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Authentic Italian Meatballs Recipe

One of the most famous Italian dish are Polpette, juice and tasty, and we will teach you how to make this authentic Italian meatballs.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

These authentic Italian meatballs are juicy, flavorful and they only take 10 minutes to make. Serve the baked meatballs with tomato sauce or enjoy them plain, they are delicious either way!

After you try these homemade Italian meatballs, you will never use another meatball recipe ever again. These meatballs are just too delicious! These tender meatballs melt in your mouth and are surprisingly easy to make. It is amazing how a few simple ingredients can turn into such a delicious meal.

meatballs and parmigiano reggiano

Easy Italian Meatballs

Meatballs and sauce have been a classic Italian meal for centuries. Different regions throughout Italy have their own take on this traditional dish but the spaghetti and meatballs that you know and love likely came from Southern Italy. According to Wikipedia, the first documented spaghetti and meatballs recipe was published in 1888 but people have been eating juicy meatballs smothered in a delicious sauce for so much longer.

While meatballs may not be a new food, they are one that needs to be made with care. You don’t need too many crazy, complicated ingredients to make good meatballs. Our perfect Italian meatballs are made with high-quality, flavorful ingredients mixed together in just the right way. Then, they are baked to perfection, making them golden brown and juicy. This classic meatball recipe is traditional yet still exciting enough to make your whole family run to the table. These are the best Italian meatballs you will ever eat!

Ingredients for Italian Meatballs

Here is a quick look at the ingredients you will need to make juicy Italian meatballs. The exact quantities are listed below but it is always a good idea to read about the ingredients you will need so you can prepare.

  • Italian Bread crumbs – Italian seasoned bread crumbs are great because they already have a fantastic mix of seasonings. You don’t need to purchase Italian seasoning if you already have the pre-seasoned bread crumbs!

  • Heavy cream – Heavy cream adds a rich taste to the meatballs and makes them nice and tender.

  • Ground beef – Use lean ground beef that doesn’t contain too much fat.

  • Ground pork – A blend of beef and pork makes the meat mixture especially flavorful and complex.

  • Onion– White onion is the best for meatballs but red onion or Vidalia onion will also work perfectly.

  • Fresh garlic – If you do not have garlic cloves, use pre-minced garlic from the grocery store. Fresh garlic is much more flavorful than garlic powder and best for meatballs.

  • Eggs – Eggs help bind the meatballs together as they bake, preventing them from crumbling.

  • Salt and pepper

  • Grated parmesan cheese – Freshly grated parmesan cheese is deliciously baked into meatballs. No one can resist cheesy meatballs! Grated cheese in meatball recipes a must.

  • Freshly chopped parsley – Fresh parsley may seem like a small ingredient but it packs a big punch of Italian flavor.

  • Freshly chopped basil – You can’t make Italian meatballs without fresh basil!

meatballs in a oven proof container


This authentic meatball recipe is perfect exactly as it is written but you may need an ingredients substitution or variation. Here are a few things that will work well.

  • Use a blend of ground beef, pork, and veal. Ground turkey and ground Italian sausage will also be great! Using a mix of meats really helps the meatballs have an intense flavor.

  • Use grated pecorino romano cheese or even grated cheddar cheese in the meatballs. Any kind of grated cheese will be delicious and switch up the flavor.

  • Make fresh breadcrumbs using old bread. Dry out the bread then put the crusty bread into a food processor. Pulse until the breadcrumbs are nice and small.

  • Use cooking spray to grease the prepared baking sheet instead of olive oil. A parchment-lined baking sheet does not necessarily need to be greased but it will help make the bottoms of the meatballs nicely browned.

    meatballs cooked in the oven

How to Make an Authentic Italian Meatball

Here is a quick look at how to make this easy meatball recipe. The best meatballs ever are just minutes away!

  1. Prepare: Preheat your oven and line a baking sheet tray with parchment paper. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over the parchment paper and set aside.

  2. Mix: Add the breadcrumbs and heavy cream to a large bowl. Let the mix sit for about 5 minutes so the breadcrumbs absorb the cream. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and blend well.

*Pro Tip: Use your hands to blend the meatball mixture. This is the best way to mix the ingredients evenly. Plus, it is how all Italian grandmas make meatballs! You have to get your hands right in there and mix up those Italian meatball ingredients!

person mashing the mince meat for the meatballs

  1. Scoop and roll: Use an ice cream scoop to scoop the meat mix into evenly sized-balls. Roll the meatballs with your hands then place them on the prepared baking tray.

