How to Make Juicy Meatballs

This incredibly delicious homemade meatball recipe is easy to follow and has a simple list of ingredients. You can use ground beef, turkey, chicken, pork, or lamb. They’re so delicious!

How to Make Meatballs Recipe Video

Consider this your essential meatball recipe. The meatballs are incredibly versatile, too. You can cook them in a skillet, bake them in the oven, cook them in a slow cooker, or crisp them up in an air fryer.

Serve them with your favorite sauce, make meatball subs, add them to soups, or enjoy them as a simple meatball appetizer. You might also enjoy this spaghetti and meatballs recipe.

A bowl of the best juicy homemade meatballs!

Key Ingredients

  • Ground meat: This meatball recipe works well with most ground meat. Just keep in mind that ground meat with a bit of fat works best (look for 7% to 10% fat). I love the recipe for beef meatballs, but you can use ground pork, turkey, chicken, or lamb. I also love a combination. My favorite is a mixture of ground pork and turkey, which I use in this Italian wedding soup.
  • Breadcrumbs: I add breadcrumbs for texture. I also love substituting them for crushed saltine crackers like we do for this meatloaf.
  • Milk: Adds moisture and tenderizes the meat, making our meatballs juicy and tender once cooked.
  • Egg: Adds more moisture and helps the mixture firm up once cooked.
  • Parmesan: My secret ingredient for the best meatballs! Parmigiano-Reggiano adds flavor and salt to our mixture. I’m pretty generous with it.
  • Oregano, salt, and pepper: Help season our meatballs. I keep the seasoning simple since these are more versatile meatballs.

How to Make Meatballs

I’ve made this meatball recipe so many times, and my family loves them. I start by stirring breadcrumbs and milk together in a mixing bowl. I let this mixture thicken up for a few minutes, then stir in the egg, parmesan cheese, and spices. Mixing all these ingredients before adding the ground meat helps ensure the seasonings are evenly distributed.

Next, I mix in the ground meat. This recipe works well with most types of ground meat, so use whatever you prefer! I give the mixture a good mix until everything is combined, and then it’s time to form the meatballs.

Forming Meatballs

I like using a cookie scoop to make sure they’re all similar in size, then roll them into balls. If you want bigger meatballs, check out my recipe for Italian meatballs. At this point, you can cook the meatballs right away or freeze them for later. I’ve included tips below on how to freeze uncooked meatballs.

Step shot showing how to cook meatballs on the stove

My favorite way to cook these meatballs is on the stovetop. It gives them a lovely golden brown crust. I use a hot pan with some oil and cook them over medium heat until they’re browned on all sides and cooked through in the middle.

You can also bake them in the oven, simmer them in sauce (like I do with these turkey meatballs), or use a slow cooker or air fryer. I’ve shared tips for all these cooking methods in the recipe below.

Storing Homemade Meatballs

Cooked meatballs will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container or frozen in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.

You can also refrigerate the raw meatball mixture overnight and bake it the next day. Or freeze raw meatballs for up to 3 months. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze until firm. Then, transfer the frozen meatballs to an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze. When ready to cook them, bake until lightly browned and cooked through.

What to Serve with Meatballs

Serve these delicious meatballs with your favorite sauce. I love this homemade red pasta sauce. These also make a great appetizer. I’ve served them with barbecue sauce and our buffalo wing sauce with some blue cheese dressing on the side.

You can turn these into meatball subs or stuff them into homemade pita bread with veggies and some hummus. I also love serving these meatballs with veggies. Some favorites are sautéed cabbage, baked sweet potato fries, and roasted broccoli.

A bowl of Homemade Meatballs

How to Make Juicy Meatballs

  • PREP
  • COOK

This is our essential meatball recipe. It’s quick to make, calls on ingredients we always have, and makes delicious, juicy, tender, and flavorful meatballs. The recipe calls for one pound of ground meat. The meat you choose is up to you. We especially love using a combination of ground pork and ground turkey.

Makes about 35 meatballs

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

1 pound (450g) ground meat, like ground beef, pork, chicken, turkey, or a combination

1/2 cup (35g) breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers

1/2 cup (118ml) milk

1 large egg

1/4 cup (14g) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil for cooking


    1Stir breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl, and then let sit for 5 minutes. Add the egg, cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir until well blended.

    2Add the ground meat and mix everything until combined, using a fork or your fingers. Try not to over mix for the most tender meatballs.

    3Wet your hands, 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 the meatballs.

    4Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a wide Dutch oven or nonstick pan over medium heat.

    5Place 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 for about 15 minutes. Depending on the shape or size of your skillet, you might need to do this in two batches.

  • Baked Meatballs
  • 1Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C) 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. Lightly spray the top of the meatballs with cooking spray or brush with oil.

