Find out the secret to our flavorful and juicy homemade meatballs. This make-ahead, freezer-friendly, and perfect-for-meal-prep meatball recipe can be customized to your flavor preferences.
Meatballs aren’t only for Spaghetti and Meatballs. This meatball recipe is so versatile – you can serve them as an appetizer skewered on a toothpick with a variety of sauces (barbecue, sweet and sour, cream, etc.), between bread for a meatball sub at lunchtime, or served over pasta with fresh garlic bread for a classic Italian dinner. Make a big batch for game day, and bring them to your party in your slow cooker.
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The Best Meatball Recipe Video
We love meatballs and have so many great meatball recipes on our website already, but I wanted to create one recipe that could be tailored in a variety of ways that the whole family would love. Making homemade meatballs is so easy, and this recipe will have everyone asking for your recipe.
The Secret to Juicy Meatballs
Every element in this recipe helps to build a flavorful and moist meatball, but what makes them exceptionally juicy is the panade (breadcrumb and water mixture). This simple, homemade mixture really creates a tender texture all the way through. The moist breadcrumbs also help these reheat really well.
We use a combination of ground meats in this recipe, mixing both pork and beef with an egg. This combination produces the best taste and a fork-tender meatball. The ingredients are simple and the addition of parmesan cheese, garlic, and parsley make these a delicious Italian-style meatball.
- White bread – with crusts removed, diced and moistened with water
- Meat – 1 lb. ground beef and 1 lb. ground pork
- Parmesan cheese – grated, adds amazing flavor
- Egg – to help bind the meatballs
- Garlic – minced
- Parsley – I like to use fresh herbs whenever I can
- Salt and pepper – to season
- Olive oil – to sautée
How to Make Easy Homemade Meatballs
- Moisten Bread Crumbs – Remove the crusts and dice 3 slices of bread. Soak in water for 5 minutes, then mash with a fork. Do not skip this step- this ‘panade’ mixture acts as the binder to keep your meatballs together and adds moisture to create such juicy meatballs.
- Add Remaining Ingredients – Into the same bowl, add ground beef and pork, parmesan cheese, 1 egg, minced garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to combine the ingredients together until just incorporated. Do not overmix or it will result in tough meatballs.
- Form Meatballs – Portion 2 Tbsp per meatball onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (using a trigger-release cookie scoop makes portioning super easy). With wet hands, roll meatballs into 1 1/2″ diameter balls. Making evenly-sized meatballs ensures even cooking.
To form perfect meatballs, keep a bowl of cold water nearby and use wet hands to roll the meatballs. Water keeps the meat from sticking to your hands and forms a smooth meatball.
How to Cook Meatballs
Sautéed Meatballs (Preferred) – Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp oil. Once the oil is hot, add meatballs, one at a time. If needed, cook in batches to avoid overcrowding, adding more oil as needed. Cook for 6-8 minutes total, turning every 2 minutes or until all sides are browned and until the internal temperature reaches 160˚F. Use an instant-read thermometer to prevent overcooking. Transfer your browned meatballs to a serving platter.
Baked Meatballs – Place on a lined baking sheet, about 2″ apart, and bake in a preheated oven at 400˚F for 20-23 minutes, or until the centers register 160˚F. For golden brown meatballs, broil for the last 2-3 minutes. This optional step also helps to create a crust that seals the juices in.
Don’t overcrowd your meatballs, especially when baking! Leave plenty of space (approximately 2″) between the meatballs on the baking sheet. Overcrowding meatballs can cause them to steam cook instead of getting a good sear.
How to Freeze Meatballs
Meatballs are great for make-ahead dinners and meal planning because they can be frozen cooked or uncooked. This recipe is easy to double, so make a big batch to freeze and use on busy nights.
- To Freeze: Place meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and freeze for a few hours or until solid. Transfer to a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To Thaw: Raw frozen meatballs can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
- To Reheat: Cooked meatballs can be thawed or reheated straight from the freezer. You can warm them in a pot of marinara sauce (see more below) or in your slow cooker.
Easy Crockpot Meatballs
Whether you are bringing meatballs to a party, or you’re looking for a quick dinner idea, consider using this slow cooker method for a set-it-and-forget-it meal.
While you can cook meatballs in your slow cooker, I prefer to brown them on the stovetop first to give them a crispier exterior. To make this meal even easier, you can use your pre-made frozen meatballs in the crockpot. After that, set your slow cooker to low heat, place your meatballs inside, cover with sauce, place the lid on top, and let the crockpot do the work. Let them simmer for about 6 hours or until the internal temperature reaches the USDA’s recommended 160°F. After they are fully cooked and heated, switch your heat setting to warm to prevent overcooking.
How to Serve Meatballs
- Meatballs in Marinara– Heat 2 cups of marinara sauce in a skillet or crockpot. Next, add freshly cooked or frozen meatballs and simmer until heated through.
- Meatball Subs – Place 3-4 warm meatballs with marinara or tomato sauce in a hoagie roll, top with mozzarella cheese, and broil for 1-2 minutes just to melt the cheese.
- Meatball Soup – Use uncooked meatballs in any soup that calls for meatballs or in this Sausage and Kale Soup.
- BBQ Meatballs – Roll cooked meatballs in warm barbeque sauce and serve on a platter with toothpicks as a party snack or appetizer.
- In Gravy – Put meatballs into your favorite Gravy and serve over rice or creamy Mashed Potatoes.
- Pizza or Calzone – Use our Pizza Dough recipe and add chopped meatballs to the top of your pizza or fold them inside a Calzone.
You can beef, pork, or both. I like to combine the two for the perfect texture. Using only beef creates a firmer meatball, while the higher fat content of ground pork adds a more tender texture. For a lean meat option, consider using ground turkey.
This is really a personal preference. Sautéeing the meatballs reduces cook time and creates a slightly crispier exterior. Baking does not require oil and you do not have to flip them every few minutes. Try it both ways to see which way you prefer.
Using milk adds fat and protein to your meatballs which tends to make them even softer while lending a sweet flavor to the recipe. I prefer a leaner texture without the sweetness and opt for water instead.
Of course – that’s the beauty of making meatballs from scratch. Try adding grated onion, additional fresh herbs (oregano, basil), chopped bacon, or red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
Preheat your air fryer to 375°F. Arrange your meatballs in a single layer, with space between each meatball, and cook for 12-18 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
Our Best Meatball Recipes
We love a good meatball recipe! These are our favorite and top-rated recipes that are easy to make and easy to serve. You’re sure to find a new favorite.
How to Make Meatballs:
- Combine diced bread in a large bowl with 2/3 cup water. Soak for 5 minutes then mash with a fork. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Into the bowl of mashed bread crumbs, add ground beef, ground pork, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 egg, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 Tbsp parsley, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Use your hands to stir the mixture together just until well combined. Do not overmix.
- Portion onto a lined baking sheet (about 2 Tbsp per meatball – an ice cream scoop makes it easy). With wet hands, roll meatballs into 1 1/2" diameter balls.
How to Cook Meatballs:
- To Sautée: Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp oil. Once the oil is hot, add meatballs to the skillet, placing them in one at a time, and cook in batches to get a good sear. Sautée, turning every 2 minutes (total 6-8 minutes), or until evenly browned and the internal temperature reaches 160˚F on an instant-read thermometer. Serve as is or in any recipe that calls for meatballs.
- To Bake Meatballs: Place on a lined baking sheet 2" apart and bake in a fully preheated oven at 400˚F for 20-23 minutes, or until fully cooked and the centers reach 160˚F. If you want golden brown meatballs, broil for the last 2-3 minutes.