Weeknight dinner
comments 14

Baked Italian Meatballs

My Grandmother made the most amazing meatballs. They were huge, about the size of a baseball. (Or so they seemed back when I was 10 years old.) One meatball on top of spaghetti with some tomato sauce, and I was set for dinner.

My Grandmother wasn’t Italian. I don’t know where she got her recipe. And, unfortunately, she passed away long before I learned to cook. I asked around the family; no one knew the recipe, or where they came from.

Pam Anderson to the rescue.

My recipe is based on Pam’s recipe in CookSmart, with an assist by Alton Brown for the baking instructions.

Now that I’m older, a baseball sized meatball seems a little too extravagant.
*Sigh. Being a grownup is no fun. It’s all about portion control. 

I make my meatballs golf ball sized. A large cookie scoop helps me size properly – when I do them entirely by hand, they wind up between ping pong ball and golf ball sized.

Recipe: Baked Italian Meatballs

Adapted From: Pam Anderson CookSmart

Cooking time: 25 minutes


  • 2 1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 1 pound ground pork)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use panko style bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium onion, grated or finely minced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (1 1/2 teaspoons table salt)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix (or 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley and 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)


1. Mix and shape the meatballs
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stir all the ingredients in a large bowl until everything is evenly mixed. Roll the mix into golf ball sized meatballs, each about 1/4 cup. I make my meatballs with a heaping 3 tablespoon scoop, and get about 20 meatballs. Spread the meatballs evenly on a half sheet pan (a 13 by 18 inch baking pan with a rim).

2. Bake meatballs
When the oven is up to temperature, put the pan of meatballs in the oven and cook until they reach an internal temperature of 155°F, about 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let the meatballs rest on the pan for ten minutes, then serve.


What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:

Weeknight Tomato Sauce
Slow Cooker Bolognese Ragu

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Filed under: Weeknight dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Dustin Rodriguez says

    Hmmm. I actually want to make baseball-sized meatballs! I am trying to determine how to cook them. I imagine I will need to use a lower temperature for a longer period of time. I am just fine if they take ages to bake, but I’d really like to not burn the outside. Any tips? I’m concerned that if I go too low with the temperature that the outside won’t brown properly… perhaps I should go quite low, say 300, and just cook until the interiors are the right temperature, then finish with a blast under the broiler?

  2. pitts says

    Can these be made in advance of a meal and frozen until time for the meal? Planning a dinner for 100 and want to start early getting prepared.

    • Yes, absolutely. They take an extra ten minutes or so to bake in the oven – go by internal temperature.

  3. Chris Lukowski says

    Not meatball related, but for the spaghetti itself I’d like to ask: how much kosher salt do you put in the water to season it? In the pasta episode of Good Eats a while back, Alton Brown suggested 1 teaspoon of KS per quart of water. Lately though, I’ve been seeing suggestions of 1 -tablespoon- of KS per quart! (the latter being suggested by a European standard of 10 grams of salt per 1 liter of water, which is good for 100g of pasta) What’s been your experience?

  4. Carol S says

    I usually turn mine over half way through the cooking process, this browns both sides well.

  5. Dave,

    I think you’re right about the size – a larger meatball gives it more time to brown before it cooks through. Other than that, I’d say go hotter instead of colder – high heat browns quicker – or, if you’re not having any luck, run the pan of meatballs under the broiler until they brown.

  6. Dave Whittaker says

    I made a triple batch of these tonight, although I used veal in addition to pork and beef and made minor changes to other ingredients. I usually pan fry mine then bake them because I like the browning. In your picture, yours look like they have a nice bit of browning so I thought I’d give it a try. Mine are brown on the bottom where they rested on the pan, but the rest are pale and unappealing. Any ideas on how to get them nice and brown like yours? I made mine smaller, golf ball size, so my guess is they cooked too fast at 400 to get browned on the outside because they were so small.

  7. MommyRN says

    My family loves this recipe with the simple weeknight tomato sauce (without chunks!)… This recipe makes me look like a good cook!

  8. Nessman says

    Got these in the oven now…..love how simple yet authentic they are…they smell great before they have even started cooking!

  9. Ca4ole says

    there. The current Food on Friday on
    Carole’s Chatter is all about favourite foods from childhood. I do hope you link this lovely one in. This is the
    . Please do pop back to check out some of the
    other links – there are a lot of good ones there already. Have a great week.

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