Homemade Meatballs Recipe

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The best homemade meatballs. Easy to make and incredibly versatile, this meatball recipe will become a family favorite. Learn how to make meatballs either on the stovetop or baked in the oven to serve a variety of ways – over pasta, as an appetizer, etc.

overhead view of homemade meatballs over pasta in marinara sauce garnished with basil


I know many people buy frozen meatballs, but I far prefer homemade meatballs. Especially because they are so easy to make and taste much better than store bought.

This easy meatball recipe is our family’s favorite. We love to serve it in many ways, some of which include: with marinara sauce over pasta, in soups, and as an appetizer in barbecue sauce.

Watch the video and follow our step-by-step instructions to learn how to make meatballs in two ways: 1) on the stovetop or 2) baked in the oven. You can even make a double or triple batch to freeze for later.

5 homemade meatballs cooked in olive oil in a pan

Homemade Meatball Recipe: Ingredients & Substitutions

overhead photo of the labeled ingredients in this meatball recipe
  • Ground beef. I have used 85% up to 93% lean ground beef to make this recipe. I have also subbed ground turkey with great results (or check out these healthy turkey meatballs or chicken meatballs).
  • Whole milk. 2% milk, half and half or cream can be used in place of whole milk. I have also used pasta sauce (like tomato basil marinara sauce or homemade marinara sauce) for a dairy-free version with great results.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. In a pinch you could substitute BBQ sauce, lemon juice or omit it all together.
  • Minced Garlic. ½ tsp garlic powder can be substituted for 1 tsp minced garlic.
  • Onion. ½ tsp onion powder can be substituted for the diced onion.
  • Breadcrumbs. For a different binding agent use quick-cooking oats or oat flour.
  • Parmesan cheese. I don’t suggest omitting or changing this ingredient at all – it adds to the flavor and texture and is critical for the dish.
  • Fresh herbs. Adding fresh parsley or fresh basil to the meatballs is delicious but optional.
homemade meatballs over pasta in marinara sauce garnished with basil

How to Make Meatballs

We’ll walk through making this meatball recipe in two ways: 1) on the stovetop and 2) baked in the oven. Don’t forget to watch the video!

No matter which method you choose, you being by making the meatball mixture. To do this, combine ground beef, egg, milk and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl.

two photos showing How to Make Meatballs - combining meat with wet ingredients

Then, add the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, sea salt, pepper, garlic and onion and stir until evenly distributed.

two photos showing How to Make Meatballs - adding dry ingredients and onion to meat mixture

Next, use a small cookie scoop or measuring spoon and measure out 1 Tablespoon portions of the meatball mixture, then roll it with your hands.

a 1 tablespoon scoop measuring out a portion of the meatball recipe mixture

Cook on the Stovetop

If you prefer to cook the meatballs on the stovetop, being by heating 1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick fry pan over medium heat.

Then, add half of the meatballs (12) and cover.

Cook, covered, on one side for 4-5 minutes or until they are golden-brown.

Remove lid and flip the meatballs. Cook for another 4-5 minutes until meatballs are golden brown and the internal temperature is 160 degrees F.

two photos showing How to Make Meatballs on the Stovetop

Bake in the Oven

If you’d prefer to make baked meatballs, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet, set aside.

Then, place the meatballs on a greased baking sheet evenly spread out.

Next, bake the meatballs in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Meatballs should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

two photos showing How to Bake Meatballs in the Oven

Serve

I recommend serving this meatball recipe with your favorite tomato sauce, homemade basil pesto, homemade marinara sauce recipe, or avocado pasta sauce.

Serving Suggestions

So many people ask the question, “What should I serve with meatballs?” So here are some suggestions!

homemade meatballs over pasta in marinara sauce garnished with basil

Store

Store any leftover homemade meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Freeze

To freeze this meatball recipe:

  1. Place baked meatballs in an even layer on a baking sheet.
  2. Flash-freeze in the freezer until hardened.
  3. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to two months.
  4. Thaw slowly in the refrigerator or at room temperature then use in your favorite recipe. You can also thaw them quicker by warming them in your favorite sauce.
up close view of homemade meatballs over pasta in marinara sauce garnished with basil

Homemade Meatball Recipe FAQs

How do you keep meatballs from falling apart?

