Meatballs can be a lot of work to make, but these oven baked meatballs make this family friendly dinner get to the table faster and boy are they a real crowd pleaser!
Feeding a crowd is what I do whenever we have family come over. It’s a Persian thing. My kids are blessed to have their cousins as best friends. And of course, everyone is in your personal business!
I am picky about meatballs, from their flavor and what’s hidden inside of them. I have made them over and over, changing the recipe each time, until I get it right. These baked meatballs are now a family favorite and a permanent fixture in our dinner rotation.
What’s so great about this dish?
I have made all beef meatballs and turkey meatballs. I’ve mixed beef with pork and even tried ground chicken. I found the best flavor combination for Italian-style meatballs is combination of ground beef (80/20) and Italian sausage.
Meatballs are traditionally fried up in a pan, but that took way too long. Now I bake them in oven, which is way less work for me and it gets to the table much faster!
These beauties are great as an appetizer, mixed with pasta or stuffed in french bread for a delicious meatball sandwich. I have doubled the recipe for those times I have family coming over. It’s oh so easy!
Ingredients you will need
This recipe for baked meatballs is not only easy, but it also budget friendly. Whenever I find ground beef or sausage on sale, I stock up and keep them in the freezer until I’m ready to cook!
- Ground Beef: I use two kinds of ground meat for these meatballs. Ground beef is one of them. It can be 80/20 or lean 90/10. You can also use ground turkey or ground chicken.
- Italian Sausage: This is where the flavor is at! You can choose spicy or sweet sausage. I have used pork sausage and even turkey sausage. Remember, we are talking about the raw sausage meat mixture and not those precooked links.
- Frozen Spinach: I love sneaking veggies in my family’s meals! And frozen spinach is always in my arsenal. Thaw the spinach and squeeze to remove the water. If you are using fresh spinach, you will need to chop and give it a quick sauté.
- Bread Crumbs: Meatballs without bread or bread crumbs are dense. Bread crumbs give it some… air. You can use seasoned or plain.
- Parmesan Cheese: You can use grated parmesan, pecorino, romano or a combination of these cheeses.
- Egg: In meatballs eggs are used for moisture and a binder. Large eggs are used in my recipe.
- Spices: I use salt and dried spices like parsley, basil and garlic powder. If you like it spicy, add red pepper flakes.
Recipe Step-by-Step Instructions
1. Mix it up. Grab a large bowl and combine all the ingredients with your hands. If you want, you can also mix it with a stand mixer using the paddle attachment on a low speed.
2. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
3. Form meatballs. Grab a scoop of meat mixture and roll them into 1 to 1.5-inch balls. Place them on a large baking sheet leave some space in between. They should not touch. You will make approximately 25 meatballs.
4. Bake. Bake until meatballs are browned, about 20-25 minutes. While meatballs are cooking, get a pot of water boiling to prepare pasta (if using).
5. Marinara. If you are serving your meatballs with marinara sauce, remove meatballs from oven when browned. Pour marinara sauce over meatballs, rolling them to coat. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQS
You can serve up meatballs as is, over pasta or with bread to make meatball sandwiches. For sandwiches, add some mozzarella cheese to melt over everything. You can also chop them up and use them on your next homemade pizza!
- While the meatballs are baking, get your pasta water boiling. By the time the meatballs are done, your pasta will be ready or nearly ready.
- Store bought marina sauce is such a life saver. I do make my own sauce, but when I’m in a time crunch, store bought to the rescue!
- Top your meatballs with more grated parmesan and some fresh basil.
Meatballs typically have bread crumbs or milk soaked bread in them. If you have a gluten allergy, then you can use gluten free bread crumbs or make your own by toasting and drying gluten free bread. You can also mix in about 1-cup cooked rice or cooked quinoa.
When I first looked into making oven baked meatballs, I turned to Alton Brown’s recipe. This recipe is loosely based on it. I have modified the ingredients to our personal taste and baking these babies in a baking sheet and not a muffin pan.
Mixing meatballs can be rough on your hands and wrists. A stand mixer works great to mix up the meatball mixture. Just use the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until it is thoroughly combined.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb Italian sausage, spicy or sweet
- 5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 2/3 cup bread crumbs, seasoned or plain
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 2 TBS dried parsley
- 1 TBS dried basil
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Just use your hands to mix everything together.
- When ingredients are evenly distributed and mixture is smooth, use immediately or place in refrigerator, covered for up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF
- Form meatballs, rolling them into 1-1.5 inches in diameter and place on a baking sheet, leaving some space in between. You will make approximately 25 meatballs.
- When oven is hot, bake until meatballs are browned, about 20-25 minutes.
- If serving with pasta, boil pasta water while meatballs are baking.
- If using marinara sauce, pour over meatballs and bake again for 5-10 minutes then serve.
To make these gluten free, use gluten free bread crumbs or omit bread crumbs altogether.
Serving Suggestions: Serve these meatballs alone, with your choice of pasta, make meatball subs or chop and bake on top of a pizza. If serving a crowd, keep warm in a slow cooker with marinara sauce.
You can use regular pork Italian sausage or lean turkey sausage.
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Serving Size:about 3 meatballs
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 431Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 971mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 31g
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This recipe was originally published May 2009. It has been updated and includes new photos and videos.