This is THE recipe that we make every year for our son's birthday dinner! Hands down the best I've ever had or made, sorry (not sorry) Lydia and Rao's and innumerable red sauce joints - this is our one and only. It is indescribably delicious.
The only meatball recipe you need. Full disclosure - I eat these with a fork right out of the oven right off the pan! They don’t even need the sauce and pasta, they are that good. I used a combination of beef and turkey and otherwise followed the recipe exactly.
Excellent! I’ve been making this recipe for years, and it is a big hit whenever I make it. While the mix of ground meats in the original recipe is probably our family’s favorite, the meatballs also work if you don’t have access to ground pork (just beef/veal or substituting in some ground chicken or turkey). I also make things easy on myself by cooking the meatballs in the oven (much easier than standing over a skillet!) for around 30-40 min at around 350/375, turning once, and frankly we don’t notice a difference. The fresh parsley and lemon zest are essential. Freezes well. This will remain in rotation for years to come.
Great recipe. Made it for my dad as a treat (even though I don't eat meat), and he loved the taste of the meatballs composed of varying meats. I would definitely make it again for a dinner party with the antipasto of mozzarella, tomato, and basil with olive oil I used. Leave at least five hours to complete.
Excellent, bright flavor. I did use hot Italian sausage instead of ground veal, and added dried basil and oregano to the sauce.
Outstanding! The flavor of the meatballs is excellent. Instead of spaghetti, I made lasagna with this sauce. I made half of the meatballs smaller and layered them in with the cheeses. I also browned some Italian sausage in with the onions and then added them back in along with the meatballs (my New Jersey-Italian MIL's method). I'll definitely make this again.
I looked at a bunch of other recipes and I'm so happy I decided to go with this one. I followed it to a tee, even though I was skeptical of the lemon zest, but the meatballs and sauce were delicious. The zest really does give the meatballs a fresh, bright flavor. My boyfriend and I had it for dinner last night and I froze six more meals for the two of us that we will enjoy all winter. I am so pleased with this recipe and highly recommend it!
I made this for Valentine's Day - I was sharing the evening with my dogs and I thought it was an appropriate choice. It is delicious. I made it again for my daughter's family. I even looked to see if Maggie Ruggiero has her own cookbook but apparently not.
Yuck. These are awful. The combination of parmesan (which overpowers almost everything else) and lemon is disgusting. I tried this because it has so many good reviews, but I have to throw them out. They are salty (too much parmesan) and just bad.
Great easy to follow recipe. The key is really good EVOO and fresh herbs, and really fresh good grade cheese. I was cleaning out the fridge getting ready for an ice storm last night and needed to make something that we can eat cold. I added roasted red peppers to the sauce. Yum!
I made this when the Gourmet issue originally came out. My 80 year old Italian stepfather loved it and said it was like the spaghetti and meatballs he grew with. Sadly I misplaced the magazine and wasn't able to make it again for him. I came across the magazine 2 weeks ago and was thrilled to make it for my family - delicious. And even better now I can save it on Epicurious (I like to have back up for favourite recipes.)The only change I made was to bake the meatballs, simpler and more consistent results.
BEST recipe I've come across in 30 years. Very similar to the meatballs my Nonna used to make me. Worth the time and effort. Freezes well, too! I always follow the recipe without substitutions.
way too much garlic, and no spices? This isn't Italian...it's plain old tomato sauce with garlic. Ugh!
I did not follow the recipe exactly. I browned the meatballs and then baked them at 350. I then de-glazed the pan with some sherry and spaghetti water (the water from the boiled spaghetti). When I plated, I garnished with some chopped fresh basil and oregano and extra virgin olive oil. The sauce needed more oil because I did not cook the meatballs in it.
We used ground turkey and turkey sausage instead of the other proteins mentioned, but other than that, we followed the recipe pretty much to the letter. Would definitely make this again, but I may add tomato paste to thicken it more next time around. Survey said - ages 3 to 63 - PERFECTO!
