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How To Cook Perfect Meatballs

Updated on January 23, 2010


  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 1/4 lb. Ground Pork*
  • 1/4 lb. Ground Veal*
  • 3 Whole Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Unseasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Diced White Onion
  • 3 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 2 tbsp. Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1 tbsp. Chopped Fresh Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Crushed Red Chili Flake**
  • 1 tbsp. Sea or Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil

* Ground beef can be subsituted for pork and veal if desired.

**Crushed red chili flake can be left out for unspicy meatballs.

Step 1) In a medium sauce-pan, bring your olive oil up to a medium-high heat then add your diced onion and minced garlic. Cook them, stirring frequently, for about two minutes or until the edges of the diced onions just start to turn golden-brown. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to another cool pan or plate. Set in the fridge to cool off while you do step 2.

Step 2) In a large mixing bowl, using your hands, mix together the ground beef, pork and veal, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, chili flake and salt. Once mixed, add the cooled-off onion and garlic.

Step 3) Using your hands, grab about 1 to 4 ounces of the mixture and roll into a ball. Repeat this step (keeping the size of the meatballs uniform) until the entire mixture is used. You should get about 25 - 32 one ounce meatballs, or 8 four ounce meatballs.

Step 4) For authentic Italian meatballs, do not fry or bake! Simply drop the meatballs carefully (to avoid splashing) into your favorite marinara sauce and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about an hour or until the internal temperature of the meatballs are 165 degrees. If preferred, you can fry the meatballs or bake them in the oven to get a golden-brown crust, but you'll run the risk of dried-out meatballs.

Step 5) However you decide to cook them, make sure to serve with plenty of your favorite marinara sauce and some good crusty bread! Uncooked, they'll keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or they can be frozen for up to 3 months. Cooked, they should last in the fridge for up to a week. This recipe will feed about 8 people (depending on how hungry you are!)

Tips on making Perfect Meatballs

  • If you're finding that your meatballs are turning out dry, try using a gound meat with a higher fat content. Sometimes, leaner meats have a tendency to dry out while cooking.
  • Another way to avoid dried-out meatballs is to mix the bread crumbs with a tablespoon of milk before adding to the mixture. Some bread crumbs will absorb moisture from the meat causing chewy or dried-out meatballs, but adding milk to the crumbs "de-activates" the bread crumb's absorbancy.
  • Don't over-mix the ground meat mixture. The more you mix the meatball mixture, the denser the end result will be. You want all the ingredients to be evenly mixed, but it's easy to make too dense of a mixture resulting in "baked rocks."
  • If your meatballs are falling apart while cooking, chances are the ingredients were not diced finely enough. Onions are always the main culprit, but hard bread crumbs and parsley stems can also be to blame. Make sure to finely dice your onions, or even pulse them in a food processor. You'll want them to be no bigger than a piece of rice.
  • When chopping your parsley and oregano, make sure to remove all stems. You don't have to mince the herbs as finely as you do the onion, but stems can cause the meatball to break apart while cooking. Not only that, but oregano stems are bitter and can create an "off-flavor" to your meatballs.
  • Make sure your bread crumbs are not super hard or too large. Sometimes, cheaper bread crumb manufacturers will use end-pieces and crusts to make bread crumbs, and these have a tendency to become super hard when stale. The bread crumbs you use should be consistent in size, crunchy but not hard and should bind well to your ingredients. If not, simply make your own to make sure you're using quality bread crumbs.
  • In a pinch, Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) can be subsituted for regular bread crumbs. They're more expensive though, and not as readily available. However, they do work great in meatball recipes.
  • If cooking the meatballs directly in the sauce, add a bit of water to the sauce if needed to avoid drying out and scorching. Also, stir the sauce frequently but be careful not to break apart the meatballs with your spoon.
  • If you have trouble with the mixture sticking to your hands when rolling the meatballs, keep a bowl of cool water next to you and wet your hands before rolling each meatball. Some ground meat has a high fat content, and will easily stick to a dry hand. Water helps to keep the fat from being able to stick to your hand. Just make sure to use cool water and not hot.


Be sure to check out some of my other great recipes!


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    • Vacation Trip profile image

      Susan 4 years ago from India

      This is simply mouth watering thanks for sharing.

    • TycoonSam profile image

      TycoonSam 5 years ago from Washington, MI

      Great recipe and thanks for all the added tips!

    • profile image

      dolly 5 years ago

      Hi, i was wondering what else could you boil meatballs in? boiling them in the sauce made the sauce dry out..adding water made it loose flavor so i want to boil them in something else then add them to my sauce..

    • profile image

      ralwus 7 years ago

      Ahhh, I like it. I have been using Panko for sometime now in my meatballs with a little milk, no onion. I also like to put a wee bit of tomato paste in and garlic smashed. I don't fry them either. thanks for sharing Chef!

    • Delaney Boling profile image

      Delaney Boling 8 years ago

      Thanks BFP! I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results. I actually wrote this hub as I was prepping these for dinner. There's only the two of us, so I was able to freeze a large batch (these freeze beautifully, by the way), and dinner of course turned out perfect. These also go great on sandwiches. Let me know how yours turn out!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 years ago

      Great recipe. It's funny, I was just thinking about cooking up a batch this week. I will use your recipe. Thanks so much.

    • Delaney Boling profile image

      Delaney Boling 8 years ago

      Hey Dave! I did check out your red sauce recipe (sounds absolutely wonderful!) and I agree that these meatballs would go perfect with it. A little bit of fresh-grated aged parma, some crusty bread and a glass of Barollo Vino... That's Amore!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 8 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Delaney, or is it Chef Delaney, My mouth is watering just reading through this one. I posted my Hub on my Authentic Italian Pasta Sauce. Have you had time to check it out yet?

      Your meatballs and my sauce, wow what a delectible dish that would be.Yum Yum!