Nonna’s Italian meatballs are my go to meatball recipe. It yields tender, juicy results that are full of amazing flavor. Your family will beg for these with spaghetti or in sandwiches!
Is there anything better than a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs?
It’s comfort food at its finest and a staple in our house.
But there is a catch, of course.
For it to reach its full potential, the meatballs have to be spot on.
My husband’s Nonna’s recipe always turns out delicious results.
What makes a good Italian meatball?
A good Italian meatball should have a few components.
First, the meat should include a mixture of ground beef and pork for ultimate flavor and the best texture.
This recipe uses a 50/50 ground beef and ground pork.
Because we are using such a flavorful mix of meat, it doesn’t need to be heavily seasoned.
In fact, we keep the seasonings simple.
And lastly, any Italian meatball worth it’s salt will have egg in the mix.
We want tender, juicy meatballs – not bricks.
For this recipe, you need:
- Ground beef- lean ground beef is best
- Ground pork- you can also use sweet or hot ground Italian sausage
- Bread crumbs- We love to make homemade breadcrumbs from frozen loafs of sourdough that we toast up for croutons. No sourdough to make breadcrumbs from? Use stale ciabatta instead.
- Beef broth- For moisture and extra richness. You could substitute milk if desired.
- Olive oil
- Onion- diced white onion
- Eggs- to bind everything together and add more moisture
- Garlic- fresh garlic cloves that you’ve pressed give the best flavor and texture
- Spices- Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
- Parmesan cheese- optional but highly recommended
How to Make
Cover a large baking sheet by covering it in tinfoil and lightly spray it with non stick cooking spray.
Then set aside the prepared baking sheet.
Now soak the bread crumbs in the broth.
To do this, add the bread crumbs and broth to a small bowl, stir, and let them sit for 10-15 minutes until they’ve soaked up the liquid.
While the breadcrumbs soak, cook the onions until they soften by adding the olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add the onions, tossing them to coat, and cook until they become translucent.
Once the onions have softened and cooled, add the meats, onions, prepared breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and cheese to a large bowl.
Then, use your hands and mix everything up until evenly mixed throughout the way you would mix up meatloaf.
Then shape the meat mixture into meatballs, each approximately 1 1/2″.
Place them evenly out onto the prepared baking sheet until all the meat mixture’s been used.
Bake the meatballs at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
The meatballs are done when they have cooked through and there’s no pink left in the center.
Tips and Tricks
- Add the cooked meatballs to homemade marinara sauce and let them simmer for at least 45 minutes. The longer the cooked meatballs simmer in the sauce- the better the result.
- I make homemade breadcrumbs from loaves of sourdough bread that I cube up and turn into homemade croutons by tossing with olive oil and baking in the oven. Then I pulse the croutons in the food processor to finely crumble them. The result is worth the extra step.
- Want to make a fancier version of this affordable meatball? My Italian father-in-law swears by using ground veal in place of ground beef. They are truly a delicacy and perfect for special occasions.
Can I freeze homemade meatballs?
Yes. They freeze very well.
To freeze, don’t add them to sauce and let them cool completely.
Once cool, transfer them to a freezer safe sealed bag and put them in the freezer.
They should last for 3-4 months.
To reheat them, you can either spread the frozen balls out on a baking tray and bake until warmed through or let them simmer in sauce.
How long will they last in the fridge?
In an airtight container, they will be good for 4-5 days in the fridge.
Using Homemade Meatballs
Nonna’s Italian meatballs are one of my family’s favorite meals.
Make them now and enjoy them in any one of these delicious recipes:
- Curried Tortellini Meatball Soup
- French Onion Meatball Sub Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs Soup
- Meatball Quesadillas
If you’ve tried Nonna’s ITALIAN MEATBALLS, or any other recipe on the site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!
Nonna's Italian Meatballs
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/2-3/4 cup bread crumbs
- scant 1/2 cup low sodium beef broth can substitute milk
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white onion minced
- 2 eggs
- 4 cloves garlic pressed
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese optional
- Prepare a large baking sheet by covering it in tinfoil. This will make cleanup a breeze. Lightly spray it with non stick cooking spray, and set aside.
- Add the bread crumbs and broth to a small bowl, stir, and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. Just until they've soaked up the liquid.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet, and heat over medium high heat. Add the onions, tossing them to coat, and cook until the onions are soft and have become translucent.
- To a large mixing bowl add the meats, onions (once cool enough to touch), prepared bread crumbs, eggs, garlic, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and cheese (if using).
- Just like with a meatloaf, use your hands and mix everything up until evenly mixed throughout. This may take anywhere from 2-5 minutes, but make sure everything's evenly incorporated.
- Continue using your hands to form the meat mixture into meatballs, each approximately 1 1/2". Place them evenly out onto the prepared baking sheet until all the meat mixture's been used.
- Bake the meatballs at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until all the meatballs have cooked through and there's no pink left in the center.