Best Italian Meatball Recipe

4.87 from 2947 votes
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This is my go-to meatball recipe because it yields the most juicy and tender bites every time. It’s a reader favorite, with hundreds of rave reviews!

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

Recipe Science

  • Mixing the ground beef, breadcrumbs, and eggs creates a starchy panade that traps the juices, resulting in a juicy meatball.
  • Broiling browns the surface and activates the Maillard reaction, producing hundreds of new flavor compounds.
  • Simmering the meatballs in acidic tomato sauce tenderizes the beef for the best texture.

Why It Works

I’m very proud of this dish. I learned all the secrets to success from my husband Jason’s Italian grandma, Rose. The challenge was that she didn’t use specific measurements and cooked by feel. As a culinary scientist who craves details, I had some homework to do.

After many rounds of testing, I finally figured it out. The essential elements are the breadcrumb mixture to retain juiciness, broiling to create surface flavors, and simmering to tenderize the beef. With my husband and kids as taste testers, the flavor is spot on. This recipe makes plenty of servings for pasta or meatball subs.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Meatball ingredients laid out on a table with labels.
  • Meat: I use ground beef ranging from 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 and tenderness, while the meat provides chew for a contrast in texture. For me, the sweet spot is 85% lean beef, with 80% lean beef as my second choice.
  • Breadcrumbs: I recommend using plain breadcrumbs and then adding dried Italian seasonings and fresh herbs for herbaceous notes. You can use premade Italian-style breadcrumbs for convenience, but I prefer to control the level of seasonings.
  • Eggs: Serve as a binder, add richness, and moisten the bread crumbs to create a panade.
  • Seasoning: To make each bite packed with flavor, I mix in finely chopped onions, minced garlic, grated parmesan cheese, dried Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  • Tomato Sauce: I always prefer making homemade marinara sauce, using ripe canned tomatoes for convenience. It combines tomato paste, crushed San Marzano or Cento brand, and alliums like onions and garlic. So simple!

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredients Substitutions

  • Using Other Types of Meat: Grandma Rose said that, on occasion, she would use different types of ground beef or a mixture of beef and pork (ground pork or Italian sausage) or ground veal. Many of my readers have used a combo, or all three, and loved the results! You can easily substitute ground turkey or chicken for a poultry alternative.
  • Making Homemade Breadcrumbs: In culinary school, we were taught how to make breadcrumbs using leftover homemade white bread or crusty loaves. Break them down in a food processor then bake them until dry for a tastier meatball. This option works well for those who want gluten-free breadcrumbs if none are available at the market.
  • Using Jarred Tomato Sauce: In a hurry? No problem! You can use 47 ounces (or 2 jars) or store-bought marinara or pasta sauce instead of making the tomato sauce recipe.

How to Make Meatballs

This step-by-step guide shows you the process of making the tomato sauce, broiling the meatballs, and simmering them in the sauce.

Minced garlic, and diced onions sauting in a pan with tomato paste.

Step 1: Make the Tomato Sauce

Minced garlic and onion saute with the tomato paste to add a hint of sweetness and depth to the sauce.

Jar of canned tomatoes being poured into a pan.

Add high-quality crushed canned tomatoes to create a thick but pourable sauce consistency.

Ingredient Chemistry: I make the sauce and simmer it briefly for about 30 minutes while preparing the meatballs. Foods rich in glutamates, like onions, garlic, and tomatoes, boost the meatballs’ savory flavors.

Step 2: Preheat the Oven

Set the oven rack to the lower-middle position to prevent the meatballs from charring too quickly under the broiler. Line a large sheet pan with foil or parchment paper rated for use at high temperatures for easy clean-up. Grease with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Bowl of unmixed meatball ingredients.

Step 3: Make the Meatball Mixture

I’ve found just the proper ratio of meat to breadcrumbs for a fork-tender meatball. For every 1 pound beef, add ½ cup breadcrumbs and 1 large egg. This prevents a tough or spongy texture. Mix with parmesan cheese, finely chopped onion, salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic for flavor.

Ground beef mixture in a mixing bowl.

Step 4: Shape the Meatballs

At our home, we like large meatballs to serve with spaghetti. Measure out about ⅓ cup of the ground beef. A cookie scoop works well for the job!

