Who doesn’t love Italian Meatballs? This meatball recipe is flavourful and a great go-to as a weekday meal – or also perfect for company. This classic comfort food recipe is one I have made for years and for this version of Italian meatballs I personally prefer to use just beef. Many Italian meatball recipes will include beef, pork and sausage – and if you are so inclined – that’s great. I’m just not a huge pork fan so I prefer to keep it simple.
These meatballs are baked which I find is much lighter tasting than frying and a lot less greasy mess to clean up. I always bake these on a cookie sheet using parchment paper – which also makes it super easy to just toss the sheet after baking with very little mess. This recipe usually makes about 20 meatballs. – depending on the size of your meatballs – and it freezes really well. I make the meatballs about 1.5 inches in diameter but if you want to make them larger and serve on their own that works too. I like to make enough for a second meal, as it’s always nice to be able pop the meatballs in the sauce in the freezer to take out on a busy work night.
Once baked the meatballs are then finished simmering in homemade marinara sauce. You could definitely use store-bought sauce, but I prefer homemade as it tends to have a lot less salt and somehow just tastes better knowing you made it. The longer they simmer the more flavour they soak up.
These Italian meatballs are very good on their own with a nice crusty bread – or served with your favourite pasta. Enjoy!
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
- 1 lb extra lean ground beef
- 2 tbsp finely minced or grated onion
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1. tsp pepper
- 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 or 2 dashes hot sauce
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 4 cups home made or store bought marinara sauce (see recipe below if making sauce)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium white onion diced
- 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 1 small carrot finely chopped
- 1 tsp Italian seasonings
- 1 can diced tomatoes (if using low salt tomatoes may need to adjust to taste)
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 dash red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup red wine (or 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar)
- 3 tsp tomato paste
- 1 bottle (700ml) Passata or can of pureed tomatoes
- 1 tsp white sugar or honey (optional but takes out a little of the acidity)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- I usually start off this recipe by setting up a large pot with pre-maded marinara sauce and putting on a low simmer. See instructions below if making sauce.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup combine bread crumbs, milk and grated parmesan cheese until well mixed and then let set aside for about 10 minutes. The milk will absorb the bread crumbs and cheese and expand into a paste that you will later add to the meatball mixture.
- In a separate large bowl combine ground beef, onions, garlic, parsley, Italian seasonings, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and egg. Mix well to ensure it all combined.
- Add the prepared breadcrumb mixture to the meat and blend well. I use my hands to blend the mixture at this point to make sure it's really mixed in well. Once well blended you can start to roll into balls to bake in the oven.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Form meatballs into about 1 1/2 inch balls and place evenly on the sheet. Try to make them all about the same size so they will cook evenly. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. You don't want to overcook so keep an eye on them.
- Remove meatballs from the oven and place them on a paper towel to absorb any excess grease, and then transfer them into the warmed marinara sauce. Let this simmer for about an hour or so on low so meatballs can absorb the flavour of the sauce.
- Serve with crusty bread or over your favourite hot pasta and enjoy!
- Add 2 tbsp of oil olive to large pot and bring to medium heat. Add in diced onion and cook until translucent.
- Toss in garlic and diced carrot and stir evenly and let cook until lightly softened.
- Add in salt, pepper, Italian seasonings, hot pepper flakes and stir.
- Pour in wine or balsamic vinegar and stir. Let simmer for a couple minutes.
- Add diced tomatoes, Passata, and tomato paste and put on low simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool down for a few minutes. You can then puree the mixture with a hand blender until you reach desired consistency. Careful while doing this if it is hot.
- This makes about 6 cups of sauce that you can use immediately or put into separate containers to freeze for later.
- For Marinara sauce - I always prepare this ahead of the meatballs. I usually make a big batch so I can have some in the freezer to pull out for a meal like this. You can also use your favourite store bought sauce.
- Don't over cook the meatballs prior to adding to the sauce. They will continue to cook while simmering in marinara.