This easy family recipe for Classic Meatballs are sure to make it into your regular dinner rotation! A combination of fresh and pantry ingredients makes this recipe a breeze to put together. Serve these over noodles, on their own or on a sandwich roll! Plus you can freeze and store leftovers if needed for simple meal prep.

Skillet filled with meatballs cooked in sauce and topped with fresh parmesan and basil leaves.

Why make these Meatballs?

  • One Skillet: Searing the meatballs in the same skillet we are preparing our sauce allows us to use all the wonderful flavorful bits from cooking the meat! Plus it cuts down on the amount of dishes we have at the end. 
  • Easy Ingredients: using a mixture of fresh and pantry ingredients gives great flavor and textures. 
  • Sauce: this simple, easy to put together sauce recipe pairs perfectly with the meatballs and turns this recipe into a meal! 
  • Dinner options: Serve low carb style with some extra cheese on top. OR serve over noodles or on a sandwich roll.

Ingredients Needed: 

Ingredients needed to make easy meatballs in sauce laid out on the counter.

Some Notes: 

  • Meat: this recipe calls for ground beef, but feel free to sub in half ground pork, or use ground turkey or chicken also if needed. Use an 80/20 mix for more flavor.
  • Onion: finely mince and leave it raw for great flavor. Keeping the dice small lets the onion flavor blend in with the meat while it cooks. 
  • Salt: plan on 1 tsp of salt per 1 pound of meat. 
  • Parmesan Cheese: use freshly grated, the shelf stable parmesan will not melt the same. 
  • Breadcrumbs: use Italian seasoned for extra flavoring, or use plain breadcrumbs and add more herbs and seasonings as desired. 
  • Eggs: these act as a binder in this recipe.

How to Make (step by step):

Collage showing making a meat mixture for meatballs and pouring in milk.
  • Step 1: Mix, add the ingredients needed for the meat mixture into a bowl, combine the ingredients using your hands to ensure you are not over-mixing. 
  • Step 2: Add the milk, saving this as the last step helps you to control the texture. The mixture should be wet. Add the milk slowly to help you get the right texture. 
collage showing searing meatballs in a skillet then making a marinara sauce to simmer them in.
  • Step 3: Cook, sear the meatballs in a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. This method allows use to keep the wonderful browned bits from searing in the skillet and use the flavoring when making our homemade sauce. 
  • Step 4: Prepare Sauce, saute the onion and garlic then add in the tomato paste, stir to combine, then add in the remaining sauce ingredients. Taste and adjust as needed.
  • Step 5: Add Meatballs & Simmer, bring to a simmer and let cook for 15-20 minutes.
Up close view of meatballs simmered in red marinara sauce and topped with fresh parmesan.

F.A.Q’s:

How do I freeze them?

Cook them completely through, let cool to room temperature, then add to a large freezer size resealable bag or large sealed container. Store in the freezer for 4-6 months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight, reheat by simmering in sauce until heated through.

Why are they tough? 

If they’re turning out too tough, the usual culprit is over-mixing. To help prevent this, mix by hand. 

Mine are falling apart..

A binder is needed. This recipe uses both eggs and breadcrumbs as a binder. Just be careful if using too much breadcrumbs, this can cause a dry texture. 

Can I bake these? 

Yes. Place on a large baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan as needed for even cooking. Check for internal temperature of 160℉ to test done-ness.

Overhead view of a skillet filled with cooked meatballs in sauce.

Expert Tips:

  • Meat: These can be made with a mixture of ground pork and ground beef, or just ground beef. I prefer to make mine with ground beef, which is what is in the recipe below. If you’re wanting to make them out of a mixture, simply use a 1:1 ratio. Half ground beef and half ground pork. 
  • Seasoning: Using Italian style breadcrumbs adds wonderful seasoning and also the texture of the breadcrumbs is so fine that it blends into the meat while they cook. You can always sub the Italian breadcrumbs for plain breadcrumbs and control the seasonings on your own.
  • Fresh Herbs: add some extra freshness to the meatballs by chopping up any fresh herbs you have on hand (oregano, basil, parsley). 
  • Taste Testing: Prepare one small patty of meat and cook it up to test the seasoning of the meat prior to preparing all of the meatballs. This way if you need to adjust and add anything you can do so and not be surprised when you go to enjoy your finished dish.

