These easy 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 and ready to be served in just 30 minutes!
The best Italian meatballs in the comfort of your home!
One of my favorite indulgences growing up was a plate of spaghetti and meatballs served at our small local Italian restaurant, which I still reminisce about to this day.
There’s nothing more comforting than a steaming bowl of meatballs in marinara sauce served over spaghetti noodles, and coupled with a side of garlic bread, it was the perfect meal that I always daydreamed about.
The meatballs served at the restaurant were particularly larger in size and so unbelievably tender that every bite of the meatballs practically melted in your mouth, and it was truly one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
At the beginning of my cooking journey, I would often resort to buying frozen meatballs from the store to complement 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 personally wanted to share the best Italian meatball recipe I have developed over many sessions of trial & error.
These flavorful baked Italian meatballs are so tender that they practically melt in your mouth, and pair perfectly with a bed of pasta or in a scrumptious sandwich, to make up for the ultimate comfort meal to brighten your day.
What do I need to make melt-in-your-mouth Italian meatballs?
This Italian meatballs 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. Here is everything you’ll need:
- 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.
- This milk-and-bread paste is called a panade which is commonly incorporated into ground meats to keep them extra tender and moist during the cooking process.
- Based on your dietary preference, you can also use almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or low-sodium beef broth to soak the breadcrumbs instead.
- 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 box 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.
- Parsley: I highly recommend using 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 + pepper: to season the overall mixture.
Tips & tricks to make the best homemade 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 meatballs recipe.
Although it may not seem necessary, using high quality ingredients will produce the most flavorful results.
Try not to use super lean meat that has a low-fat percentage.
The fat is a core component in making the beef meatballs tender and juicy, in the same fashion as hamburger patties. I recommend using beef that is 80-85% lean to make the best meatballs.
Instead, mix them with your hands or a spatula 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 large meatballs.
Wet your hands & gently roll your meatballs.
Working with damp hands will prevent the mixture from sticking all over your fingers, allowing you to work quickly with each meatball.
I also suggest gently molding the meatballs with enough pressure to hold them in place, as squeezing them too tight will result in dense meatballs.
For large-sized meatballs, they will take about 15-20 minutes at 400°F (200°C) depending on your oven.
Meatballs are done when they are golden-brown on the outside and register 165°F (74°C) in the middle on an instant-read thermometer.
If you are planning to serve them in marinara or cream sauce, I recommend simmering them lightly for about 15-20 minutes to release the flavors into the sauce, but not so long that they become too dry and overcooked.
Can you prepare meatballs ahead of time?
Baked Italian 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 gems are with spaghetti (highly recommend using a homemade sauce or a four-cheese 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 they are served, these homemade Italian meatballs make for an excellent option for dinner, and one that the whole family can enjoy.
Can you make these meatballs in the air fryer?
Definitely! As pan-frying is not required for this recipe, you can certainly use an air fryer instead of an oven to cook your meatballs, without making any special adjustments to the recipe.
Especially for busy weekdays, using an air fryer can be an absolute lifesaver as it significantly reduces the cooking time and does not require any preheating in most cases.
To cook your meatballs in the air fryer, place them in a single layer in the air fryer basket, and cook them for 10-12 minutes at 400ºF (200°C) or until they reach an internal temperature of 165˚F (74°C).
Whichever cooking option you decide to go with, I promise you that this may be the best Italian meatball recipe you’ll have ever tried, all without the extra effort!
This is one of my most cherished recipes to date and one that has been highly requested on the blog, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. ツ
I hope you enjoy this easy & delicious meatballs recipe, and as usual, please feel free to leave a comment below or message me on Instagram with any questions you may have. Happy cooking everyone!
Other easy Dinner recipes you may like:
- Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce
- Spicy Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 10-Minute Air Fryer Garlic Bread
- 15-Minute Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti
- The Best Spicy Chicken Sandwich
Melt-In-Your-Mouth Italian Meatballs
- 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 lb ground beef or your choice of meat
- 1/4 medium onion finely diced or grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley or 1 tsp 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 to the breadcrumb 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 18-20 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!
♥ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a 5-star rating or leave a comment below to share your experience, or tag @cookerru on Instagram to showcase your creations!
AWESOME MEATBALLS! I wanted a change from the meatball I’d been making to surprise my wife. She absolutely loved them. Definitly a keeper!
I thought this recipe turned out restaurant quality meatballs—soft, warm and absolutely delicious! I used hamburger and two kinds of sausage. That’s the first time I have ever soaked the bread crumbs in milk, or mixed in Parmesan cheese.
These are some of the best meatballs I have ever made and everyone raved about them. thank you I will make these ever time.
