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easy italian meatball recipe

Here’s an easy Italian meatball recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation, although I made one minor variation which I mention below.   It’s a recipe that lends itself to the truly classic Italian meatball.   Simple ingredients, lots of flavor, and easy to make!   

What Makes This an Easy Meatball Recipe? 

This recipe does not use a zillion ingredients!  No true Italian recipe needs a ton of ingredients to make it taste good.   Prep time is quick, quantities are flexible.   You probably have all the ingredietns already on hand, and from start to finish this can be ready in about an hour – half of which is mostly unattended. 

This meatball version (and I have multiple recipes for meatballs) starts with lightly frying the meatballs then finishing them up in the oven.   If you prefer an all bake no fry version, I’ve got you covered with this all beef all bake meatball recipe here.  

This recipe adds in Romano cheese as an ingredient, a suggestion I incorporated from my Sicilian mother-in-law.   Is it necessary?  No, but I still recommend it. 🙂 

The recipe will produce about 10-12 medium size meatballs.  Need more meatballs but can’t do a double batch?  Just make them a tad smaller and you’ll be just fine! 

Here’s the recipe!   

PS: Keep reading below the recipe for some of my personal tips and insight into making these super easy meatballs (like why you DON’T need to use pork!). 

Meatballs - Easy & Classic version

Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef organic preferred
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2-3 finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. In large bowl mix all ingredients evently

  2. Form into meatballs

  3. Heat frying pan with olive oil on medium-high heat

  4. Add meatballs a few at a time

  5. Let them brown and then move around to brown all sides (about 5-8 minutes total). Don't let them burn. 

  6. When ready remove to an oven safe dish and bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes until fully cooked through.  

Recipe Notes

  1. The larger the frying pan the more meatballs you can fry and that saves time.  I use my 5.5qt Cuisinart saute pan which I bought from Amazon years ago. 
  2. Make enough to place in a freezer safe container to freeze and use for another day. 
  3. If making an big pot of Italian sauce, add the meatballs in the sauce which helps flavor the sauce.  Some people add the meatballs into the sauce without the baking step - this is fine as long as the meatballs have time (as in hours) to cook while the sauce is cooking and at a high enough temp to fully cook the meat. 
  4. Romano has more flavor than Parmesan cheese, so I always use Romano.  If Parm is all you have go with that. 

Tips for Making a Classic yet Easy Meatball

Here are some of my tips I’d like share that may be helpful to those who are new to cooking, or not confident in their cooking skills.    

  1. First, making meatballs is like making a meatloaf.  There are different versions and variations but it’s still a meatball.   Some people like to add in a bunch of Italian herbs and seasonings, others don’t. 
  2. Experiment!   Experiment to find what you like the best.  Try adding in some dried basil (about 1/4 cup), or some oregano.   If you have those herbs fresh from the garden, use fresh herbs.  
  3. Quality of ingredients is key.    If you use ingredients that lack flavor (such as generic store brand Italian cheese), your meatball won’t be as good as it could be, and you may be disappointed.   Regarding the meat, don’t go too lean.  A good 85/15 is good.  You want the meat to have some fat.   If you are determined to go very lean, I’d recommend reading my How to Make a Moist All-Beef Meatball post here.  Full recipe included. 
  4. You don’t really need to add in extra salt as the cheese will have it’s own saltiness.  
  5. Make extra!  You can do two batches and save one in the freezer for later.  Store in smaller containers or freezer ziplock bags.   Mark the bags with today’s date and try to use them within 6 months (which is never a problem in my house!). 

Using a Mix of Meats for a Meatball

My family has never used the typical three-meat meatball (beef, pork, veal).   Most restaurants use pork because it’s cheaper, fattier, and makes a good filler.  If you’re making your own meatballs, YOU control the quality of ingredients.   

Keep in mind grass-fed beef is often leaner than non-grass beef, so again check out my moist meatball recipe for some tips on how to get around this.  If you want to learn the health benefits of grass-fed beef, check out this blog post on the Verde Farms website.   

Enjoy the recipe!

Liz from Simple Italian Cooking!

 

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