Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs

A classic Italian Meatball recipe that has been developed from years in professional kitchens and secrets from generations of Italian Grandma’s.

Italian Meatballs

The Inspiration

The inspiration for making Italian Meatballs is derived by my endless pursuit of meatball perfection. The panel of judges I am trying to impress with my endless drive toward meatball nirvana, my family. In particular my youngest daughter as she holds the final word in praise or condemnation of my meatballs.

Truth be told, the family is always pretty happy with my preparation of this humble culinary creation. The harshest scrutiny arises from within. Always suggesting to myself to try this instead of that. This worked, but why didn’t I do that this other way.

I’ve learned quite a bit about how to make Italian Meatballs over the years. In my younger years, much of what I learned came from the countless recipes the restaurants used that came from so and so’s Grandma. Influence also came in the form of a cook swearing his recipe was an exact match of the recipe the most popular Italian Restaurant in Niagara Falls used. I never scoffed at any of this information or variations, but instead learned from them. I discovered what worked and what didn’t.

In my older years I took my matured understanding of how food works and combined that with the tips and tricks from the old neighborhood. Some of those tried and true techniques were spot on. Some of the other “tricks” make me shake my head as I look back.

Let’s Make Italian Meatballs!

Italian Meatball Ingredients

The first step in making these tasty meatballs is to make the panade. This first step is also the most important step and the secret to great meatballs. See, Italian Grandmothers have been adding milk soaked bread pieces to their meatballs for generations. Not only is this a frugal step in using up leftovers, but also a scientific approach to keeping the meatballs moist. I used panko breadcrumbs for this recipe, but fresh or day old bread can be used as well. When using fresh bread for your panade, reduce the amount of milk used so it doesn’t get too soupy.

Mix the breadcrumbs and milk together along with the granulated garlic and onion powder. The dried spices need liquid to reconstitute. By adding them to this step you are helping the garlic and onion work their magic throughout the entire mixture instead of just clumps here or there. You are looking for the panade to achieve a paste like consistency.

Italian Meatball Panade

While the breadcrumbs are soaking up the milk, put the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Meatball Mix Panada

Now fold the panade into the meat mixture to thoroughly combine. Be mindful to not overmix. Overmixing the meats and the panade will create a tough meatball.

Ready to Scoop Meatballs

Using either a disher (spring loaded scoop) or a spoon, evenly scoop out your meatballs onto an unprepared sheet tray until all the mix is scooped. I scooped out 22 | 4 ounce meatballs

Meatballs Not Rolled

Now roll the meatballs individually between two hands until they form a smooth sphere. Place trays of rolled Italian Meatballs into preheated 375° oven for 45 minutes or internal temp reaches 160°.

Baked Meatballs

I finish my meatballs in a big pot of Italian Red Gravy. You can finish yours this way as well or a sauce of your choice. Enjoy!

Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr
A classic Italian Meatball recipe that has been developed from years in professional kitchens and secrets from generations of Italian Grandma's.
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 22 4oz Meatballs
Author: Nate
  • 2 lbs ground chuck
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1.5 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1.5 cup Whole Milk
  • 1/2 each vidalia onion diced small
  • 1.5 tsp granulate garlic
  • 2 tsp granulated onion
  • 6 cloves Fresh Garlic
  • 2 each Large Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  1. Combine the breadcrumbs, milk, granulated garlic and onion in a separate bowl. MIx well and allow bread to soak up all the milk. Mixture should create a paste like substance. This is called a panada.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine meats and the other ingredients.
  3. To the meat mixture fold in the panada to mix well. Be careful to not over mix.
  4. Scoop out mix into consistent sized meatballs onto unprepared sheet tray. I used a disher to scoop 4oz meatballs.
  5. Once all mixture is scooped, roll balls in two hands to form nice, tight, round spheres.
  6. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 45 minutes and place into gravy if desired.
  7. Serve with parmesan cheese or pasta of your choice. Enjoy!