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Our favorite tried-and-true Meatball Recipe! These Italian meatballs are tender, flavorful and easy enough to make on a weeknight. They make the best spaghetti and meatballs!
Meatballs, like Lasagna or Chicken Parmesan, are one of those classic dinner recipes that never goes out of style.
If making meatballs sounds difficult or time-consuming, just wait until you see how quick and easy these homemade meatballs are to prepare. This comfort food favorite makes a simple meal feel like a special occasion.
Baking meatballs in the oven means less mess and less work. There’s no need to flip them as they cook and and you can get the rest of the meal together while the meatballs bake.
They bake up quickly, so you can have them ready in less than 30 minutes start to finish.
We like to serve these baked meatballs with homemade marinara sauce and spaghetti, plus garlic bread and an Italian salad on the side. They also make delicious meatball sandwiches.
Tips for the Best Meatballs
- Use ground beef with some fat. It’s best to use 80% or 85% ground beef instead of leaner ground beef for meatballs. Some fat makes the meatballs moist and tender, not dry.
- Use fresh garlic and onion for the best flavor. Fresh onion adds moisture, but be sure to chop it finely.
- Season well. In addition to fresh garlic and onion, this meatball recipe uses Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Add some cheese. Grated Parmesan cheese brings another layer of flavor.
- Don’t overwork the meat mixture, or your meatballs may turn out tough. Mix until the ingredients are just combined. It’s best to mix by hand.
- Add fresh herbs, if desired. My kids are wary of bits of green herbs in their meatballs, but if you have some on hand you can add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley to this meatball recipe.
Meatball Recipe Ingredients
- Egg: An egg helps to bind the meat mixture together.
- Onion & Garlic: Fresh onion and garlic provide flavor and moisture.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs help to bind the meatballs together. I prefer Panko breadcrumbs because the larger crumb pieces trap more moisture in the meatballs, making them juicier.
- Parmesan Cheese: Grated Parmesan cheese adds delicious flavor.
- Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder, Salt & Pepper: These seasonings make the meatballs irresistibly flavorful.
- Ground Beef: For best results, use 80% or 85%, not lean, ground beef. Some fat in the meat provides moisture and flavor.
Find the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
How to Make Meatballs
- Beat the egg with 2 tablespoons water.
- Add the minced onion, garlic, Panko, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Use a fork to mix until well combined.
- Mix in the ground beef until just combined.
- Shape into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and place on a greased rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake at 450° F until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.
How to Cook Meatballs
I prefer to bake meatballs in the oven because it is less messy, easier and healthier than pan frying them. If you prefer to brown the meatballs in a skillet on the stove, you can heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Use enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Brown the meatballs on all sides and then transfer them to a pot of marinara sauce at a low simmer. Continue cooking the meatballs in the sauce until they reach at least 160° F.
To cook meatballs in the slow cooker, you’ll first want to bake the meatballs in the oven or pan fry them on the stove. This step browns the meatballs and gives them the best texture and flavor. Then you can transfer the meatballs to a slow cooker with marinara sauce and cook on low for 4-8 hours.
How to Bake Meatballs
First, preheat your oven to 450° F. A high oven temperature helps to sear the outsides of the meatballs and seal in the juices. Bake them on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drippings, and be sure to grease the baking sheet to prevent sticking. I do not use parchment paper because it is usually only oven safe to 425° F.
Meatballs will take about 10-12 minutes to cook in the oven. They are done when the centers register at least 160° F on an instant read thermometer.
After baking, the meatballs are ready to serve as is, or you can simmer them in a pot of marinara sauce on the stove. The meatballs will add more flavor to the sauce as it simmers.
Storage & Reheating Instructions
Meatballs can be made ahead, baked, and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat meatballs in a pot of simmering marinara sauce on the stove over medium low heat. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.
Once baked and cooled, meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat in a pot of marinara sauce set over medium low heat on the stove.
More Meatball Recipes
- canola oil, for greasing the baking sheet
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup very finely minced yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound ground beef, 80 or 85% lean is best
- Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with canola oil.
- Place egg and water in a large mixing bowl and beat them together with a fork.
- Add the minced onion, garlic, Panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Use the fork to mix well.
- Add the ground beef and mix until just combined. Try not to over-mix or the meatballs may turn out tough.
- Use your hands to shape the meat mixture into 1 ½-inch meatballs and place on the greased baking sheet.
- Bake meatballs 10-12 minutes, until they are cooked through. Meatballs should register at least 160° F on an instant read thermometer. Serve meatballs with spaghetti and marinara sauce, or as desired.
- Leftover baked meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or, freeze baked meatballs in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat meatballs in a pot of marinara sauce set over medium low heat on the stove.
Lovely! They sound not only tasty, but also super quick & easy. I like your very clear instructions, as to the size of the meatballs & how many meatballs the recipe will yield. I’m planning to make these meatballs over the weekend, & serve them with Cheese Stuffed Shells w/my homemade Marinara Sauce, & a huge copycat Olive Garden Salad. For us, no bread will be needed with this meal. Thank you, Kristine. Your recipes are always a hit with us. ?
Your menu sounds delicious! I hope you enjoy the meatballs.