3 Store-Bought Frozen Meatballs That Are (Almost) Better than Homemade

published Dec 9, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

My mother-in-law is good at many things, but making meatballs is not one of them. Actually, allow me to correct that: She is sometimes good at making meatballs. Her batches are very hit or miss — either perfect or too dense. And that’s why I’m always telling her about great store-bought options. See, there are lots of great options in the freezer section that rival homemade meatballs. (Even if you excel at making them from scratch!) I tried a lot of frozen meatballs this year (what can I say?) and, looking back on 2021, these are the three that still stand out.

1. Rao’s Meatballs & Sauce

In the name of serious journalism, I tried every frozen entrée that Rao’s makes in order to find the very best one. They were all pretty amazing, actually, but the winner was clear: the brand’s Meatballs and Sauce. First of all, the meatballs are giant. But not too dense, which is often the risk with big meatballs. They’re made of pork and beef and are oh-so soft and juicy.

BuyRao’s Meatballs and Sauce, $13.89 at Target

Credit: Patty Catalano

2. Kirkland Signature Italian-Style Meatballs

True story: Our Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, once catered an entire wedding, mostly from scratch, and the one thing that got the most the praise from guests happened to be these meatballs from Costco. Kirkland Signature’s meatballs are meaty, well-seasoned, and juicy. Yes, the bag is enormous (six pounds!), but it’s very easy to use them all up. Turn them into sandwiches, grill them up (if you’re willing to brave the cold), pack some in a lunch box, use them in a sheet pan meal, add them to pasta — you’ll need another bag before you know it!

Find it in stores: Kirkland Signature Italian-Style Meatballs, $16.99 for six pounds

Credit: Kendall Wenaas

3. Applegate Well Carved Organic Asian Style Pork Meatballs

If you’re looking for a different style of meatball, allow me to suggest these: They’re made with pork, brown rice, veggies, and spices — and no other fillers. They’re super flavorful, satisfying, and contain only organic ingredients. Just know that you might need to get two boxes if you’re using these for dinner.

Buy: Applegate Well Carved Organic Asian Style Pork Meatballs, $7.79 for 10 ounces at Target

Do you have a go-to brand of frozen meatballs? Discuss in the comments below!