Homemade Italian Meatballs

Who doesn’t love good Italian meatballs? We know we do! It’s nice to have them in restaurants or fast-food chains from time to time. What if I say you can make them at home, and they’ll be the best homemade Italian meatballs you’ve ever tasted?

All you got to do is follow these five tips to make the best mouthwatering Italian meatballs. We have written down the recipe for you, along with the dos and don’ts to get the best results.

But before that, let’s take a quick glance at its history and a few other facts that will fascinate you more about this scrumptious dish.

Quick Facts About Cooking Italian Meatballs

Italian meatball is something that you can have on its own or with spaghetti. Have you ever wondered what the history of Italian meatball really is, besides its preparation and cooking? (Hint: it’s not Italian!)

Let’s check some quick facts about this well-loved dish.


Although we call them Italian meatballs, they didn’t originate in Italy. Shocking, isn’t it? So, where did it originate from?

The exact origin is unknown, but findings suggest that it originated from an ancient Persian dish called kofta, which was a mixture of meatballs and either rice, mashed lentils, or bulger.

This delicious dish then spread across many different countries and cultures. The Italians started experimenting with meat and other native ingredients, mixed them, and shaped them into small balls. Then they lightly cooked these meatballs in a broth, which quickly became their main course meal.

Time to Prepare

From preparing all the ingredients to mixing the meatballs, it should take less than 30 minutes to prepare meatballs.

Time to Cook

Depending on the size of your meatballs and the power of your oven, it will take you a maximum of 20 minutes to cook meatballs.

Well, this is not a quick dish, it’s gonna take well over an hour of work to make great homemade Italian meatballs with a creamy good sauce.

Recipe To Make Easy Italian Meatballs at Home?

Ingredients Italian Meatballs

Here are the ingredients you need to make delicious, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup finely chopped or grated onions
  • ½ cup finely chopped or grated garlic
  • ½ cup blend of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Italian seasoning or fresh Italian herbs (finely chopped)
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper

You can’t just have meatballs without a delicious tomato sauce to simmer them in. Here’s an easy recipe for a finger-licking-good tomato sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 28-ounce can of tomato puree
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh Italian herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley)
  • A couple of tomatoes and a sweet pointed pepper chopped up finely)
  • Salt and crushed black pepper to taste

ingredients for homemade Italian meatballs sauce

Tip: Use light olive oil for frying, this is refined and has a higher smoke point than virgin olive oil. For the fresh olive oil taste, add a spoonful of virgin olive oil to the sauce when you add the canned tomatoes.

How To Cook Amazing Italian Meatballs Easily at Home? (Recipe)

An amazing meatball dish consists not just of perfectly made meatballs but also of the sauce.

Delicious Tomato Sauce With Fresh Herbs

Before you start making the balls, you need to make the sauce! Follow the steps below to do that first:

  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet.
  • Add chopped onion to the oil and sautee it until it softens. Add some salt to it to fasten the softening process.
  • Add chopped garlic and stir.
  • Add chopped carrots and celery and sautee them until softened.
  • When the vegetables have cooked down, add the tomato puree and mix well.
  • Add the entire can of crushed tomatoes to the sauteed mix and stir well.
  • Next, add the chopped-up fresh tomatoes and sweet pointed pepper
  • Add Italian herbs (the fresh if you have, otherwise dried) and the chopped-up fresh tomatoes and pepper
  • Add more salt if you want and some crushed black pepper.
  • Let the sauce simmer and reduce a bit. Keep it on low flame to thicken while you make the meatballs.

The Meatballs

Let’s go through the steps to make easy yet scrumptious meatballs at home:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, then add the ground beef, and mix well again. Avoid overmixing them, as they tend to become tough and a little rubbery.
  • Wet your hands slightly with water.
  • Form the mixture into balls of your preferred size and arrange them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or on a non-stick baking sheet.
  • Cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the exterior forms a nice golden-brown crust.
  • Let them rest for a while before placing them into the sauce.

Once the meatballs are done, place them in the simmering sauce, and let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes with the lid on. Add some fresh Italian herbs to the sauce and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving

Making Delicious Italian Meatballs at Home

The Five Most Important Tips to Bear in Mind When Making Delicious Italian Meatballs at Home

Small details can make the biggest difference in how your Italian meatballs taste and feel. So, how can you make this already delicious meal even more amazing? Let’s find out!

  • Rely only on the freshest ingredients you can get your hands on

There’s no alternative to the clean flavor and smell that fresh ingredients produce.

You can visit your local farmer’s market or grocery store to get eggs, fresh onions, garlic, and fresh Italian herbs. Your butcher can ground fresh beef for you, with the perfect amount of fat for your meatballs. Visit a cheese store to get the best quality cheese for the balls.

Make sure you do these, and your meatballs will taste and feel amazing.

  • Steer clear of lean beef meat for Italian meatballs (and lean meat generally)

Great Italian meatballs are tender and have meat juice oozing out. How would it feel if it was dry and rubbery? Not edible at all, right? To avoid such a case, steer clear of using super lean meat for your meatballs.

Make sure when you get the ground beef for the balls, you get at least 20% fat in it. It will ensure tender, juicy bites.

  • Season plain breadcrumbs by yourself

It’s best to avoid prepackaged breadcrumbs with Italian seasonings. The salt content and the proportions of herbs vary greatly across brands, so you may end up with botched-up meatballs.

To avoid this, season plain breadcrumbs with salt and dried herbs according to your taste. This will yield the best results. If you want, you can even make your own breadcrumbs from baked stale bread.

