everyday meatballs Recipes

everyday meatballs

If you’d told me as a spaghett-and-meatballs loving kid that in Italy, these two things are never served together, I wouldn’t have believed you. What’s next, no pepperoni pizza, fettucine alfredo or rainbow cookies? No Italian dressing? At least we know those jars of Italian seasoning are the real deal (phew).


what you'll need + eggs
a double-batch of meatballs

Don’t worry, however, I am not here to chasten you, myself or my spaghetti-and-meatballs loving kid for eating food you/we/he exactly the way you like it. Smitten Kitchen is a sanctimony-free zone. I only mentioned this because when, as an adult, I began to consider the meatball as something apart from the flavor-anchors of spaghetti and a busy marinara sauce, I realized I wanted much more out of my meatballs. I wanted them to be good enough to fly solo as a dish, whether or not there was bread, or roasted potatoes, polenta or, yes, even spaghetti on the table. And I couldn’t stop fiddling with them.

i love this design (and also the tomatoes)
everyday meatballs

For years, I fried meatballs before cooking them through because this was the Authentic way, even though I rather hated it because it’s such a splattering mess and you always lose a chunk here or there and the meatballs are far closer to meat blobs when you’re done (unless you’re willing to deep-fry them). Plus, it made them much more of a special occasion dish and I wanted ones we could eat any old day of the week. But when I dropped my meatballs uncooked into sauce, they’d fall apart. If I made them more firm, they wouldn’t fall apart but I didn’t like them as much. And so it went, back and forth; no meatballs went to waste as I puttered around with my recipe, but it was never quite right.

everyday meatballs

Last month, I had a breakthrough which I realize will not sound like anything wild, but the simple act of more than doubling the amount of egg I usually put in made a meatball that stayed together even if not fried first but that was still tender and completely amazing at the end. And now I can’t stop making them. You can serve them with anything that makes you happy — alone with a side of greens or salad, tossed with spaghetti but whatever you do, please do not do either of the following (unquestionably authentic) things: 1. Bake them “parmesan”-style the way you son likes from a local pizza place, i.e. with mozzarella and crunchy crumbs on top or 2. Find out what they taste like with a side of garlic bread or 3. Both, scooping one onto the other to form something of an open-faced meatball sub. Nothing good comes from knowing this combination exists. Trust me.

everyday meatballs

One year ago: Spaghetti Pangrattato with Crispy Eggs
Two years ago: Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew
Three years ago: Blood Orange Margaritas
Four years ago: Double Coconut Muffins
Five years ago: Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil
Six years ago: Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze, Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart
Seven years ago: Devil’s Chicken Thighs and Braised Leeks
Eight years ago: Pear and Almond Tart
Nine years ago: Vegetable Dumplings

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce
1.5 Years Ago: Strawberries and Cream with Graham Crumbles
2.5 Years Ago: Almond-Crisped Peaches
3.5 Years Ago: Mediterranean Baked Feta with Tomatoes
4.5 Years Ago: Hazelnut Plum Crumb Tart

Everyday Meatballs
Generously adapted over the years from Ina Garten with some helpful tips from Luisa Weiss

Yield: 22 to 24 small (about 1.5-inch or 1.5 tablespoon) meatballs

1 pound ground meat (I use a mix of beef and pork)
2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs or 1/2 cup panko
1/3 cup milk or water
2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)
2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, divided
Pinches of red pepper flakes or few grinds of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 large eggs
2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 28-ounce can of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes

Place meat, crumbs, milk or water, parsley, cheese (if using), 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, onion powder, eggs and half of your minced garlic in a large bowl. I like to mix all of this together with a fork, which does a good job of breaking up the eggs and chunks of meat. Form mixture into 1 1/2 to 2-inch meatballs and arrange on a plate. I like to let them set in the fridge for a bit — 30 minutes, if you can spare it — which helps them keep their shape.

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add remaining garlic and some pepper flakes and let sizzle until garlic is golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add tomatoes (beware the splatter!) and season with remaining salt. Let mixture simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes (with a thicker puree) or 20 (for crushed tomatoes, which are usually more watery), stirring occasionally.

With stove on the lowest heat possible to maintain a gentle simmer, add meatballs to sauce one by one, and cover with a lid. It will be hard but please don’t touch or move them for at least 20 minutes of the 25-minute cooking time, so that they have a chance to keep their shape. Meatballs should be fully cooked through at 25 minutes, but it cannot hurt to cut one in half to verify.

Eat however makes you happy:
— as-is.
— with spaghetti: I’ll cook it very al dente, a generous minute shy of done, reserve a little pasta water, then once the spaghetti is drained, place it back in the pot with a splash of the water and a ladle or two of the sauce beneath the meatballs and cook it together over high heat for a minute. Tip spaghetti into a large, wide bowl, add the meatballs on top. Note: If your family likes a lot of sauce with their spaghetti, you might consider making the meatballs with an extra half or whole can. Just use what you need.
— “parmesan”-ed: Place meatballs in a shallow baking dish with some of their sauce. Tear about 8 ounces mozzarella over the top and broil until melted. Finish with some parmesan, if desired, some breadcrumbs fried in a little olive oil and/or chopped parsley.
— with garlic bread (don’t do this, just don’t). [But here’s a recipe for my favorite, to make the decision more difficult.]

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215 comments on everyday meatballs

  1. EB

    the recipe– oh smitten. You are terrible.
    the baby– your daughter is a perfect balance of beautiful and adorable. Just unreal. Those lashes!!

  2. Tabitha W

    Looks great! I wonder how they would hold up in a slow cooker. I have been looking for a meatball that would hold its shape in my slow cooker since the rest of them just crumble and I am left with meat sauce.

  3. Beth

    I love this! The struggle I have is with making it Kosher. Ground beef is always SO salty, so I tend to stick with ground turkey…which is very dry. I’m going to try this with ground turkey (skipping cheese and using water instead of milk) and hopefully it works out well!

  4. Meagan

    Perfect timing, I just got home from the grocery store with supplies for spaghetti and meatballs. I like the cooks illustrated classic spaghetti and meatballs recipe, but I too hate the frying. I think I’ll make them this way instead.

  5. Yozhik

    Deb, I don’t even really like red meat, but these are going on my cooking agenda for this weekend. My boyfriend might even send you a thank you card for posting this!

  6. deb

    Meat — I use half pork and half beef. Since you usually need to buy them by the pound, I’ll either freeze the second half for next time or I’ll make a double-batch as you see here and freeze off half the uncooked meatballs. I’ll plunk them right into simmering sauce from the freezer down the road so they’ll taste the most fresh (vs. cooking and then freezing the second half); just takes a few minutes longer.

    Beth — Why not half and half? And you can always skip the salt here.

    Re, pressure cooker — I’ve decided I need someone to come over, take mine down from the closet and force me to work through a few recipes in it. Or this standoff will never end.

