Hand-Mix. Combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl and gently mix together with your hands, careful not to over-mix. Just squish it all together a few times to combine. Your hands have a lighter touch than a spoon or spatula, and incorporates all of the ingredients without crushing the meat.
Form the meatballs. Divide the meatball mixture into your desired size. As long as they are uniform, they can be as large or small as you like. PRO TIP: To ensure that they cook evenly, I use a medium cookie scoop to divide the meat into uniform sized 2-inch balls, roll them, then place them fairly close together on a foil lined cookie sheet. They can be even closer together than this, as long as they’re not touching; you just need air flow around them to ensure even cooking.
Bake. Bake in the oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size. Be sure to check for doneness. Use an instant read thermometer to check that the internal temperature reads at least 165 degrees F. Serve hot with your favorite sauce.
Is it better to bake or fry meatballs?
Cooking them in a pan on the stovetop requires additional olive oil for frying, and baking doesn’t. Baking them is a healthier alternative since you aren’t adding any extra oil. If you want a crispier exterior, you can place them under the broiler for a few minutes at the end. You’ll still get that golden brown and crispy outside without any extra fat.
How do you keep homemade meatballs from falling apart?
When meatballs fall apart, it’s usually the binder that’s the culprit. The ingredients you use can make a difference. The binder helps to hold the meat together; and in this recipe, that’s an egg and breadcrumbs. Over-mixing can actually make your meatballs fall apart! Use your hands to lightly mix and form them.
Do you need an egg to make meatballs?
The egg used in most formed ground beef recipes like meatballs or meatloaf, is part of what holds the meat together. You can substitute the eggs with plain yogurt or ricotta cheese if you need to.
Can I make this easy meatball recipe with ground turkey instead?
You can! Just replace the ground beef with the same amount of lean ground turkey and bake as directed. You could also use my Homemade Turkey Meatballs Recipe which is similar to this one.
Storage: Any leftover meatballs can be stored on their own or with a sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Reheating: To reheat frozen or thawed meatballs, simmer with your favorite pasta sauce on the stove top over medium heat. Or you can reheat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds on high.
Can I Freeze Baked Meatballs?
Absolutely! This meatball recipe will freeze beautifully if you follow these steps, so I always make a double batch.
To freeze baked meatballs:
Cool just enough so they are easy to handle, then scrape any fat clinging to the bottom of the meatball.
Freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet, then store in an airtight container or freezer bag or freezer container for up to 3 months.
To freeze raw meatballs: Mix your ingredients together then place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze, then store in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 6 months. To cook meatballs from frozen, place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes.
Meat – Try using a 50/50 combination of ground beef and ground pork or ground turkey.
Seasonings – For Italian meatballs, add 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning or a teaspoon of parsley, basil, and oregano to the meat mixture. Fresh herbs are great, too.
Breadcrumbs – If you don’t have breadcrumbs on hand you can use crushed crackers. Or make your own by toasting a few slices of bread and then pulsing them in your food processor.
This meatball recipe is great to use in a variety of ways. Serve them drenched in marinara sauce over pasta and topped with plenty of Parmesan cheese, in a sub roll topped with melty cheese, or even in soup! Sometimes we just like to enjoy plain meatballs with a copycat Olive Garden Salad and some Garlic Bread to just keep it simple.
Use rimmed sheets because the meatballs will release juices as they bake and you want to keep it all on the pan. If you don’t have rimmed baking sheets you can bake the meatballs in a baking dish.
Make sure to line your pan with foil or parchment paper for easier clean up.
Use a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to portion out the meatballs so they are even in size.
Don’t over-mix or you risk the meatballs becoming tough.
If your meat mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon or two of milk.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets (baking pans will work if you don’t have rimmed cookie sheets) with foil and set aside.
Place all ingredients into a large bowl and gently mix together with your hands, careful not to over-mix. Just squish it all together a few times to combine.
Using a cookie scoop or your hands, divide meat mixture into desired size balls. As long as they are uniform, they can be as large or small as you like.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size. Be sure to check for doneness. Serve hot with your favorite sauce.
TO FREEZE: Allow meatballs to cool completely on the baking sheets. Once cool, scrape the fat away from each ball and seal tightly in a freezer safe bag or air tight container and place in the freezer.
*Nutrition count is per meatball when you get 48 meatballs from the recipe using the medium cookie scoop as described in the post.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.