Absolutely the Best Homemade Meatballs Ev-er!

It has been just over a year since I first published my meatball recipe on the blog. Since that day, it has become my 2nd most popular recipe, next to my Beer Bacon Chocolate Chili. There is only one problem, I never put pictures up with the recipe…which is really a shame because they are quite lovely, as you may note in the picture above…and the picture below….

In the last year, I have refined the recipe to make enough for 2 people (with leftovers), or 4 people for dinner. These have become an old stand by for crockpot days, when I simply skip the baking and just throw the raw meatballs in the slow cooker with sauce and let it go all day. Honestly, I sometimes find myself making these once per week.

I have also refined the sauce that I cook these meatballs in. Seriously, I couldn’t have made it any easier for you guys. Pour a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes in your pan, add 1 tsp sugar, a handful of torn up fresh basil leaves, and let it simmer. Once you add the meatballs to the sauce, they really bring out the light, wholesome flavors of the simple ingredients.

One note, one of the trickier things about this recipe is the layering of ingredients. If you are making them for the first time, you may wonder how that works, so I figured a picture might help:

And like I said last year, the less you handle the meat when it is raw, the better the texture of the finished meatball. So, when mixing the ingredients, work from the edges and kind of fold the mixture into the middle as you go around the bowl.

 Homemade Meatballs (Based on Rao’s recipe)
This recipe makes approximately 18 – 1 inch meatballs


  • 1 lb Ground beef, ground sirloin or ground pork (or a combination of the 2)
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove (crushed)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 Egg (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup Water (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup Fresh Reggiano or Pecorino Cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Place meat in a tall mixing bowl and press into the bowl
  3. Put garlic on top of meat and lightly rub the garlic around the top of the meat
  4. Sprinkle with salt & pepper
  5. Crack your eggs on top of the mixture
  6. Remember- You have NOT stirred or mixed anything yet, you are layering
  7. Pour the water over the mixture
  8. Sprinkle the cheese over the water to make a top layer like a tablecloth
  9. Cover the cheese with the breadcrumbs
  10. Now you are ready to mix. Mix from the outside of the bowl to the middle and fold it in.
  11. After you go around the bowl twice, the mixture should be mixed. Do NOT over handle the meat.
  12. Roll into your preferred size meatball and place on a greased cookie sheet
  13. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top of the meatballs begin to brown
  14. When baking is complete, place meatballs in a pot full of your favorite sauce and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  15. Serve over your favorite pasta (mine is papparadelle) or on hoagie rolls

62 thoughts on “Absolutely the Best Homemade Meatballs Ev-er!

  1. Great post. I too have a great meatball recipe on my blog …

    It’s slightly different from yours but, I think you and your readers will love it too.

    Right now, I just started and I know it’s 1 in a sea of a zillion blogs. I aspire to have a blog like yours. Like you, I will do my best to offer the best possible content to my readers. Thanks for the great post and inspiration.

  2. I have been pondering meatball recipes and this looks like a winner… I will definitely be trying them in January (how could I not with such convincing pictures?!) My crockpot will thank you!

  3. I haven’t made meatballs in the longest time. My personal favorite is to do a meatball stuffed with goat cheese (I made a version like that with a blueberry balsamic BBQ sauce.

  4. I mentioned on Twitter already that these meatballs were a big hit at Christmas dinner. Here’s the longer story. We doubled the recipe to make about 40 meatballs and prepared them up through Step13. We let them cool and then put them in the fridge overnight in a big lasagna pan. The next day, we drove them, plus our sauce ingredients, to my wife’s family’s house and finished cooking them in the sauce on site.

    They were delicious and everyone loved them. We had fewer leftovers than we had hoped we would. My only change, were I to double the recipe again, would be to reduce the breadcrumbs and cheese by 1/4 or 1/8 cup. By doubling the recipe, I think they became a little more dominating in the final version and I lost some of the meatiness in the meatballs.

    I’m definitely making these again!

  5. Well, I have had much trouble since moving, when it comes to finding the Frozen Meatballs I once was able to buy, so, I have turned to the Web. for “How to Make Homemade Meatballs” as a divorced male, and now the “Little Miss Homemaker” I am darn well going to give this ” Absolutely the Best Homemade Meatballs Ev-er” a Try! and I will let anyone else in my boat, know how if they Sink or Float.