  7. illana

    I am plotzing. This is both because I am so excited to make this recipe asap (you saved me – any-day-of-the-week meatballs has been my wish for so long! My hero!) and because your girlie is SO DARLING!! Enjoy enjoy enjoy!!

  8. Interestingly, my mother’s side of the family never fries the meatballs and always cooks them in the sauce, but my father’s side always fries the meatballs and rarely cooked them in sauce, and would typically serve it on the side. I wonder how similar my mother’s recipe is to this one. I also might be incredibly pleased at the compromise of pan-frying half the meatballs and having insane amount of sauce that also happened to cook the other half.

    In other weird quirks, I never liked spaghetti and meatballs because I hated the texture of spaghetti in thick sauces. This led to my mom swapping it out with rigatoni, which is now my favorite.

  9. Lilly

    Have you ever tried Alton Brown’s technique of rolling meatballs in extra breadcrumbs and then baking them in a mini-muffin tin so they keep their shape and the coating of breadcrumbs absorbs all the yummy juice/grease? An extra step, like frying, but much easier and delicious!

  10. I have some Finnish and Belgian perspective to add. My Finnish BFF makes Swedish meatballs (don’t laugh–Finland has an important Swedish-speaking minority) by baking them. They end up less greasy, always a good thing, and are much less work (important if you’re making a lot).
    My other half is Belgian, and “boulettes-frites” is a favorite dish. OK the Belgians eat fries with everything (even INSIDE gigantic sandwiches). The boulettes are meatballs in tomato sauce. You scoop up the extra sauce, ketchup-style, with your fries. Given a choice between spaghetti and fries, which would you choose?
    francetaste.wordpress.com

  11. Charlotte in Toronto

    This looks fantastic and will be happening very soon in my kitchen. I’ll make a double batch completely cooked and freeze the sauce with the meatballs so the next meal will require nothing more than reheating while I have a glass of wine.

  12. I love your ‘breakthrough.’ : ) I make my marinara turkey meatballs by frying for a few minutes then adding the sauce and simmering all in same pot. I am not always in the mood for the frying portion but thought it ‘essential.’ Very enticed and will have to try this way. Have you ever worked with (not-too-lean) turkey for your method here? xx

  13. AJ

    Wait. This is very important because these look VERY DELICIOUS and my new job gives me almost zero time to cook at night. After shaping these could you cook them in the crockpot? If so, any recommendations for time/setting?

  14. jen

    If you get a chance look at The Meatball Shop Cookbook. Dozens of recipes, and we love everyone we’ve tried. Our hands down favorite though is the Bolongese Balls.

  15. cynthia

    Nice recipe! I usually bake my meatballs before adding to the sauce or soup pot. I am very fond of D Holzman and M Chernow’s quirky Meatball Shop Cookbook for more unusual meatballs. A favorite is their recipe for Drunken Pork Balls. All good!

  16. That’s a much better way, I’ve been cooking meatballs in the sauce for years – they just stay juicer and absorb the delicious sauce flavour. The first time my husband saw what I was about to do, he freaked out and it took me hours to convince him about the improvement to the taste. And we do eat them with pasta but looking at this mouthwatering sandwich, I’ll try it out on my test audience soon – I expect it will take about half a second to convince the one.

  17. Awads

    i have never fried a meatball. i can’t stand the mess. but i do bake them in a very hot oven for about 20 minute before putting them in the sauce for another 20. i guess i now have permission to skip that step?

  18. It took me three years after my decade of vegetarianism to get over my residual feelings about ground meats being kinda icky and make meatballs. The ones I made are very similar to yours (cooked in Marcella Hazan’s butter-onion-tomato sauce, which *might* be too much but I can’t say I regret it). I immediately regretted spending so many years without them. I currently have a half batch in the freezer that I *definitely won’t* be eating with garlic bread tonight…

  19. J

    We’re hooked on the Alice Waters meatballs recipe here, but I’m tempted to give yours a try. We had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner on Friday…think it’s too soon for meatball subs, which is really what your garlic bread/parmigian solution looks like…

  20. I discovered Thomas Keller’s meatball recipe in his book Ad Hoc at Home several years ago and haven’t looked back. My boyfriend declared them to be the best thing I’ve ever cooked (and I’ve made a lot of things.) His are baked on a rimmed cookie sheet in a moderate oven, and I really like the way this crisps them slightly and renders out the fat. Delish with a sweet tangy barbeque sauce and egg noodles as well as red sauce and pasta.

  21. Ann

    Amazing! Perfect timing – had mediocre meatballs at a restaurant yesterday and was thinking of making them myself. Do you have a go-to garlic bread recipe or a rough estimate of how you make yours?

  22. Re. pressure cooker recipes, Serious Eats has a bunch that I was working my way through when I got mine in fall. It made me realize how awesome it is for getting long-cooked flavor in a short amount of time, though I do want to play around with it more.

  23. Janey

    My Italian grandma always popped them under the broiler till the tops got toasty, then added them to the sauce. Much easier than frying, and they keep their shape perfectly.

  24. Jen

    I have made meatballs with roughly this method before, and I still sometimes do. They come out great, nice and juicy.

    However, my preferred method (courtesy of The Meatball Shop cookbook) is to bake them – roll the meatballs (same golf ball size) and place them snugly in a pan and bake at 450 for about 25 minutes. I’ve made several of the different varieties from their cookbook and they have all come out really nicely. I usually make meatball sandwiches out of them but they’re just as good with spaghetti or by themselves.

    The cleanup from the baking method is so easy – especially if you line the pan with foil.

  25. Sharon

    Another fab recipe to try out on the significant other. Gotta get these in before the winter winds and rain finishes and summer is apron us.

  26. Dipal

    Hi Deb! This looks amazing. If I wanted to make the meatballs sans beef, what would you recommend? A mixture of chicken and pork? Or turkey and pork?

  27. can you turkey meat instead of ground beef..and if so how would you get the meat to ‘stick’ together? I mean ive tried to make turkey burgers and all but they just fall apart…advice?

  28. Sally

    Amazing recipe! Of course I used what I had on hand- which was ground venison (a very common meat in Vermont) and saltines instead of breadcrumbs (good bread lasts about 5 minutes in my house), and roasted tomatoes that I had frozen in the summer, but the main idea of cooking in the sauce is brilliant! The meata-balls were perfect :)

  29. Tara

    Oh good! We’re just about to start meatball Friday back up after a new baby hiatus. I’ve been making Luisa’s (I make seven pounds and freeze off in batches for two meatball nights, they plunk into sauce quite nicely, Marcella’s obvi). I’ll try these for the next go-round!

  30. JL

    Echoing the above commenters’ requests for a garlic bread recipe! Alternatively, if you’re not ready to share the recipe, please do tell me what kind of bread you used in those photos – it looks divine.

  31. Pam

    This look amazing. Is there any way to make the meatballs grain-free? Is it possible to forego the breadcrumbs all together and up the egg or something? (No gluten here or gluten-substitutes.)