Jessica using her hands to shape a meatball.

Shape it into balls; this size will yield about 15 portions. Place them on the greased baking sheet.

Pro Tip: Alternatively, you can make them smaller and cook them in the oven for a shorter time.

Meatballs on a foil-lined sheet pan after being broiled.

Step 5: Broil the Meatballs

Cook the meatballs under the broiler on one side for about 10 minutes, then flip to brown the bottoms.

Tips for Perfect Execution: Grandma Rose advises broiling them before simmering them in the sauce to prevent soggy meatballs. This process is integral in keeping the meat together during simmering and enhancing the surface flavor and texture.

Meatballs simmering in a pot of tomato sauce.

Step 6: Simmer

Slowly simmering the meatballs in the sauce for over an hour allows the liquid to coax out the meat’s delicious browned flavors. The sauce concentrates over the long cooking period. Stir every 20 minutes for even cooking.

The braising process and the acids in the tomato helps to soften the tougher connective tissue in the beef so that each bite breaks down with little resistance.

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

Step 7: To Serve

I traditionally serve this dish with spaghetti, but any type of pasta works well. Toss the sauce and noodles, add a few hearty meatballs, and sprinkle with salty parmesan and sliced basil. Pair this with my mom’s special garlic bread recipe, and you have an Italian feast! Plus, the leftovers taste even better the next day!

Experimentation Encouraged: The tomato sauce needs to be thick to cling to the noodles. You can easily adjust the consistency at the end of cooking with a bit of water or beef stock.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the secret of a tender meatball?

Mixing the ground meat with breadcrumbs and eggs to create a panade. The moisture from the eggs helps to make a starchy paste. Once you mix and cook, the liquids will absorb into the crumbs and activate the natural starches. If desired, the bread can be pre-soaked in some milk to accelerate the process. As they simmer in the sauce, the starches bind to the liquid and swell to lock in the juices. The result is a super tender meatball.

How do you 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.

Can I cook meatballs in a slow cooker?

Add the sauce and meatballs to a 6-quart slow cooker or crockpot. Cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.

Can I bake the meatballs?

Bake the meatballs at 375ºF (191ºC) for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping halfway through to brown both sides. If fully cooked to about 165°F (74°C), they can be served as is or added to the tomato sauce to simmer.

Can I make the meatballs ahead of time?

Cooked meatballs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for 1 month. A batch of raw meatballs can be frozen for 1 month.

What should I serve with meatballs?

As a starter, serve a classic Caesar salad recipe or Caprese salad. Serve with focaccia bread to dip in the sauce. If you prefer a creamy sauce, check out my Swedish meatball recipe.

More Italian Favorites

If you tried this Meatball recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Best 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 2947 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 minced yellow onions
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 7 cups crushed canned tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  • 2 pounds ground beef, 80% to 85% lean
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs, or Italian-style
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup finely minced yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup sliced basil


  • Make the Tomato Sauce – In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the 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.
  • Heat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Heat the oven to broil. Line a large baking sheet with foil and lightly grease it with olive oil. Set aside.
  • Make the Meatball Mixture – In a large bowl, add the ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, minced onion, salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic. Use your hands to mix thoroughly until combined.
  • Shape the Meatballs – Measure out ⅓ cup of the ground beef mixture (3 ounces), about the size of an egg, then roll it into a ball. Evenly space them on the prepared baking sheet. This should yield 14 to 15 meatballs.
  • Broil the Meatballs – Transfer the meatballs to the lower-middle position in the oven. Cook until the surface is browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Flip the meatballs and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes to lightly brown the other side.
  • Simmer – Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar, and 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.
  • To Serve – If needed, adjust the consistency of the sauce with water, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve meatballs topped with sauce, sliced basil, and Parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe Video

YouTube video


  • Ground Beef Selection: I recommend 80 to 85% lean for the most tender texture. Use 90% for a leaner option, but will have more chew.
  • Canned Tomatoes: For the sweetest taste, use crushed San Marzano or Cento brand.
  • Using Italian-style Breadcrumbs: Omit the dried Italian seasoning.
  • Using Store-Bought Tomato Sauce: Use about 47 ounces (2 jars).
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or almond flour.
  • Baked Meatballs: Bake at 375ºF (191ºC) for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping halfway through to brown both sides. If fully cooked to 165°F (74°C), they can be served as is.
  • Make it in the Slow Cooker: Add the cooked sauce and broiled meatballs to a 6-quart slow cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours or 6 hours on low setting.
  • Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing: Store uncooked meatballs in a large freezer bag for up to 1 month and defrost before broiling. Freeze cooked meatballs and sauce for up to 1 month. Defrost and reheat on the stovetop until hot.

