the best meatballs

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

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the best meatballs

I know there are a million meatball recipes out there but this one’s a winner! If you want to make the best meatballs – and learn a great hack while you’re at it!!

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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?

But before we get started, did ya ever wonder who invented meatballs? Well, it’s nothing that’s going to surprise you (obviously it wasn’t the people of Iceland)…here’s a perfect explanation from the Escoffier society:

“Italian immigrants brought the concept of meatballs with them to America, but adapted this recipe to meet their budgets. This dish was probably invented by Italians that came to America between 1880 and 1920, when millions of Italians left Italy in search of freedom and land”

What You’ll Need To Make The Best Meatballs:

  • olive oil
  • onion
  • garlic
  • fresh bread
  • whole milk
  • eggs 
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • parsley
  • dried oregano
  • salt
  • lemon zest
  • ground veal
  • ground pork
  • ground beef
  • tomato sauce

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).

the best meatballs

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.

the best meatballs

And What About This Meatball Hack?

Actually, this hack isn’t a meatball at all!! I know we all love a good meatball but how 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!!

the best meatballs

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!!!

How Will You Store Your Meatballs?

Obviously, if you are going to make the best meatballs on the planet, you’re going to need to know how to store them! Once they’re cooked, you can keep them refrigerated for up to 5 days. but, I usually make a double batch and freeze them. I wrote a whole other post about that (you can read all the details here!!)

And if you got this far and meatballs aren’t your thing (which, I really have to thank you because if your read this whole post without even loving meatball then that must mean you really love me – so thank you ;), then how about giving my meatloaf a try?? It’s covered in bacon (because what else would make a meatloaf epic?) and you can find all the details here!!

*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!

the best meatballs

How to Make the Best Meatballs

“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!!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 2 tbsp for frying
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 5 cloves 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 cup 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 lemon lemon zest (about 1/2)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
  • 1 pounds ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • Good quality tomato sauce


  • 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.
  • In a medium bowl, add the torn bread and pour over the milk; let soak
  • Once the milk has absorbed, add the eggs, parmigiano, oregano, salt, lemon zest and stir well.
  • 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!!).
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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)


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)