  32. R

    I make my meatballs out of ground turkey or ground chicken. I keep them moist by sauteeing the veg (carrots, onion, green pepper, etc) for about 5 minutes (h/t alton brown), allowing them to cool, and then adding 1 egg, panko breadcrumbs, salt/pepper/seasoning. I also bake, 425 for 20-30 minutes.

  33. Sarah

    thank you for so many great quick weeknight meals lately! these were yummy and easy, but I think I prefer meatballs with a bit of a crustiness. these tasted good but i didn’t realize how much we’d miss the brown crusty outside. maybe i’ll have to try the oven method or just do the whole stovetop thing.

    we had these with telephone wire pasta and a salad of baby greens, spinach, roasted carrots, watermelon radish, sherry vinegar, and olive oil. and of course some garlic bread.

  34. Kim

    Love meatballs ….my husband would happily live on pulled pork, chile, and meatballs….Eately sells a pork beef and veal mix that is sublime….and not crazy $$$$. plus the origin of the meat is noted…..

  35. Beth

    We had these with a green salad tonight – they were terrific. It took most of the aggravation and mess out of making meatballs, and the kids gorged on them.

    I had to use turkey because that was all I had on hand. Turkey meatballs are never as good as beef/pork, but they were still very good – not much different from my own recipe; the only differences were the extra egg and skipping the browning step. Oh, and the simple sauce instead of my normal complicated one that takes all day to cook. Thanks for an easy weeknight treat!

  36. Nancy

    I never thought about it before but yeah, all the classy places serve meatballs on their own! Most recently, I had meatballs on polenta at Adele’s in Nashville.
    Don’t hit me but I’ve recently discovered that using the meat grinder attachment produces far superior meatballs, meatloaf and burgers than ground beef from the store. It’s worth the extra five minutes to grind your own beef!

  37. Lauren B.

    Thank you! We all needed this recipe in our lives. I haven’t made anything of your’s that hasn’t tasted amazing! Making these this weekend. <3

  38. Julie

    Thank you so much!! I love meatballs, but they always seem so daunting and messy. I never do them on a weeknight. I tried the recipe tonight. Everyone LOVED the meatballs—perfect flavor, they held together nicely, and I didn’t miss the crusty outside one bit. A few observations: I used angel hair pasta (it was on hand) and it was completely overwhelmed by the tartness and acidity of the sauce. I might consider adding just a bit of sugar or maple syrup to cut that down a bit—and maybe a few herbs (even dried) in the sauce to round out the flavor. Also, I found that it wasn’t quite enough sauce to ensure generous spoonfuls over the pasta. Do you see any potential downside to doubling the sauce, or does the amount of sauce play a role in the meatball cooking time?

  39. Also, it’s really funny–my Italian grandmother and later my dad, whenever they made sauce and meatballs, they’d serve the meatballs in a bowl on the side. Granted, my sisters and I usually put then on top of pasta anyways, but I could see the original intention being to have them as separate courses.

  40. carol

    i tried this tonight. made a double recipe and froze half uncooked. i forgot to set aside half of the garlic and instead i put it all in the meatballs. it was good though. i don’t mind garlicky. the flavor of these meatballs was really yum. they smelled awesome even when raw. and they held together just fine. putting them in the fridge was key for that. i did not disturb them in the pot. however, they were a bit too soft. and i thought it was because they might not be done enough so i put them back on for another 10 minutes. nope, still a bit mushy. i think i will use this recipe, but fry them next time, cooking them most of the way, and then finish them in the sauce. another pan to clean, but oh well…

  41. oh, i should say that i didn’t use fresh or panko breadcrumbs. i used progresso italian seasoned breadcrumbs in the same amount you posted. could that be why they were a bit mushy?

  42. The Mystical Kitchen

    I’m a complete devotee of the Baked Chicken Meatballs you posted many moons back, but these also look fab! There’s definitely room for more than one meatball recipe in my kitchen. Jamie Oliver has one for meatballs with fresh fennel sauce that I’m also partial to, though it’s more the sauce than the meatball that makes it.

  43. Jackie Sammartino

    We bake them at 400 degrees for 15 min. Then let cook the rest of the way in the sauce. We use an icecream scoop to form them.
    We’re Italian. We like them big.

  44. Natalia

    I always fry the meatballs first because they keep their shape better.. What I do is once they are formed you cover them in flour, shake out the excess and then fry them with not too much oil. They keep their shape, and thicken the sauce a bit at the same time… works great…

  45. marinella

    Grazie per questa ricetta! Io preparo molto spesso le polpette con il sugo e poi le servo insieme agli spaghetti. Io però friggo leggermente le polpette prima di passarle nel sugo e le lascio sgocciolare dall’olio in eccesso prima di tuffarle nel sugo.
    Questa è la ricetta preferita di mia figlia sin da quando era bambina.
    Thank you for this recipe! I make very often the meatballs with the sauce and then serve along with the spaghetti. But I slightly fry the meatballs before passing into the sauce and leave to drain excess oil before dip them in the sauce.
    This is the favorite recipe of my daughter since she was a little girl.

  46. Tracy

    Deb, you’re killing me! I started laughing because no sooner do I plan to print and try a recipe than I see another one I want as well, and then I’m like ten recipes deep before I even print the first one I saw! Funny.
    Love your stuff – always a winner! I live in Seattle and your blog makes me nostalgic for my east coast roots. :-)

  47. Jean

    It must be meatball season! I just made, last week, the Spanish version ‘albondigas’ from a combo of ground lamb, pork and beef, panko crumbs, spices, herbs, minced garlic & onions, and used two eggs to bind. I also do not fry meatballs, but roll them in panko crumbs after shaping, refrigerate for about an hour, and bake them on a large rimmed cookie sheet. These were served with a spicy, (OK, fiery) tomato based dipping sauce. Delicious tapas!

  48. Nicola Briggs

    Not authentic, definitely not Italian, but I cook my meatballs in the microwave before adding them to the sauce. I put about 25 small (walnut sized) meatballs on a large plate and do them for 2 minutes. This is just enough to cook the outside so that they hold their shape once you put them inthe sauce, but they still stay juicy!

  49. Meatballs look delish. I came across your book in the library in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. We are not the largest town in England so you have made it into the provinces. Thought you’d like to know ;o) I grill my meatballs and turn them halfway through they go brown and cripsy and don’t dry out. I hated all that faffy messy frying too plus it’s healthier.

  50. Suki in Toronto

    Another one who would love to know how you make your garlic bread, because it looks fantastic! Also, that picture of your daughter is absolutely gorgeous. I will be trying these meatballs very soon!

  51. Connie

    I’ve been craving meatballs lately, so this is very timely. I’ve always been tempted to just toss them in the sauce to cook, but worry about all the fat rendering into the sauce and making it greasy. Any way around this?
    And I too, clamor for the garlic bread recipe. I’d love to use it for meatball subs – yum

  52. Love this easy recipe, I make meatballs in many ways and yes sometimes with spaghetti too! It is not very popular in Italy but I have eaten them once in a small trattoria in the Abruzzo region and they were fab!
    Love your recipe and presentation :-) More of this please!

