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Easy Baked Meatballs

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Make these super easy baked meatballs at home and serve as an appetizer, on a hoagie roll or over pasta.  They are perfect for freezer meal prep and you get to control the ingredients! Make sure to check out my secret tips for making this baked meatball recipe come out perfectly every time. 

prepared baked meatballs in white bowl with tomato sauce parmesan cheese and chopped parsley with title text "Oven Baked Meatballs"

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Store-bought meatballs are a convenience, but I find that they usually don’t have much flavor. So, I set out to make really tasty meatballs that are actually easy to make. And if you’re going to take the time to make meatballs, you might as well make a batch!

This baked meatball recipe can be mixed up in your stand mixer and portioned with a cookie scoop to make quick work of forming them. Follow up with 12 minutes in the oven and you’ve got moist, tender meatballs that are bursting with flavor. From there, you can serve them up plain or top them with your favorite sauce as an appetizer or make them the main course. I love making meatballs for quick meal prep. I keep them in the freezer and grab a handful whenever we need them.

Ingredients

Ground Beef and Pork: You’re probably wondering why we are using a mix of beef and pork. The combination of the two provides a rich flavor with plenty of fat to keep the meatballs juicy and flavorful and still holds up well to baking. You can use all ground beef if you want, or even ground turkey if you’re looking for a lighter option.

Milk and Breadcrumbs: These ingredients get mixed together to form a paste that helps retain the moisture in the meatballs. If you are keto or low carb, you can use almond flour. You can also use a milk substitute if you are dairy-free.

Eggs: Eggs help hold our meatballs together. You’ll need one egg per pound of ground meat.

Seasonings: We’re really packing the flavor into these meatballs. You can suffice with just salt and pepper, but each of the following ingredients bring mega flavor and balance to the meatballs

  • Fresh (or dried) parsley
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Grated onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper
meatball ingredients on sheet pan and in glass bowl

Equipment

homemade meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl

Secret to Juicy Baked Meatballs

The secret to making moist and tender meatballs that don’t dry out when baked is to make a panade, or a mixture of bread or breadcrumbs and milk, that is added to the meat mixture. This milk/breadcrumb mixture helps retain the moisture in the meatballs so that the do not dry out and and lose flavor.

Really you can make your panade with any liquid and a starch such as torn bread slices, breadcrumbs or crushed crackers.

ingredients for baked meatballs in mixing bowl combined

Our second secret ingredient in this meatball recipe is balsamic vinegar. Every dish needs to have sugar, salt, fat and acid to have a truly balanced flavor. Balsamic vinegar brings the acid and a bit of sweetness to the equation. You can skip it if you don’t have balsamic vinegar, but trust me it provides the oomph to these meatballs.

Lastly, to make juicy meatballs, we want to cook them at a high heat for a shorter period of time. When you cook at a lower heat, it takes longer and therefore there is a greater risk of all the juices and moisture cooking out of your baked meatballs.

Ways to Serve Baked Meatballs

  • Toss in BBQ sauce and serve as an appetizer
  • Simmer in some marinara sauce and serve on sturdy bread as meatball sandwiches or sliders
  • Serve as the main course with your favorite tomato sauce and more Parmesan cheese
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs, need I say more
  • Use in Italian Wedding soup
  • Meal prep meatballs with frozen steam vegetables for a low-carb meal
formed meatballs on sheet pan lined with parchment paper

Substitutions and Variations

As I mentioned above, you can use all ground beef rather than a mixture of ground beef and ground pork. You can also use ground turkey or ground chicken. You can also use almond flour instead of breadcrumbs in the panade if you’re looking to make the meatballs keto.

Feel free to use dried herbs and spices rather than fresh. For the fresh parsley, you’ll use 1 Tablespoon dried parsley. To substitute garlic powder for the fresh garlic, use 1 teaspoon, and for onion powder you’ll use 2 teaspoons rather than the 1/4 cup grated onion.

The Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar provide huge flavor in your baked meatballs, but you omit if you don’t have or like them.

The base recipe of ground meat, panade (milk/breadcrumb mixture), eggs, salt and pepper is really straightforward. From there, feel free to get creative with your seasonings. Use soy sauce and chili paste for a Korean variation, fill your meatballs with cubes of mozzarella cheese, or make them larger or smaller depending on how you want to use them.

cooked baked meatballs on sheet pan

Frequently Asked Questions

Can homemade meatballs be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze homemade meatballs either uncooked or cooked. To freeze uncooked, shape your meatballs and place them on a sheet pan in a single layer. Stick the sheet pan in the freezer for 1-2 hours until the meatballs are frozen. Then, transfer the frozen meatballs to a freezer bag and store for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to cook them, bake in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 18-20 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
To freeze cooked meatballs, allow them to cool completely and store in a freezer bag in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to reheat, remove the number of meatballs you’ll need and warm them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or in a covered skillet over medium heat until heated through.

Can I cook this meatball recipe in an air fryer?

Yes, you can bake these meatballs in your air fryer. You’ll want to cook them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. You can flip half way through if you desire.

side view of baked meatballs in tomato sauce in white dish

More Easy Dinner Recipes

Oven Baked Meatballs Recipe

Yield: 40 meatballs

Easiest Ever Baked Meatballs

overhead view of baked meatballs in white bowl with tomato sauce, shredded parmesan cheese and chopped parsley

Make these super easy, flavorful oven baked meatballs at home and serve as an appetizer, on a hoagie roll or over spaghetti.  They are perfect for freezer meal prep, too!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces ground beef
  • 16 ounces ground pork
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs or bread slices or crackers
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the milk and breadcrumbs or bread or crackers in a small bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Combine all other ingredients and the milk/breadcrumb mixture in a large bowl or stand mixer and mix with the paddle blade on low to medium speed or your hands until everything is just combined.
  4. Using a 1 Tablespoon size cookie scoop or measuring spoon, portion the mixture and roll into balls and place on your baking sheet. You want to leave about 1 inch of space between each meatball so that they brown evenly and don't steam when cooking.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Once cooked, place your meatballs on a paper towel lined baking sheet or plate to absorb any excess grease.

Notes

The baking time for this recipe is based on a 1 Tablespoon size rounded meatball. If you use a larger scoop, adjust the baking time until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Air Fryer Instructions: You can bake your meatballs in an air fryer at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Freezing: Once your mixture is formed into balls, you can place the sheet pan in the freezer for 1-2 hours until the meatballs are frozen. Place them in a gallon-size freezer bag for easy freezer meal prep. When ready to cook, remove the desired number of meatballs and bake from frozen at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Batch Cooking: You can easily double this recipe for batch cooking. You can freeze the meatballs uncooked and bake from frozen or freeze the cooked meatballs and reheat in the microwave when ready to use.

To use your cooked meatballs, you can toss them in sauce and serve as an appetizer or on a hoagie roll as a sandwich or top with tomato sauce and serve order pasta. You can also cover with sauce and cheese and broil for 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melty and bubbly for a meatball bake.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 220Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 430mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 18g

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By on November 18th, 2021

About Sarah

Hi, I'm Sarah. The voice behind Feast for a Fraction. I've been a penny-pincher all my life, but still have a taste for nice things. I'm here to show you that you can eat (and live) well on a budget. From recipes and DIY tips to ways to make extra money, we'll be in control of our budgets together!

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