Making a second time!! Great recipe for awesome meatballs. Thank you!!
Absolutely beautiful!! Great versatile meatballs for any dish!!!
Absolutely delish! My entire family loved these! They were extremely easy to make and we doubled the recipe for leftovers. We made meatball marinara subs! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes!
I have made this meatball recipe and I, along with my family and friends love it!! I did change the way that the garlic and onion is incorporated…I made a puree out of it and poured it over the beef before mixing. It’s just something I watched my grandmother do when she made meatballs when I was a child. This recipe is the closest I have found to taste like hers did. Nearly exact as best I can remember. I definitely recommend this recipe to anyone and everyone!
Simple and delicious.
I made this. Doubled all the ingredients and used 1 lb of sweet italian sausage and 1 lb of 80/20 ground chuck. Delish.
Amazing meatballs! My husband raved about them for days!
Honestly I’ve made this so many times it’s now my go to recipe for the middle of the week. The meat balls are soft and juicy and perfect with some pasta or even as a meatball sub. It’s so quick to prep and is a forgiving recipe! Thank you for this amazing recipe!!!
These meatballs were so easy to throw together and honestly so delicious. Both my toddlers ate multiple helpings (as well as mom) and that’s a BIG win. Had to improvise on breadcrumbs so I toasted two slices of bread in the toaster twice and then blended them in the nutri bullet, worked great!
I made this recipe Wednesday doubled it with spaghetti, a big hit with family, so glad I found it. Thank you for sharing!
A great recipe! True to instructions! Mine came out perfectly! Thanks!
Wowowowoww thank you for the recipe! My first time making meatballs and these are the best ones I’ve ever had. I followed the recipe as stated, my only change was I sautéed onions, garlic and dried parsley in a little olive oil and butter. I got nervous foregoing this step. I used freshly grated parmesan cheese and organic ground beef. I believe these ingredients contributed to the rich taste. Yielded 14 meatballs. Great tip on the ice cream scoop. Thank you!
Love this recipe! Made them as an appetizer, served in some marinara sauce and sliced baguette! Love that I could make the the day before and just bring to temperature when ready to serve. They were a big hit!
Absolutely Moist, Tender & Delicious .
Can I make this As A Meatloaf Meal as Well?
If I want to cook these in some sauce, should I simmer them in the sauce for 15 minutes after the oven, or just toss them in some sauce raw for 15 minutes? It’s not clear on the article.
cook them in the oven and then simmer for 15 min in the sauce
OMGness!! These are Amaze-balls!! Pun intended, lol!! So so flavorful! Next time (and there will be many of those) I’ll opt for less bread crumbs and milk. These are perfection and SO SO easy to make! Thank you!
I added celery tops with the parsley. Added another flavour.
Have not try making, will do today March 29th, 2023. I am not much of a cook, but can follow a recipe.
Hopefully my husband will enjoy this. Thank you for being out try and offering simple everyday folks your
I never usually comment on a recipe but these are the best meatballs I’ve ever had! Delicious and will recommend this recipe to family and friends!
I tried your Italian meatball recipe last weekend. I loved the taste and texture of the meatballs. My family, especially my husband, said they were the best meatballs I ever made
Awesome, i’ll be making these again, THANK-YOU
Made for first time today. Delicious. Will add to my pasta repertoire from now on
These were delicious. I prefer a bit firmer so I just added a bit more breadcrumbs. I use breadcrumbs with cheese in them so I used 1/2 the parm. I also cooked on a broiler rack so the fat drained.
This is my new ‘go to’ meatball recipe. It’s delicious and they do literally melt in your mouth!!
They turned out great. Will definitely use thus recipe again.
Most meatballrecipes call for pork to be mixed. My wife is not a fan of pork. Have tried many recipes but these are by far the best we’ve tried. A definate keeper
Tasty! The meatballs were so tender (baked them at 400 for 20 mins then stewed them in a homemade marinara for 15 mins. I used 1.5 lb mix of ground beef, pork & veal, grated my own pecorino romano wedge & added additional onion powder/garlic powder to taste. Also, didnt have milk on hand so i used a mix of light cream and water. Definitely a keeper recipe! Use fresh ingredients if you can.
I’ve made these at least 3x now and have had them as leftovers, and they are honestly the best meatballs. I’ve made them using grass-fed beef as well as ground Turkey (85/15) – all great! They freeze so well. Highly recommend!
Your meatball recipe is THE BEST ever! It deserves a 10. It was easy to prepare. The meatballs are scrumptious.
I can now stop searching for the best meatball recipe. This is it. Grazie mille!
