There’s an art to a great meatball. It should be nicely round, packed with flavor, and tender throughout. Making them from scratch is really easy and definitely beats anything you’d buy at the store. Here’s how to make perfect meatballs every time.
Use ground beef, ground pork, and Italian sausage.
Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing wrong with all beef. But this trio of meats has a much more complex flavor.
Make a panade.
A panade, a binder made by soaking bread crumbs in milk until it becomes a paste, is the secret to moist, tender meatballs. This recipe works best with fresh bread crumbs. You can make your own by pulsing bread (without the crust) in a food processor. Or, you can simply tear bread into super-small pieces. We prefer bread crumbs made from white or sourdough bread.
Mix gently – with your hands is best.
Over-mixing ground meat can make meatballs too compact and tough. Working with your hands lets you incorporate everything more quickly and gently. We also recommend beating the eggs before adding them to the bowl so that it combines more easily with the other ingredients.
Use a cookie scoop.
If you want them all to cook in the same amount of time (and look the same), use a cookie scoop. Just scoop, level, and roll. It’s faster, easier, and you’ll grab the same amount of meat each time for uniformity.
Roll with damp hands.
To keep the meat from sticking to your hands while you roll, keep a little bowl of cold water next to you as you work. Cold water is best as the heat from your hands warms the meat, making it more likely to stick.
First, sear the meatballs.
The browned outsides of meatballs contribute a ton of flavor. Plus, it helps the meatballs to stay together. You need to work in batches, though, since you’ll have no chance at a good sear if the meatballs are crowding the pan. (They’ll steam instead.) Another way to sear without going on the stovetop.
Simmer the meatballs in the sauce.
After searing, simmer the meatballs in the marinara sauce. Simmering guarantees that they’re cooked through, and ensures that the sauce clings the meatball’s nooks and crannies.
Enjoy them however you like!
Spaghetti and meatballs are naturals on the dinner plate, but Italian meatballs are more versatile than that. Serve over polenta or mashed potatoes; with a vegetable side; top with cheese and broil until bubbling and golden; sandwich between a hoagie roll with more cheese; or just put a fork right into the skillet.
- In a small bowl, stir bread crumbs with milk until evenly combined. Let sit 15 minutes, or while you prep other ingredients.
- In a large bowl, use your hands to combine beef, pork, sausage, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, then gently stir in bread crumb mixture, eggs, Parmesan, and parsley until just combined. Form mixture into 1″ balls.
- In a large high-sided skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Working in batches, sear meatballs on all sides to develop a crust. Set meatballs aside, reduce heat to medium-low, and add sauce to skillet. Bring sauce to a simmer then immediately add meatballs back to skillet. Cover and simmer until cooked through, about 8 minutes more.