  53. Jenn

    Any suggestions on what cut of pork to use for the ground pork?
    I have a meat grinder, and ground pork is very hard to find in these parts.

  54. This reminds me of an eggplant parmesan sandwich that looked just like your meatball sandwich in a little pizza place in L.A. that unfortunately, I live eight hours driving time from. It was heaven and I still mourn. If I ate meat, I’d be all over your meatball sandwich.

  55. Jenn

    Deb, I truly love your writing, photography, recipes and your wit. However. Have you ever considered going into the baby-making business full time? Your babies are the most delicious creatures on earth! Gah!

  56. stephanie

    awesome. thank you again, deb!

    my mom makes her meatballs and sauce from scratch & then freezes, but it’s an all day affair and i don’t think i’m ready for that. she also bakes the meatballs instead of frying them before putting them in the sauce, but that’s still the extra step, yanno?

    so i’ve gone along, frying them…but it makes a mess and takes forever, and like you said i always lose a piece here and there. (and they always say to get them browned all over, but mine always turn out with two or three distinct “sides” instead of round.) and then there are the recipes that have you further dirtying dishes by cooking onions and whatever else to add. the last recipe i tried was the “genius” rao’s one, with all the water. and honestly…they were not that great, and they were incredibly difficult to cook because they were so soft. most of them stuck.

    ina’s recipe is the best one i’ve found so far, so i returned to that but again, sigh, the frying. so yours is next, i can’t wait!

  57. diane

    I am excited to try this easy looking recipe. We love meatballs but they are either hard as hockey pucks or completely fall apart. These sound mouth watering deeelicious !

  58. Deb,
    Have tremendously enjoyed your recipes, writing, etc. Bought your book for my daughter (she told me about you long time ago.)
    So, I read your blog and note all the comments made about your beautiful children, and wonder how I can get to see the pics everyone talks about? Is there some link to this? Having red hair ( and two daughters with red hair), I would enjoy seeing your redhead…and her brother, of course. Please tell me how to do this? Thanks so much.
    Marilyn (probably your oldest admirer)

  59. Emily

    Finally, non-fussy meatballs smothered in marinara. Thank you! This recipe has filled a meatball void I didn’t realize I had. I made your parmesan-ed variation, along with garlic bread. Amazingggggg. My boyfriend got home from a late night flight and snacked on the leftovers. In his groggy state this morning I asked him what he thought. He suddenly perked up as if he had two cups of coffee already and said they were incredible.

    P.S. I second (twentieth?) what others have asked–do you have a traditional garlic bread recipe?

  60. Annie Stader

    This is how my mother made her very famous meatballs. Poaching in the sauce without browning first makes incredible tender meatballs. I make many variations of meatballs but these are always the kind people ask for.
    My mother was not Italian but grew up in a tiny town in New York with a large Italian population. In fact her mid- wife ( 1940s) ran a small restaurant out of her home. My mother would go there to eat and talk to here as her due date came to pass. Lily would serve her a magical dish (eggplant Parm) and then say ,”I will see you later tonight!”. My mother loved to tell that story. A nice plate of her spaghetti and meatballs warms me body and soul.

  61. cR

    Have you ever looked at (I’m SURE you have) Rao’s meatball recipe? SO MUCH H2O! But I’ve made them a few times and it works. I love that you admit to using onion powder. 2 garlic cloves is so stingy! You’d have been kicked out of my mostly Italian Northern NJ town using only 2 garlic cloves! I’m on the fence about frying or not. I always fry, but after a thorough dunking in the gravy, I’m not absolutely sure how much it matters. You golden fried your breadcrumbs very nicely, but they’re freaking me out. Looks like yellow cheddar cheese grated on top of the meatballs. I’ve never had Italians serve me red sauce food w/fried breadcrumb garnish.

  62. Sarah Beth

    These look amazing! How far in advance do you think you can make them before cooking them? I am about to go back to work after maternity leave, and wonder if I could make these say, Sunday afternoon, pop them uncooked in the fridge, then bake them say Monday evening after work?

  63. Jon G.

    Hi-For years my Mom fried meatballs before plopping them into the pot of gravy. Never mind the hideous mess on the stove, the oil that had to be recycled and the filthy black cast iron frying pan. About 15 years ago she (finally) came to the realization that she can ,and did, bake them on a cooling rack set over a tray until they were cooked. Only then did she plop them into the gravy. I was never happier. Pass the seltzer!

  64. Dahlink

    I am past baby-envy, but those eyelashes!

    Marilyn #94, the link to the photos of Deb’s adorable family is always embedded in the text. For me it shows up as a blue word. In this post look at the last paragraph before the recipe and click on “amazing” and it will take you to the photo we are all oohing and aahing about.

  65. Meghan

    This looks tasty and kiddo friendly, but my particular kiddo has an egg allergy…

    Do you recommend any egg substitutes? I’ve found some for baking but not for this type of recipe.

    Thanks!

  66. SallyO

    I made these last night using a meatloaf mix of beef, pork, and veal. Followed your recipe to the letter and was amazed at how quick and easy it was to make homemade meatballs. I parmesaned them after they cooked in the sauce and served with some plain French baguette for scooped open faced meatball subs. It was insanely delicious. This will definitely be made again. Can’t wait to try these with some polenta or pasta. As usual your little Anna is so ridiculously beautiful.

  67. Jane M

    I have the need to lick the screen and pretend to hear the CRUNCH of that garlic bread with a meatball and melted cheese on top! I always use the package of meat with beef, pork and veal – I find it tastier!

  68. LI

    Drool! I just came to your site looking for a dinner recipe that’s friendly for guests and babies/toddlers. I’ve made the Wednesday Chef recipe many times and it’s great. So thank you for the reminder about how wonderful meatballs are :) I’m going to try and make it with polenta.

  69. Kim

    This post popped up at just the right time yesterday. I sidestepped my loose tentative plan of sloppy joe-esque supper and swapped in these. On garlic bread. Everyone loved..even the toddlers.

  70. Michelle

    We enjoyed these tender meatballs for dinner tonight. This cooking method was perfect on a tornado filled afternoon in Raleigh. I put the meatballs in the sauce to simmer then spent the next 30 minutes with two dogs in a little bathroom hoping no trees landed on the house. The storm settled and I had perfectly cooked meatballs waiting for me. I am glad you didn’t warn against a glass (or two) of red wine to go with these heavenly meatballs. All is well after meatballs for dinner!

  71. Am

    Saw this post and it made me want to try making meatballs! So I made meatballs for the first time tonight, using this recipe as a base. Whole family loved them. I was skeptical about 2 eggs for just a pound of meat, since that’s more than I saw in other recipes, but I went with it and I loved how moist the meatballs turned out. I used all extra lean ground beef, and added in some red pepper flakes, black pepper, ground thyme, and dried oregano to the meatballs. I didn’t have crushed tomatoes or tomato puree so I diced up two tomatoes … oh and I baked them at 425 for 20 minutes, then broiled for 5 minutes to get the tops a little more brown.