Excellent and no leftovers
Made the meatballs today. I baked them, and they are cooking in my Sunday sauce to add more flavor as I write this. I had to try one, it is out of this world!! Fabulous!!!
Except for the beef and cheese, I put all other ingredients in my smoothie maker to blend together. BEST MEATBALLS EVER!
These were delicious. I served them with pasta and a marinara sauce and even my fussy teenager loved it. Thank you for the recipe!
definitely a hit at dinner tonight. my picky toddler actually ate 2 giant meatballs tonight! definitely worth making again! (i love garlic so might add a few more in next time)
These meatballs are delicious! I made mine smaller and made the firmer version. So easy and tasty! They’re great with or even without sauce!
Amazing! This will be my “go to meatball” recipe going forward! AND, since I hadn’t been to the store, but wanted meatballs, I had no choice but to use what I had, which was thawed out ground beef, dried parsley and box grated cheese! lol… still so delicious! Can’t wait to use all fresh ingredients!! Thank you!
Made as written with a 50/50 combo of 85% ground beef/ground pork and these are, by far, the best! Thank you!
OMG! I have made this recipe 3 times now, and it just keeps getting easier and better! My only tweak is that I added a few shakes of extra Italian herbs. My new favorite pasta sauce which I poured over them is Tantillo Tomatoes and Roasted Garlic Sauce. The end product is AMAZING!!! Quit it!
Oh my! These meatballs were the BOMB! Hubby likes a bit more spice in his Italian, so I did 2:1 hamburger to spicy Italian sausage and added chopped fresh oregano (1:1 fresh parsley). Didn’t have spiced breadcrumbs, so made my own from toasted sourdough and 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning. For the milk, I had only coconut milk to soak the crumbs in, but it didn’t add any sweetness to the finished product. I had hoped to freeze some for later, but NOPE! Family loved them. I will remember to make more next time. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
I am quite the home chef. My friends are always asking to come for dinner. I’ve made a lot of meatballs and decided to make these tonight. This is my new go-to recipe. So tender and flavorful! Thank you!
So delicious! Moist, flavorful, nice texture. I made 3x the recipe and they all turned out great.
So I thought I had all the ingredients at home only to find out too late that all the milk and Parmesan cheese was gone. The struggles of raising 2 growing boys. Also realized the onion I thought I had was already used 2 nights prior. Oops. Haha. So I used about half a cup of sour cream since I had some left over from Taco Thursday. I then just added a handful more of bread crumbs and an extra egg (they were both medium sized anyways). The meatballs came out great! I’ll definitely keep this recipe for next time I have milk and cheese in the house so I can try to make it properly.
I homemade my own breadcrumbs and these meatballs turned out amazing!!
Fresh grated parm takes them to the next level! New go to meatball recipe!
My son said these meatballs were as good as his favorite Italian restaurant’s meatballs! (Isle of Capri in NYC) I was thrilled with the recipe and his compliment.
These meatballs are incredibly tender and so so good! They are easy to whip up in a pinch, and when served with a quality, garlicky pasta sauce they are quite impressive! Thank you for sharing a great recipe!
I like this recipe, meatballs are light and tasty- very easy to make.
Second time I made these meatballs. First time used a mix of 1/3 ground pork and 2/3 ground extra lean ground beef ( couldn’t get ground chuck ). Followed the recipe explicitly and my husband just about fell off the seat…..sooooo good and juicy!!!! Second time found ground chuck / ground Serloin, (used is solo), followed the recipe and again Hubby again loved them !!!!!!! Gave some to my 90 yr old aunt and cousin, and my father in law, 85 and Mom in law, 80, as they cant chew hard meats. Well all LOVED them !!! New favorite!!!!! You’re a gem !!!!!!!❤️
Thanks so very much Elle !!! B
Over the top delicious. My husband thought they were fantastic!
I am so glad that I tried this recipe. And I am especially glad that I read the instructions that came with it. I always packed my meatballs, really tight so they wouldn’t fall apart while cooking in the sauce, then I wondered why they were so hard, now I know better. I also figured it best to have the ingredients well combined and I mixed them forever. I would wonder why my meatballs were like rocks! Great tasting recipe and tender! Thanks!
Hands down the absolute best meatballs I’ve ever had! They are packed full of flavor and tender. I followed the recipe almost exactly. The only thing I left out was the parsley. I used 80% lean ground beef.
Sooo good. Light, tender, delicious. Best meatball recipe for sure.
amazing! I needed a new recipe and I’m glad I found this one!
I did everything but parsley and cooked them in a Pampered Chef Air fryer. Came out great. They only take about 10 minutes @ 400 to cook
Followed the recipe the meatballs were the best