authentic italian meatball recipes from italy

authentic italian meatball recipes from italy

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authentic italian meatball recipes from italy

Learn how to make classic homemade  meatballs! For the BEST authentic Italian meatballs and sauce mix together ground beef with fresh bread crumbs, parmesan, and spices then then pan fry and braise until tender.


Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, pureed in the blender
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf


  • 1 lb ground beef, or half ground beef and half ground pork
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, plus another 1/2 cup if needed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk, optional
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
authentic italian meatball recipes from italy
authentic italian meatball recipes from italy


Tomato Sauce

  • Before you start the meatballs, get the sauce done and simmering.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large oven-safe pot over medium-low heat and add garlic and a sprinkle of salt. Saute for 1 minute and then add tomatoes, oregano, and bay leaves.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and bring sauce to a boil, reduce to low and let simmer while you make the meatballs.


  • Move oven rack to lower middle position. Heat oven to 300F.
  • Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well, but gently. If you think it needs some more breadcrumbs or the egg yolk, add them now and mix in the additions.
  • To portion out the meat, I like to use a cookie scoop. It goes very fast and they all end up the same size. However you portion them, take each portion and roll it between your hands until it is well shaped and then lay it out on a cookie sheet or a plate.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the meatballs in batches and brown them all over, about 5-6 minutes per batch. (One pound of meat takes me two batches.)
  • As you finish browning, add to the sauce. Once all have been browned and added to the sauce, cover the pot and put it in the oven. Braise the meatballs for at least 2 hours, but they can sit in the oven at that temperature for 4-6 hours.
  • When you are ready to eat, serve with pasta, on rolls, or by themselves as an appetizer or on a buffet.

authentic italian meatball recipes

The best and most delicious authentic homemade Italian recipe. Meatballs in a tasty tomato sauce. Dinner is ready!


  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk (62 – 122 grams)
  • 2-3 slices bread (remove crusts, I use day old Italian and if it is extra thick use 2 slices)
  • 1 pound ground beef (80% lean) (1/2 kilo)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (50 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 -2 clove garlic minced

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups tomato puree* (passata) (450 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups water (236 – 354 grams)

or 1 can peeled tomatoes nothing added (400 grams)

authentic italian meatball recipes from italy
authentic italian meatball recipes from italy


  • In a small bowl soak the bread in the milk for about 5 minutes, then squeeze out moisture and crumple into small bits.
  • In a medium bowl combine the bread with ground beef, eggs, parmesan and spices gently mix to combine well (I use my clean hands, its the best way to do it). Form into small balls ( I form the meatballs into the size of a golf ball). In a medium frying pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and the meatballs, brown them on all sides.


  • While meatballs are browning, in a separate, large deep pan add the olive oil, the tomato puree (or peeled tomatoes), spices and water, stir until well combined. Add the browned meatballs. Over medium heat, heat to boiling, then lower heat to medium low and simmer for approximately 20 minutes (covered), then raise the heat to medium, (leave pan slightly uncovered 1/3 uncovered) and cook an additional 20 minutes, until sauce has thickened and meatballs are cooked through. Serve immediately, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired. Don’t forget some crusty Italian bread to soak up the delicious sauce. Enjoy!
  • **If you decide to bake the meatballs, shred approximately 1/3 cup of firm mozzarella on top and bake in the oven until melted, make sure you use an oven safe frying pan.

Can I Make Meatballs Gluten Free?

Yes! Simply replace the regular breadcrumbs with gluten free breadcrumbs or a similar substitute that will absorb the liquid. This helps keep the meatballs soft and moist. You can totally omit the breadcrumbs, too, just don’t expect them to have a light texture. If this isn’t an issue, you don’t need to include the breadcrumbs, but also omit the milk.

Is it Better to Freeze Meatballs with or Without Sauce?

It’s definitely better to freeze meatballs with tomato sauce, simply because there’s no air around them which causes freezer burn. The other reason is because all you have to do when you pull it out of the freezer is defrost and reheat!

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 in Sauce?

I recommend defrosting the container of tomato sauce and meatballs overnight or longer in the fridge. Once defrosted, just pour gently into a pot, bring to a simmer over medium heat and serve as desired. Now, let’s get to this authentic Italian meatball recipe and learn how to make meatballs!

authentic italian meatball recipes from italy
authentic italian meatball recipes from italy

Can you cook raw meatballs in tomato sauce?

YES! This recipe does exactly that. It saves you time in baking them first and dirtying more pans. The raw meatballs will cook in the tomato sauce and come out tender and scrumptious. They juices will flavor the tomato sauce and the tomato sauce will flavor the meatballs. This is the traditional way we do it in Italy!

How to prevent meatballs from shrinking?

Adding breadcrumbs to the ground meat mixture creates a starchy paste that holds the moisture in and prevents shrinkage. Usually, when meat cooks, the muscle fibers’ proteins tighten and contract, which causes large amounts of water to squeeze out. If you do not use a classic panade or breadcrumbs, the meatballs will reduce in size and tend to become dry or tough.

authentic italian meatball sauce recipes from italy

Tomato Sauce

Ingredients: for tomato sauce
  • 1 bottle – 2 ½ cups, (560 ml) tomatoes puree
  • ½ cup, (118 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ of chopped onion
  • few basil leaves
  • pinch of salt
Instructions: for tomato sauce
  1. Pour the olive oil in a saucepan with the chopped onion. On low heat start frying until lightly brown.
  2. Add all the bottle of tomato puree. Remove the meatballs from the frying pan and plunge them into the tomato sauce.
  3. Cook for about 1 hour with a lid. Add a pinch of salt and stir occasionally. Add some water if the sauce dries too much.
  4. Once cooked through and ready, add a few basil leaves if you like.

authentic italian meatball

Juicy, flavorful Italian meatballs bathed in rich marinara, smothered in mozzarella and Parmesan and baked to golden cheesy deliciousness  – AKA my new deliciously comforting obsession!   These Cheesy Baked Italian Meatballs will be the only Italian meatballs you ever want to eat and they make the BEST spaghetti and meatballs ever!  Because this recipe comes from an Italian!


2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar to taste
  • 1 tsp EACH garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, dried rosemary, dried oregano, dried basil
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried thyme, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
authentic italian meatball recipes from italy
authentic italian meatball recipes from italy



  • Combine all of the Marinara Arrabbiata ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until the sauce is well mixed. Decrease heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes then keep warm on low until ready to use, stirring occasionally.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients. Using clean hands, gently mix everything until well-blended. Be careful not to overmix or your meatballs will be tough.
  • Add 2 tablespoon olive oil to a 12-inch oven safe skillet and heat over medium heat. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, portion out a meatball and roll it into a ball. Place the meatball into the skillet. Continue scooping, rolling and placing the meatballs in the skillet.
  • Keep an eye on the meatballs and flip them over once they are golden brown. After all the meatballs have been turned at least once, remove from heat and pour the Marinara sauce over the meatballs. Place the skillet in the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  • Sprinkle the meatballs with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and continue baking until the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Broil if desired. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil and parsley.

Tip for Soft and Tender Meatballs

Soaked bread = soft meatballs. Bread soaked in milk will puff up when cooked, creating little air pockets that makes these meatballs extra soft. Our family prefers it to using breadcrumbs that has the tendency to make meatballs tough or dry (panko breadcrumbs are an okay variation).

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.


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