How to make meatballs! Our best meatball recipe is easy and calls for a short list of ingredients. Use any ground meat in our recipe, such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and turkey. These easy homemade meatballs are juicy, tender, and packed with flavor.
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Are you looking for a great meatball recipe? You’ve come to the right place! These homemade meatballs are not only easy to make, but they’re also versatile and delicious. You can cook them in a skillet, bake them in the oven, slow-cook them in a crockpot, or crisp them up in an air fryer.
These meatballs are perfect to serve with red spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce, or on their own. You can use them to make spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, add to soups or enjoy them as a simple meatball appetizer with your favorite sauce. For big, juicy meatballs, see this Italian meatballs recipe.
Key ingredients for meatballs
Ground beef is the most popular type of meat for meatballs, but I love to use ground turkey, chicken, and pork. You can also combine different types of meat, as we did with the meatballs in this meatball soup or these Swedish meatballs. Our meatballs recipe below works with any ground meat.
For tender, juicy meatballs, we add egg, milk, and bread crumbs (or crushed saltine crackers as we did with this meatloaf). Then, for amazing flavor, we mix in Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper.
How to cook meatballs
- Cook them in a skillet. This is my favorite way because they turn golden brown and stay juicy.
- Bake them in the oven. This method is excellent for easy cleanup. Cover your baking sheet with foil, parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat for speedy cleanup.
- Simmer them in a sauce. This method causes the meatballs to lose their crispy exterior. Still, they will absorb more flavor from the sauce and become soft and tender. Plus, they will stay moist.
Use a skillet for golden brown & juicy meatballs
For perfectly cooked meatballs with an almost crunchy crust, cook them in a skillet on the stovetop. Cooking them this way allows you to rotate them in oil, adding a lovely golden crust to the outside while keeping them juicy and tender.
- To prevent the meatballs sticking to the pan, make sure that the pan is hot before adding the meatballs.
- Lightly grease the pan with oil. I use two tablespoons of oil and a heavy-bottomed skillet.
- Cook the meatballs over medium heat until they are browned on all sides.
Bake meatballs for easy cleanup
Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to bake meatballs. Preheat your oven to 425 °F. Place meatballs on the baking sheet and bake until browned and cooked in the middle, about 20 minutes.
Thanks to the breadcrumbs, milk, and egg in our meatball mixture, the meatballs will still be juicy and tender after baking. I prefer the crust a skillet creates, but I love how baking meatballs is hands-off. If I’m feeling rushed, baking meatballs is my answer. We bake these stuffed chicken meatballs and love them.
For the most tender, moist meatballs, simmer in sauce
Simmering meatballs right in the sauce is underrated! It’s easy and hands-off. We use this method when making our turkey meatballs and love it. Bring your favorite sauce to a simmer, then gently drop formed raw meatballs into the simmering sauce. Leave them without moving, and cover the pot with a lid. After 20 minutes of gently simmering, the meatballs are firm enough to flip in the sauce.
Using a slow cooker, air fryer, and pressure cooker:
Since sharing our meatballs recipe, some of you have asked about cooking them in a slow cooker, air fryer, and pressure cooker. Here are our suggestions:
- Slow cooker: Simmer meatballs in sauce for 4 hours on low or 2 hours on high.
- Air fryer: Preheat to 375°F and cook meatballs for 12-15 minutes or until cooked.
- Pressure cooker: Bring sauce to a simmer on SAUTE. Add meatballs and cook on HIGH for 8 minutes. Allow the cooker to naturally release pressure for 5 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure.
How to tell meatballs are cooked
Meatballs are cooked through when they reach an internal temperature of 165° F. I use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meatballs.
How to serve meatballs
- As an appetizer served with your favorite dipping sauce (think marinara sauce, barbecue sauce, this tahini sauce or blue cheese dip).
- Over pasta with spaghetti sauce — I especially love this veggie packed spaghetti sauce.
- Over zucchini noodles — Try adding meatballs to this garlic parmesan zucchini noodle pasta.
- Piled onto a bread roll for meatball subs.
- Stuffed into pita bread or added to flatbread with vegetables and hummus. You could also swap the chicken in these lettuce wraps for meatballs.
- Served with mashed potatoes and gravy (we did this for our Swedish meatballs recipe)
Make ahead and storing tips
- Refrigerate RAW meatball mixture: You can refrigerate raw meatball mixture overnight and bake it the next day. Follow your recipe for baking instructions.
- Freeze RAW meatball mixture: You can freeze the raw mixture for up to three months. To do this, form the meatballs and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Freeze the meatballs until they are firm. Then, transfer the frozen meatballs to an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for up to three months. When ready to cook the meatballs, bake until lightly browned and cooked through — about 20 minutes.
- COOKED meatballs will last up to three days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container or frozen for up to three months in an airtight, freezer-safe container.
How to Make the Best Meatballs
This is our go-to meatball recipe. It’s quick to make, calls on ingredients we always have on hand and the recipe guarantees juicy, tender and flavorful meatballs. The recipe calls for one pound of ground meat. The meat you choose is up to you. We love using a combination of ground pork and ground turkey.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will Need
1/2 cup (35 grams) bread crumbs, we prefer panko or homemade bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk, dairy or non-dairy
1 large egg
1/4 cup (1/2 ounce) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 pound ground meat, use beef, pork, chicken, turkey or a combination; we prefer a 50-50 blend of pork and turkey
1 to 2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil, for cooking; try avocado oil, grape seed oil and vegetable oil
- Prepare Meatball Mixture
1Stir breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl, and then let sit for 5 minutes. Add the egg, cheese, oregano, salt and the pepper. Stir until well blended.
2Add the ground meat and use a fork or your fingers to gently mix everything until combined. For the most tender meatballs, try your best not to over mix.
3Wet your hands, and then form the mixture into small balls (1-inch to 1 ¼-inch balls). You should get about 35 meatballs. A small cookie scoop is useful for portioning out the meatballs. Raw meatballs can be refrigerated overnight and baked the next day. You can also freeze the raw meatballs and store up to three months. To freeze them, form the meatballs, and then place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place the baking sheet into the freezer and freeze until the meatballs are firm. Transfer frozen meatballs to an air-tight, freezer friendly container and freeze up to three months.
- Option One: Bake Them
1Heat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil or a silicone baking mat.
2Place formed meatballs onto the baking sheet, leaving a little space in between each meatball.
3Lightly spray the top of the meatballs with cooking spray or brush with oil.
4Bake until they are cooked through, the outsides are browned, and they register 165°F in the middle on an instant-read thermometer; about 20 minutes.
- Option Two: Cook on Stovetop
1Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a wide Dutch oven or nonstick pan over medium heat.
2Place the meatballs down into the hot oil and cook until they are cooked through, the outsides are browned, and they register 165°F in the middle on an instant-read thermometer; about 15 minutes. Depending on the shape or size of the pot, this might need to be done in two batches.
1Cooked meatballs will last up to three days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container or frozen for up to three months in an airtight, freezer-safe container.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Cooking tips for using a slow cooker, pressure cooker (Instant Pot), air fryer and convection oven are in the article.
- Dairy-free: Substitute the milk for unsweetened dairy-free milk and the cheese for 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
- Gluten-free: Substitute the bread crumbs for crushed gluten-free cereal or crackers
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. We included 8 ounces of turkey and 8 ounces of pork for the calculations.