The Ricotta makes these meatballs 100% more succulent than the traditional Pecorino Romano method. When you go to eat them you can dust as much Pecorino Romano as you like, however roasting these meatballs with aged cheeses will only dry them out. I prefer this recipe with dried ingredients rather than fresh also & I tend to double up I'm just about everything. Rather than salt I also use a nice steak seasoning rub and I dust the meatballs prior to roasting. A little dried crushed onion and a little garlic powder can also be added to the mixture if you desire to bump it a bit. You can also put in a tiny amount of Worchester sauce & a little dried Thyme. The Fennel is spectacular in these meatballs and I definitely would never omit this key ingredient. A note on the fresh ingredients. I find the fresh parsley & oregano soggs the meatballs out. The reason these meatballs are so good is because they are moist. Therefore the dried ingredients couples better with the roasting method. I also like a little bit more olive oil and a little bit more crushed red pepper & bread crumbs. I will never soak several day old Italian bread and milk again as the base for my meatballs to be moist. Ricotta is an excellent idea & this meatball recipe as written can be expounded on in many creative ways. It's the basis for a world-class meatball depending on what you want to do with your particular fancies. Celery seeds also bring a unique layer to these meatballs,
Delicious with a tender texture. They freeze in their sauce really well. Quality ingredients is key. If you can, use grass-fed beef, definitely grind fennel seed yourself, and use young parsley. I don’t think it’s fair to downgrade the recipe when you’ve not followed the recipe. Make it as written and enjoy (or not) the fresh flavors, then post a review.
a good basic recipe, but needed to boost flavor profile. Agree with prior reviewers that adding sauteed onions and garlic makes a huge difference. Also used 1/2 pound ground pork to 1.5 pound of very lean ground beef. and used panko (better than breadcrumbs). Replaced parsley with basil for more flavor, and added just a bit of harissa paste and lemon zest to boost flavor, too. What I did miss about roasting the meatballs in the baking dish is that nice crust you get when you roast it straight on a baking pan. Both are equally easy.
I wanted a good meatball recipe to make for tonight’s dinner. Had all needed for recipe and halved it bcz there’s only 2 of us. I too omitted the fennel, not a fan of fennel, used dried Italian seasoning, also dried parsley and omitted the Red Pepper flakes. Really light nice tasting enjoyable meatballs. I’ve always heard not to over mix your meat mixture as it makes for tough results, so I didn’t use my hands at all to mix used a teaspoon-really think it helped.
Left out the fennel, substituted Italian seasoning for the oregano, and added shredded mozzarella to the top for the last 5 min. The whole family loved them! Will definitely make again, and will probably take some of the recommendations for the diced onion and garlic next time.
Quick and easy. Mild spice so good for people who want it without too much heat.
You must add 1/2 a diced onion and 4 large minced garlic cloves along with 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese. The meatballs will melt in your mouth.
With my changes I give this 4 forks. I could tell this was lacking in the flavor department so with these changes it does not disappoint! Substitute 1 lb Italian sausage for 1 lb of ground beef. Add 1/2 onion very thinly sliced and diced (or grated as another recommended), add 3-4 tblsp chopped garlic, 1/4 cup parmesan and go heavy on the parsley. I served this with ricotta gnocchi. Delicious. Making again this week.
These meatballs were extremely bland and flavorless (though moist). Luckily, I tested a small portion (by frying in some olive oil) before baking. It needed sauteed onions and garlic in addition to pecorino and parmesan before the balls tasted flavorful. I would skip this recipe and look elsewhere.
Yummy and easy. Meatballs were moist. I took a shortcut and used jarred marinara.
I used a mix of half pork/half lean ground beef for this followed the rest of the recipe as is. I loved the addition of ricotta- they made the meatballs light and moist. I will definitely make again, and next time will make sure to have extra sauce! Eating leftovers today in a meatball parm.
These were surprisingly flavorless! Very bland. Why? I think some cooked onion and garlic would add something. I wouldn't make this again.
Nice, easy recipe. I really use liked the texture. Next time I will reduce salt a little bit - I don't enjoy salty foods very much, but my husband liked them as is. I will also eliminate or reduce the pressure pepper flakes - my daughter would not eat them because she does not like anything spicy. I loved how quick, simple, and "non-messy" they were to make.