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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Recipe Rating

544 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Kevin says

    July 9 2024. What is up with these recipe sites? Where is the exact ingredient list to make meatballs? Pound of ground meat, 0.5 c of bread crumbs, 3 or 4 eggs. What about the rest? Geesh

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Kevin- You can find the full ingredients list and directions in the recipe card at the end of the article.

  2. Jeanie says

    Great recipe, big hit! Thank you Jessica, very moist, tender, flavorful meatballs. Left overs day after I put them in a deep dish in the oven at 325 for 40 mins, the flavor was even better. I did not have fresh basil but dried seem to do the trick. Also added a hint of hot sauce because my kids love spicy. Definitely a keeper.

  3. Justin says

    I’ve seen some different approaches to this, where instead of cooking the meatballs in the oven, they cook them in a frying pan with olive oil, before adding them to the sauce. What kind of differences do you get between each approach, and is one better than the other?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I find that I can broil a large batch of meatballs with more even surface browning than on the stove. But you can absolutely brown the meatballs in a pan with some olive oil.

      • Justin says

        I’m going to try it your way next time. They smell and taste amazing, but cooking them in oil they seem to be falling apart really easily when I turn them over.

        • Shaye says

          This usually has to do with forming them. I find squeezing them in each hand a few times before rolling does the trick!

  4. Barbara Roti says

    Hello Jessica, I do not eat beef and am curious what tweaks I could make if I use ground chicken (my preferred meat) or turkey, or pork? How could I simulate your great tastings meatballs with another meat? I love your website, recipes and your fantastic experience and testing to perfect. Barbara R.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can absolutely use ground chicken, turkey or pork instead of ground beef. Select a ground meat that has more fat (92% lean if possible). If using a 95-96% ground chicken or turkey, I would add 1 tablespoon of olive oil for extra fat so that the meat does not taste dry. Let me know how it goes!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Whoo-hoo! Thrilled to hear that you have been enjoying my Italian meatball recipe over the years.

  5. Bob says

    I used 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 Italian sausage.
    and added a bunch of parsley (cause grandma always did)
    used a #16 scoop and got 18 meatballs.

  6. Pamela Black says

    This is indeed the best Meatball and Sauce recipe ever. Wow! Thanks for sharing. The only thing we changed is we did 1 lb. of the 85% ground beef and 1 lb. of spicy Italian sausage.

  7. Susan F. says

    Great recipe! We had plenty of meatballs for hot meatball sandwiches in a few days. This recipe was a huge win, thank you for posting it!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You’re welcome, Susan! We love having leftover meatballs too for subs the next day. Happy cooking!

  8. Juanita says

    I made these meatballs for a grands sleep over and they were a big hit. I think broiling before adding to simmer in the sauce was better than browsing in a pan and I’ll definitely do this again.

    They really are the best meat balls!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Whoo-hoo! Thank you Juanita! Broiling definitely is easy to do than browning on the stovetop.

  9. Paloma says

    We made this for dinner tonight, and it was a hit. Everyone loved it, including the kids. This is a must try recipe!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      When the whole family loves the meal, it’s a win-win! Thank you for making the meatballs, Paloma!

  10. Adam says

    Everytime I make these, they say “fry me!”. I see why! These are awesome fried, boiled, and baked. To fry, simply skip the broiling part and use a 1-2 oz disher. Fry for 5-7 minutes. It’s a messy process but worthit.

  11. Krista says

    I have made these meatballs several times and they are delicious! We are a gluten free household, so instead of breadcrumbs I add in about 1/2 cup of almond meal. Everyone loves them. Thanks for sharing Grandma’s recipe!

