How To Make Meatballs

For most Italian families, spaghetti and meatballs are a no-fuss dish that graces the family dinner table at least once a week. But the tricky thing about learning how to make meatballs is that everyone has a different idea of how they should be prepared. Large or small? Fried in a pan or simmered in tomato sauce? The sky’s the limit!
The important thing is that you start with a good base–quality cuts of meat, good binding ingredients, and a delicious blend of spices. If you’re ready to learn how to make meatballs that will make your nonna proud, try our simple recipe for Sunday Sauce Meatballs.

Downshot of meatballs with red sauce on white plate

Here’s what you’ll need:


How to Make Meatballs From Scratch

Of course we know you can follow a recipe. But this post is going to walk you through the each step of making meatballs, from choosing ingredients to cooking them to perfection. Just make sure you leave room for a second helping–because these meatballs will leave you wanting more!

  1. Choose a quality cut of meat. When you’re shopping for ingredients, make sure you choose meat with a decent amount of fat. While it’s tempting to reach for leaner cuts of beef, veal, or pork, keep in mind that higher fat content will increase the moisture in your meatballs.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  3. Cut your stale bread into chunks using any method you like: chop it with a knife, tear it into small pieces, or pulse it in the food processor.

  4. In a large bowl, create your binder (or panade as they might say in Italy) by combining the bread with milk and beaten eggs. This adds moisture to your meatballs and prevents the meat protein from getting too tough. Once you mix these ingredients, allow them to sit until the bread absorbs the liquid.

  5. Combine your spices in a small bowl and then add them to the binder.

  6. Add your beef, veal, and pork to the bowl and mix all the ingredients together. A wooden spoon works fine, but digging in with your bare hands is even better. This allows you to feel when the ingredients are combined and avoid overworking the meat.

  7. Roll your meatballs and place them a few inches apart on a baking sheet. Keep in mind that this recipe makes about 40 medium-sized meatballs.

  8. Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes. Not sure if they’re done? Use a meat thermometer or cut a meatball open to make sure it’s cooked through.

  9. Heat one jar of DeLallo Pomodoro Fresco Roasted Garlic Sauce in a large saucepan.

  10. Add the cooked meatballs to the pan of sauce and serve over a pile of spaghetti.

More Tips for Making Meatballs

While it’s great to follow a recipe, it’s also fun to experiment with meatballs. Want to create your signature meatball? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Almost any ground meat will do.  While it’s great to follow a recipe, it’s also fun to experiment with meatballs. Want to create your signature meatball? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Always use a binder. Meatballs need something to help hold them together. Most people use a combination of bread and milk–and we do, too. The trick is to make sure your bread is moist when you add it to the meat. If you don’t have bread on hand, you can use store-bought breadcrumbs or even crushed crackers. Milk is used in most meatball recipes, but it’s not unheard of to use yogurt thinned with water or buttermilk to add moisture, too.

Don’t overwork the meat. When you’re mixing your meatballs, don’t overdo it! This can make the meat tough and dry. As soon as the ingredients are combined, stop mixing and start rolling your meatballs.

Sear, bake, or simmer? These are the three main options when it comes to cooking your meatballs–and it all depends on preference. If you sear your meatballs, simply add a bit of oil to a pan and cook them on the stovetop. You can also bake them in the oven before adding them to sauce or soup. Or simply brown the meatballs on the stovetop or in the oven and then finish them off in a pot of sauce. Have fun with it!

Check out our favorite meatball recipes!