Easy Oven-Baked Meatballs

published Oct 15, 2020
Easy Oven-Baked Meatballs

Rather than frying, these simple meatballs are baked in the oven. And the bonus is you get an easy homemade tomato sauce at the same time.

Serves4 to 6

Prep20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 30 minutes

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Easy oven baked meatballs in baking dish.
Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Stylist: Tyna Hoang

Think from-scratch meatballs and a sauce to go with them are impossible on a busy weeknight? Think again. This recipe features an ingenious cooking hack that makes for easy cooking and less cleanup.

Instead of making the meatballs and sauce separately, you’ll arrange the meatballs on a cooling rack set atop a baking dish of crushed tomatoes. As they bake, the flavorful drippings mix into the tomatoes, creating a flavor-packed sauce with little work from you. Once you try it, I’m sure you’ll agree — there’s no better way to make meatballs.

Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Stylist: Tyna Hoang

This One-Pan Meatball Dinner Is Weeknight Magic

I discovered this trick from Nagi Maehashi, the food blogger behind RecipeTin Eats. She uses the technique for her Italian meatballs, explaining that elevating the meatballs rather than nestling them in the sauce also helps them brown more evenly.

Speaking of the sauce, it couldn’t be easier. You’ll dump of can of whole peeled tomatoes into a baking dish, crush them gently with your hands, and stir in some garlic, olive oil, dried oregano, salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. It will simmer while the meatballs cook and capture any rich drippings that fall in, but still remain nice and vibrant. Now, what are you waiting for?

Easy Oven-Baked Meatballs

Rather than frying, these simple meatballs are baked in the oven. And the bonus is you get an easy homemade tomato sauce at the same time.

Prep time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 ounce

    Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 firmly packed cup grated on a Microplane or 1/3 cup store-bought), divided

  • 4 cloves


  • 1/4 cup

    fresh parsley leaves, plus more for serving, if desired

  • 8 ounces

    ground beef

  • 8 ounces

    ground pork

  • 2/3 cup

    panko bread crumbs

  • 1/4 cup


  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • Cooking spray or olive oil

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    whole tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes (optional

  • Serving options: cooked pasta or crusty bread


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Finely grate 1 ounce Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 packed cup or 1/3 cup store-bought grated). Place half in a large bowl. Grate or mince 4 garlic cloves and place half in the bowl. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves and add it to the bowl.

  3. Add 8 ounces ground beef, 8 ounces ground pork, 2/3 cup panko, 1/4 cup milk, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl. Mix lightly with a fork until just combined.

  4. Lightly coat an oven-safe, preferably cross-hatched wire rack large enough to sit on top of a 9x13-inch baking dish without falling in with cooking spray or olive oil. Form the meatball mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each), wetting your hands with water as needed to keep the mixture from sticking, and place on the rack so that they are not touching. You should have 16 to 18 meatballs.

  5. Pour 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes with their juices into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Carefully crush the tomatoes with your hands into bite-sized pieces. Add the remaining garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, if using. Stir to combine and spread into an even layer.

  6. Place the rack of meatballs on top of the baking dish and carefully transfer to the oven. Bake until the meatballs are browned and cooked through or and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball registers 165°F, 25 to 30 minutes.

  7. Carefully remove the baking dish and from the oven. Use oven mitts to lift the cooling rack off the baking dish and transfer the meatballs into the sauce. Gently toss to coat in sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and, if desired, chopped fresh parsley. Serve over pasta or with crusty bread.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The meatballs can be shaped and refrigerated for up to 1 day before cooking. The meatballs can also be frozen uncooked or cooked. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer the meatballs to a freezer container or freezer bag, and freeze for up to 1 month. If uncooked, thaw in a single layer in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. If cooked, either thaw in the refrigerator overnight or thaw directly in simmering sauce for 15 minutes.

Storage: Leftover can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Ground turkey variation: 1 pound ground turkey can be substituted for the beef and pork.