  12. Carol says

    Until now, I have never been successful in cooking a really good tomato sauce. This sauce is simple but soooo good!
    And I really enjoy the descriptions of the ingredients – why the act the way they do. Very helpful for home cooks! Thank you!

  13. Keith R. says

    I made this batch for meatball sandwiches this weekend. It turned out fantastic! Can’t wait to see how they taste as the weekend progresses!

  14. Abigail says

    My 3 year old daughter loved it!
    For my oven the broil was too hot, next time I will put in on low broil.
    Absolutely delicious

  15. Cheryl Littlefield says

    These were the best meatballs and sauce recipe I have found. The only difference I made is I added fresh parsley to the meatballs a good handful chopped. I cooked hot Italian sausage in a cast iron pan and added the juices from the sausage to the paste, garlic and onions until dark. YUMMY thank you for this recipe! It’s a keeper.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much, Cheryl! Wow, I bet the drippings from the sausage added so much flavor to the sauce!

  16. Kathy says

    Excellent tried and true meatballs! This is nearly a spot-on match to how I make my meatballs, plain bread crumbs, etc. my herbs are basil and parsley. But I also had a very small splash of milk. I come from old school Italian immigrants and they always fried the meatballs. I’m going to try broiling next time, as my mother and grandmother roll over in their graves!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your feedback, Kathy! I’m so happy that you enjoy the meatball recipe. It’s a family favorite and staple. I’m going to have to try frying the meatballs, sounds delicious! Let me know what you think about the broiling method.

  17. S F says

    This is the ultimately perfect tomato sauce recipe. I have made it using all beef and also half pork half beef with excellent results. San Marzano tomatoes are a must! I used canned whole tomatoes and just squeezed them by hand into the sauce. 10/10 recommend, will make this recipe again and again and again.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much! I’m a big fan of san marzano tomatoes, and the freshly crushed method definitely adds so much flavor!

  18. Dena says

    Thank you Jessica. Your meatball & sauce recipe was amazing!! I would like to make them again for my lasagna. I make mini meatballs, about 3/4” and use 75-80 throughout the layers. Can you recommend time in the broiler? I usually make them ahead and freeze them. Will it be OK if I don’t put them in sauce? Or would it be best to put them in sauce and then fish them out?

    PS you are meatloaf recipe was fantastic!! Best ever!!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Dena- Oh my, a mini meatball lasagna sounds amazing! I would broil until the surface is golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side. It’s important to look for color change versus time. If you cut the meatball open and it’s fully cooked, then go ahead and layer them into the lasagna. Let me know how it goes! So happy that you enjoyed the meatloaf too.

  19. Jan N says

    I made this tonight and received rave reviews from my husband….who ALWAYS makes the meatballs in our home! I added about 1/4 cup of red wine to the sauce as well as a few torn leaves of fresh basil. To the meatballs, I added a handful of chopped fresh parsley. I think I am now the queen of spaghetti and meatballs now! Both the sauce and the meatballs were terrific.

  20. Jennifer Fraser says

    Yes ! Used an ice cream scoop for smaller meatballs and froze them in the sauce as there is only me to feed. The meatballs must be really good because they all disappeared ,hahaha . Another batch to be made for sure . This will be a staple in my freezer. Thank you for sharing ❣️

  21. Joely says

    These were absolutely delicious! Really did melt in the mouth. Only changes I made were 1 – made the meatballs smaller, using 1/8 cup per meatball. They only needed to simmer for around an hour. 2 – included fresh parsley within the meatballs.

    My mum loved them too! Will make again for sure.

  22. Terry Maurer says

    These meatballs were perfect. To broil and meld flavors is key to this recipe. San Marzano tomatoes are the other key ingredient. The only problem I had was the baked meatballs were being taken before they hit the pot. Everyone loved them.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much! I always just reheat the meatballs on the stovetop with some sauce. Or you can cover and microwave until the meatballs are hot, about 30 second intervals.

