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spaghetti and meatballs in speckled bowl with gold fork on the side

The Best Meatball Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 4 reviews
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Entree
  • Method: Stovetop, Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian, American


Finding a quality Meatball recipe is like winning the lottery, y’all! Nothing screams comfort like some good ole meatballs that you can serve up in various, endless ways. These meatballs are so tender, juicy, filled with fresh herbs, and insanely flavorful! They’re paired with a simple marinara sauce to enrobe all that meaty goodness!



For the meatballs:

  • 1 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, preferably grass-fed
  • 1 lb ground mild Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or parmesan)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 heaping tablespoons freshly chopped basil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes- optional
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the marinara sauce:

  • 24-ounce jarred marinara sauce (I love Rao’s!)
  • 14.5-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian herbs (I use parsley & basil)
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon chipotle powder- optional
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For serving & assembly:

  • spaghetti, bucatini, or pasta of choice- as desired
  • hoagies & provolone cheese, for meatball subs- as desired
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano or parmesan cheese, for topping
  • freshly chopped parsley or basil, for garnish- optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet (or 2 smaller baking sheets) with foil and coat with nonstick spray, set aside.
  2. Make the panade. In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and ricotta cheese. Stir the mixture well to fully combine. Set the bowl aside to soak while you sauté the onion/garlic mixture.
  3. Sauté the aromatics. Place a large skillet (at least 12 inches) over medium heat and pour in the oil. Once the oil shimmers, gently swirl the oil to evenly coat the bottom of the skillet. Add in the chopped onion and sauté until tender and golden, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Then add in the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes, stirring the mixture often. Remove the skillet from heat for the onion/garlic mixture to cool down a bit for you to handle. Note: at this stage, you can keep the burner on, but move to the lowest setting while you assemble the meatballs.
  5. Mix & shape the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground sausage, grated cheese, chopped parsley & basil, eggs, sautéed onion/garlic mixture, the breadcrumb/ricotta mixture, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes (if using), and salt/pepper- to taste. Use your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to bring the meatball ingredients together until just combined- careful not to overwork the meat mixture.
  6. Use a medium spring-loaded scooper to scoop each individual meatball. Then roll the meatball in the palm of your hands just until the shape is smooth. Place the meatball onto the prepped baking sheet(s) and repeat this process until all meatballs are shaped, and on the sheet, you should end up with about 20-22 meatballs.
  7. Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet(s) at the halfway mark for even cooking.
  8. Simmer the sauce. Meanwhile, while the meatballs are baking, prep the sauce. In the same large skillet over medium-low heat, add in the marinara sauce (then add 1/4 cup of water to the jar, cover/shake jar to clean, and empty all contents into skillet), fire roasted tomatoes, brown sugar, Italian herbs, chipotle powder (if using), and season with salt/pepper- to taste. Stir everything together to combine and let the sauce simmer slowly until the meatballs are done.
  9. Meld together. Once the meatballs are done baking, place them directly on top of the sauce, nestling in each one. Then spoon some sauce over the meatballs. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let the meatballs finish off in the sauce for another 20-25 minutes, gently stirring every so often, for the flavors to meld beautifully.
  10. Serve meatballs & marinara sauce immediately alongside spaghetti or pasta of choice with extra cheese/chopped herbs for topping or inside of toasted hoagie rolls for meatball subs, as desired. Enjoy!


  1. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.