These oven-baked Italian meatballs are incredibly tender and juicy, with irresistible flavors that will have you craving for more. Made with ground beef, onion, garlic, parmesan cheese, and parsley, these meatballs are seasoned to perfection, ready to be served with your favorite sauce in less than 30 minutes!
The easiest, juiciest Italian meatballs ever!
One of my favorite indulgences growing up was a plate of spaghetti and meatballs served at our local Italian restaurant, which I still remanence to this day. There’s nothing more comforting than tender, flavorful meatballs simmered in marinara sauce, all to be served over fresh spaghetti noodles.
When I first started my cooking journey, I would often resort to buying frozen meatballs from the store to compliment my quick weeknight meals. It wasn’t until when I started to make them at home that I realized how easy they actually are to make, and how insanely delicious they are when made from scratch.
Although there are countless different methods to make meatballs, I will be sharing the recipe I have developed over many sessions of trial & error, to make the most flavorful Italian meatballs that are SO tender that they practically melt in your mouth.
What do you need to make Melt-In-Your-Mouth Italian Meatballs?
This recipe calls for simple ingredients that are easily found in your fridge and pantry, hence why they are often my go-to for my emergency meals.
- Ground beef: This recipe calls for all ground beef, but please feel free to add in a half ratio of pork, sausage, or veal if you prefer. Using fresh (not previously frozen) meat will produce the best results.
- Italian breadcrumbs: Many recipes call for day-old bread or plain bread crumbs, but I found that using seasoned breadcrumbs adds wonderful flavors to the mix all without the extra effort.
- Milk: I recommend using milk instead of water to soak the breadcrumbs, as whole milk adds more flavor and rich moisture than using plain water.
- If you don’t have any milk on hand, you can also use beef broth to soak the breadcrumbs.
- Egg: Adds extra moisture to the meatballs, and acts as a core component to bind the mixture together.
- Parmesan cheese: Adds heavenly, cheesy flavor to the meat mixture. I recommend using fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano for the best authentic flavor. I like to use my handy OXO coarse grater to get the job done quickly & seamlessly.
- Onion & Garlic: Many recipes call for sautéing these ingredients, but I personally find that so long as these aromatics are finely chopped, they blend in just perfectly to the mixture.
- Fresh parsley: I highly recommend sticking with fresh herbs, but if you don’t have them on hand, using dried parsley will work as well (for 1 tbsp of fresh herbs, use 1 tsp of the dried alternative).
- Salt and pepper: to season the overall mixture.
Tips and tricks of making the best ever meatballs
- Use as many fresh ingredients as possible. Freshly packaged ground beef, fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh onion and garlic (instead of powders), and fresh parsley will work best with this recipe.
- Although it may not seem necessary, the small changes will make the overall best meatballs for your tastebuds!
- Don’t use super lean meat that has a low-fat percentage. The fat is a core component in making the meatballs tender and juicy, in the same fashion as hamburger patties. I recommend using beef that is 80-85% lean.
- Try not to overmix, and instead, mixing them with your hands until just combined. Overworking the mixture will result in tough meatballs.
- Use a large cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to portion the meatballs. Making equal-sized meatballs will ensure they are cooked evenly in the oven, and using a trigger release scoop also makes the overall process a lot easier.
- This recipe will yield about 12-13 large meatballs.
- Wet your hands to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands. For a visual reference, please refer to the video tutorial!
- Roll your meatballs gently. Squeezing them too tight will result in tough and dense meatballs.
- Avoid overcooking. For large-sized meatballs, they will take about 15-20 minutes at 400°F (200°C) to cook in the oven. Meatballs are done when the outsides are browned, and register 165°F (74°C) in the middle on an instant-read thermometer.
- If you are serving them with sauce, I recommend just simmering them slightly to heat them up, but not doing any secondary cooking to avoid dry, overcooked meatballs.
Can you prepare meatballs ahead of time?
These meatballs make for great make-ahead dinners and meal prep as they store well in the fridge or freezer. This recipe can also be easily doubled or tripled to be made in advance.
To freeze your meatballs, simply cook them as per regular instructions, and let them cool completely before storing them in an airtight container. They will be good for up to 3 months in the freezer.
How do you reheat frozen meatballs?
To serve make-ahead meatballs, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and reheat them in sauce or in the oven for about 8-10 minutes at 350°F. If you are in a time crunch, you can also microwave them on high for about 2-3 minutes or until they are fully heated through.
What to serve with meatballs
These Italian meatballs are also incredibly versatile and can be served in many different ways.
Some of my favorite ways to serve these bad boys are with spaghetti and marinara sauce, in a meatball sub loaded with mozzarella cheese, as a topping on homemade pizza, or drenched in a savory cream sauce with some mashed potatoes.
The possibilities are truly endless, so please feel free to be creative with this! In any way that it is served, these meatballs make for an excellent option for dinner, and one that is truly timeless.
This is easily one of my most cherished recipes and one that has been highly requested on the blog, so I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do! 💕
As usual, for any questions you might have, please feel free to leave a comment below or message me on Instagram and I would be happy to answer them. Happy cooking everyone!
Other easy Dinner recipes you may like:
- Stir-Fried Bulgogi Udon Noodles
- Easy Teriyaki Chicken
- 15-Minute Pad See Ew (Thai Stir-Fried Noodles)
- Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich
- 10-Minute Garlic Chili Oil Noodles
- Creamy Shrimp Pasta (Korean Rosé Pasta)
Melt-In-Your-Mouth Italian Meatballs
- 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 2/3 cup milk or beef broth
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/4 medium onion finely diced or grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp salt or 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese preferably real Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley or 1 tsp of dried parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
- In a large mixing bowl, add Italian bread crumbs and milk. Combine well and set aside while preparing the other ingredients, for at least 5 minutes.
- Add ground beef, onion, garlic, egg, salt, black pepper, parmesan cheese, and parsley into the soaked bread crumb mixture, and mix with your hands until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Portion onto the prepared baking sheet (using a cookie or ice cream scoop will make it easier). Wet your hands with water, and roll meatballs into 2" diameter balls.
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the meatballs have reached an internal temperature of 165˚F (74°C).
- Remove from oven and drain off any excess fat. Serve with your favorite sauce and enjoy!