    3Bake 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.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Simmer meatballs in sauce: Follow the instructions shared in this turkey meatball recipe.
  • Slow cooker meatballs: Simmer meatballs in your favorite sauce for 4 hours on LOW or 2 hours on HIGH. See these slow cooker chicken meatballs for more tips.
  • Air fryer meatballs: Preheat to 375°F and air fry the meatballs for 12 to 15 minutes or until cooked.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We included 8 ounces of ground turkey and 8 ounces of ground pork for the calculations.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 5 small meatballs (recipe makes about 35) / Calories 189 / Total Fat 11g / Saturated Fat 3.8g / Cholesterol 74.4mg / Sodium 396.7mg / Carbohydrate 6.9g / Dietary Fiber 0.4g / Total Sugars 1.4g / Protein 15g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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96 comments… Leave a Review
  • Michael leo Mills June 23, 2024, 4:00 am

    great recipe we loved them

  • Adrienne May 2, 2024, 6:29 pm

    These meatballs are the best ever. I usually mix all the ingredients. Form them into meatballs and then I freeze them. When I’m ready to use them, I put them right in the sauce to cook…. so yummy.

  • Kimberley Valstar. March 4, 2024, 1:21 pm

    This recipe is perfect !! Easy to make.
    First time making them I got lots of compliments from my son and husband.
    This recipe will always be my go to.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Adam March 4, 2024, 2:21 pm

      Wonderful! So glad that your family loved them 🙂

  • Kim February 20, 2024, 6:20 pm

    This is our favorite meatball recipe that we have made many times. I like to make them in the oven for easiest cleanup. I think the milk and breadcrumb mixture is key to tender meatballs.

    • Adam February 20, 2024, 6:21 pm

      Yes, the milk and breadcrumbs are key here. So happy you loved the recipe 🙂

  • Ju January 29, 2024, 6:52 pm

    Fantastic! Flavorful! Moist!

    • Joanne February 15, 2024, 3:36 pm

      Woohoo! That’s exactly what we aim for.

  • Rachel January 13, 2024, 3:09 pm

    Followed the recipe exactly. Did not turn out so great. I used chicken and maybe this is not the best meat for this recipe because the mixture was too soft.

    • Joanne February 15, 2024, 3:35 pm

      Thanks for giving the recipe a try! It sounds like the mixture might have been a bit too wet. Chicken sometimes stays a bit more soft than other proteins, so reducing the milk slightly or increasing the breadcrumbs next time could help tighten things up. Let me know if you try it again and how it goes!

  • Linnea December 6, 2023, 11:46 am

    I’m looking for a healthy, interesting and delicious Christmas Eve appetizer, and these meatballs would tick all the boxes. HOWEVER – we follow a ketogenic diet, so we can’t use breadcrumbs or panko. Do you have any suggestions for keto substitutions? Thank you!

    • Joanne January 6, 2024, 5:29 pm

      Hi Linnea, We have always used bread crumbs or saltine crackers, but I do know that some people sub almond flour for them. I am unsure as to how much, so you might need to do some experimenting yourself.

      • Roslyn June 19, 2024, 2:20 pm

        I have used crushed pork rines that come in a bag like chips keto site suggested

  • Fran October 24, 2023, 1:44 pm

    I want to cook the meatballs and sauce the day before. Is it okay to refrigerate the sauce and meatballs together for reheating the next day?

    • Joanne October 24, 2023, 6:03 pm

      Yes, definitely!

  • TINA BURGER October 19, 2023, 4:59 am

    I am going to make it for the Rugby Eng and Springbokke !! Sounds delicious !!

    • Joanne February 15, 2024, 3:36 pm

      Let us know how it works out!

  • Raewyn vork September 4, 2023, 5:22 am

    I am a good cook but my meat balls always break up when cooking so tomorrow I will use your recipe and hopefully they will not break up

    • Joanne February 15, 2024, 3:37 pm

      I hope the recipe helps! Let me know how it goes – good luck and I’m rooting for perfectly formed meatballs.

    • James March 24, 2024, 1:53 pm

      I add spices to make the meatballs more flavorful. Options are allspice, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, etc.. I also make a sauce that often includes cream, nutmeg and Dijon to taste. Otherwise the result tastes a little bland to me.

  • Tina May 17, 2023, 4:02 pm

    So happy I found this recipe. SO GOOD.

    • Joanne February 15, 2024, 3:37 pm

      Yay! It’s definitely one of our favorites too.

  • Recipe land May 17, 2023, 8:15 am

    Very easy recipe to follow. Thanks for sharing

    • Joanne February 15, 2024, 3:38 pm

      You’re so welcome! Glad it was easy for you.

  • margie March 19, 2023, 4:46 pm

    Thanks for letting us know the smell amazing. Wonder what they taste like.

    • Joanne February 15, 2024, 3:38 pm

      My personal experience says the taste lives up to the smell!

  • Margie December 24, 2022, 4:12 pm

    Making these to take to a family gathering. Look and smell amazing.

    • Joanne February 27, 2023, 4:35 pm

      That’s wonderful, Margie!

  • Kathryn Marie Wasylak October 27, 2022, 2:56 pm

    Just found your site looking for a great,easy chicken soup recipe.Yours sounds perfect. Love the videos! Makes the cooking look so easy.Thanks

    • Joanne February 27, 2023, 4:35 pm

      So happy that your found us!


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