This go-to, foolproof basic baked meatballs recipe will quickly become a family favorite. Beautifully browned on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, they are super versatile, with or without sauce.
I’ve been making these baked meatballs for years. A whole lot of years! They are my absolute favorite meatballs! I use them in everything. I also include them in my Sunday Gravy, I use to make Meatballs Parmesana. And they make the BEST meatball sandwiches ever!
The fact is that I’m a sucker for a good meatball. Something extraordinary happens when you mix otherwise dull ground meats with softened bread, herbs, seasonings, and bits of extra ingredients.
So many of my childhood memories involve meatballs. I couldn’t wait to scoop up three or four at a time and put them onto a plate of homemade spaghetti before sinking my teeth into that soft sweet meat spiced with garlic. Much like Authentic Cannelloni or Steak Pizzaiola, just the smell of a pot of Sunday Gravy and baked meatballs simmering on the stove still comforts me and warms me deep inside on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
SAVE THIS BAKED MEATBALLS
TO YOUR MEATBALLS BOARD FOR LATER
LET’S BE FRIENDS ON PINTEREST! WE’RE ALWAYS PINNING TASTY RECIPES!
Baked Meatballs vs. Fried
The reason that meatballs are traditionally fried is to create a crusty exterior and a moist, tender inside, but we found that baking them at a high temper yields the same result! Pan frying meatballs in a skillet create the desired crusty exterior but, it has to be done in batches so it takes a lot longer than our baking method. Frying also creates a mess, splattering oil all over the kitchen – nobody needs that!
At what temperature do you bake meatballs?
Intuitively, you might think that to achieve tender, moist baked meatballs 350 degrees is where you’d set your oven. But for this recipe that is entirely too low! The meatballs need to be baked at a high temperature. 475 Degrees will brown the outside and create the desired “crust” just like a fried meatball. The crust helps to seal in the moisture and keep the meatballs tender and delicate. It also makes them a bit sturdier if you’re adding them to a big pot of sauce.
**WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT THIS RECIPE**
- They’re So Tender and Juicy.
- They’re Loaded with So Much Flavor.
- They Freeze Beautifully.
- They Make Amazing Meatball Sandwiches. One of My All-Time Favorite Foods in the Whole World ♥
Can You Freeze Baked Meatballs?
Yes! And the good news is that they freeze very well! Cooked and cooled meatballs can be stored in an airtight container or in a food storage bag. Both options work well and the meatballs will last up to three months in the freezer. For a fresher taste, try using a vacuum sealer. After storing the meatballs, close the bag or container tightly and label it with a permanent marker indicating what type of meatballs they are and the date they were frozen.
If you want to be able to just grab as many meatballs as you need, you can flash freeze them on a cookie sheet and then transfer them to a freezer bag.
What Do You Serve Oven Baked Meatballs With?
Honestly, for me, just about anything! Baked meatballs in sauce are are an obvious no-brainer. If you don’t have time to make a Sunday Gravy or simple homemade Marinara don’t miss out on these meatballs! They’re really good served even with a commercial premade Marinara sauce. I serve them sliced in a delicious hearty sub sandwich, or in oven baked spaghetti and meatballs or tossed with whatever red sauce I have on hand over a penne pasta. Then, on the side, a Meditteranean Salad rounds out the meal perfectly.
Recipe Notes for Oven Baked Meatballs:
Onions and Garlic: Our recipe is a little unique and different than most because we sauté our aromatics before adding them to the mixture. Instead of the stronger, pungent smell of raw vegetables, you’ll have a sweeter, mellower and smoother flavor. This step also helps marry the flavors in the meatballs. The picture below shows you the size I chop my onions.
My Secret for the Best Ever Baked Meatballs: I’ve got a secret to making the best meatballs ever! You know meatballs that are moist, tender, and of course, not tough. The secret is employing a little French cooking technique known as Panade. It helps food, such as meatballs and meatloaf, maintain their shape and stay moist. A panade just takes those bread crumbs and soaks them in milk to absorb the moisture and distribute it throughout the meat mixture. It’s a fancy term for a really simple process that produces yummy results!
