Juicy Italian Baked Meatballs in a rustic tomato sauce are soft and tender. You’ll love this easy recipe!
It may be hard to get the texture and taste right out of a humble meatball, but I’m here to tell you it’s super easy. Dry Meatballs are a thing of the past, and that homemade Marinara sauce is crazy good.
EASY MEATBALL RECIPE
There’s nothing more cathartic than rolling meatballs, and nothing easier than giving them to your oven to cook through and brown while your sole focus is creating a rich and rustic sauce. This is the case here.
The best meatballs are tender, baked and browned in a hot oven to seal in all the juices. Simmered in robust sauce for a couple of minutes ensures they soak up all of those saucy flavours, this is an easy dinner recipe that will be a hit with your family!
HOW TO MAKE BAKED MEATBALLS
Meatballs are hard to master for some people. It’s easier to buy cooked meatballs in throw them in a bottled sauce. However, great meatballs start with a great meat mix.
There are two key elements crucial to a good meatball recipe:
Baked meatballs are well-seasoned first to get the flavours started, including aromatics such as onion and garlic. Herbs are just as important to get those classic Italian flavours in each bite. Our recipe calls for fresh parsley or basil, purely taking seasonal availability into account. Feel free to mix it up with your own favourite combination.
WHY ARE MY MEATBALLS TOUGH?
Using milk is the secret to getting juicy, moist meatballs every single time. The same method we use for our Meatloaf recipe. An egg is also added to bind the meat, breadcrumbs and parmesan together, making them light and spongy.
The next step is mixing your meat mixture until the ingredients are just incorporated with your hands. Use gloves if you have an aversion to touching raw meat, or mix lightly a wooden spoon. Full pieces of ground meat should still be visible.
Roll your meatballs with lightly oiled hands to prevent the meat from sticking to your fingers, while adding a little extra moisture into each meatball. Alternatively, you can spray meatballs generously with cooking oil spray.
BUT CAN YOU BAKE MEATBALLS INSTEAD OF FRY?
Absolutely! For perfectly browned baked meatballs, space them out in a single layer on a baking sheet, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. You want to avoid them steaming.
WHAT TEMPERATURE DO MEATBALLS NEED TO BE COOKED AT?
Bake meatballs in a preheated oven at 410°F (or 210°C) and bake for 12 minutes, or until just cooked though. Broil (grill) on high heat in the last 2 minutes of cooking time to get them nicely browned.
Our sauce recipe is easy, starting with onion and garlic to get those aromatics in. Simmer tomatoes along with tomato paste, herbs, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Add a pinch of sugar to cut through some of the bitterness, or use 1/4 teaspoon of aluminium free baking soda to help neutralise the acid.
Add baked meatballs into the sauce along with any pan juices for added flavour, simmering for only a couple of minutes to avoid overcooking them. You want to get those flavours in the sauce absorbing evenly into the meat.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BAKED MEATBALLS
MORE MEATBALL RECIPES
Italian Baked Meatballs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 pound (250 g) ground beef mince
- 1/2 pound (250 g) ground pork mince, (or beef)
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil (or parsley), finely chopped
- 1/2 cup milk, (or water)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, (optional -- adjust to your preference)
- 28 oz (800 g) crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil or parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- Fresh basil, chopped
- Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated
- Heat oil in a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Sauté onion until soft, (about 2 minutes). Add garlic and sauté for a further minute, until fragrant. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 410°F (210°C). Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine half of the sautéed onion and garlic mixture with the ground meats, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, egg, cheese, breadcrumbs and basil (or parsley). Add half of the milk, mixing a little with your hands, then add the rest of the milk. Mix again until all ingredients are just combined (don't over mix or meatballs will be hard/tough).*
- Scoop out 1-tablespoonful of meat per meatball and roll into balls, placing meatballs on lined baking pan as you go.
- Spray generously with cooking oil spray and bake for 12 minutes, or until just cooked though.
- Broil (grill) on high heat in the last 2 minutes of cooking time to get them crispy and browned.While meatballs are baking, make your sauce.
- Return the pan with the remaining onion/garlic mixture to the stove over medium heat. Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, herbs, salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper, to your taste.
- Transfer baked meatballs and pan juices into the sauce. Stir to evenly coat and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes to let the sauce infuse into the meat and completely cook the meatballs.
- Serve over pasta of choice. Garnish with additional fresh herbs and parmesan cheese.