Homemade Italian Meatballs

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Italian Meatballs are about as good of a comfort food as you will find. These take a little time and some tender loving care, but boy, oh boy, are they worth it.

Homemade Italian Meatballs are quintessential Italian cuisine and just so delicious.

Oh, just look at these babies!

Close up of homemade Italian meatballs with Parmesan cheese on top.


Making authentic Italian meatballs is easier than you think.

Watch us show you the tricks to making the best Italian meatballs you’ll ever have or serve!


We love them, of course, on pasta, but they also make an incredible appetizer.

Who’s ready for the best Spaghetti and Meatballs in the world? WE ARE!





Just make smaller-sized meatballs and you won’t believe how fast these go at your next party or church pot luck!  

They are easy to keep heated in your trusty slow cooker.  I’ve been making these for years, and are always a huge hit.

The Loon, of course, loves them like crazy.

Using homemade fresh marinara sauce is key to making these Italian meatballs amazing.


These take some time to make, so start thinking about prepping a day or two in advance.

The end result, though, is something to behold!

Talk about flavor!  Simmering in the homemade marinara bolsters the Italian flavor so perfectly.

Homemade Italian Meatballs being lifted out of a pot of marinaraa sauce with a wooden spoon.

We like to bake the formed balls in the oven to brown them up on the edges, then they go into a simmering pot of homemade marinara to finish cooking and absorb even more flavor from the sauce.

If you prefer to brown them in a skillet, go for it!  They may lose some of their circular shape, but that’s okay…they’re homemade, remember!


A nice grating of fresh Parmesan cheese is the perfect final touch!


Make the marinara up to a week ahead of time.  These also freeze wonderfully well!

And did we mention how amazing these Italian meatballs are in a meatball hero?  Oh, this sandwich is MY meatball HERO!

Homemade Italian Meatballs in side a cheesy meatball hero sandwich on a cutting board.

Homemade Italian meatballs with a cheese grater above grating Parmesan cheese.

Homemade Italian Meatballs

These Homemade Italian Meatballs are wonderful over pasta, as an appetizer, or in a meatball hero sandwich. They take a little time to make, but are they ever worth it. You won't believe how incredible your house will smell as these gems are simmering in the made-from-scratch marinara sauce. Incredible.
4.86 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Authentic Italian, Meatball Hero
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 345kcal



  • 3 slices white Italian bread torn into large pieces
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 1/2 lb ground sirloin
  • ½ lb ground veal
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup fresh Italian bread crumbs recipe below
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices firm Italian bread crusts removed (let them sit out for about an hour to firm up)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 10 cups fresh marinara sauce




  • Process the bread in a food processor until coarsely ground.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until finely ground.


  • In a large mixing bowl, using your hands, mix together the beef, veal, pork, and eggs.
  • Gently mix, don’t over do it!
  • Now add the bread crumbs, parsley, basil, salt, garlic, and pepper and mix it well.
  • Tear the bread into pieces and put in a bowl.
  • Add the milk and let it sit for about 8 minutes, press the bread with your fingers, make sure the milk is absorbed by the bread.
  • Add the soaked bread to the meat mixture and mix it in. Next add the grated cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the milk (discard the remaining milk).
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge about an hour.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, pull out chunks of meat and roll them between your hands that have been dampened with water. Place the balls on a baking sheet. Refrigerate the rolled balls for at least 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 375 F.
  • Bake meatballs for 30 minutes. Flipping once, halfway through cooking.
  • (Alternatively, you can brown the meatballs in a skillet with olive oil - about 1 tablespoon - until browned on all sides).
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the marina over medium-high heat.
  • Slowly, and carefully, add the browned meatballs and any accumulated juice to the marina.
  • Lower the heat to medium and cook them for at least 45 minutes. Give them plenty of time to let the sauce and meatballs to get very familiar.
  • Use tongs to remove the meatballs from the sauce and place in serving bowl. Ladle on a little sauce and grate fresh Parmesan cheese over the top.
  • Serve with extra sauce on the side!



Calories: 345kcal
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!


  • 5 stars
    I’ve never been able to make a decent meatball until I made yours!
    I’d usually just make spaghetti and meat sauce with Italian sausage, but not anymore! Added bonus: this meatball mix makes the most fabulous burgers as well!

  • Love you guys to pieces and can’t wait to make this recipe. But I have to say (as a humble writer) I lost count of how many times you spelled marinara ‘marina’. Oops!!!

    • Jane!! Thank you so so much!! We are embarrassed that some of our older recipe posts are riddled with typos! Since then, we have employed a much more thorough proofing process and we have been working hard to re-visit all older posts and update/revise accordingly. Thank you for pointing this out to us! We honestly appreciate it so much!! And thank you for your love and support and we hope you stay aboard. All the very best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    I decided to start this recipe late on a Sunday afternoon after a Saturday night with too many vinos flowing lol. The marinara sauce recipe brought out a gorgeous sweetness to the San Marzano tomatoes and the meatballs with their layers of flavors was so worth the labor! Looking fwd to leftover meatball subs this week. Thank you!

    • Hi Cece!! Sorry for the delayed response!! You have no idea how many times we’ve delved into a “project” when the vino is flowing!! That’s great, though!!! There is nothing much better than homemade meatballs and marinara in the fridge, just waiting to be eaten all week. Sounds amazing and we’re kinda jealous!!! xoxoxo Kris & Wesley

    • 5 stars
      I always loved to cook but since I’ve developed severe & chronic back pain I cannot stand up or move around much. Sadly, enjoying cooking for so many years & having to give it up more or less, I really enjoyed your video and started the meatballs & sauce today. My daughter had to help me but we got it done. Meatballs are outrageously delicious & pretty close to what my Italian mother made. Thank you for making me smile.

      • And thank YOU, Judy, for making us smile from ear to ear! That is a HUGE compliment and we appreciate it so very much!! Please stay in touch! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    I took it a bit further. I made the meatballs as per the recipe but instead of cooking them in the oven or browning them on the stove I added them directly into the instant pot with the sauce I usually make. 10 minutes cook time, 15 minutes natural release. The meatballs held their shape and were very moist. The recipe made over 30 golf ball sized meatballs

    • Hi Karen! Wow!! So glad you had such awesome success with our meatballs recipe and that’s brilliant to finish them off in the IP. So delicious and much quicker!! Thanks for letting us know and for the wonderful review! That means so much to us!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    I made these meatballs for a work function and everyone went WILD over them. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • 5 stars
    you guys crack me up! I want to come to a dinner party at your house would be so much fun! My grandmom used to put milk and soaked bread in her meatballs to. I forgot about that until I saw your video. I’m going to try that next time I make them!

  • This is the 2nd reference in 2 days suggesting I bake something on wax paper?!? Set me straight guys…is it really okay despite what google says? THANKS!

    • Hi Tracee! No, I typically don’t ever bake with wax paper. I’ve removed that reference (not sure what I was thinking!). You can even just place the uncooked meatballs directly on the baking sheet. Thanks, Tracee!!

  • 4 stars
    Where’s the sweet Italian sausage? Where’s the fennel? Why so much milk? Why do you put so much flavor in your breadcrumbs when you could just add it directly to the meat mixture? Your recipe is good, it just needs, in my opinion, a few more flavor additives. I like that you can bake your meatballs which is what I’ve done for years. There’s a vegan in my family so I can’t simmer the meatballs in my sauce – that and the fact that I make 4 doz. meatballs at a time and freeze them.
    By the way, loons are my favorites; we had them on the river behind our house in MA. They drove the dogs crazy when they dove and resurfaced.

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