This really is the World’s Best Oven Baked Meatball Recipe! I am sharing with you an authentic recipe for Italian style baked meatballs that are perfectly seasoned and tender. There are a few tricks and tips in this recipe that truly do make these the BEST meatballs ever!
Oh I know that post title may make you roll your eyes, because you thought your great aunt or grandma made the best meatballs or a local Italian joint.
And yes, I am sure they are delicious, but you have not tried my recipe for oven baked meatballs.
Oven Baked Meatballs
I take a simple classic meatball recipe and pump so much flavor into the mix that these Italian meatballs are anything but bland. They pack so much flavor into such a small bite, that your taste buds start doing a crazy little happy dance.
They are stay perfectly tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. And in sticking to my healthy eating philosophy,I have found a perfect trick to making these meatballs healthier than any restaurant’s version or your Great Aunt Barb’s recipe.
But they what they have lost in fat and preservatives, they sacrifice NOTHING in flavor. When these meatballs top spaghetti and are smothered in my homemade tomato sauce, all my cares melt away while I savor the perfect combination of comfort.
But don’t limit yourself to only having these meatballs on just spaghetti. They are fabulous served as Meatballs Subs, or simmered into Italian Wedding Soup or tucked into pizza bread, as a marvelous little surprise.
Let your imagination run wild and share with me your uses for these meatballs–I always prepare a huge batch so I always have some to pull from my freezer.
Key Ingredients for the BEST Meatballs:
The line up of ingredients are extensive, but they are simple and your will find most of it already in your pantry.
- The Meat: The base of your meatballs is truly up to you–you can use ground pork, ground veal, ground beef, ground Italian sausage or even ground turkey for meatballs. I personally use grass fed ground beef with a 15% fat content (85/15). As long as you stay between a fat content of 10-20% you can use any type of meat you like in this recipe for meatballs. I would not increase or decrease the fat any more than this though or you will either end up with a grease fire in your oven from too much fat or a dry meatball from not enough fat.
- Breadcrumbs: I use whatever bread I have leftover and grind it up in my blender or food processor to control the quality of ingredients. You can purchase store bought bread crumbs, but watch for added corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. It is easy to take leftover bread you have lying around and store in a large freezer bag in the freezer and at any time you can easily whip up homemade bread crumbs. If you need gluten free meatballs, I would suggest using an equal amount of gluten free oats in place of breadcrumbs. While I was gluten free, I did that quite often and never felt like the texture or flavor of the meatball suffered.
- Dried Herbs: I use lots of dried oregano and red pepper flakes to add serious flavor to these oven baked meatballs.
- Kosher Salt: I use a LOT of kosher salt in this recipe because I am using homemade plain, unseasoned bread crumbs and low sodium beef broth and you need salt to season food properly. If you are using regular beef broth or store bought bread crumbs or Italian sausage in your meatball mixture, decrease the salt to 1 teaspoon.
- Parsley: The only fresh herb I use is parsley–which is what 80 cents a bunch? A cheap but extremely worthwhile investment to bump up the flavor in these meatballs.
- Garlic: The fresh garlic gives these meatballs incredible flavor with a bit of spice. You can use jarred minced garlic or fresh minced garlic but I would not recommend using dried garlic.
- Parmesan Cheese: Be sure to use freshly grated cheese instead of pre-grated. There is NO comparison in the taste between fresh Parmesan and the stuff you find in a jar.
- Beef Broth: Beef broth is one of my secret ingredients in these meatballs. The beef broth gives a rich flavor to the meatballs and is my secret to steaming these meatballs while they bake–more on that in a minute. If you are opposed to beef, use vegetable or chicken stock in these meatballs and turkey or pork as your base.
- Milk: Milk is a classic ingredient
- Egg: The egg binds the meatball together, if you are egg-free, omit the egg and add in a flax egg and work more delicately when shaping the meatballs. Egg-free meatballs will work, but are much more apt to fall apart if not carefully handled.
How to Make Oven Baked Meatballs
Step One: Mix together all the ingredients except for the meat until well combined.
Step Two: Add in the meat and gently mix–not with a spoon, with your hands. Your hands are your best tools for mixing meatballs!! The mixture will wash off your hands, I promise!!
Step Three: Scoop the meatball mixture with a medium cookie scoop, rolling gently to shape if needed after scooping unto greased sheet pan with sides.
- By using a cookie scoop, it helps ensure all the meatballs are the same size which is key to delicious meatballs.
- Remember to handle the meatballs as little as possible–this will ensure tender meatballs.
Step Four: Bake the Meatballs.
Onto my secret tip for the BEST meatballs: Steam the meatballs in beef broth at a high temperature in the oven.
To steam your meatballs while they bake in the oven is easy.
- Set your oven to 450 degrees.
- Pour beef broth (or another type of stock) around your meatballs and place in the oven.
The broth will be absorbed into the meat and evaporated some in the oven, so that after a short baking time, the broth is gone and meatballs will have a chance to sear and get a crunchy exterior without being fried or covered in oil to bake.
It is insane how well this works. Try it out–I promise you will be a believer.
You can FREEZE these Italian meatballs to use for quick meals. I make a double or triple batch of oven meatballs and then once cooled, I place on cookie sheet and freeze until solid (about 30 minutes.) Transfer to a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months.
To reheat frozen meatballs, either drop into simmering sauce for 20 minutes or reheat in an oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until warmed through.
A few notes about Homemade Meatballs
- Oven Baked Meatballs are delicious served on spaghetti or served up on a hoagie bun with melted provolone cheese for a Meatball Sub.
- Remember to use a lined baking sheet for these meatballs so that you pour stock around them to steam as they cook.
So whether you are looking for a comforting meal, something delicious to stock your freezer with that is versatile, or you just want to eat something delicious, this meatball recipe is for you. I can’t wait for you to try it and be pleased.
If you liked these Baked Italian Meatballs you may like:
- Instant Pot Italian Rotini
- Oven Baked Chicken Parmesan
- Easy Homemade Lasagna
- Creamy Cajun Pasta
- Tuscan Pasta
- Easy Baked Rotini
The World's Best Meatballs
- 2 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup milk any fat percentage works
- 1 cup beef broth divided
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Combine the ingredients except for the meat well, using only 1/4 cup of the beef broth. Add the meat and just combine. Do not over mix, but be sure seasonings are well dispersed.
- Coat a baking sheet with rimmed edges with non stick spray and roll meatballs into 1 inch circles. Place meatballs onto baking sheet.
- Pour reserved beef broth around meatballs and bake at 450 for 25 minutes.
- Feel free to use any ground meat you like, just try to keep the fat percentage between 10 and 20%, for the best flavor and consistency.
To Make The Best Meatballs Ever, you may need:
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