  6. One question: what brand of crushed tomatoes do you recommend? I think they have a huge variation in taste from brand to brand. At the moment, I’m using Tuttoroso, but I’ve used Scalfani in the past. Muir Glen used to be good, but I recently bought a bad batch. What do your recommend?

  7. I have to say for some reason and I think its from over mixing my meatballs in the past have been almost mushy. I use to use oatmeal because that is how I was taught. Needless to say every time I make them they look great but not so tasty. We joke that they are bombs!!! If I want to do the half and half mixture would you recommend mixing the meat first then layering? Thanks for blogging it is so helpful especially because I was never taught how to cook and I love family dinners!

    • Hi Nikki- Thanks for reading my recipes! I would say do NOT mix the meat first. Just layer them together. One of the problems you may be having is over mixing. If you “play” with the meat too much, the texture when they are done will be off. Good luck, and let me know how they turn out!

      • Thanks so much!!! I am not very technical savvy but I am going to do my best to follow you also I looked at your recipes and they all look AMAZING!!! You are a God send, have a wonderful day and I will let you know how they come out.

  8. I kind of changed the recipe a little bit. didn’t have the cheese it called for, so I used a four cheese mixture and I put onions in it. there in the oven right now and I’ll probably finish everything tomorrow. I’m going to put them in a cream of mushroom soup with a little milk and simmer for about 45 minutes.I’ll keep in touch and let you know how they turn out.I made a double batch because its real simular to my Salisbury steak recipe I use.and it’s a hit with everybody that’s ever tried it.thank you and will stay in touch I hope.

  9. Have to admit, this process seemed strange to me and i was a little scared. I used 1.5lbs of ground pork so i just increased the water/egg/cheese/breadcrumb a little. Otherwise, i followed the recipe exactly and they came out great. lots of flavor…moist..and really easy clean up. i made it with a summer red sauce (just garlic, can 28 oz san Marzano whole tomatoes, squished) tons fresh basil, s&p and a tiny dash of sugar). Very good. I recommend.

  10. I have a great recipe from my Italian mother-in-law, but will give yours a shot. Instead of mixing with my hands, I use a fork. It takes more time, but I am not overworking the meat and warming it with my hands.

  11. These are in the oven as we speak! The only thing I’m worried about is that I doubled the recipe because I used a lb of beef and a lb of pork but when I rolled the meat balls it looked like mostly cheese and breadcrumbs like 50/50 to the meat proportion…either way they smell delish and I’m sure they will taste great! I’m making homemade alfredo sauce to go with them :)

  12. I’m thinking of making these, and then throwing them in the crockpot with the sauce for meatballs for my daughter’s birthday party. About how many meatballs does this make? I love meatballs and the pictures are making me DROOL!!!!

  13. I just made these for dinner and they were fantastic! Highly recommended. This is my go-to recipe for meatballs now. I happened to have some red wine so I used that instead of water. That was the only change I made. Thank you for posting!

  14. I used this recipe for dinner this evening. The meatballs were awesome, my family is still raving about them :) thank you for sharing!

  15. Just made these with venison and bacon bits. They are in oven cooking now and smell excellent. Only thing was had to add few more bread crumbs. Hope they taste as good as they look. Did tony’s seasoning for taste over salt and pepper

  16. I’m planning to make them for family including a dairy allergic child, so no cheese. Would you just omit or substitute something else?

  17. I don’t have fresh garlic in the house but going to try with garlic powder and different cheese, will post how they tried out tomorrow

  18. These look delicious, and I am excited to make them tonight. The only issue is that I don’t have fresh garlic. I have garlic, in a jar, but not sure how much to use.

  19. My first time making meatballs off of a recipe , I omitted the tomatoes and simmered the meatballs in a brown, onion and garlic based gravy.The Taste was beyond what I expected, an Awsome Recipe me and my girlfriend loved it and she’s the chef!

  20. These are delicious and they didn’t fall apart in my meatball soup thanks so much a great recipe!

  21. I have cooked this recipe about 3 times since finding it. I’m a huge meatball fan. This is absolutely the greatest meatball recipe I have ever found. These freakin’ things are so good. My wife is not a meatball fan and she ended up loving these things. Whoever invented this recipe should receive some type of award. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  22. Thanks for this great recipe. I have made meatballs several times and my husband says this was, by far, the best ever!!!1

  23. Just used this recipe for my girlfriends family’s meatball making contest! I hope we win, if we do I will be sending you a picture of the trophy!

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