This recipe was outstanding. I added a grated onion and some garlic. I followed the recipe exactly besides the addition of the onion & garlic and it is just perfect, the amount of salt was fine. My husband is a big meatball fan and he was beyond impressed... He accused me of being a real Italian LOL. It was so easy and my new go to
I made a half recipe and substituted a mild goats milk cheese instead of riccotta. No fennel seed so I substituted dried marjoram. This was a big hit with my daughter and husband! She is 2 1/2 and hard to please.
Confession: I never made meatballs for dinner until a couple weeks ago. Maybe it's because I'm gluten-free, or because I just never thought of them, or because I was traumatized by some sorry, stiff meatballs I ate in my past—I don't really know.
Whatever the reason, I'm now a convert. Because once I realized how much fun it is to make meatballs however I want, I fell hard for them. Today my freezer is stocked with a few different kinds of uncooked meatballs that I can pull out as needed to make dinner for myself—or a group of six.
You don't need a recipe to know how to make meatballs. In fact, they're more fun without. All you need is to memorize this ratio:
1 pound of ground meat + 1 handful breadcrumbs + 1 handful chopped alliums + 1 egg
Got that? Amazing. Here's how to make meatballs perfectly—without a recipe.
1. Put 1 pound ground meat in a bowl
Meatballs can be made with ground beef, pork, veal, lamb, chicken, or turkey. You can mix two or three together for your own personal blend, or stick with just one meat. A bit of finely chopped bacon or pancetta can also be added to any of these for richer, smokier meatballs. And any raw sausage (removed from its casing) counts as ground meat, too.
A pound of meat is enough to make meatballs for 4. But while my meatball ratio scales up to serve more people, I don't recommend scaling down. Instead, make the full 1 pound batch of meatballs and freeze whatever you don't want to eat. (Freeze the meatballs raw.)
2. Add 1 handful breadcrumbs
For every pound of meat, you want to add about one handful (or about 1/4 cup) of breadcrumbs, which also help hold everything together. I like to use fresh breadcrumbs made by blitzing a piece of stale bread in the food processor—they're softer and mushier and more absorbent that way. (You can use any kind of bread for this, including gluten-free bread.) If you don't want to make your own breadcrumbs, go for panko rather than traditional dried breadcrumbs; panko has better texture.
3. Add 1 handful chopped alliums (onions, shallots, etc)
For both flavor and textural variety, you want to add the same amount of finely chopped alliums (onions, shallot, and/or garlic) as breadcrumbs: one handful (or 1/4 cup) per pound of meat you use. If you can't stand alliums (or maybe you're allergic?) you can totally skip them, or add less. But don't add more—too much will compromise the structure of your meatballs.
No need to mix the ground meat, breadcrumbs, and alliums together yet. Just get all of it into the same bowl and start seasoning. Begin with a good sprinkle of salt. From there, it's up to you. I like a lot of fresh herbs (try lamb meatballs loaded with chopped mint, dill, parsley, cumin and red pepper flakes). For classic Italian flavoring, add a generous dose of grated parm, some oregano (dried or fresh) and some parsley and freshly ground black pepper. Add a dollop of tomato paste if that's your thing. Or consider curry, paprika, miso, ginger or chipotle. Play, but don't go crazy: it's better to add too little than too much. How do you know how it'll taste? We'll get to that in a second, but first...
These were amazing meatballs. This will definitely be my go to meatball! I actually added onion and baked them at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I turned them half way though.
Can't imagine a better meatball. Total YUM. Followed the recipe exactly except used one pound ground beef and one pound ground sirloin.
halved the recipe, made as directed except baked at 350 on convect approx 20 min. Didn't like the lack of flavour but most of all, they were too hard/firm.
Great flavor & texture - the best meatball recipe I've found so far. Both husband and baby liked them so this recipe is a keeper.
sorry, should be 1 cup romano.
2 eggs, no bread or parmesan. instead 1/2 cup romano. definately, fry til good and brown.
I found this recipe in the Epi cookbook I received for Christmas. I subbed ground turkey for the ground beef and that was the only change I made. The meatballs were delicious. They were so tender. Definitely a keeper!