If you look at the baked meatballs Giada makes or the baked meatballs Rachael Ray makes, you’ll notice that they add dry breadcrumbs to their meatballs. I feel that this method works much better. And finally, there are the baked meatballs Jamie Oliver makes, he uses smashed crackers as the binder. Try the Panade. It really works!
Meat Combo: The flavor really is in the fat! A combination of fattier meats (80/20) like beef and pork will yield meatballs that are more tender and more flavorful. When making baked meatballs turkey can also be used, but be careful not to overcook them as they can become tough. When seasoned properly, baked turkey meatballs are delicious.
Sausage: Yes, please remove the casing before mixing the sausage in!
Italian Seasoning: Typically consisting of dried oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage, this is the seasoning I use when I want real Italian flavor. And it’s all in one jar. The exact herb combo will vary between manufacturers. This combo also works well when making turkey meatballs baked in the oven. BTW This is one of the most used jars in my spice rack.
Use Two Rimmed Baking Sheets: Don’t crowd the meatballs on the baking sheet – the space between them is important for even cooking and browning. Spread them out so they have a minimum of 2-2.5 inches between them I use two half-sheet baking trays to make this recipe.
Line Your Baking Sheets: When creating this recipe, I once forgot to line my baking sheets and I sure was sorry! Use foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup. You can thank me later.
Don’t Overwork the Meat: You just want to knead the mixture until it is well combined so your meatballs aren’t tough. The only tool you need for this is at the end of your arm.
Italian Baked Meatballs
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 Cups Onions, Finely Chopped
- 6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
- 4 Slices White Sandwich Bread, Torn into Small Pieces
- 3/4 Cup Whole Milk
- 2 1/2 Pounds Ground Beef, 80/20
- 1/2 Pound Sweet Italian Sausage, Casing Removed
- 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated
- 2 Large Eggs, Lightly Beaten
- 1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 4 Cups Homemade or Commercial Tomato Basil Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil or Parsley, Chopped
- Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 475 degrees.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat, until shimmering. Cook onions until golden and very soft, 10-15 minutes.
- Add garlic, Italian seasoning, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Set aside and cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, add milk and bread and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Mash.
- Add cooled onion mixture, ground beef, sausage, Parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper and knead until ingredients are well combined.
- Form mixture into 2 1/2 inch meatballs (you should have approximately 16 meatballs), place on rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until well browned.
- Transfer meatballs to pot of sauce and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve over cooked pasta and garnish with fresh chopped basil or parsley!
Looking for More Meatball Recipes?
- Mom’s Porcupine Meatballs – These super easy meatballs are made with beef and rice then simmered in a delicious tomato sauce. Always a family favorite!
- BBQ Meatballs – Tender, delicious meatballs smothered in a delicious, sweet homemade BBQ sauce. Easy enough to enjoy for a weeknight meal!
- Cranberry Meatballs – The reason that these meatballs are so popular is simple, really: they’re darn good. The meat has a fantastic seasoning combination, and the meatballs come out tender and flavorful, smothered in a delicious cranberry orange sauce
- Grape Jelly Meatballs – Sweet and hearty grape jelly meatballs make for a classic appetizer or main course! Full-bodied and spicy, these fellas are sure to please the crowd.
- Mexican Meatballs – is the perfect appetizer for any get together. Super delicious, and simple… they’re certain to be a hit!
More Italian Dishes
- Authentic Ragu Bolognese Sauce – is unbelievably rich, has tremendous depth of flavor, and has a sublime, natural sweetness to it, that is amazing!
- Italian Stuffed Peppers– have a meaty stuffing bursting with classic Italian flavors, marinara sauce, and cheese all packaged up in a sweet bell pepper!
- Italian Dressing Chicken- Move over chicken parm, our Italian Dressing Chicken packs in Italian flavors & takes 5 minutes to assemble! Add pasta & veggies for a quick midweek meal!