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Simple Italian Meatballs

Simple Italian Meatballs are a delicious, easy meatball recipe made with ground beef, bread crumbs, Parmesan, and herbs. They are cooked on the stove in olive oil and lightly simmered in a little broth, so they are tender and moist. Serve them alone or with pasta or rice for a hearty, savory dinner.

Meatballs in a silver frying pan with a spoon.


I have several meatball recipes, and this is my favorite simple one. They’re the ones I make when I don’t have a lot of time because they are ready in about 35 minutes. Add a favorite marinara sauce and pasta, and dinner is ready in no time.

With this recipe, you don’t have to worry about dry or dense meatballs. Milk and egg in the mixture add a lot of moisture, so you get a batch of tender meatballs with lots of flavor. I’m also sharing tips for making them, so they turn out exactly right for you every time.

They are great on their own, with pasta, or serve them in some tomato sauce with crusty bread on the side. Or, use them to make meatball stuffed crescent rolls which remind me of meatball subs!


  • Ground beef
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Bread crumbs
  • Large egg
  • Minced garlic cloves
  • Dried herbs like parsley or oregano or fresh herbs like parsley
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Milk
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable or beef broth – either homemade or store bought, if using store bought check the salt content.

Recipe Instructions

Mix the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly add the milk and mix until you have a soft, compact meat mixture. 

Ingredients in a white bowl and mixed.

Scoop the mixture and form it into small balls (a cookie scoop makes this easy). You should get approximately 36 meatballs.

Formed meatballs on a black plate.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium heat. Place the meatballs in a single layer and brown them on all sides for about five to six minutes. Turn them often so they cook evenly.

Cooked meatballs in a silver frying pan.

Add the broth and cover the pan and adjust the heat to medium or low. Cook the meatballs in the broth for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are cooked through. Take the lid off and cook them on high heat for two to three minutes longer or until the broth has reduced and thickened.

Meatballs in a bowl and 2 on a spoon.


Can you use something besides beef?

Yes, you can use ground pork, veal, or Italian sausage. I prefer meat with a higher fat content because the meatballs are more flavorful and tender. If you prefer something lean, you can use ground turkey for this recipe, too. Or, do a mix of different ground meat.

How do you make tender meatballs?

The best meatballs are made with meat that has some fat in it. It makes them more tender. Also, when you mix the meat mixture, be sure to use a light hand. Mix only until the ingredients are combined. When you roll the meatballs, don’t pack them too tight. They should hold together, but if you squeeze or roll them too tightly, they will be dense once cooked.

Can you bake them in the oven?

If you want baked ones, you might like my baked Italian meatballs.

Can you freeze homemade meatballs?

Yes, they freeze great. I like to freeze them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper until they are frozen and then transfer them to a freezer container. They will keep for several months. You can warm them in sauce or broth when you are ready to serve them.

How long do meatballs keep in the refrigerator?

Cooked meatballs will keep for up to four days in the refrigerator. Keep them in an airtight container.

How do Italians serve meatballs?

Maybe it’s a surprise, but you won’t find a lot of spaghetti and meatballs in Italy. That is an Italian-American thing and not a common dish here. Italians like to serve meatballs just as they are or simmer them in a sauce or broth with some bread or a vegetable on the side.

Meatballs in a white plate.

Homemade Italian meatballs have never been so easy to make. This is a great recipe to have on hand when you want a quick and easy dinner when it’s busy. I hope you give these simple Italian meatballs a try – Enjoy!

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Meatballs in a silver frying pan with a spoon.

Simple Italian Meatballs

Rosemary Molloy
The best easy meatballs that are tender & full of flavor. Simple Italian meatballs are made with beef, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs & ready in 35 minutes.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 36 meatballs
Calories 47 kcal



  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon parsley (or ½ tablespoon chopped fresh)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 dashes black pepper
  • ¼ cup milk


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓-½ cup broth (vegetable or beef)


  • In a large bowl mix together the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, minced garlic, chopped parsley, salt and pepper.  Slowly add the milk until you have a soft compact mixture. Form the mixture into small balls.
  • In a large pan add the olive oil and the meatballs, brown on all sides turning often. Cook for approximately 5-6 minutes. Add the broth, cover and cook on medium/low heat for approximately 10-12 minutes or until cooked through. Stir occasionally to make sure the meatballs don't burn. Remove the lid and cook 2-3 minutes on high to thicken slightly. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


Cooked meatballs will keep for up to four days in the refrigerator. Keep them in an airtight container.
To freeze them, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper until they are frozen and then transfer them to a freezer safe container. They will keep for several months. You can warm them in sauce or broth when you are ready to serve them.


Calories: 47kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 65mg | Potassium: 41mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 19IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!


  1. 5 stars
    I always look to your web site first for inspiration. Your recipes are easy to follow and always turn out delicious. I’m enjoying these tonight! Thanks and have a great weekend 😊

  2. 5 stars
    Rosemary, came across these meatballs last night and ironically was making meatballs today for scheduled trip. These are simply divine! Thanks for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    I just made your meatballs, they are so very good!! Thank you for sharing the recipe. I baked in oven.

    Have a good day!

  4. 5 stars
    Hi, Rosemary. Your site is wonderful. For making meatballs, I find that it is better to thoroughly mix all the ingredients, except the meat, first – like a panade. Then add the meat. This way you don’t have to mix the meat too much (so you don’t end up with tough meatballs) and you will be assured that all is homogenized.
    Thanks for all you recipes,

  5. 5 stars
    Your recipe sounds wonderful. I am going to prepare these but could you tell me how many meatballs are in one serving? I am on Weight Watchers and need to add this to my recipe.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Christine, I made 36 meatballs and the nutrition is for one meatball. So I can’t really say how many you can have on ww. Hope that helps.

  6. Your web site is so wonderful. I’ve used several recipes, and I’ll be making them again. Delicious, and very easy. And clear directions! Thank you!!

  7. Dear Rosemary,

    I don’t know how to thank you enough for these amazing recipes. It is food I grew up on and thought all was lost til I found your blog. Your recipes are super tasty, full of flavour and most of all very easy to make. My family absolutely love everyone of your recipes.

    You are simply “The Best”

    Thank you again and keep them coming.


  8. 5 stars
    Good day Rosemary!
    A very Happy New Year to you and yours! This is always how I have made my meatballs. I never use the veal, pork and beef mix like a lot of gal use. A while back, I had seen a recipe that used sour cream instead of milk as one of the binding ingredients. I have been using this in mine and I think it makes a nice tender meatball. Cheers and have a blessed and safe 2022!

  9. 5 stars
    THESE meatballs are fabulous!!!!!!!! I made them and quick and easy!!!!! We really enjoyed them in a great sub with light sauce and melted cheese!!! YUM!!!!!

    Love all of your recipes.

    LINDA B.

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