitute or change anything. Love it 5 stars for sure!!!

  116. John says

    What a fantastic recipe. Easy to follow instructions and they turned out just like I imagined them to be. My only feedback would be to leave instruction for how much pasta to include. I used a 1lb box of spaghetti and when I added it into the sauce, I could have definitely used more, maybe not a whole other 1lb box though. Served 5 people for dinner and have a whole other dinner’s worth of meatballs to use again!

  117. Kristy U says

    Earlier this fall, we started the tradition of Sunday dinner. It has given me a lot of joy to be back in the kitchen on a more consistent basis. This recipe is so simple yet so satisfying and delicious. What a winner! We later turned the leftovers into meatball sandwiches — even more delicious on days 2 and 3. Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      What a lovely tradition! Finding joy and sharing it with your loved ones is what it’s all about. I’m thrilled to hear that grandma’s meatballs made it into the rotation!

  118. Teresa H says

    Delicious meatball recipe! Do you think that I could finish cooking the meatballs in the oven, after broiling them, so that I can freeze them without the sauce?

  119. Jason says

    Excellent recipe, has absolutely improved meatball night in my house. Was wonder if there was a serving size associated with the nutritional information?

  120. Karen says

    We made just the meatballs and they are great! We are going to make this recipe with the sauce too but we need to use up some of our summer tomato bounty sauce first. We broiled them and I have to be honest, they couldn’t be easier to make. My husband’s comment “best meatballs ever!” He almost choked on them…he had 2 big ones in there at once. I had to tell him to slow down! LOL Thanks for posting a great recipe!

  121. Cynthia says

    I made this recipe last thanksgiving and it’s really good specially the meatballs ..I just added more herbs and cheese.

  122. Jenn Hamblen says

    Fantastic recipe! Thank you so much. I could never quite pull off meatballs and now I feel like a pro! Happy holidays!

  123. Ken says

    What a great recipe! Even with such simple seasonings, it cooked up with Italian authenticity. We and our guests cleaned our plates on this, my first-time meatball adventure. I made it exactly as described, but with three subtle changes.

    I increased the portion size to 21 meatballs. (This called for 3 lbs of meat and made 40! meatballs, bigger than eggs.) I was about 10 oz short of crushed tomatoes, so I just added 6 oz of water and it came out plenty thick and hearty. Also, I added a couple tsp. of sugar to counteract the acidity – a good call. Lastly, I put a few hearty dashes of Cholula which gave a very subtle zip like one might get with some hot sausage.

    Did the crock pot approach on low. Meatballs were tender, sauce was rich, with that slightly reduced robustness. Topped with parmesan and fresh basil.

    We loved it and will be making for a big group of friends in February.

  124. Steph says

    Jessica, these meatballs are just what I’m looking for! I really don’t care for the recipes with milk because I don’t like a spongy meatball. I made a huge batch of these today; made dinner, and froze the rest. Wonderful! Thanks for this one!

  125. Diane says

    Hi Jessica. We love this recipe for meatballs! I was wondering if I could freeze the broiled meatballs and if so will they still flavor the sauce as they do when transferring them from the oven to the sauce. Thank you in advance


  126. Denise says

    This was a huge hit. I come from an Italian family and long line of good cooks. My grandma made sauce and meatballs every Sunday. I never had to make my own because she and my mom always kept us supplied and always had sauce and meatballs, but now I need to make my own and didn’t know where to start. This sounded really similar to the way my grandma made her meatballs, and they were utterly delicious. I used a mix of ground beef and ground turkey and they were delicious. So tender, perfect amount of spices. I honestly don’t think I would change a thing. Broiling before throwing them in the sauce was ingenious.

    I hate the mess frying makes and dropping them in raw always made me nervous, as they’d easily fall apart or burn on the bottom. So happy to have found your recipe. The sauce was really delicious, too. I did brown a few sausage links and add those with the meatballs (I think you can easily adapt the sauce to your liking) but the base recipe as is was truly delicious. I know. I’ve had a lot of sauce in my life! Thank you for the step by step directions. It gave me the confidence to do this on my own!!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You rock, Denise! I love your tasty modifications to the meatballs and sauce. I’ll have to try the ground beef and turkey combination. I love that you are keeping your families tradition going!

  127. harper says

    My husband and 16 month old son absolutely love this recipe! My husband has since asked me to make this meal several times.

  128. B. Donovan says

    Excited to make these!! If I want to cook some of them in the oven rather than in the sauce (for my picky toddler), how long should I cook them?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I would add a few extra minutes of broiling after flipping over until the meatballs are no longer pink in the center. Cook the meatballs in the oven until they reach 160°F.

  129. Jeff says

    Best meatball recipe I’ve ever found. I was looking for something better than I’ve been making. Made these last night and this recipe will replace my current one. Great flavor and texture. Broiler makes things a lot easier too. Thank you.

  130. Beverly says

    Wonderful recipe! Will be my go to for spaghetti sauce and meatballs. Made a couple changes for my family. Added mushrooms and more garlic to sauce, and we love to add some cabernet sauvignon to the sauce. My family loved it!!

  131. Alyson says

    I’m planning on making these for my son’s birthday party. Would it work to make the meatballs the night before and then add to the slow cooker with the sauce the day of the party? Or is it better for the meatballs to be added to the sauce right after broiling?

