The Best Italian Meatballs

updated Jan 29, 2020
Italian Meatballs

An easy recipe for classic beef and pork meatballs in tomato sauce.


Prep20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 20 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

If you’re on the hunt for a trusty, foolproof meatball recipe, look no further — these are classic Italian meatballs at their finest. A blend of beef and pork give them richness, a few aromatics and some cheese make them flavorful, and a splash of milk ensures they’re tender. These are exactly the meatballs you want piled onto spaghetti, tucked into a crusty sub roll, or, as the Italians do, eaten all on their own.

Make a Double Batch for Your Future Self

Meatballs freeze incredibly well, so go ahead and make a double batch of this recipe. Just arrange any you want to freeze in a single layer — either uncooked or cooked — on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Place them in a freezer bag or container and store for up to a month. If frozen uncooked, just thaw them in the fridge overnight before pan-frying. If cooked, they can go straight from the freezer into a pot of simmering sauce to thaw and heat for 15 minutes.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Italian Meatballs

An easy recipe for classic beef and pork meatballs in tomato sauce.

Prep time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1/4 cup

    finely grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2

    small yellow onion

  • 2 cloves


  • 1/4 cup

    fresh parsley leaves

  • 8 ounces

    ground beef

  • 8 ounces

    ground pork

  • 1/2 cup

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 1/3 cup


  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1/4 cup


  • 1 (24 to 25-ounce) jar

    marinara sauce, or 3 cups homemade


  1. Finely grate 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and place in a large bowl. Finely chop 1/2 small yellow onion and 2 cloves garlic, then coarsely chop 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves; add everything to the bowl. Add 8 ounces ground beef, 8 ounces ground pork, 1/2 cup panko, 1/3 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Mix lightly with a fork until just combined.

  2. Form the 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 a baking sheet so that they are not touching. You should have 16 to 18 meatballs.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch high-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip the meatballs and brown the other side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to large plate (the meatballs will not be fully cooked).

  4. Pour 1/4 cup water into the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add 1 jar or 3 cups marinara sauce and bring to a simmer. Gently add the meatballs into the sauce, and reduce the heat to simmer gently until the meatballs are cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes.

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: Leftovers can be stored on their own or in sauce an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Credit: Kitchn