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Traditional Italian Meatballs

These are my Mom’s Traditional Italian Meatballs, a fast and delicious Italian Recipe. Made with beef, Parmesan cheese and Italian spices in a delicious tomato sauce. These Meatballs are going to be your family’s favourite new recipe.

meatballs cooked in a black pan with a silver spoon and sprinkled with parmesan cheese


 

This is one of my mother’s recipes (her father was Italian, so it still counts), and they are the best I have ever eaten. My mother-in-law makes her pretty much the same way. So authentic Italian they are.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Milk – whole or 2% milk
  • Bread – crusts removed, I use day old Italian
  • Ground beef – 80% lean
  • Eggs
  • Parmesan cheese  – freshly grated
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Garlic – 1-2 cloves minced

How to make them

In a small bowl soak the bread in the milk,  then squeeze out moisture and crumple into small bits. In a medium bowl combine the bread with the remaining ingredients, gently mix to combine well. Gently form into small balls.

The best and most delicious authentic homemade Italian recipe. Meatballs in a tasty tomato sauce. Dinner is ready!

In a medium frying pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and the meatballs, brown them on all sides. While meatballs are browning, in a separate, large deep pan add the olive oil, the tomato puree, spices and water, stir to combine. Add the browned meatballs. Cook until sauce has thickened and meatballs are cooked through. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.

I discovered that in Italy you don’t eat Spaghetti and Meatballs together. Spaghetti is considered a primo piatto (first dish) and Meat is a secondo piatto (second plate). Therefore they should not  be combined. Personally I think they are missing out on something, which is something the Italian doesn’t understand. My Mom always served them together and I love it. Sometimes he wins, sometimes I do.

meatballs in a black pan with three on a black plate

She would always make them in a delicious tomato sauce and they would be served over Rigatoni or Penne. I like Spaghetti myself. Or if you are looking for something a little different why not use Ground Turkey and make a Pasta Bake. So you can dish it up the Italian way, and serve it as a secondo piatto, with a nice salad or vegetable of choice, our preferred veggie are Peas.

What is the best meat to use?

This recipe (and also the way my mother-in-law made them) is with one pound of 80% lean ground beef, if you prefer you can add half ground beef and half ground pork or even Italian sausage with the casing removed.

meatballs in a black pan with a silver spoon

How to store them

The cooked meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three to four days. They can also be frozen cooked in a freezer safe container for up to three months. If you prefer you can even freeze them uncooked. Place on a cookie in the freezer until firm then transfer to a freezer safe container or bag. They will keep for three to four months.

Can they be baked?

You can even fancy them up a bit and top the cooked meatballs with some shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese, make sure they are in an oven safe pan and bake for about 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.

These are so good, you won’t even miss the pasta! Just make sure you have some crusty bread to catch the sauce. Or make it your way (our way) with pasta. These Easy Traditional Italian Meatballs are cooked in a sauce, so they can be served over pasta al dente. Buon appetito!

three meatballs on a black plate

meatballs in a black pan

Mom’s Easy Traditional Italian Meatballs

Rosemary Molloy
The best and most delicious authentic homemade Italian recipe. Meatballs in a tasty tomato sauce. Dinner is ready!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course main dishes
Cuisine Italian
Servings 14 meatballs
Calories 136 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • ¼-½ cup milk (2% or heavy)
  • 2-3 slices bread (remove crusts, I use day old Italian and if it is extra thick use 2 slices)
  • 1 pound ground beef (80% lean)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 -2 clove garlic minced

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups tomato puree* (passata) (450 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 – 1½ teaspoons oregano
  • 1 – 1½ cups water (236 – 354 grams)

*or 1 can peeled tomatoes nothing added (400 grams)

    Instructions
     

    • In a small bowl soak the bread in the milk for about 5 minutes, then squeeze out moisture and crumple into small bits.
    • In a medium bowl combine the bread with ground beef, eggs, parmesan and spices gently mix to combine well (I use my clean hands, its the best way to do it). Form into small balls ( I form the meatballs into the size of a golf ball). In a medium frying pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and the meatballs, brown them on all sides.

    FOR THE SAUCE

    • While meatballs are browning, in a separate, large deep pan add the olive oil, the tomato puree (or peeled tomatoes), spices and water, stir until well combined. Add the browned meatballs. Over medium heat, heat to boiling, then lower heat to medium low and simmer for approximately 20 minutes (covered), then raise the heat to medium, (leave pan slightly uncovered 1/3 uncovered) and cook an additional 20 minutes, until sauce has thickened and meatballs are cooked through. Serve immediately, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired. Don't forget some crusty Italian bread to soak up the delicious sauce. Enjoy!
    • **If you decide to bake the meatballs, shred approximately 1/3 cup of firm mozzarella on top and bake in the oven until melted, make sure you use an oven safe frying pan.

    Notes

    You can even fancy them up a bit and top the cooked meatballs with some shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese, make sure they are in an oven safe pan and bake for about 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
    The cooked meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three to four days. They can also be frozen cooked in a freezer safe container for up to three months. If you prefer you can even freeze them uncooked. Place on a cookie in the freezer until firm then transfer to a freezer safe container or bag. They will keep for three to four months.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 136kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 378mg | Potassium: 303mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 260IU | Vitamin C: 4.1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 1.9mg
    Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

    Republished from February 14, 2014.

    54 Comments

    1. 5 stars
      My mother made the best meatballs growing up and this recipe is better! This is my favorite meatball recipe. I make these weekly! Most of the time we eat them all, but on occasion, I will freeze them.

      Wish you wrote a blog about your travels in Italy. A group of us (12 siblings/spouses) will be heading for Rome this October. We’ll spend 3 days in Rome, 7 in Tuscany and 3 in Venice. Would love restaurant recommendations : )

      1. Hi Kristyn, oh thanks so much, glad you like the recipe. As a matter of fact my daughter does my youtube channel and she did two videos one of Rome and one in Venice, I have to say Venice is one of my favourite cities in the world! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uqf7vdmG3G4 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zfe3prZZbUo&t=2s. Hope these help and you have a great time. It should be amazing! If you click more underneath the video it will give you more information on restaurants and what to do. Just make sure you don’t eat at any of the restaurants attached to the train station in Venice probably Rome too, they aren’t very good. I forgot to mention if you go to Florence we always have lunch in this restaurant, they close at 3pm and reopen for dinner. Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolo. 🙂

    2. Cooking technique used in this recipe ensures that each bite is infused with maximum flavor and tenderness.

      1. Hi Dorothy, do you mean stuffed cannelloni? If so you can stuff it with a lot of things. Cheese, meat, vegetables. I do have a few recipes, if you search cannelloni you will find them. 🙂

    3. 5 stars
      Rosemary, kudos to your mom, and thank YOU for sharing this family recipe. It’s a treasure! These are absolutely the most tender, tasty Italian meatballs we’ve ever tasted! Can’t wait to make them again, and again and again… Grazie mille. Ciao!

    4. 5 stars
      These meatballs are FABULOUS, FABULOUS, FABULOUS! The meatballs and sauce smell delicious when they are cooking (like my Italian mother-in-law’s kitchen used to smell). My husband and my teenage sons can’t get enough of them. Thank you for sharing!

      1. Hi Beth, thanks so much, so glad everyone enjoyed them. And nothing like food bringing back memories. Take care and have a wonderful weekend.

    5. 5 stars
      I think this is my new favorite meatball recipe! Just tasted one (ok, two) just out of the frying pan and they were amazing! Moist and flavorful with just the right amount of seasoning! I doubled the recipe with no problem – they were perfect!! Thank you!!

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