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Italian Meatballs

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  • Author: Emily Roselyn
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 Minutes
  • Total Time: 1hr 5minutes
  • Yield: 14 1x


These traditional Italian meatballs are enormous and pillowy soft! They are stuffed with ground beef and pig, stuffed with herbs and cheese, and served with traditional tomato sauce. Make them the size of baseballs for a main entree or smaller for an appetizer.



For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef (at least 16 percent fat)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2/3 cup milk (whole or 2 percent)
  • 3 slices of white bread, crusts removed (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or 2 teaspoons kosher salt)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlc, minced
  • About 1 cup flour, for dusting
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups (24 ounces) tomato sauce (recipe follows, or use already prepared)

Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed or whole tomatoes, including the juice, or 1 3/4 pound of fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • How to make tomato sauce:

On medium heat, heat the olive oil in a large pan. Put in the carrots, celery, onions, and parsley. Turn the heat down low and cover the pan. Stir the food to coat it with oil. Cook the vegetables for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are soft and cooked all the way through.

Take off the lid, stir in the garlic, and turn up the heat to medium-high. After cooking the garlic for 30 seconds, add the tomatoes (if using whole canned tomatoes, break up with your fingers as you add them to the pan). Put in the tomato paste and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a low simmer, turn the heat down to low, and let the sauce cook uncovered for 15 to 30 minutes while you make the meatballs.

For a smooth texture, use a blender or push through a food mill. Bring back to pan. Adjust seasonings.

  • Soak pieces of bread in hot milk: Bring the milk to a boil in a small pot. Turn off the heat, break the bread into small pieces, and soak them in the milk until they start to break down. Mix it up until you have something that looks like paste. Place it on a plate to cool down.
  • Make the meatball mixture by putting the beef, pork, ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan, eggs, salt, parsley, oregano, black pepper, garlic cloves, and bread-milk mixture in a large bowl and mixing them all together. Use your hands to mix it well until it just about comes together.

Don’t mix it too much, or it will get tough. It’s fine to have some bread or meat chunks in the mix; that’s better than overworked meatballs.

  • Make meatballs by wetting your hands and rolling the meat into balls. This kind of meatball is usually between 2 and 3 inches in diameter, but you can make them any size you want.

After rolling the meatball in your hands, roll it in the flour to give it a good coating. As you work, put each one on a baking sheet. As you make the meatballs, you might need to wash your hands a few times.

  • Brown the meatballs: When all the meatballs are made, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs on at least two sides. Don’t worry about the center being cooked all the way through because you will finish cooking these in the sauce.
  • Finish cooking the meatballs in tomato sauce: Once all the meatballs are browned, place them in the sauce and turn each one over in the sauce to coat.

  • Cover the pot and let it cook slowly for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with either pasta or crusty bread and the sauce. If you want, you can sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top as a garnish.
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Pan Fry
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 14
  • Calories: 136 kcal
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Sodium: 378mg
  • Fat: 7g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 10g
  • Cholesterol: 46mg

Keywords: meatballs, italian dish,