    I have become THAT commenter who changes far too many things but I myself like to read and search through the comments for adjustments others make based on what they have in the kitchen / what they like.

    Thank you so much, Deb.

  72. Helen

    I made meatballs recently using a recipe that cooked them in the oven on their own for 10 minutes (spread out on the bottom of a lasagne dish), then pouring the sauce over and cooking for a further 20 minutes. It was so easy, and they were perfect. You can drain the meaty juices off before adding the sauce if you want to too.

  73. Adrianne G.

    Thank you so much, Deb. :D I ADORE meatballs (the only one in my family who does) and I’m going to make this regardless along with the garlic bread. ;)

  74. deb

    Garlic bread — I do not use a recipe, but for what you see here, I used about half of a baguette-length sesame seed-ed “Italian” bread (it said semolina bread but had the airier texture of an Italian bread, which I recommend because lighter breads = easier to get that soaked-with-butter effect we all love in garlic bread without actually needing enough butter to soak a dense loaf), split it, melted 4 tablespoons butter with 2 garlic cloves and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt until it sizzled for a minute, then brushed/poured it over the insides of the bread and ran them butter-side-up under the broiler for all of a minute. Not as saturated with butter as we might like at restaurants, but not bad for at home when you know better how much is going in. :)

    Sources — I forgot to add the links to Ina Garten and Luisa Weiss; now fixed! I hate it when food sites don’t make their sources clear. ;) From Luisa, I noticed she used more eggs than me and I liked her tip about not moving the meatballs; very helpful. I’ve used Ina’s meatballs for years, but have made many adjustments to our taste and to easier shopping (not three kinds of meat, etc.)

    Without eggs — I haven’t made meatballs without eggs but you might have success if you just try to bake them as balls/patties, see how they hold up. Or, you can try a flax egg here? (I’m not positive how well they’d work here because I haven’t played around with them.)

    Sarah Beth — They’d definitely be good for a day in the fridge. I made a double-batch this time and froze off half the uncooked meatballs. I’ll plunk them right into simmering sauce from the freezer down the road so they’ll taste the most fresh (vs. cooking and then freezing the second half); just takes a few minutes longer.

    Jenn — I’m buying pre-ground pork so god only knows what it’s in, if you know what I mean. I would go for something fatty, or at least more fatty than, say, a fancy tenderloin. Maybe a lean bit of pork butt?

    Connie — I haven’t noticed a greasiness in sauce, but you could always start with a leaner meat, to be safe. I imagine there is more grease in the sauce if they’re fried first.

    Julie — No reason not to make more of the sauce. (I mention this at the end with the spaghetti notes.) Angel hair is not a good choice for heavy sauces for the reason you found — it gets overwhelmed easily. (I prefer it with a simple garlic-oil or equally thin sauce.) A full-sized spaghetti or even rigatoni works here too.

    Amanda — I’d use gluten-free breadcrumbs or the crumbs of a gluten-free cracker.

    Using turkey — Should work just fine. It’s a little softer (ground chicken too) but cooks mostly the same in the end.

    Dipal — I’d go with turkey and pork. If you can find mixed ground turkey or dark ground turkey meat, I think it has more flavor.

  75. MR in NJ

    There is actually less, not more, grease in the finished product when you fry or bake the meatballs before finishing the cooking in a pot of sauce if you drain and pat them dry afterward and in the case of baking, bake them in a rimmed baking sheet over parchment, which absorbs a considerable amount of grease–which is fun to throw in the trash instead of in one’s stomach. Taking this extra step is important to me personally not only because it’s traditional and excellent but also because I can’t digest grease (not to mention the empty calories) and get rid of it wherever I can without denying myself some favorite foods.

  76. mimi

    I just discovered that a local grocery store sells a “meatloaf” package of half ground beef and half ground pork. I know what I’ll be buying and making the next time I go there!

  77. Melanie

    I’ve been baking my meatballs directly in sauce for a couple years now. I am on a low-carb diet, so I skip the breadcrumbs/panko. I also use the leanest ground beef possible or even substitute ground turkey breast, and so I add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to help bind the meatballs. I use a sheet pan and bake the sauce in the sheet pan while I make the meatballs. Then I bake them for about 35 minutes at 350. MR, This might be a good way for you to have low-cal meatballs!

  78. Non nom,
    the photos takes just speak for them self. I can not wait to make meatballs again.
    I have also grown up eating them with pasta but mostly boiled potatoes covered with melted butter with a ,brun sas, on the side. Just realized I have not made them for quite some long time! I saw your recipe and mine is very similar just I use a fresh onion but will try your recipe this time :) I also try to limit my pork as muhc as I can but I have also found out that when it comes to meatballs the beef/pork combo is very very needed.

  79. I made the for breakfast with fried eggs on top. I added a ton of chopped kale to the meatballs to get some greens in and the meatballs were super tender. Husband approved!

  80. Meg

    I know what’s on the menu next week! More importantly: what is a rainbow cookie!? What delicious treat have I been missing out on my whole life?!?!

  81. Lila

    Vegetarian, so skipping the meatballs, but still have to comment because that garlic bread looks AMAZING. It is, I believe, the platonic ideal of garlic bread.

  82. Cath

    Deb, once again a lovely recipe!
    Another suggestion to go with meatballs in tomato sauce: potato fries!!
    (ps: I would not call them a side dish as in my case it is rather half & half on the plate)
    (ps2: nobody shoudl call them French fries because (1) everybody knows Belgians invented fries, (2) seriously, Belgians :-))
    About the pressure cooker, I mostly use it to cook chickpeas (and other beans) from scratch, it does the trick in 20 min, without pre-soaking

  83. Miranda

    I made these last night, and they were delightful. I love meatballs, but they tend to be prohibitively time/labor intensive for a weeknight dinner. The minimal meal prep time after work was nice.

  84. Tina

    This is your first non dessert recipe I’m making, other than bread. And it turned out to be fabulous. Thank you Deb. I’m on a roll, trying new recipes from your blog. Love how you potray it in words as well as photos.
    I added ginger garlic paste instead of onion and a bit of sautéed chilly powder to spice it up..

  85. Katy Belle

    Yum! I made these last night, did the Parmesan-ed version, and ate them on the garlic bread. Oh my! Too good! And I froze 22 raw meatballs for the near future! My teen boys LOVED them. They told me I was a great cook! Thanks for the great recipes!

  86. I appreciate your inclination to both fancy – “drive to the specialty store or wait until these plums are in season” – recipes & “ordinary” recipes, such as this. But not simply something you’ve slapped together, either. The intentionality for both simplistic and complex dishes you employ is what keeps me a reader.