  132. Lynnmarie says

    This recipe is wonderful, meatballs are amazing! Just take your time, this is a slow as you go. Definitely worth every minute

  133. Jean says

    These were absolutely delicious! I did them according to the recipe and cooked them in a slow cooker. The only thing that I changed was to sauté the onions and garlic and tomato paste on the stove in the olive oil before adding them to the slow cooker. This is definitely a keeper. Thanks!

  134. Tiffany says

    I doubled this recipe and used a mixture of beef, veal, and Italian sausage. I made the sauce in my instapot on the slow cooker setting. I added extra garlic, basil, and Italian seasons to the sauce while cooking with the meatballs.
    It was such a big hit that most people bypassed the pasta for more meatballs instead. I will definitely make this again.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I love the combination of three types of meat for the meatballs. Great to hear that it worked will using the slow cooker setting on your instant pot to make the sauce. Bravo!

  135. Luke says

    I just made the meatballs. I only had one pound of meat so I halved the recipe, but I put a little more than than the halved parmesan cheese, kept the onions a little larger as I like to taste the onions, added the full 1 teaspoon black pepper and Italian seasonings, used panko breadcrumbs, and kept the full teaspoon of minced garlic because I like garlic. 🙂

    Dinner was a rush so after broiling the meatballs, I cooked them in a casserole dish with Rao’s Marinara sauce only til the sauce boiled. I will try the fresh made sauce when I have more time and let the meatballs simmer in the sauce longer.

    The meatballs were still delicious and leftovers are gonna make for a yummy sub.

  136. Michael says

    Thanks for sharing this easy recipe. I made the meatballs last night and they were great. And I have plenty of leftovers to look forward to.

  137. MFumia says

    Trying the meatball recipe tonight.
    You can also use oatmeal in place of the bread crumbs for another easy, gluten free option.

  138. Judy says

    These meatballs are delicious. I made enough to freeze three containers and I just pulled one out to have for dinner tonight. We have nothing but wonderful recipes from you time after time Jessica.

  139. Gladys says

    I liked so much because I can follow the steps to get a delicious dinner with ingredients so simple, Thank you so much for your help.

  140. Steve says

    Made these and they were really good. Used a mixture of veal, beef and pork (came premixed from a meat market). Nice and tender and flavorful! But I don’t know what you mean about leftovers….. 😉

  141. Johnnie Lugnuts says

    Made the meatballs and they were fantastic! Vacuum sealed some for use later. Everyone raved about them. I used half hamburger and half sausage

  142. Iryna says

    I am just leaning Italian and American cuisine. I loved the recipe a lot.
    Next time I want to totally skip the sauce part and just cook the meatballs in the oven. How long do I have to cook them then and at what temperature? Do I still broil them before baking or there is no need in that?
    Thank you!

  143. Leigh says

    This recipe is so simple and delicious. No modifications needed. It is perfection!!!!! Thank you for sharing.

  144. Alysse says

    So good! I made it exactly as written and wow, these were the best meatballs ever. Super moist and very flavorful. Will definitely save this and be making them again.

  145. Pamela Giles says

    I couldn’t find anywhere on this recipe the oven temperature or how long to bake them. I managed though. They were delicious. I’ll definitely make them again.

    • Jealith says

      Depends on how large you make them. Duh! She said she makes around 14 with 2 pounds of meat. Go from there. How many do you want to eat?

  146. Shelby Mason says

    This is a new favorite with my boys! It’s easy to follow and the flavors are great, it’s a great base to tweak it to your likes. This recipe is a must try!

  147. Michelle Miller says

    This is a fabulous recipe! So fabulous that when my neighbor had a baby I made a huge tray for them and they loved them!

    This is my go to recipe and I’m making them again tonight.

  148. Sarah Long says

    I only made the meatballs because I had some sauce already made. I used all of the ingredients listed but I cooked them at 375 for 25 minutes. They were crispy on the bottom which was the best part and the flavor was perfect! I have found the perfect meatball recipe!

  149. Joe K says

    I have never left a comment or a review for any recipe that I have found online. Solely because I just do not have the time to, but sitting here, hours after dinner, I have to say the ratio for these meatballs ended in a meatball that was superb. We had homemade sauce previously but I wanted a simple but fantastic recipe and I am so thankful I came across this one.

    I cook often and thought I was pretty good at “winging” a meatball recipe but I will NEVER use another recipe. Absolutely delicious. I did use Sarah’s tip for 375 for 20 – 25 minutes (I did 11 minutes on one side, flipped, and did 11 on the other) and grated my onion. Simple and delicious.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      It’s an honor to receive such a great comments and feedback from you, Joe! Thanks for taking the time to make the meatballs and leave your feedback. I’m sure others will find it helpful too!

  150. John says

    I used 93% lean ground turkey and potassium chloride salt. I am a recovering heart bypass patient so I really have to watch my sodium and fat intake. Followed the instructions and I’m now making my second batch for meatball sandwiches!!! Absolutely love the recipe!!!

  151. Bella says

    I’ve made these 3 times now and everyone loves them. The last time I made them I added some spicy Italian sausage to the beef and they were great too. I put them in a 350 oven for 30 minutes and they were perfectly cooked. Then I dropped them in my own sauce for a bit before serving over pasta. This is my go-to meatball recipe now!

  152. Shelby McGuinness says

    Look no further, this is the meatball recipe you want!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have made this twice now with my homemade pasta and everyone I have made it for says it literally tastes like their grandma made it. Moist and delicious.

  153. Lynne says