Cooking the meatballs using one of these two methods before adding them to your sauce of choice is the best way to ensure they do not fall apart. This way they are nice and browned and hold up very well when you add sauce to serve them!

Is it better to bake or fry meatballs?

This is purely preference. I prefer to bake the meatballs because they all cook at once and it’s less time consuming.

Why do you put milk in meatballs?

Milk makes the meatballs moist.

What can I use instead of milk in meatballs?

I often substitute our favorite pasta sauce in place of milk with great results.

a homemade meatball cut in half served over pasta in marinara sauce garnished with basil

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Best Homemade Meatballs Recipe

Laura
The best homemade meatballs. Easy to make and incredibly versatile, this meatball recipe will become a family favorite. Learn how to make meatballs either on the stovetop or baked in the oven to serve a variety of ways – over pasta, as an appetizer, etc.
5 from 11 votes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 24 Meatballs
Calories 144
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes

Ingredients  

Instructions 

Make the Meatball Mixture

  • In a large bowl combine ground beef, egg, milk and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Add breadcrumbs, parmesan, sea salt, pepper, garlic and onion and stir until evenly distributed.
  • Use a small cookie scoop or measuring spoon and measure out 1 TBS portions of the meatball mixture, then roll it with your hands.

Cook on the Stovetop

  • Add 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil to a nonstick fry pan and turn heat to medium.
  • Add half of the meatballs (12) and cover.
  • Cook, covered, on one side for 4-5 minutes or until they are golden-brown.
  • Remove lid and flip the meatballs. Cook for another 4-5 minutes until meatballs are golden brown and the internal temperature is 160 degrees F.

Bake in the Oven

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet, set aside.
  • Place meatballs on a greased baking sheet evenly spread out.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Meatballs should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  • Serve with pasta sauce, over noodles, etc.

Video

Notes

Ingredient Substitutions
  • Ground beef. I have used 85% up to 93% lean ground beef to make this recipe. I have also subbed ground turkey with great results (or check out these healthy turkey meatballs).
  • Whole milk. 2% milk, half and half or cream can be used in place of whole milk. I have also used pasta sauce (like tomato basil marinara sauce) for a dairy-free version with great results.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. In a pinch you could substitute BBQ sauce, lemon juice or omit it all together.
  • Minced Garlic. ½ tsp garlic powder can be substituted for 1 tsp minced garlic.
  • Onion. ½ tsp onion powder can be substituted for the diced onion.
  • Breadcrumbs. For a different binding agent use quick-cooking oats or oat flour.
  • Parmesan cheese. I don’t suggest omitting or changing this ingredient at all – it adds to the flavor and texture and is critical for the dish.
  • Fresh herbs. Adding fresh parsley or fresh basil to the meatballs is delicious but optional.
Store
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freeze
  1. Place baked meatballs in an even layer on a baking sheet.
  2. Flash-freeze in the freezer until hardened.
  3. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to two months.
  4. Thaw slowly in the refrigerator or at room temperature then use in your favorite recipe. You can also thaw them quicker by warming them in your favorite sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 2meatballs | Calories: 144kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 342mg | Potassium: 149mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 70IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi, I just finished making these meatballs and they look absolutely delicious! I just have one question on freezing them. What does flash freezing mean and would it be better to put them directly into the freezer to freeze? Thank you!

    1. Flash-freezing is when you lay the meatballs out on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and put them in the freezer until they are frozen. Then, transfer them to an airtight container or plastic bag to store.

  2. 5 stars
    Made them easily and everyone was a huge fan! Even subbed the oats for the bread crumbs bc the store was out and they were a big hit! My 8, 6, & 4 year old devoured them and they’re usually such picky eaters!! I went light on the garlic and onion for them and they were still so flavorful!!! Will be a weekly staple in our home! Thank you!