  87. NC

    Made the recipe last night. Love the way the meat juices get into the sauce. Meatballs themselves were definitely tender but without baking or frying to get some browning on it, there’s a little too much of a boiled meat taste. I did a second batch where I baked the meatballs on a sheet tray at a high heat to get some browning and the whole thing was infinitely better from a flavor and texture perspective.

  88. YUM! Seriously, there is little that is more comforting than spaghetti and meatballs! I only rarely make them but they take me right back to Grandma’s house on just about every special occasion we celebrated. Grandma made enormous meatballs and they were always so delicious. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us!

  89. Lauren

    I made these for Sunday dinner with garlic bread and a big salad. It was good, but I ended up having to work to salvage it– something I almost never have to do with recipes from this site! The meatballs were so tasty and they did not fall apart at all! But I was really put off by the amount of grease from the meat and “scum” from the meatballs cooking in the sauce. Perhaps it’s just a preference thing, as I didn’t see any other comments about this issue in my admittedly quick skim. I ended up gently removing the meatballs with tongs and putting them in a casserole dish and adding a package of crushed tomatoes, then topping with gran padano and fresh mozzarella, just as you suggested for making it “parmesan-ed”. It was tasty and was a big hit, but I ended up with a 2-pot/2-step dish anyway. I am in Germany (actually, in the same Berlin neighborhood as the referenced Luisa Weiss) and I am quite certain that the ground meat here is actually slightly less fatty than that in the US, so I don’t think that was the issue. I might give them a quick go in a frying pan next time just to drain some of the initial fat out and let them finish in the sauce, and I would recommend that method for anyone else who was put off by all the fatty scum draining into the sauce. But otherwise, great– and thanks!

  90. Sophie

    Your daughter is soooo cute, I could eat her instead of meatballs!
    Thanks for the meatballs recipe and all your fabulous ideas and comments ! I really really really like your blog, from the writing style to the food! Every single one of your recipe I tried (and I have tried quite a few already) has been a success! Thank you !

  91. Erika

    I made these tonight and they were fantastic. I used 93/7 organic ground beef because I wasn’t too worried about them drying out, given the cooking method. While the sauce was cooking–and because the meatballs were on a baking sheet anyway–I took a suggestion from another commenter and blasted them in the oven on 450 for about 10 mins, followed by 10ish minutes in the sauce, which together brought the internal temp up to 160. They held their shape perfectly and had a nice browned flavor. We took your suggestion to “Parmesan” them–a home run.

    This is my favorite kind of recipe. Reasonably healthy, weeknight-friendly main dishes that don’t compromise on flavor. Thanks for another winner!

  92. Jeanie

    Made this for dinner- 1/2 organic pork, 1/2 grass fed beef- doubled the recipe and cooked in my own homemade sauce from my own canned tomatoes- delicious. Served with garlic bread and a big green salad- a delicious Sunday night supper. Thank you for another winning meal.

  93. Marie

    I made this tonight – using a beef/pork/veal/lamb mixture because that sounded good to me. I used fresh bread crumbs and sauteed onions instead of onion powder. I cooked them 2 ways: one with the sauce exactly the way you said and one broiled in oven until browned. Both were great. Topped the sauce ones in provolone and mozz and served with garlic bread. Plunked the broiled ones in the sauce after. Really good. Thanks Deb!

  94. Marissa

    Oh, Deb. Deb, Deb, Deb. Why didn’t I listen to you? I made a quarter batch of these (I was home alone) and then had the audacity to make a meatball sub on garlic bread. Complete with the sauce (I spiked it with sambal oelek) and provolone. I’m only a few bites in and I know I have made a mistake. This is going to be in my weekly rotation. I’m supposed to be on a diet, but this is too yummy!

  95. This looks incredible, definitely going to look into making it soon! I love meatballs so much! My blog’s newish, but if you could take a look at it to see what you think I could do to improve it that would be amazing! Love all the food on your blog and the pictures are great!!

  96. Ivana

    Made this last night and they were delish! However, at first I thought it was going to be a failure – the mixture was VERY wet, to the point of not being able to form into balls. I ended up doubling the amount of breadcrumbs and was still skeptical… After half an hour in the fridge they were much more compact, and they cooked up perfectly. But I still wonder – is the mix supposed to be that wet? My eggs were on the small side and I’m always very careful with measuring everything out…

    1. deb

      Ivana — It shouldn’t be impossible to form into balls, but it’s definitely wet. I love a tender, soft meatball (as you can tell). It should be able to hold a slightly misshapen ball shape, as you see in my photos.

  97. Marguerite

    Embracing your suggestion to make a recipe that appeals to you right away, rather than filing it away for a future date, I made these for dinner last night. They were just as advertised: flavorful and completely achievable on a weeknight. Serving them with butter laden garlic bread was also a strong move. Thank you!

  98. JenW

    The ratios in your recipe are so similar to mine, that when I made my meatballs this weekend, I tried your suggestion (using two eggs as you suggested). They came out great! I never tried doing dropping them in the sauce raw before–but I’m converted. Made the process that much simpler–and there was zero difference in the flavors of my usual recipe. Thanks!

  99. Tara

    Deb,
    Have you ever cooked the meatballs from “Brown Eggs and Jam Jars” (by simple bites author)? She simplifies the browning and simmering into one pan/process. You simply put a small amount of oil in a roasting pan and heat in the oven for 5 mins or so. Then toss meatballs into hot oil and bake for a few minutes to “sear/brown” them, then add sauce directly to pan and continue to bake for half hour or so. The result is seared meatballs baked in sauce with no standing over the stove and getting splattered!

  100. Marie

    Update – I actually 4X the recipe because of the meat coming in 1 pound packages so I had sooooo much meatball mix. We plopped them into an Italian Wedding Soup the next night. They held together very well. Also delish!

    To #150 Ivana – the mixture was very wet, although I used fresh bread crumbs (frozen bread chopped up in the food processor) I did the recipe exactly in Deb’s proportions – refrigerated the entire mixture for about 30 mins before scooping out the meatballs with a scoop. Worked just fine.

  101. Sally

    I’ve been making Luisa’s recipe since I saw it a few years ago. The only change I’ve made is to add some garlic or onion to the meat mixture. They’re good without it, but (I think) better with it.

  102. Declan

    Made this without any changes and it was FANTASTIC. Super easy and really delicious. Also made the garlic bread and it turned out perfectly.

  103. This is going to sound strange, but it’s my favorite way to make meatballs. My dad, whose mother came over on the boat from Sicily, always puts raisins in his meatballs.

    I know, it sounds weird. But I love it!

  104. Susan

    I just made these meatballs, am in the middle of a toasted meatball parm sandwich
    Oh, so good! A couple of observations:
    1. I normally cook my meatballs in the oven then in the sauce (the way my grandmother taught me). Next time I make these, that’s what I’ll do. I like a little bit of char on the meatball, these are very soft.
    2. I used plain Panko breadcrumds. Next time I’ll used seasoned breadcrumbs.
    Oh, and once I clean up the kitchen, I’m going to make your chocolate banana bread. I ‘have’ to, you know, the overripe bananas!