I actually left the parsley out and added italian herb mix and dry chili pepper. I also cooked in the oven for 10 minutes instead of frying
Either I royally screwed this up, or my personal palette differs significantly from those of the other reviewers. this wasn't bad, but it wasn't mind blowingly delicious either. i followed the recipe for the most part but took some of the other reviewers' suggestions and baked rather than pan fried the meatballs. i felt like they were a bit dry, and wasn't crazy about the consistency. husband said it was alright, but if i were to do it again, i might go for the pan-fry, and would definitely add more seasonings such as crushed red pepper and basil. i just didn't feel like these were flavorful enough. but hey--there's no accounting for taste!
I come from a long line of Italian cooks, and this is the best meatball recipe ever! Thought I would have some leftovers after a dinner party for 8 - NOT! Had some day-old focaccia (lots of rosemary on top) and grated it on a box grater for the crumbs. Delish!
I added some thyme and oregano for flavor and extra breadcrumbs for texture, and used no oil - still plenty moist and delicious!
These meatballs are so good. I've been making them for years. They are great as-is but I have adjusted the recipe just to make it easier for myself. I use Progresso Italian bread crumbs and instead of the parsley I just eyeball some Italian seasoning. Oh and DEFINITELY do not use lean beef but 80% lean which gives is so much more flavor. My family loves when I make these!
Yum! I prepared a double batch for a New Years weekend gathering. The only modification was that I used a mixture of beef and pork (3:1) and baked in the oven instead of frying. The cooked meatballs have been simmering on low in the slow cooker in a homemade tomato and herb sauce. Our guests are so lucky to enjoy these meatball sliders on soft bakery rolls.
These are pretty good. They've got a really great flavor, but I think the texture's a little too much like meatloaf for my liking. They were a big hit at my dinner (served in a white wine tomato sauce as an hors d'ouvre), and I will probably make them again but tweak them to get a meatier texture.
Three forks for delicious. Since I only had a # of beef, I halved the recipe and followed NebraskaCook's advice to add 2 T of thyme & bake them. I crave them all the time now, so I keep them in the freezer and pop them out when I want them.
Meatballs are perfect, not too dense. I just did 50/50 beef and pork and baked vs. in pan and they were delicious.
I love this recipe but I use 1/4 of the garlic. I is time consuming but I make a double or triple batch and freeze some for later.
This was not worth the effort. Tasty but not stellar. Also I don't understand the cooking liquid added to the pasta. I found it watery. I always cook al dente pasta in the sauce to finish and it works much better.
I have been making this recipe since it was published, and is is our favorite spaghetti and meatballs dish. If you have trouble finding ground veal, try using meatball mix with a blend of veal, pork, and beef. That has worked well for me.
I loved this recipe!!! My boyfriend has been raving about the sauce. I didn’t use the veal and used half pecorino Romano half parmesean in the meatballs, so good! I might try using fresh tomato’s next time but I am definitely going make this again.
First time I've ever added fennel seeds to meatballs, which I completely enjoyed. I followed recipe with 3 small modifications: 1) i baked the meatballs on a roasting pan (yes, they still browned). 2) I also added sweet sausage to the sauce for more protein (we love meat!). 3) I used plain panko breadcrumbs instead of bread. Definitely a keeper!
These are delicious! My family is Italian and these remind me of my grandmother's recipe from Italy. I did about double the bread, which resulted in more tender meatballs and added extra dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Grating your our Parmesan makes a big difference as well, especially if you use Parmigiano Stravecchio. If you use a quality jar of store bought tomato basil sauce (Mezzetta is pretty good) with the homemade meatballs, it will result in an equally delicious (and a way faster!) meal.
Sorry, this was not my favorite recipe. But I have my Mom's and maybe I'm just set in my ways. Sauce was to thin and meatballs did not have the flavor I expected.
Delicious!! Saving this one and sharing!
Used store-bought frozen meatballs and added an onion in with the garlic. Absolutely delicious.