  2. Bake: Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes. Cook meatballs until the internal temperature of the meatball should be 165 degrees F. The juice on the tray should be clear and the bottoms of the meatballs should be browned.

  3. Enjoy: Serve the cooked meatballs with your favorite pasta sauce and spaghetti!

raw meatballs ready to be cooked

How To Pan Fry Meatballs

While baking meatballs is extremely easy and delicious, you can also pan-fry these meatballs on the stove top. Both cooking methods work well, but frying is a little more hands-on and requires more attention than simply popping them into the oven. If you do want to cook your meatballs on the stovetop, here is how to do it!

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Make the meatballs according to the recipe then place them in the hot pan.

  2. Brown the meatballs on each side for about 2-3 minutes. The browned meatballs should look crispy on the outside but they will still be raw in the center.

  3. Add about 2-3 cups of your favorite prepared tomato sauce to the pan. Bring the marinara sauce to a simmer then cook the meatballs for 15 minutes.

  4. Enjoy the meatballs and sauce while hot.

meatballs in a skillet

How to Store Leftover Meatballs

If you happen to have leftover meatballs, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Meatballs will keep for about 3-4 days in the fridge. Reheat the meatballs in the microwave or toss them into hot simmering sauce to cook.

You can also make these easy, flavorful meatballs and then freeze them. Bake meatballs as directed in the recipe then freeze them in an airtight container or zippered freezer bag. The frozen meatballs will keep for about three months. Having a freezer full of homemade meatballs means you have a perfect, quick Sunday dinner, ready to go!

For another delicious Italian main dish check out our Brasato al Barolo recipe, you want to have this recipe in your repertory.

Authentic Italian Meatballs Recipe recipe Feature Image - 1390x600

Authentic Italian Meatball Recipe

This is the recipe of the real meatballs, exactly following the steps of how the Italian grandmas use to make them, save it for future reference and make your family taste buds explode with pleasure.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 270 kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped


  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet tray with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the heavy cream and breadcrumbs together.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix well. Use your hands to really rub all of the ingredients together.
  • Scoop the meatballs into two-inch balls and roll them together with your hands.
  • Place the meatballs on the prepared tray and bake for 20 minutes. The meatballs will look juicy but the bottoms will be golden browned. The internal temperature of the meatballs will be 165 degrees F.
  • Enjoy the meatballs with your favorite sauce and pasta or serve them as an appetizer.
Keyword Meatballs, Polpette

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the food images displayed on this website are for illustrative purposes only. They do not represent the actual dishes or presentations you might achieve when following our recipes. While we strive to inspire your culinary journey, the appearance of your dishes may vary.

Frequent Asked Questions

Traditional Italian meatballs are made with ground meat, eggs, milk or cream, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. Grated cheese is pretty common in meatballs and some people even put pieces of provolone cheese or mozzarella cheese in the center of each meatball.

Italian style meatballs tend to be smaller than American meatballs. They are more compact and tightly rolled into smooth balls. American meatballs, on the other hand, are often roughly shaped meatballs that are large and take longer to cook.

Gordon Ramsay makes his meatballs using a blend of ground pork and ground beef. He seasons his meatballs with the classic Italian ingredients but also adds chili powder to the mix. He also simmers his meatballs in homemade marinara sauce rather than baking them. This method makes the meatballs juicy and a little spicy.

Sicilian meatballs are made with the classic meatball ingredients but with the addition of raisins and pignoli nuts. This makes the meatballs a little bit sweet and a little bit crunchy.

Meatballs find their way into many dishes in Italy. Meatballs can be served over pasta with tomato sauce, cooked in soup, or eaten as an appetizer. Italian servings of meatballs will vary depending on where in the country you go!

Using egg in a meatball recipe will help make them firm. As eggs cook, they coagulate and become firm. They bind the ingredients together and make firm meatballs that will hold their shape when cooked.

Adding cream or milk to the recipe will make the meatballs tender and soft. The extra fat in the cream keeps them juicy and tender as they bake.

There are so many different types of meatballs in the world! From Swedish meatballs to barbecue meatballs, meatball casserole to meatball sauce, the possibilities are endless! Read this article about all the different types of meatballs from around the world.

It is best to use both eggs and milk when making meatballs. The milk or heavy cream will make the meatballs tender and juicy while the egg will bind all of the ingredients together. Use both for the best meatballs ever!

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