This is hands down the best meatball recipe you will ever try! Made with the perfect blend of seasonings and baked using a special technique, these Italian-styled baked meatballs are crispy on the outside, yet tender and juicy on the inside.
You may think your great aunt or your grandma made the best meatballs. And while I am sure they are delicious, I am not afraid to state that my meatballs recipe is the best.
I know that is a bold claim, but whether you serve these baked meatballs with pasta and spaghetti sauce, in Italian Wedding Soup, or on a meatball sub, after one bite, I think you will agree, that this is truly the BEST meatball recipe!
Reasons This is the Best Meatball Recipe
- Packed with Flavor. Don't be alarmed by the amount of dried spices and minced garlic. That is key to the most scrumptious, flavorful Italian meatballs you have ever had.
- Perfect Texture. This meatball recipe results in meatballs that are tender and juicy on the inside, yet crispy on the outside.
- Baked not Fried. Instead of frying the meatballs, they are baked at a high temperature, which allows the outside to crisp up, as though they were fried. But to keep the meatballs tender and moist, they are baked in a bath of beef broth. I know that sounds crazy, but it works wonders! The meatballs absorb the broth while they bake, keeping them from drying out, as they crisp up.
Notes on Key Ingredients
The lineup of ingredients to make flavorful Italian meatballs may look extensive, but most of the ingredients are staples you will find already stocked in your pantry.
- Ground Meat: I recommend using 90% lean ground beef for the best results. However, ground pork, veal, sausage, turkey, or chicken Just stay between a fat content of 10-20% regardless of the type of meat you use, as higher fat content than 20% would result in greasy meatballs and a lower fat content than 10% may result in dried out meatballs.
- Breadcrumbs: Use either plain bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs. Panko bread crumbs will keep the meatballs a bit lighter in texture than traditional, but use what you have on hand.
- Seasonings: These meatballs are seasoned with fresh parsley, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, pepper, and minced garlic. use lots of dried oregano and red pepper flakes to add serious flavor to these oven-baked meatballs. The amounts are NOT typos!
- Kosher Salt: Use kosher salt, not table salt, as kosher salt will help to enhance the flavor, while table salt will result in meatballs that taste salty. Keep in mind this meatball recipe calls for quite a bit of kosher salt because the recipe uses plain, unseasoned bread crumbs and low-sodium beef broth. If you are using regular beef broth, seasoned breadcrumbs, or Italian sausage in your meatball mixture, decrease the salt to 1 teaspoon.
- 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.
- Milk: Adding a bit of milk will add another rich element to your meatballs.
- Eggs: The addition of eggs will help to bind the meatballs together.
- Gluten-Free Meatballs: Replace the breadcrumbs with an equal amount of gluten-free oats or your favorite gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Control the Spice Level: This meatball recipe stands out as the best due to the amount of seasonings used. However, if you are sensitive to spice, feel free to cut the amount of crushed pepper flakes in half and/or cut the amount of minced garlic in half.
- Lower-Sodium Meatball Recipe: Be sure to use unseasoned breadcrumbs, and low-sodium beef broth, and cut the amount of kosher salt in half.
- Egg-Free Baked Meatballs: Omit the egg and add in a flax egg, by whisking together 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water. Egg-free meatballs will work but are much more apt to fall apart if not carefully handled, so work with a gentle touch.
- No Milk on Hand? Milk is a classic ingredient in meatballs, but feel free to use additional beef broth in place of the milk. Just cut back on the salt by ¼ teaspoon.
- Dairy-Free Meatballs: Use beef broth in place of the meatballs and omit the parmesan cheese, or use nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese.
Tips for Making the Best Meatballs
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect baked meatballs. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Tip #1: Don't Overwork the Meatballs. It is crucial to handle the meat as little as possible when making meatballs to ensure the meatballs do not become tough. The best way to ensure that the meat is not overworked is to first combine the spices and binders and then add in the meat and mix lightly just to combine the meat with the spices, eggs, and breadcrumbs.
Tip #2: Evenly Shape the Meatballs. The meatballs must be the same size so that they bake up evenly. Using either a tablespoon measuring spoon or a small cookie scoop, scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture and then gently roll it into a circle to shape.
Tip #3: Bake Meatballs in Beef Broth. My hack for baking meatballs in broth will change how you bake meatballs forever! The broth will be evaporated and absorbed into the meatballs as the exterior becomes crispy. The process is quite simple, yet produces phenomenal results.
How to Serve Meatballs
These oven-baked meatballs are so flavorful, that you can enjoy them plain, straight from the oven. However, the following suggestions are some of my favorite ways to serve these baked meatballs.
- Serve these Italian-style meatballs on top of cooked spaghetti with a generous topping of homemade spaghetti sauce and parmesan cheese.
- Use the meatballs as a base for hearty Meatball Subs.
- These meatballs are also featured in my recipe for Italian Wedding Soup--so good!
- Toss the meatballs in a barbecue sauce or a mixture of cocktail sauce and grape jelly, for a flavorful appetizer.
Storage & Reheating Instructions
- Refrigerate: Allow any leftover meatballs to cool to room temperature. Then place them into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Freeze: Once the meatballs have cooled to room temperature, place the meatballs onto a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. This will take about 30 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to an airtight, freezer-safe container and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Reheat: From the refrigerator, reheat the meatballs for 45 seconds on a heat-safe plate in the microwave. From frozen, either simmer the frozen meatballs directly in spaghetti sauce for 20-25 minutes or bake them at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until warmed through.
If you are looking for a detailed step-by-step video, be sure to check out my YouTube video for Baked Meatballs.
More Italian-American Favorites
- The Best Stuffed Shells
- Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta
- Restaurant-Quality Chicken Marsala
- Pasta Puttanesca
- Easy Skillet Lasagna
- Instant Pot Pasta Fagioli
- Easy Baked Rotini
Need more inspiration for planning meals that your family will love? Sign up for my FREE Meal Plans and each week you will get a meal plan with a shopping list.
I can't wait for you to try out this meatball recipe. I truly believe it is the best! And I would love for you to leave a comment letting me know how much you enjoyed this recipe.
The Best Baked Meatballs
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup milk any fat percentage
- 1 cup low-sodium beef broth DIVIDED
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt see notes
- ½ tablespoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
- Preheat oven to 450℉. Coat a baking sheet with rimmed edges with nonstick spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, milk, egg, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, and ¼ cup of the beef broth. Mix until well combined.
- Add the meat to the mixture and just combine. Do not over mix, but be sure seasonings are well dispersed.
- Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture, using a tablespoon measuring spoon or medium cookie scoop, and then gently shape into 1-inch meatballs.
- Place the meatballs onto the prepared baking sheet. Pour the remaining ¾ cup beef broth around meatballs, it is okay if the broth does not fully cover the pan.
- Bake the meatballs for 22-25 minutes, or until the broth is evaporated and the meatballs are browned.