  105. Susan P

    I just made these tonight using ground chicken, and they were fabulous! Hubby loved it, so now I have another great recipe in my rotation. I did brown the meatballs first, though, just so they wouldn’t be so pale. Thank you for more than one tasty dinner!

  106. Jennifer

    Oh Deb! I don’t even eat red meat, but I had to make these for my family. My husband dubbed them the best meatballs Ive ever made. Of course, i gave smitten kitchen all the credit! Served with garlic bread, just as you suggested. Also took advice to double the recipe and freeze extra meatballs for another time! Thank you.

  107. Holly

    Deb- in the spirit of washing less pans/dishes: I made the sauce and meatballs in a braising pan on stove top, then added the mozzarella and breadcrumbs and put the whole thing under the broiler. One pot of deliciousness!

  108. deb

    JR — Will depend on how much else you serve/what you serve them with. I usually estimate 1/4 pound ground meat per person, however, with spaghetti, we get 6 servings out of this instead of 4.

  109. Linda

    Made these, so good. I’ve made the Chicken Meatballs too, but nothing beats beef/pork meatballs. So easy, and we did everything you told us not to do: Meatball Parmesan; over Spaghetti–all delicious. Love this recipe, thank you!

  110. Kylie

    I was having serious doubts at around 15 mins of cooking time but all of my fears were proven to be silly. You’ve never steered me wrong before! These were sooooooo good. I opted for the cheese and garlic bread and now I’m going to be eating this every night for the next year, at least (I know, you warned me). Thanks for another amazing recipe!

  111. Hillary

    Deb, you already gave us the perfect meatball recipe! I use the meatballs from your carrot soup w spinach recipe alllllllll the time. Usually in red sauce. I would be remiss to not mention them. Should repost here or in your new book for anyone who missed them. They are a real gem! And even simpler than these. thanks for the constant inspiration!!

  112. Mamabearjd

    I thought I was just channeling my East Texas roots when I started deep frying my meatballs because I lacked the patience to brown them with multiple children afoot! But now I feel slightly legit.
    I love an everyday option so I don’t feel compelled to fry everything in sight for the week that it takes me to clean the fryer.

  113. Adrianne G.

    Oh, these pretty things! (David Bowie reference, RIP) You were right, Deb: No garlic bread. I am lost, it was SO good. I can’t order meatball subs anymore because it must be made with garlic bread and I don’t think anyone does that.

    This part is a personal preference, but my pots suck, so next time I would bake the meatballs and add them to the sauce after. My sauce burned on the bottom during the 20 minute simmering time. But again, personal because my. pots. SUCK!

    This was so good! :D

  114. OMG!! these chicken balls are looking delicious. I have tried it in restaurants many times but didn’t try this at home as yet. I will try to prepare this and then let you know the feedback.

    Thanks for sharing !!

  115. dee

    Made these tonight. Was definitely underwhelmed. Followed recipe but I found these bland and plain. Not really adding anything new and definitely not flavorful. My little guy wouldn’t touch em. ): Thanks anyway.

  116. Alice

    Amazing. Tender, tasty, had with garlic bread and huge smiles. So glad there’s a batch in the freezer. We’re running an almost strictly smitten kitchen these days. You never fail us, Deb. Thank you.

  117. Katy Belle

    I’m so excited! We are leaving on vacation tomorrow, so we’ve cleaned out the fridge. I was so excited to find these meatballs in the freezer! Can’t wait!

  118. Jeff

    Delicious. I made a double batch, had the first meal with crusty garlic bread and froze the rest.

    With the second half I did a mashup with your one pan faro which is a total high rotation staple at our house. Instead of the tomatoes/onion/garlic I used about 2 cups of the leftover tomato sauce with another 1/5 cups of water or so, a cup of faro, and added 8 frozen meatballs and heated it all up to a low simmer. It took 40 minutes or so. Made a caesar salad to go with it while it cooked. Awesome.

  119. Leah

    I made this right after you posted it (we had a pound of ground beef from a local farm in the freezer) and it was insanely good – and easy! Definitely added to my list of weeknight standbys, which includes many other recipes from your blog! Since moving in with my boyfriend last September, I’ve fed us so many of your recipes to great praise that we are both huge huge fans – thank you!

  120. -K-

    Similar to comment #71 (Carol) and #149 (Ivana), I had very wet meatballs
    I’m not sure if it’s my gas range (that the “lowest” is too low), but it took nearly triple the recommended cooking time. I used 100% ground beef, panko breadcrumbs and water vs. milk – any chance I flubbed somewhere?
    The flavor is delightful, so next time will try adjusting dry ingredients as Ivana suggested and cook on low-er rather than low-est temperature.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  121. Jamie

    Another amazing recipe! Wowed my dinner party guests. I have to admit I made these a mashup of your phenomenal baked turkey meatballs ( of which I am a huge fan) and cooked pancetta and onion into the pork/ beef mixture. Unreal!!

  122. Brenna

    Made this tonight. Pork/lamb. A big hit all around. (And you know I parmesan’d it and ate it on garlic bread. Yuuuuum.)

    I actually cooked the meatballs in my Instant Pot. I added a bit of water first (to avoid burning), before putting in meatballs and then tomato sauce. 5 minutes on “meat” (high pressure) with 7 minutes NR. Came out great.

  123. Birgit

    Made these several times already, so delicious and easy. Whole family loves them. Doubled recipe, and still no left overs! I used store bought marinara sauce instead of tomatoes and that was delicious too.

  124. Katelyn

    I came here to talk about how I just made these in my Instant Pot and then saw the comment above, #180, about how someone else did the same. I just made these for dinner. I dumped 28 oz crushed tomatoes into the pot, added Worcestershire, butter, and salt, then put in the meatballs and did 5 min on HIGH, 7 min natural release. (Forgot the milk, but it didn’t seem to ruin anything.) Super easy and very delicious!

  125. Janna

    I have made these 3 times since the recipe posted! They are so good, they are in the weekly weeknight rotation! Thanks for another amazing recipe!

  126. Emjay

    I made this last night, with the following tiny modifications: ground elk, celery leaves instead of parsley, and fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. All of that was simply a case of what I happened to have on hand. We also did them with the broiled cheese at the end, and disobeyed your instructions to avoid garlic bread.

    The following happened:

    -what I would have called “enough for 4 hungry people” became “enough for 3 hungry people ”
    -my husband ate his giant plateful in record time, completing it before I finished half as much while failing at not all but wolfing it down
    -after putting the leftovers into a container, we grabbed another piece of bread and used it to wipe out the broiling container before rinsing it out

    My husband has the leftovers and will be eating them for dinner tonight. I have leftover salmon and am actually mad about it. And I love salmon. But I’m so mad he gets the leftover meatballs. They were spectacular. Thank you!

