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How to Make Meatballs

Making meatballs is simple enough for any home cook to conquer. Start with a Taste of Home meatball recipe—from-scratch sauce and all—then use our tips for how to make Italian meatballs in your kitchen.

By Elizabeth Harris, Contributing Editor

Step away from the freezer section! Homemade meatballs are so worth it. Follow our recipe to make succulent Italian meatballs flavored with Parmesan, garlic and herbs. Cooking the meatballs in sauce melds the tomato flavors with the meat. Use them to top spaghetti, or stack them onto a roll for a comforting sandwich.


How to Cook Meatballs

What you’ll need:

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can (29 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 2 cans (12 ounces each) tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

For the meatballs:

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups soft bread cubes (1/4-inch pieces)
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Hot cooked spaghetti

Equipment

  • Dutch oven
  • Large bowl
  • Large skillet

Time

  • Prep: 30 minutes
  • Cook: 2 hours

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté onions in oil. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the water, tomato sauce and paste, parsley, basil, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 50 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the first seven meatball ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-1/2-inch balls.

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown meatballs in batches in oil until no longer pink; drain. Add to sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until flavors are blended, stirring occasionally. Serve with spaghetti. Yield: 12-16 servings.


Pro Tips from Home Cooks

  • Easy Browning: To prepare meatballs without standing over the stove turning each one, arrange meatballs on a greased broiler pan and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. There’s no need to turn them—they’ll brown on all sides. —Marian S., Elkhorn, Wisconsin
  • Make ’em Cheesy: Try adding a tablespoon of grated aged provolone cheese per pound of ground beef. They’re irresistible.—Jean P., Feasterville, Pennsylvania
  • Freezing: Preparing meatballs and other family favorites in bulk cuts back greatly on prep time. I make as many as five dinners’ worth of meatballs in one evening. To serve, I drop a package of frozen cooked meatballs into simmering spaghetti sauce and heat through. —Christi Gillentine, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Keep it Quick: Try shaping your meat mixture into a 1-inch-thick block first. Cook the meat in a skillet over medium heat, then gently flip the entire block. Continue cooking until the meat is no longer pink. When cooked through, remove it from the heat and cut it into bite-size squares. —Pat Pullum, Rogers, Arkansas

How to Make Meatballs Uniform

Shaping meatballs into uniform sizes ensures that every one cooks evenly. Here are two simple methods to do it:

Option 1:

1. Lightly pat meat mixture into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Cut the rectangle into the same number of squares as meatballs in the recipe.

Shaping meat mixture into a rectangle to cut into uniform squares for meatballs.


2. Gently roll each square into a ball.

Gently rolling squares into round meatballs.


Option 2

1. Use a 1-1/2 or 1-3/4-inch-diameter scoop to divide the mixture into equal sized portions.

2. Gently roll each into a ball.

Using a cookie scoop to portion and shape meatballs.