Back to Basics: How to Make the Best Meatballs (and a smart hack!)

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Oh you soft, moist meatball…how I love you!

And, you, meatball that is crisped up in some sizzling olive oil…how I dream of you!

I know, I know.  Some ladies wish upon a star for a pair of red-soled shoes.


I just want a succulent meatball.

Now, hear me out.  I will not say that these are the world’s best meatballs (even though my fam says they are) because, in today’s food world, meatballs are made, flavoured, cooked and served a million different ways.  But what if I told you that all of your meatball dreams can come true with one single recipe?

Want an incredible sandwich filled with 2 – 3 meaty balls topped with some melty cheese? Coming right up! (just crisp them up, place them in an oven-proof dish, top with cheese and bake until cooked through).

Back to Basics: How to Make the Best Meatballs (and a smart hack!) Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie Durigon

Want some juicy, sauce covered balls on on top of a bowl of pasta? Well, I got your back (some people like their meatballs simmered/poached in the sauce but this recipe is so moist that it may fall apart – which, btw, would still make a great meat sauce!!).  These ones are best either roasted in a high oven or fried up in a pan to crisp up the outside and seal in all the moist goodness.

Back to Basics: How to Make the Best Meatballs (and a smart hack!) Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie DurigonHow about a cute baby slider? Yup, I got a meatball for that! And this is where the hack comes in.  Place a meatball in a hot pan and press down a bit to flatten; after it has browned, flip over and brown other side and serve in a bun with your choice of toppings…most moist burger ever!!

Back to Basics: How to Make the Best Meatballs (and a smart hack!) Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie Durigon

Yes, this recipe is all kinds of awesome.  It starts with the trifecta of meatball meat (beef/pork/veal) and adds all the glorious “moisteners”…milk soaked bread, eggs and sweated onions.  It makes a ton – like 86 meatballs – and I totally did that on purpose (’cause they’re so epic, you’re gonna want to freeze some for the next time you get a meatball craving).  And, finally, not up for Italianized meatballs? Change up the oregano for some ginger and garam masala, fry them up in some ghee and serve with a side of coconut rice…Oh ya baby!!!

And, did y’all think I was gonna leave you hanging without a really great tomato sauce? No sirree!!!  This is my basic tomato sauce and I think you’re gonna love it with these balls!!!

*note: I’ve adjusted some of the ingredients as I made an error when I first posted it and it would have been too watery.  I apologize if any of you tried the recipe before the adjustment!

How to Make the Best Meatballs (and a smart hack!)
Author: Suzie Durigon
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 7 dozen
“On top of old smokey, all covered in cheese…you know the drill, right? Whip up a batch of these moist nuggets while you sing away in the kitchen. You’ll have the best day ever!!
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus 2 tbsp for frying)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 5 chopped garlic
  • 3 cups torn day-old Italian bread (if you only have fresh, rip it into pieces and dry it out in a warm oven)
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (this has to be fresh)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley (option: sub in half sliced basil)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt (or suit to your preference)
  • 2 tsp (about 1/2 lemon) lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
  • 1 pounds ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • Good quality tomato sauce
  1. In a medium skillet, warm 1/4 cup of the oil over medium heat and cook the onions for about 5 minutes until softened; add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the torn bread and pour over the milk; let soak
  3. Once the milk has absorbed, add the eggs, parmigiano, oregano, salt, lemon zest and stir well.
  4. In a large bowl, place all of the meat and gently combine; add the cooked onion mixture and the bread mix and then stir to combine (if you’re not sure about the seasoning, you can always use my nonna’s trick…fry about a tbsp of the meat in a hot pan and eat it…add more seasoning if you think you didn’t get it right the firs time!!).
  5. When you are ready to make meatballs, form into balls (you can make them into any size you like – large or medium to serve with pasta or small to use in soup) and place them on a baking sheet while you make up the rest.
  6. In the same skillet you used to cook the onions, add the additional oil and heat to medium high; add about 8-10 meatballs at a time and cook them until browned, turning until they are brown on all of sides (repeat until you have cooked all of the meatballs that you would like to serve…see note below for freezing the rest).
  7. If you are serving them with a sauce, use a large saucepan to cook the meatballs and when you are finished browning them, remove the meatballs and keep them warm in an oven proof dish (and keep in a warm oven) use the same saucepan to cook your sauce (you get the added benefit of the meat “bits” to flavour your sauce)
  8. NOTE: if you are not using the mix right away, you can place the mixture into a large freezer bag and freeze to make meatballs another time or make meatballs and place on a baking sheet to flash freeze (then slide them into freezer bags to use later – which I recommend over freezing the mix)