  127. Gail

    These were delicious. And much easier than the Cooks Illustrated ones I’d been making. I used a combination of beef, pork and veal (sold as “meatloaf mix” in the store) and subbed buttermilk for the milk/water called for here. Great sauce recipe, too! Thanks!

  128. My father’s b’day dinner wish…Spaghetti and Meatballs. Every year my mother asks him what he wants and he says Spaghetti and Meatballs and she says, “I’m not making that.” I know! So, being the dutiful daughter, I made it.

    My father LOVED it!

    My son (who does not like meatballs) ate SIX meatballs! My husband who doesn’t like spaghetti or meatballs, had seconds!

    I even loved them and I usually don’t usually eat meat!

    Well done! I guarantee there will be fighting for the leftovers!

  129. Elizabeth

    I had my eyes on these since the recipe came out and finally had time to make them tonight. So good and well worth the wait! I can’t wait to eat the leftovers!

  130. Hilary

    These were amazing! I usually do meatloaf instead because it’s easier than meatballs, but my husband doesn’t like it much. And these were great — so light, fluffy, and not at all dry. (And thank you for making it so easy to make a delicious meatball even kosher-style (sub turkey for pork, don’t add or top with cheese). We’ll be adding this to the rotation for sure!

  131. stephanie

    i made these last week and have to say they were pretty great! they definitely live up to their name. i started the sauce while making the meatballs, and then put the meatballs in the fridge and put a lid on the sauce (& turned off the stove) while i went to pick up boyperson from work. this way, once we got home all i had to do was throw the meatballs into the sauce and it all was done by the time i was finished taking a quick shower. i used all beef (85%), milk, panko, and included the cheese.

    i like a heavy sauce blanket on my meatballs/pasta so i used two cans of tomatoes. one weird thing though…the sauce came out really watery. i always puree my sauce but this time i thought i’d do it *before* i put the tomatoes in to save time, so i took my immersion blender to my two cans of san marzanos. never again! i have otherwise always pureed the sauce *after* cooking and it’s always nice and thick. lesson learned. it still tasted great, though :)

  132. Erin

    I made these tonight with ground turkey. I was nervous about them falling apart, but followed the instructions for letting them sit in the sauce for 20 minutes, and they were fine. I served them with garlic bread and a salad. My husband got seconds and has informed about how excited he is to have leftovers tomorrow. :)

  133. Melody

    Just made this recipe as per the instructions, and it turned out wonderfully (actually I doubled the recipe and cooked the meatballs in sauce in two batches). Thanks so much for this, it’s a keeper!

  134. Made these last night – very tasty! I was nervous because they seemed so wet and it was difficult to roll them into balls, but they held their shape quite well.

  135. Rachel

    Just finished eating these, I really enjoyed them. I didn’t have onion powder but I did have a fresh onion so I added half a diced, sautéed onion to the mix. Otherwise I cooked the recipe exactly as instructed and it turned out wonderful. They are tender but still hold together as long as you are gentle with them. I ended up turning them into meatballs parmesan as you suggested by broiling them in a cast iron with fresh mozzarella. Served with some roasted vegetables on the side. Thank you for the recipe, its a very easy and comforting meal and I’ll definitely make it again.

  136. Emma

    I made these tonight and LOVED them! Used all beef, dried garlic instead of onion and dried parsley instead of fresh (what I had on hand). Came out exactly as pictured – DELISH! Thank you!

  137. minik

    We just ate these and now my husband wants this everyday! I told him they were everyday meatballs but not EVERY DAY meatballs :) I did stock the fridge though!
    I didn’t use onion powder, used a homemade tomato sauce and did as you suggested and parmesan-ed the top. Delicious!
    Oh and your garlic bread on the side (I used soft white bread because I didn’t have a baguette) is the perfect match. You should put a link to it!

  138. Amy

    Oh man, I ignored the warning. Just ate leftovers with the garlic bread from a couple of days ago and some mozzarella melted on top – I’m in love with an open faced sandwich.

  139. Breana

    These are phenomenal! I don’t know what is so special about the sauce, however, it is the best sauce I ever made. One thing though, the meatballs took forever to cook. I think I left it over an hour. Plus put them longer in the oven. Is it because i used turkey? I am making them again today.

  140. I’ve made these a few times using part beef, part turkey and part pork, part turkey. Both didn’t increase the cooking time, and I didn’t find them at all fatty or find too much oil runoff, just found incredibly delicious sauce and meatballs! I highly recommend this recipe (usually serve it with homemade focaccia).

  141. Rachel

    Made this with 50/50 lean turkey and lean beef for a “healthier” option (my grocer hasn’t had ground pork for a while). It was still nice and tender, not dry, and incredibly tasty. If anyone’s been curious about hopping on the veggie noodle craze, I made this with zoodles (zucchini noodles) and shockingly didn’t miss the lack of real pasta. I’m as surprised (/skeptical) as you are, but it’s true. For those curious about doing this with zoodles, I sautéed them with a tiny amount of olive oil on the stovetop VERY briefly – basically only until they had a little color and weren’t completely raw. I took them raw to work and microwaved them there for about a minute before adding the sauce, and that also kept them nice and “al dente.” Sorry for the long post, just wanted to be thorough in case anyone wanted to try! Trust me, it’s DELICIOUS.

  142. Michelle

    Hi Deb – Have been loving your blog for years but first time commenting! I wanted to make these as finger food for my daughter’s first birthday this weekend. Do you think I can do them baked rather than stovetop and without the sauce? Any modifications you’d suggest? Trying to keep things simple but home made! thanks!

  143. DZF

    i thought i had the best meatball recipe, ever. but they were to cumbersome. these are NOT and they ARE THE BEST EVER! thank you!

  144. Renee

    For those asking if this works in a crock pot or slow cooker, the answer is YES. I followed the recipe for the meatballs exactly. For the refrigeration time, I placed them in the freezer for the first 15 minutes then the fridge for the second 15 minutes. For the sauce, I used three 15 oz cans of tomato puree. I didn’t cook it with garlic only because I was looking to be quick. I put the first can in the crock pot, then placed the meatballs on the sauce, then covered with the second two cans. 6 1/2 hours on low and they were PERFECT.

  145. Kate B.

    This recipe was so good, and so simple. I left out the parsley and onion powder because I didn’t have any handy, and upped the garlic in the sauce, but otherwise made it exactly as written. I loved it so much, I’ve made it twice this week!

  146. Grace

    Amazing! I can’t thank you enough for this recipe! I now don’t have to resort to jarred sauces and can make my own sauce and meatballs. I used to make the one on NY Times but this one (with the pork!) is so flavourful. It’s on weekly rotation in our household and my one- and four-year-old gobble it up. I do omit the pepper flakes and parsley though for their sake and it is still amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  147. Natalie

    If you were making this with Marcella Hazan’s onion-butter-tomato sauce, at what point in the sauce’s cooking process would you add the meatballs? 25 minutes before the end? Or would you do them separately? Thank you for your advice!