  • Choose your cheese carefully

The cheese you choose for your Italian meatballs is crucial, as you need something creamy and sharp enough to melt yet cut through the fattiness of the beef.

The best cheese to use is freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Romano cheese. They add a certain note of sharpness, which perfectly complements the richness of the meatballs.

  • Use a cookie or ice cream scoop to shape your Italian meatballs

Cookie or ice cream scoops will give you the perfect, even-sized meatballs every time. With slightly wet hands, take on a scoop of the meat mixture, and gently roll it into a perfect ball.

If you want small bite-sized meatballs then one scoop is enough for one meatball. If you want them to be bigger, then you can have two, or even three scoops of the meat blend.

Keep in mind that your cooking time will depend on the size of your meatballs.

Delicious Homemade Italian Meatballs

Italian meatballs are a delight to eat. Although restaurant-style meatballs are good to taste, making them at home can give you very satisfying results, and the hard work will make everything taste much better.

Polpette is the Italian name for meatballs. They are eaten with various side dishes, pasta, bread, or as a topping on an Italian salad. With a thick, creamy tomato sauce on top of spaghetti, it’s a delicious and mouthwatering dish that everyone will love.

Homemade Italian Meatballs

FAQs About Homemade Italian Meatballs

Do you still have a few questions in your mind about Italian meatballs and the sauce? We have answered a few FAQs to help you with these concerns.

What Do I Need to Make Delicious Italian Meatballs At Home?

Besides the recipe given above, here are a few other things you can do to make your already delicious meatballs even better:

  • Toast stale bread and make breadcrumbs with it.
  • Make your own seasoning for your breadcrumbs.
  • Use a few different kinds of meat along with the minced beef to give more depth to your meatballs.
  • Use onion powder and garlic powder if you don’t want that spiciness of fresh onions and garlic.
  • Sprinkle fresh Italian herbs, such as oregano, thyme, and rosemary, in your meatball mixture, to add more flavor.
  • You can experiment with salt. Try batches using sea salt, kosher salt, and black salt.
  • Gently form the meatballs so that they don’t become too compact and hard.
  • Keep your meatballs in the freezer for about an hour so that they’re chilled and hold their shape when you bake them.
  • Brush a very thin layer of olive oil before you put your meatballs in the oven.

What Is the Best Italian Meatball Recipe?

Want to make classic Italian meatballs like an Italian grandmother? It’s not just in the balls, but also what’s in the sauce that matters!

  • Cut off the edges of a few pieces of white bread and soak them in milk or water.
  • Do a mixture of ground meat. Besides beef, try adding an equal amount of sausage, ground pork, or veal.
  • Nailing the meat-to-breadcrumb ratio is crucial. Try a two-to-one ratio for it. It’ll give you the best binding.
  • Make your own Italian seasoning mix.
  • Crack one or two eggs, depending on how much meat you’re using.
  • Besides Parmigiano-Reggiano and Romano cheese, try adding a little bit of ricotta.
  • Fry your chopped onion and garlic in oil to make it more flavorful.
  • Instead of baking them in the oven, fry them in a small amount of olive oil in a skillet. Get golden crust all over the meatballs.

When the meatballs are cooked, transfer them to the pan of sauce, cover it with a lid, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

Cooking Italian meatballs in the sauce will allow them to soak more flavor and become tender, while the sauce soaks up the array of flavors from the browned crust of the meatballs.

What Is the Best Seasoning for Homemade Italian Meatballs?

Making your own seasoning is the best option, as you can control the amount of each ingredient according to your preference. The only things you’ll need are basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and marjoram. You may use red chili flakes, parsley, garlic powder, and onion powder for a little kick.

Mix them all well, and store them in an airtight container on a dark shelf. They’ll last you for a few months.

What Is the Best Italian Meatball Sauce?

There’s nothing like fresh, homemade tomato sauce to submerge your meatballs in!

Besides the simple sauce recipe that we have mentioned above, what else can you do to get that nice grandma’s touch? Here are a few tips for you:

  • Use a can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes.
  • If you want some kick to the sauce, use chili flakes.
  • Use 1 bay leaf in the sauce.
  • Use the Italian seasoning mix in the sauce.
  • Thicken the sauce completely and add some beef stock or chicken stock to add more flavor, cover it, and simmer.
  • Although optional, you can add a splash of cream to add a distinct creaminess to the sauce.

Here’s another tip. You can also cook the tomato sauce in a slow cooker because sauces are particularly tasty and aromatic when they simmer very slowly for a long time. Just put all the ingredients for the tomato sauce in the slow cooker in the morning, so all you have to do later is cook the meatballs. Then put the finished homemade Italian meatballs in the slow cooker with the sauce and let the whole dish simmer for another 20-30 minutes.

What Is the Best Meat for Italian Meatballs?

Although you can make all beef Italian meatballs perfectly delicious and juicy, it’s better to use a blend of a few types of meat as it’ll make it more flavorful.

Try a 50-50 blend of beef with pork or various types of sausages, and see what you like the most. You can even play around with the ratio.

If you want a healthier blend of meat with beef, try using a mixture of chicken and veal. They are lean but just enough to retain moisture and flavor.

How Many Calories Are There in Homemade Italian Meatballs?

The calories will vary depending on the size of the meatballs, what they’re made of, how you’ve prepared them, and how many you’re serving. Suppose you’re serving 4 meatballs. Depending on the size and ingredients, it’ll vary between 160cal and 240 cal. Don’t forget to add the sauce to the side dishes like pasta or bread, so a whole serving can quickly add up to 500 to 600 calories.

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