Other recipes you may enjoy:

If you tried this recipe please leave a comment and a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating below! Thank you so much!

Skillet filled with meatballs cooked in sauce and topped with fresh parmesan and basil leaves.

Easy Classic Meatballs

These Easy Classic Meatballs are a family favorite! Tender, juicy meatballs loaded with flavor and simmered in a homemade marinara sauce. Serve on their own, over noodles or on a sandwich roll.
5 from 9 votes

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • lbs ground beef, 80% preferred
  • large eggs
  • 1 cup  bread crumbs, Italian style
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup  fresh parmesan, grated
  • ¼ cup  minced onion
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup  milk

Sauce

  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 28 oz tomato sauce
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup onion , diced
  • cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp  salt, more to taste
  • 1 tbsp  light brown sugar

Equipment

Instructions

  • Mix: Add the ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, grated parmesan, minced onion and minced garlic together in medium sized mixing bowl and mix together. Slowly pour in the milk and mix using hands to ensure thoroughly mixed. Mixture will be wet.
    2  lbs ground beef, 2  large eggs, 1 cup  bread crumbs, 2 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, ¼ cup  fresh parmesan, ¼ cup  minced onion, 3  cloves garlic, ½ cup  milk
  • Prepare Skillet: Heat oil in a large pan or dutch oven over medium heat.
    1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Form Meatballs: Using hands roll meatball mixture into small balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place in the pan coated with oil.
  • Sear: Cook the meatballs over medium heat, turning while they cook, until browned on all sides. Cook in batches if needed to avoid over-crowding. Once all meatballs are seared remove from the skillet and set aside. (do not worry if the meatballs are cooked through, they will finish cooking in the sauce)
  • Drain the grease from the pan, but leave all the blackened bits.
  • Prepare Sauce: Return the pan to the stove at a low heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
    ½ cup onion , 3  cloves garlic
  • Stir in the tomato paste.
    1 tbsp tomato paste
  • Add Tomatoes & Ingredients: Pour in the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Add in the oregano, basil, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add in the light brown sugar and stir.
    28 oz tomato sauce, 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 1 ½ tsp oregano, 1 ½ tsp dried basil, ½ tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp  salt, 1 tbsp  light brown sugar
  • Add Meatballs: Return the meatballs to the pot. Gently mix into the sauce.
  • Simmer: Bring sauce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Video

Notes

  • Meat: this recipe calls for ground beef, but feel free to sub in half ground pork, or use ground turkey or chicken also if needed. Use an 80/20 mix for more flavor.
  • Onion: finely mince and leave it raw for great flavor in the meat. Keeping the dice small lets the onion flavor blend in with the meat while it cooks. 
  • Salt: plan on 1 tsp of salt per 1 pound of meat. 
  • Parmesan Cheese: use freshly grated, the shelf stable parmesan will not melt the same. 
  • Breadcrumbs: use Italian seasoned for extra flavoring, or use plain breadcrumbs and add more herbs and seasonings as desired. 
  • Eggs: these act as a binder in this recipe.
  • Freezing: Cook them completely through, let cool to room temperature, then add to a large freezer size resealable bag or large sealed container. Store in the freezer for 4-6 months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight, reheat by simmering in sauce until heated through 
  • Baking: Place on a large baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan as needed for even cooking. Check for internal temperature of 160℉ to test done-ness.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 304kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 86mg, Sugar: 16g
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Recipe first published September 16, 2019. Updated July 23, 2021 with new images and information.

Photography by the talented @KJandCompany.co