  23. Mary sheehan says

    I am looking forward to having these meatballs tonight. Is this recipe supposed to include some milk? Most recipes I see add milk . Will the meat be moist enough with only eggs?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Mary- This recipe doesn’t have milk, add I haven’t had any issues with the texture not being moist. I like to use 85% lean ground beef to add extra liquid and flavor. You can soak the bread crumbs with a little bit of milk if you’d like to make the panade before it’s mixed.

  24. Donna says

    I made this recipe and it turned out perfect. The only thing I changed was the meat. I used 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 ground Italian sausage. Everything else was exactly by the recipe. I’ve never made my own meatballs and sauce, so I was skeptical. This was sooo good though. . Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  25. Emma Watson says

    If I’m not making the tomato sauce, are the meatballs fully cooked after broiling? Or should I heat my jarred sauce and finish cooking meatballs that way?

    • Topher says

      You’re going to want to Heat your sauce so you can simmer your broiled meatballs in your sauce for an hour and a half that will give you the best taste and texture in the meatballs and it will make your sauce yummy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      The meatballs will need a little more time to cook if you aren’t simmering it in the sauce. I would definitely add them to some hot sauce before serving.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I do not leave the door ajar when broiling, but I check often on the browning. If the instructions for your oven recommends doing so, you can keep the door ajar and watch for color change.

  26. Jessica says

    This was SO delicious! I made some adjustments to use up garden produce — 5 cups of fresh tomatoes, a large zucchini — so I chopped and slow cooked them with an onion, 2 garlic cloves, 3 small carrots for 4 hours on one day. Then next day blended and used instead of the crushed tomatoes. Followed everything else except used Follow My Heart vegan Parmesan. It’s truly the best pasta and meatballs I’ve ever made!

  27. Bonnie Surber says

    My Nephew made the meatballs and we had meatball subs, they were so good and the meatballs so tender and delicious. I have made them myself and shared the recipe with family and friends and told them to sign up for Jessica’s recipes. I’ve made several recipes and will continue come back for more.

    Thank you Jessica!

  28. Lisa says

    I’m eager to try this recipe, it has the best reviews from the searches I’ve done, but I need to make it without the parm.. Do you think this would still work?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you can omit the parmesan cheese. The meatballs will still hold together. You’ll just be missing some saltiness and flavor from the parmesan. I always like to cook a small piece in a pan and adjust the seasoning of needed.

  29. Suzie says

    I made the meatballs to go with my neighbors homemade marinara sauce she shared. So very, very good!! I will definitely make the sauce next time.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks for your feedback, Jess! You can always adjust the level of salt. I like to cook a small amount of the beef to taste it, and add more seasoning as needed.

  30. Erica Moore says

    I’ve been trying so many different recipes and looking for the best meatball recipe. It’s hard to please everyone in my household. I saw this online and decided to give it a go. It turned out to be the million dollar meatball recipe! It was delcious! They didn’t shrink and I also got my son’s approval! He even said he’s taking this one to college with him this summer. It was so easy to make. I’ll be cooking this once a week! It’s such a comforting meal.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow! I’m so happy to hear that this meatball recipe was a winner for your family. Happy cooking!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you can use ground turkey. Depending on the percent fat of the ground poultry, you may want to and 1 to 1 tablespoons of olive oil so it doesn’t taste so dry.

  31. Tami says

    I’ve been looking for the perfect meatball recipe for years. Mine never tasted like anything other than meat. This recipe is AMAZING! My grandkids loved it. Thank you so much for sharing. I used ground beef and ground chicken because that was all I had on hand.

  32. Jasson says

    Very nice recipe chef 👍👌👏. Broiling the meatballs is a big plus, yammy 😋. Thank you for your effort 🌞😎.

  33. Julie Hayes says

    This was a great recipe! I doubled the recipe but cut the salt back to 1 teaspoon each in the meat and in the sauce. I added a teaspoon each of Italian seasoning, basil, and oregano to the meat mixture. My family loved it! My first meatball attempt!

  34. Roger says

    Wow! I just made these meatballs. I’ve been looking for an Italian meatball recipe forever. I’ve found it. Tender, and tasty. I was not sure about the broiling, but it is the crucial part of the recipe. It works.

    Thank you.

  35. Jaime says

    I’m looking forward to trying your recipe. If I have panko breadcrumbs should I put them in the food processor to make them finer? Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      No, I would leave the panko as is and add directly into the recipe. It gives a leaves dense texture.

