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.

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

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 Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Susan C
    October 7, 2023

    Oh My Goodness!!!!
    These were just the best EVER meatballs I’ve made!
    So tender and delicious!
    Thank you….I am a fan!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      October 7, 2023

      So glad you loved the recipe!

      Reply

  • Charlie Stevens
    September 8, 2023

    My family likes bigger meatballs – can this recipe work the same but maybe just double the size? I understand it will yield less.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      September 8, 2023

      Hi Charlie! Yes, you can increase their size but you’ll need to experiment with the cooking time. The internal temperature reaches 160˚F.

      Reply

  • Jim
    September 8, 2023

    Hi Natasha – do you think the meatballs can be prepped ahead of time and kept in the fridge until ready to sautee or bake? Would love to assemble in the morning and leave in the fridge so come dinner time we can just pop onto the stove or into the oven.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 9, 2023

      Hi Jim, Meatballs are great for make-ahead dinners and meal planning because they can be frozen cooked or uncooked.

      Reply

  • Steve V.
    September 2, 2023

    Congratulations on being named The Meatball Queen by Vincenzo Prosperi for this recipe! Can’t wait to try it!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 3, 2023

      Wow, thank you! I hope it becomes your new favorite.

      Reply

  • Marianne Wertz
    September 2, 2023

    Just made the meatballs. Thanks for your easy recipe. I meshed your recipe with my mother’s which is just a couple differences. Heavenly, is all my husband and I can say. I’ve been following you for years and have made several recipes.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      September 2, 2023

      You’re very welcome, Marianne! Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

    • Marilyn
      October 4, 2023

      can you tell us what you added or did differently? These are soooo good can’t Imagin them getting any better.

      Reply

  • Sharina
    August 29, 2023

    These meatballs are irresistible! They are packed with rich flavors and they are easy to make. Highly recommended!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 29, 2023

      Hi Sharina! So glad to hear that you love the recipe. Thank you for the wonderful review.

      Reply

  • jess
    August 29, 2023

    I love seared sides and the juicy inside, I cannot thank you enough for sharing this amazing recipe

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 29, 2023

      You’re so welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Jess!

      Reply

  • Jessica
    August 29, 2023

    Meatballs are a family favorite around here and these did not disappoint! Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 29, 2023

      You’re welcome, Jessica! I’m glad it’s a favorite.

      Reply

  • Melinda
    August 29, 2023

    Hi Natasha, I made these yummy meatballs yesterday, and they disappeared before my eyes, well I’m going to make Teriyaki meatballs with rice and another day meatballs and mashed potatoes & gravy. You have the best recipe ever. Thank you so much for the Great Recipes and You are Awesome and my Favorite Teacher in the kitchen!!!!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 29, 2023

      Hi Melinda! That’s wonderful. I’m so glad you are enjoying the recipes. Thank you for the wonderful feedback.

      Reply

  • Sandra Mendenhall
    August 24, 2023

    After so many recipes of meatballs I decided to try yours!
    Wow ! I have loads of Elk burger ,I decided to use that instead and also used Jimmy Dean Italian sausage it was just what I wanted in meatballs.
    With Elk I sprinkled with lemon just to remove some of the gamie taste, I also use Jimmy Dean sausage it has less fat but enough for the Elk burger. Great recipe! My freezer has plenty for the winter done with my sealer.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 24, 2023

      That’s wonderful. Sandra! Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

  • Anahera Sebi
    May 16, 2023

    Hey again!! I have a question. Why exactly do we have to poke the potatoes with a fork? Would be great if you could explain why. Thx

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 16, 2023

      A potato is composed mainly of water, so poking them helps release steam as it cooks.

      Reply

  • Debra
    April 29, 2023

    Halved this recipe and made it with 1.25 lbs of ground beef today. OMG! We had the most fabulous meatball parm sandwiches with these! This recipe is a keeper!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 29, 2023

      That’s great, Debra! So glad you loved it. 🙂

      Reply

  • Chris
    April 22, 2023

    I would love to make these meatballs! My hubby has to have gluten-free recipe. Could these be made with gluten-free bread? Has anyone tried this? Always love Natasha’s recipes!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 22, 2023

      Hi Chris, I haven’t tried that substitution, but I imagine it would still work out. If you experiment, I would love to know how it works out.

      Reply

  • Ande
    March 11, 2023

    These have become a family favorite! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 11, 2023

      That is the best when the family loves what we parent make. That’s so great!

      Reply

  • Danny
    February 14, 2023

    Hey Natasha,
    Can you substitute bread crumbs for the bread? how much should I use? Also, I would like to use more than 1 lb of beef and no pork. How should I change the recipe? Thank You.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 14, 2023

      Hi Danny! Bread crumbs give a similar effect and can be substituted. I haven’t tried that specifically to advise on the amount. Most breadcrumbs packages have a ratio on their packaging or you can do a google search for the ratio. I hope you love this recipe!

      Reply

  • Lisa
    February 3, 2023

    Hi Natasha. Could you use ground chicken instead?
    Only meat my husband can eat is chicken

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 3, 2023

      Hi Lisa! That could work, but chicken meat is leaner so it may not be as juicy.

      Reply

  • Shelley
    December 20, 2022

    Made these for the first time today. I doubled everything in the recipe and found them to be bland. It was too much pork in my opinion & really need more seasoning. Pan frying sounds like the best cook method since in the oven they are colorless. I did not broil as suggested at the end. But I did a small batch in my air fryer oven (air roast setting of 375 for about 15 mins) & those looked way more appetizing. I wish I had read the reviews before making because I would have used milk instead of water with the bread.

    Reply

    • Carol
      January 2, 2023

      I probably wouldn’t double a recipe when doing it for the first time. I made them as directed (I might have used more garlic as my cloves were huge- not a problem for my family) and my family was very satisfied. Thank you Natasha- I made them 2 days ago and tonight doing another version with hot sausage. Happy New Year everyone!

      Reply

  • Adele
    December 19, 2022

    Best meatballs I have ever had. The taste was delicious and soft. I will use this recipe from now on.
    Thank you.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 19, 2022

      I’m so glad to hear that, Adele! Thank you.

      Reply

  • Taylor Rowden
    December 6, 2022

    Hi there could you use wheat bread instead of white as well?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 6, 2022

      Hi Taylor, yes, that should be fine.

      Reply

  • Mary Ward
    December 2, 2022

    I made your meatballs and they were absolutely delicious. Threw my old recipe away😋😋

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 2, 2022

      That’s great, Mary! I’m so glad you found this recipe.

      Reply

As Featured On

Never Go "Hangry" Again!

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