Chef John’s Italian Meatballs

This Italian meatball recipe is very easy to make, and since we skip the messy step of pan-frying the meatballs, it becomes downright simple. Here I use a standard half-beef/half-pork mixture. Once the meatballs are baked, add them to your favorite prepared tomato sauce and simmer for 1 to 2 hours.


  • ⅓ cup plain bread crumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes


  1. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Soak bread crumbs in milk in a small bowl for 20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking and stirring until onion is very tender, about 15 minutes more.

  3. Gently stir beef and pork together in a large bowl. Add onions, bread crumb mixture, eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper, Italian herb seasoning, and red pepper flakes; mix together using a rubber spatula until combined. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour.

  4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

  5. Form mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter; arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

  6. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

More About This Recipe:

Chef John’s Italian meatballs are tender, juicy, and oh-so flavorful. They’re baked instead of fried, so cleanup is breeze. 

How to Make Italian Meatballs

You’ll find a detailed ingredient list and step-by-step instructions in the Italian meatball recipe above, but let’s go over the basics:

Italian Meatball Ingredients

These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this Italian meatball recipe: 

  • Bread crumbs: Use store-bought bread crumbs or make your own at home. 
  • Milk: Milk adds moisture, ensuring the meatballs don’t dry out during the cooking process. 
  • Onion: An onion lends bold flavor. 
  • Meat: You’ll need a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground pork. 
  • Egg: An egg adds moisture and helps bind the meatballs together. 
  • Cheese: For the most delicious results, grate your own Parmesan cheese.
  • Seasonings: The meatballs are seasoned with fresh parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper, dried Italian herb seasoning, and red pepper flakes. 

How Do You Make Italian Meatballs?

Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect when you make homemade Italian meatballs: 

  1. Cook the onion. 
  2. Mix all the ingredients together. Cove and chill. 
  3. Form the mixture into balls. 
  4. Bake the meatballs in the preheated oven.

What to Serve With Italian Meatballs

Chef John suggests serving the Italian meatballs with homemade tomato sauce and polenta. They also work well as an appetizer, in a sandwich, or served over mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles.

How to Store Italian Meatballs

Store your leftover Italian meatballs in a shallow, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Can You Freeze Italian Meatballs?

Yes, Italian meatballs freeze well. Flash freeze the cooked meatballs on a baking sheet for a few hours or up to overnight, then transfer the frozen meatballs to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to three months.

If you prefer, you can also freeze the meatballs before cooking. You can easily cook them from-frozen on the stove whenever you want to whip up a quick dish.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

“The meatballs are wonderful,” raves Andrea Wojack. “We are kicking ourselves that we didn’t make a double batch! But how could we know they’d be so full of flavor, so juicy, so tender?”

“This is my go-to meatball recipe,” says one Allrecipes community member. “The meatballs come out perfectly each and every time that I make them. They bake perfectly and I believe that refrigerating the mixed ingredients is the key. The texture is perfect and the flavor is delicious.”

“These meatballs are the best I ever made,” according to Kay. “My husband loved them. I used an ice cream scoop to make them and they were a perfect size. The texture was very moist and they had great flavor.”

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