  36. Sophie S. says

    My husband had been asking me to make him homemade meatballs for a while now. I’ve never made meatballs so I was scared that he would be so disappointed (even though he would never tell me it tastes horrible lol) but let me tell you, your recipe was a HIT! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe with us, it was so easy to make and so delicious!

  37. Sarah says

    I love this recipe! I make the full batch of meatballs but I do half ground beef and half sweet Italian sausage. I freeze half of the cooked meatballs in a food saver bag and I make half the sauce recipe and add the half batch of the meatballs. It’s perfect for dinner for 2 and we still get leftovers. The freezer stash of meatballs is a delicious bonus. We can quickly warm them up for another meal or just to snack on.

  38. Sandra says

    I’m searching for a meatball recipe,that reminds me of the meatballs,you’d get sliced on a meatball pizza,back in the 1960’s. I hope your recipe,fits the bill.
    Thank You for posting your recipe 🙂

  39. 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.

  40. 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!

  41. 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!!!

  42. 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!

  43. 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!

  44. 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.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You’re a great neighbor! I’m so happy to heat that you enjoy the meatball recipe and sharing with others.

  45. 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!

    • 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?

      • Marianne says

        Good Lord you’re rude. It’s not unusual to not be able to visualize how big a 2.285714285714286 oz. meatball would be.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. Leigh says

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

  49. 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!

  50. 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

  51. 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….. 😉

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. MFumia says

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

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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!

  58. 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!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great job making the meatballs in the slow cooker! Great idea to saute the onions and paste first to remove the sulphurous flavor and concentrate the tomato flavor.

  59. Lynnmarie says

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

  60. 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?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Alyson- I’ve done them both ways! If you are planning to cook the meatballs in the sauce for several hours the day of serving, then they will taste delicious!

  61. 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!!

  62. 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.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, what a compliment! I’m so happy that you enjoyed the meatball recipe, and it will be making it to the dinner rotation. Happy cooking!

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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!

  66. 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


    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you can freeze the meatballs! You can add some of the rendered fat from broiling once cooled down to the bag of meatballs you plan on freezing for extra flavor.

  67. 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!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great question! My oven has a “high broil” setting. You can set your oven to 550ºF or 500ºF if your oven does not go as high.

  68. 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.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks for sharing your meatball experience and modifications. They sound delicious! I love making meatballs and sauce in the slow cooker.

  69. 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!

  70. Cynthia says

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

  71. 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!

  72. 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?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      The nutritional info is per 1 meatball as they are pretty large. I would say typically two meatballs a person, three for my husband! Haha!

  73. 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?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes! You can broil, then turn down the heat to 350 degrees. Let it cook until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Let me know how it goes!

  74. 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!

  75. 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!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for the feedback, John! Sounds like maybe 1 1/2 of pasta would be a good amount to pair with the red sauce.

  76. 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!!!

  77. 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!

  78. 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. 😁

  79. 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.

  80. 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 😉

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great to hear that this meatballs recipe works well with plant-based meat too! Always need a good wine paring!

  81. 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

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Sorry for the delay! I responded to your other comment. Please check your spam folder in your email in case it was sent to the location.

  82. 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.

  83. 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!

  84. 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.

  85. 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!!!,

    • 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!!!!!

  86. 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.

  87. 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

  88. 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!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yay! Thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the meatball recipe and that you could easily halve for smaller portions.

  89. 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.

  90. 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?

  91. 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.

  92. 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

  93. 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.

  94. 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.


    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you, June! Thrilled to hear that you made the recipe with turkey and the extra oil helped the texture.

  95. 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.

  96. 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?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I would check the meatballs in the broiler after 3 to 5 minutes, and every 2 minutes after. Flip over once it’s golden brown on the surface.

  97. 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?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you, June! Perhaps you can add a few. tablespoons of olive oil to add some healthy fat to the meatball mixture. What percent lean meat ground turkey do you use?

  98. 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!

  99. 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.

  100. 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.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m so thrilled to hear that you finally found a meatball recipe that reminds you of home. Happy cooking!

  101. 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!

  102. 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.