Love what you're doing here. This is similar to something I've seen elsewhere. Long story short... Diversify those cheeses. How about a blend of parmesan, pecorino, provolone and ricotta. Meat mix is good. Might go 10 oz of pork, 5 oz beef, 5 oz veal. The seasoning and bread crumb won't really make or break you as long as you have salt and pepper. Definitely need to brown then braise - as indicated.
I followed the recipe exactly and it was, hands down, the best spaghetti and meatballs I have ever had. I will admit that there are sauces almost as good that don't need to simmer for several hours. Plus it's slightly annoying to have to drive across town to find the one butcher shop with ground veal. My meatballs had a tendency to stick to the pan, but who cares? If they fell apart, I still threw them in the sauce and everything was right with the world. I'll definitely make again. This can make a pasta-lover out of anyone. Phenomenal. Much better than I expected, and I expected a lot!
I really like this recipe for both the sauce and the meatballs. I can't find ground veal where I live in the mountains of Colorado, so I just use ground beef and hot Italian sausage instead. The sauce and meatballs freeze well too.
I have been searching for a phenomenal sauce recipe for ever! I am of Italian descent, but was never taught how to make it. I LOVE this recipe & it has become a cherished part of my collection that I go back to over & over again.
I did this exactly as directed except without the veal and omitted the red pepper flakes in the meatballs. This was AMAZING! All of the kids (4 with each a very demanding palette) LOVED it and raved about it and asked to have it again the following night for dinner - they all agreed that it was the best meal they've ever eaten. My husband couldn't stop eating it. I usually don't eat leftovers but I also couldn't wait ti have it again the next day. This will be a staple in my house again and again. Better than any restaurant pasta dish I've ever had.
Delicious! My meatballs were larger (made 48). I cooked the entire batch for 20 minutes and will freeze the extra. I used 2.5 lbs 90% lean ground beef and 1.5 lbs spicy Italian sausage because that's what I had in the freezer. Next time I'll make fresh soft breadcrumbs with the bread slices, and maybe lower the salt by 1/2 a teaspoon. Very tasty and tender meatballs, great recipe!
Tasty and easy! These are part of my emergency "OMG what am I going to cook for dinner?" freezer stash.
Delicious! Used bread crumbs and unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (modest amounts) and less parmesan as eating from what's in the frig, but came together well!
Related question: Will these be as good if they are frozen AFTER cooking? (Only 1 fork rating because I haven't made them yet.)
Question: Will these freeze as well without the bread and milk?
Easy and delicious. I typically cook a small batch for dinner the day I make them, and then freeze the others for future quick meals (most often as subs or sliders or with spaghetti, but also alone with various sides). They are great fresh or from the freezer. Everyone including my 4-year-old son enjoys them.
These exceeded my expectations. Most meatballs I have made usually lack flavor and a little dry - which is why you add a sauce or put them in something. I made meatball subs with these which I think the marinara sauce actually masked the flavor a bit, so next time I might make them a bit bigger and even add some more Italian seasoning.
They were decent meatballs, but everyone felt that my recipe was better. Plus my recipe is a lot easier and doesn't leave two baking sheets dirty. I will stick with mine.
These are so easy and so yummy. With so few ingredients was surprised how flavorful they are. Made a big batch and put half in the freezer for later. Those were also excellent cooked right out of the freezer.
All around great recipe that's fast, easy and crowd pleasing, even for foodies.
Thank you for a great recipe for a solid meatball to always have on hand!!!
Excellent idea, and the recipe is fabulous. I made a smaller version of this recipe and subbed Italian breadcrumbs soaked in a small amount of milk. These were way more tender, juicy, and flavorful than the average pan-fried meatballs.
These effing rule. Especially right out of the oven. They even work when all the white bread you have is a hotdog bun. Just don't skimp on the Parmesan.
Super easy. Delish for grown ups and littles. My three year old gobbled them up.
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Wow, this is our new favorite Meatball and Spaghetti Sauce recipe! I only changed a couple of items for personal taste. Added 3/4 cup of Half and Half to the sauce to mitigate some acid. I do this with all tomato sauces. I served it with Pecorino Romano cheese for the saltiness. This was a spectacular recipe and my husband agrees! Thank you for this simple, sophisticated, delicious recipe!
