Chef John's Italian Meatballs

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
35 mins
Additional Time:
1 hr 20 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 15 mins


  • cup plain bread crumbs

  • ½ cup milk

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 pound ground pork

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • ¼ bunch fresh parsley, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning

  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes


  1. Gather all ingredients.

    All ingredients to make Chef John's Italian Meatballs gathered in bowls on a kitchen counter.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  2. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Soak bread crumbs in milk in a small bowl for 20 minutes.

    breadcrumbs soaking in milk in a glass bowl

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking and stirring until onion is very tender, about 15 minutes more.

    onion cooking in a skillet until tender

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  4. Gently stir beef and pork together in a large bowl. Add onions, bread crumb mixture, eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper, Italian herb seasoning, and red pepper flakes; mix together using a rubber spatula until combined. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour.

    Eggs, breadcrumbs, aromatics, and seasonings being mixed into meat mixture

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

  6. Form mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter; arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

    meatball mixture being dropped by the spoonful on a prepared baking sheet.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  7. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

    Chef John's Italian meatballs browned on a foil lined baking sheet.

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  8. Serve and enjoy!

    Chef John's Italian meatballs

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Chef's Notes

Some recipes use equal portions of beef, veal, and pork, which is also nice, yet more expensive. These days you can find all sorts of lean-to-fat ratios for ground beef. Most stores sell 90% lean, 10% fat, but I prefer the 80% lean, 20% fat ratio for this recipe.

You can substitute water or beef broth for the milk if preferred.

Serve with and .

More About This Recipe:

Chef John’s Italian meatballs are tender, juicy, and oh-so flavorful. They’re baked instead of fried, so cleanup is breeze. 

How to Make Italian Meatballs

You'll find a detailed ingredient list and step-by-step instructions in the Italian meatball recipe above, but let's go over the basics:

Italian Meatball Ingredients

These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this Italian meatball recipe: 

  • Bread crumbs: Use store-bought bread crumbs or . 
  • Milk: Milk adds moisture, ensuring the meatballs don’t dry out during the cooking process. 
  • Onion: An onion lends bold flavor. 
  • Meat: You’ll need a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground pork. 
  • Egg: An egg adds moisture and helps bind the meatballs together. 
  • Cheese: For the most delicious results, grate your own Parmesan cheese.
  • Seasonings: The meatballs are seasoned with fresh parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper, dried Italian herb seasoning, and red pepper flakes. 

How Do You Make Italian Meatballs?

Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect when you make homemade Italian meatballs: 

  1. Cook the onion. 
  2. Mix all the ingredients together. Cove and chill. 
  3. Form the mixture into balls. 
  4. Bake the meatballs in the preheated oven.

What to Serve With Italian Meatballs

Chef John suggests serving the Italian meatballs with  and . They also work well as an appetizer, in a sandwich, or served over mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles.

How to Store Italian Meatballs

Store your leftover Italian meatballs in a shallow, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Can You Freeze Italian Meatballs?

Yes, Italian meatballs freeze well. Flash freeze the cooked meatballs on a baking sheet for a few hours or up to overnight, then transfer the frozen meatballs to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to three months.

If you prefer, you can also freeze the meatballs before cooking. You can easily cook them from-frozen on the stove whenever you want to whip up a quick dish.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

“The meatballs are wonderful,” raves . “We are kicking ourselves that we didn’t make a double batch! But how could we know they’d be so full of flavor, so juicy, so tender?”

“This is my go-to meatball recipe,” says one Allrecipes community member. “The meatballs come out perfectly each and every time that I make them. They bake perfectly and I believe that refrigerating the mixed ingredients is the key. The texture is perfect and the flavor is delicious.”

“These meatballs are the best I ever made,” according to . “My husband loved them. I used an ice cream scoop to make them and they were a perfect size. The texture was very moist and they had great flavor.”

Editorial contributions by 

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

390 Calories
31g Fat
5g Carbs
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 390
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 12g 58%
Cholesterol 91mg 30%
Sodium 617mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 21g 42%
Vitamin C 4mg 4%
Calcium 62mg 5%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 349mg 7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

Related Recipes

Trout Tacos

Author: Amie Mertz

Trending Videos Close this video player Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 10 mins Total Time: 30 mins Servings: 4 Yield: 8...

View Recipes
7 Rotisserie Chicken Dinners for Every Night of the Week

Author: Christop Effertz DDS

Trending Videos Close this video player Photo: Dotdash Meredith Video Studios Rotisserie chicken is the dinner shortcut to end all...

View Recipes
7 Chicken Casseroles for Every Night of the Week

Author: Johann Tremblay

Trending Videos Close this video player Photo: dotdash meredith food studios Can't decide what's for dinner? A chicken casserole is...

View Recipes
Pesto Pasta

Author: Miss Roxane Hermann

This top-rated pesto pasta recipe, which comes together in just 15 minutes, is the perfect quick and easy weeknight dinner.   How to Make Pesto...

View Recipes
Salisbury Steak

Author: Dr. Bettie Klein Sr.

This Salisbury steak recipe is hearty, filling, and flavorful. What more could you ask for in a comfort food favorite? What Is Salisbury Steak? ...

View Recipes
Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast

Author: Chauncey Wisoky

Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 1 hr 35 mins Total Time: 1 hr 50 mins Servings: 2 Feeling the pressure to roast a whole bird this...

View Recipes
Turkey in a Smoker

Author: Ms. Eliza Hirthe

Trending Videos Close this video player Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 10 hrs Total Time: 10 hrs 20 mins Servings: 13 ...

View Recipes
Juicy Thanksgiving Turkey

Author: Miles Mertz

This turkey recipe has the power to make or break your Thanksgiving meal. Luckily, it's not that hard to cook a perfectly moist and flavorful bird!...

View Recipes
Absolute Best Liver and Onions

Author: Elvie Corkery

Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 15 mins Total Time: 35 mins Servings: 4 Ingredients 2 pounds sliced beef liver 1 ½ cups milk, or as...

View Recipes
Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Author: Isaiah Bergstrom Jr.

Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 8 hrs 20 mins Total Time: 8 hrs 40 mins Servings: 8 This slow cooker pot roast is tender, juicy, and...

View Recipes