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.

juicy pork and beef meatballs in pan

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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
Ingredients for Italian Meatballs with ground beef, pork, bread, egg, parmesan, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper

How to Make Easy Homemade Meatballs

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
How to make juicy meatballs by combining meat mixture and panade with hands then forming meatballs

Pro Tip

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.

Sautéed and baked juicy meatballs, pan seared

Pro Tip

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.
Meatballs with marinara sauce and fresh herbs, ready to serve

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.
Juicy meatballs covered in tomato sauce and cheese in a pan

Common Questions

Can I substitute the ground meat?

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.

Is it better to bake or sautée meatballs?

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.

Can I use milk instead of water to make meatballs?

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.

Can I add anything else to this meatball recipe?

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.

Can I cook meatballs in an air fryer?

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.

Meatball Recipe

4.97 from 258 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Meatballs seared on a skillet
These flavorful and juicy homemade meatballs are make-ahead and freezer friendly so they're perfect for meal prep. Enjoy these meatballs baked or sautéed and serve as an appetizer or the main course.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 8 people (makes 24 meatballs)
  • 3 slices white bread, crusts removed, diced
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, 85/15 fat content
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, to sautée

Instructions

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.

Nutrition Per Serving

3meatballs Serving328kcal Calories5g Carbs24g Protein23g Fat8g Saturated Fat2g Polyunsaturated Fat11g Monounsaturated Fat0.4g Trans Fat100mg Cholesterol464mg Sodium378mg Potassium0.3g Fiber1g Sugar143IU Vitamin A2mg Vitamin C79mg Calcium2mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Meatball Recipe
Serving Size
 
3 meatballs
Amount per Serving
Calories
328
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
23
g
35
%
Saturated Fat
 
8
g
50
%
Trans Fat
 
0.4
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
11
g
Cholesterol
 
100
mg
33
%
Sodium
 
464
mg
20
%
Potassium
 
378
mg
11
%
Carbohydrates
 
5
g
2
%
Fiber
 
0.3
g
1
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
24
g
48
%
Vitamin A
 
143
IU
3
%
Vitamin C
 
2
mg
2
%
Calcium
 
79
mg
8
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: meatball recipe, meatballs
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 328
Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the creator behind Natasha's Kitchen (established in 2009), and I share family-friendly, authentic recipes. I am a New York Times Best-Selling cookbook author and a trusted video personality in the culinary world. My husband, Vadim, and I run this blog together, ensuring every recipe we share is thoroughly tested and approved. Our mission is to provide you with delicious, reliable recipes you can count on. Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy you are here.

Read more posts by Natasha

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Tyler
    May 1, 2024

    What about using whole wheat bread slices instead of white? They look very good and excited to try them

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 1, 2024

      Hi Tyler! That should be fine. I hope you love the recipe.

      Reply

  • Betsy Black
    April 7, 2024

    Teen daughter’s favorite! Her criteria = soft, juicy. Check! Check! Thank you.

    Reply

  • A
    March 30, 2024

    Can I sub breadcrumbs for the bread slices?
    About how many cups breadcrumbs?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 30, 2024

      Hi A, I haven’t tried that substitution, but generally, you would replace 1 slice of bread with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, so a good starting point is to substitute with 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs. Make sure to soak them as directed so you don’t end up with dry meatballs.

      Reply

  • Patricia
    March 7, 2024

    I love all your recipes and enjoy watching you cook in your videos
    You inspire me to make cooking easy and yummy!
    More videos please!!!!!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 7, 2024

      Thank you so much, Patricia!

      Reply

  • Bill Johnson
    March 2, 2024

    My mother was full-blooded Italian and I’ve made hundreds in my life, but these are fantastic!!!!!!!!
    I did add 1/2 t oregano and 1/2 t basil.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 2, 2024

      Hi Bill! I’m so glad you loved this recipe. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

  • Sw
    December 19, 2023

    Hi Natascha,
    I was gonna make these meatballs with your grape jelly sauce. Can I just prep them, bake them, freeze them and make them in slow cooker as stated in your recipe for grape jelly meatballs? Just wondering because you use frozen storebought meatballs in that recipe. Would i need to adjust cooking times at all or do these work the same as storebought meatballs?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 19, 2023

      Hi Sw! Yes, they would work the same. See my note above for freezing instructions. These reheat well in a slow-cooker too.

      Reply

  • Denise de Obaldia
    December 6, 2023

    Used 1lb of high quality Ground Hot Italian sausage and put double garlic.
    Used sour dough bread. The only meat balls we eat now. Bake in oven until browned well.
    Thank you!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 6, 2023

      You’re so welcome! Good to know that this is now your new go-to recipe, Denise.

      Reply

  • Sn
    November 10, 2023

    Can I use regular ground beef instead of lean? And what about using only beef? Great recipe, best meatballs I’ve made.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 10, 2023

      Hi Sn, that will work. I hope you love it.

      Reply

  • Margaret Mcgill
    November 4, 2023

    I made these with my 4 year old grand-daughter. She loved mixing the meat and such and I used an ice cream scoop for portion as suggested. She was so proud of her efforts rolling into a ball. They were juicey and yummy just as you stated! A winner…….I know this will be on repeat ! Also we served them with your marinara sauce……womderful.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 4, 2023

      I’m do happy this was a winner, Margaret! Thank you for your wonderful review.

      Reply

As Featured On

Never Go "Hangry" Again!

Get weekly updates on new recipes, exclusive giveaways plus behind the scenes photos.