Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: September 15, 2023

Making traditional Italian meatballs is somewhat of an art form. The meatballs are perfectly round, cooked to perfection, draped in delicious marinara sauce, and placed on steaming spaghetti.

What could be better than this? Our Italian cuisine experts have put together the best traditional Italian meatball recipe in an easy step-by-step format for you to follow.

This Italian meatballs recipe does not take long to make. Making these traditional Italian meatballs requires fresh ingredients to ensure your meatballs have the best taste and come out tender and juicy.

Quick Summary

  • The Italian meatballs recipe involves using three types of ground meat and fresh ingredients for a tender, juicy result.
  • Mixing the meatballs ingredients together by hand is the best method.
  • Meatballs can be stored cooked or raw, refrigerated for up to five days, or frozen for up to three months.

Italian Meatballs Recipe

Italian meatballs on spaghetti bowl

Meatballs are one of the best traditional Italian meals that you can make at home.

They are perfect for a meal for one after a long day at work, or they can be made in batches to feed a crowd, or better yet, they can make for a romantic Italian dinner with your significant other, paired with a fancy wine.

But perfect Italian meatballs are a favorite among family and friends no matter the occasion, as there is nothing better than hot, tasty meatballs covered in a marinara sauce, perfectly layered onto steaming spaghetti.

So, let’s go through how you can make the perfect Italian meatballs!

Ingredients You Will Need

If you want to make the best Italian meatballs, you need to ensure you use the freshest ingredients for the best flavor.

Here is what you will need for this recipe:

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • ½ ground beef
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 jar or 32 ounces marinara sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ Italian sausage (removed from their casings

I prefer to get my meat from ButcherBox meat delivery for convenience.

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Method To Make The Meatballs

Cloes up image of three meatballs on top of spaghetti

Once you have purchased all the fresh ingredients, you are now ready to begin making your Italian meatballs!

Below are the straightforward steps you can follow to make the meatballs:

  • Step 1 – place the bread crumbs and the milk into a small bowl and mix until evenly combined. Leave this to sit for 15 minutes; during this time, you can chop the rest of the ingredients that should be chopped or minced.
  • Step 2 – place the ground pork, beef, and sausage meat into a large bowl and add the onion and garlic. Combine these with your hands to ensure they are properly mixed.
  • Step 3 – Add the bread crumbs mixture, Parmesan, freshly chopped parsley, and the eggs into the meat mixture. Combine until these added ingredients are evenly spread throughout the meat.
  • Step 4 – using your hands, divide the meatball mixture into 1-inch meatballs, and roll them until they are round and smooth.
  • Step 5 – Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs into the pan in small batches, searing all sides of the meatballs to give them a lovely crust. Remove the meatballs from the skillet when they are seared well.
  • Step 6 – reduce the heat to low and add the marinara sauce to the skillet. Bring your marinara sauce to a simmer and add the meatballs to the sauce. Cover the skillet and simmer until the meatballs have cooked through, this generally takes about 8 minutes, but it can take longer.

Also Read: BBQ Smoked Meatballs

Storing Your Italian Meatballs

Italian meatballs are delicious. You can make your meatballs beforehand and store them for when you are ready to have a lovely traditional Italian meal.

You can store your Italian meatballs raw or cooked based on your preference.

So, if you have leftover meatballs that you do not know what to do with, you can always store them for later; there is no need to throw perfectly good meatballs away.

Or, if you are making Italian meatballs, you can always make extra meatballs and store the rest for a different meal.

Let’s go through how you can store your meatballs correctly.

Cooked Meatballs

Cooked meatballs with green vegetable

Suppose you have cooked your Italian meatballs and you have leftovers.

In that case, you can place the meatballs into an airtight container with the leftover marinara sauce and place them into your refrigerator.

You can store your meatballs in your fridge for a maximum of five days. You can gently reheat your meatballs on the stovetop or in the microwave.

If you know you will not eat your leftover meatballs within five days; you can freeze your meatballs.

To do this, allow the meatballs to cool completely and transfer them into an airtight container.

Place the meatballs into your freezer; you can keep them there for up to three months. You can freeze your meatballs with the marinara sauce or freeze them separately.

When you are ready to eat your meatballs, you can thaw them overnight and reheat them in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Raw Meatballs

If you want to freeze some meatballs raw, you can freeze the shaped meatballs on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

When the meatballs have frozen solid, you can transfer them into an airtight container and keep them frozen for up to three months.

You can thaw them in your fridge overnight and cook the meatballs according to the instructions above when you are ready to cook and eat the meatballs.

Ensure that you freeze the meatballs as soon as possible to prevent any potential contamination of the raw meat, which could have serious health implications [1].

Tips For Making The Best Italian Meatballs

Top view of a spaghetti with Italian meatballs

When making meatballs, you always want to make the most authentic and tasty meatballs that you can.

This can be challenging for some, so here are a few tips that will help you make the best tasting meatballs ever!

When shopping for your ingredients for Italian meatballs, ensure you buy as many ingredients as fresh as you can get them.

Fresh ingredients will have a better flavor profile and bring your meatballs to a new level.

When making Italian meatballs, do not use lean meats with a lower fat percentage as the fat makes the meatballs juicy and tender.

When you mix all the meatball ingredients, do not over mix them as this will result in tough or chewy meatballs.

To avoid over mixing your meatballs, rather mix the ingredients by hand or with a spatula.

To help stop the meatball mixture from sticking to your hands while you mix everything, you can wet your hands with some water first.

And finally, when you are rolling your meatballs, roll them gently. Do not squeeze them tight, as this will result in dense and tough meatballs.


Traditional Italian meatballs are not too difficult to make; as long as you follow the above recipe to the tee, you will end up with delicious, juicy meatballs that are sure to please both you and your family.

Enjoy making and eating your traditional Italian meatballs!


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6604998/
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