My 6 year old daughter requests this meatball recipe EVERY week. I don't change a thing. It is super easy and very delicious. We make fresh pasta while the sauce simmers. PS I'm not making it for her weekly, but I do make it monthly. : )
When I make this recipe, to thicken the sauce I add at least one cane of tomato paste as I prefer a nice thick sauce. I also simmer basil leaves in the recipe as I like a bit of a basil flavor! I too like adding a bit of the onion pureed or finely chopped back in at the end for extra flavor!
So far my favorite meatball recipe. I make it with just beef because I'm a monster and I don't like the way it tastes with pork
This is my second review because I changed things a bit. :) I cut the parm cheese to 3/4 c., halved the butter, used french sourdough bread (w/o crusts), one onion only and San Marzano canned tomatoes (sweeter). This is my go-to recipe for spaghetti & meatballs now. So moist and tasty. Reheat in a pot slowly for leftovers. Still moist like that. Sprinkle with more cheese on top at the end. YUM! 3.5!
Terrifically simple and easy. Can augment depth of sauce with leftover celery and a cup or more of good red wine. (remove celery before blending).
This is a go-to recipe. We make it with sauce from tomatoes we have roasted so it happens to be less acidic. Seasoned lightly and with the meatballs cooked in the sauce, it is a very good recipe to use
This is my favorite meatball recipe because of the flavor - the beef and pork combo is superior, I think, to just beef and to beef pork and veal. Just using beef and pork gives the meatballs the most flavor. The texture always comes out well too. Can't speak for the sauce - I use my own recipe.
This is a delicious recipe! The meatballs are so tender and flavorful you will never want to eat any other meatball again. I also found the sauce to be very tasty. I am making it again doubled for the UVM men's varsity crew team - 12 hungry guys - to eat the night before a regatta! First time I used grass fed beef-fantastic and now I am using a combo of Grass fed beef and veal. I too, am making this 2 days ahead & just reheating before serving.
Delicious meatballs and subbed 1. cup of cooked quinoa (as another cooker suggested), and kept the milk too. Very moist!
I have now made this over 10 times. It is a go to dish if I want to impress. The only changes I make are that I use San Marzano tomatoes and I chill the meatballs before I put them into the sauce. Last time I made this was for New Years Day for friends staying over. I made the meatballs the day before and put them in the fridge. They were amazing the next evening when I made the sauce and threw them in. I do it every time now. Even if you can only chill them for an hour prior to cooking.
I ended up using a different sauce recipe, but the meatballs came out great. I used store-bought breadcrumbs instead of making my own, but I would recommend the fresh breadcrumbs. The packaged ones got a little clumpy, and while the meatballs were super tender, I bet they would've been even more delicious with fresh bread. I also wasn't able to finely ground the Parmesan, but I didn't notice a huge difference. Definitely glad I tried this recipe and will continue using it for future meatball dinners!
Absolutely delicious meatball recipe! I've never been a fan because I've always ended up with dense, dry meatballs. But these were light and wonderfully seasoned with the inclusion of the cheese. I thought I had made enough for anither meal of leftovers. My company cleaned up the entire bowl! I didn't use the tomatoe sauce recipe. I make and preserve my own each Year. But a must keep meatball recipe for sure.
Delicious and decadent. The sauce is rich and silky with more depth of flavor than I would have expected from such a simple recipe, and the meatballs are incredibly tender. I upped the ante and replaced the spaghetti with home-made fettuccine--four eggs' worth of pasta is perfect if you go this route--the silken texture of fresh pasta pairs very well with this recipe. One small note: my bread crumbs absorbed all the milk, and I couldn't squeeze any out, but it didn't seem to matter since the meatballs turned out amazing anyhow.
Wow - very good. I'm impressed, I thought it would be similar to most of the meatballs that I've made but very tender and great flavor. I wound up using meatloaf mix (beef, veal, pork) instead of the 1/2 pork and beef. Would definitely make again. Marcella Hazan's sauce is one of my go to sauces... never tried it with meatballs but it worked out great. Very happy that I tried this recipe.