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Italian Meatballs (Flavourful and Delicious!)

These Italian Meatballs are soft, tender and so flavourful. Once baked, these meatballs then simmer in a simple tomato sauce. Serve over your favourite pasta with fresh basil and grated Parmesan.

If there is one meatball recipe that I could recommend and shout from the rooftops, it would be this one for my Italian meatballs. These are the most flavourful, moist and delicious meatballs everrrrrrrr. They are wonderful. Once the meatballs are baked, they simmer on the stovetop in tomato sauce, making this THE perfect meatball and pasta dish.

The Ultimate Meatball for Pasta

If there is one dish that I know will bring everyone to the table in a hurry, it’s pasta and meatballs. There’s just something so irresistible and comforting about a bowl of pasta, sauce and meatballs. So, if you’re looking the BEST meatballs to pair with pasta, this recipe is it.

a top down image of a white bowl of cooked pasta and Italian meatballs covered in tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil

Bake the Meatballs

I like to bake meatballs any time I make them, it’s easy and way less messy. You can fry these in a skillet but I don’t like this method because of the mess it makes (and the tendency to overcook), so I bake them instead. Baking Tip! I place the meatballs on a baking rack over a baking sheet (see picture below). This allows the meatballs to bake evenly, but it also allows drippings to drip down onto the baking sheet and keeps the meatballs nice and clean (none of that weird stuff accumulates around the meatballs this way…you know that stuff I’m talking about).

a top down view of a baking sheet lined with unbaked Italian meatballs

Once they’re baked you transfer them to a pan to simmer in tomato sauce.

a top down view of a skillet filled with plain, baked Italian meatballs

About the Tomato Sauce

One of the most delicious things about these Italian meatballs, is that they simmer in a marinara sauce for about 30 minutes, making them extra flavourful! And perfect for pasta. I didn’t include a marinara recipe here but you do have a few options…use your own favourite sauce recipe, or this recipe for a quick 30 minute homemade marinara sauce (use San Marzano Tomatoes for the best flavour), or you can use a jar of your favourite pasta sauce (honestly, that’s what I do 90% of the time. No guilt here).

a top down view of a skillet filled with Italian meatballs covered in tomato sauce. next to the pan is a red and white striped tea towel

Don’t forget the basil and Parm!

Right before you serve these Italian meatballs, you have to add the chopped fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese! This is the perfect finishing touch…it adds so much flavour. And honestly, can you even have pasta without parm?!

a top down view of a skillet filled with Italian meatballs covered in tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and chopped basil. next to the pan is a red and white striped tea towel

Just look at those meatballs. YUM.

a top down close up of a pan of Italian meatballs covered in tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil

Pick your pasta.

Honestly, any pasta is great with these meatballs…spaghetti, penne, fettuccine…our favourite though is tagliatelle, we just like the long, flat ribbon shape of them. Because we love these meatballs so much though, I do like to serve them with the best quality pasta I can find at our local Italian market. Fresh pasta is also a real treat. So good.

a top down view of uncooked tagliatelle pasta

Great for weekends or weeknights.

This recipe does take about 2 hours from start to finish so it’s a great option for weekend dinners when you have more time and want to enjoy them with a glass of red wine! They’re also a nice option for weeknights, especially if you made a batch of meatballs ahead of time…sometimes I will double the batch and freeze half for later. I hope you enjoy these homemade Italian meatballs as much as we do!

a top down image of a white bowl of cooked pasta and Italian meatballs covered in tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil

Recipe Tips:

  • Ground Meat: This recipe calls for a 50/50 beef/pork mix (lean or regular work well, just don’t use extra lean). This combination makes a tender and moist meatball. You can use any ground meat you like (all beef, pork, or ground turkey or chicken) but the meatballs will be more dry in texture.
  • Why do you soak the breadcrumbs in milk? This step should not be skipped! The soggy breadcrumbs are what makes the meatball moist…it also prevents the meatballs from shrinking and becoming tough.
  • Rolling the Meatballs. Don’t roll the meatballs too much or too tight or they will be tough and too dense. You want these to be soft and easily cut with a fork, so using your hands, gently roll them into a semi-loosely packed ball.
  • Let the meatballs rest. Once you make the meatballs I highly recommend that you let them rest in the fridge for 1 hour before you bake them. This allows for the flavours to come together, and for the meatball to set which will allow them to hold their shape better when they bake.
  • Baking Meatballs: A tip that you might find useful is to place a baking rack over a baking sheet, and place your meatballs on the rack. The juices will drip onto the baking sheet and the meatballs will be much cleaner.
  • Pasta: These meatballs are wonderful with any pasta of your choice. Our favourite is tagliatelle.
  • Garnish: Sprinkle on chopped fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese!
  • Pasta Sauce: Use your favourite meatless pasta sauce (marinara) for these meatballs. Pre-made sauces are great, and you can also make your own homemade sauce…this 30 minute tomato sauce is one I use regularly.
  • Freezing Options: These meatballs freeze beautifully. Just bake them first, let them cool, then store them in an airtight container or ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 6 months. Let the meatballs de-thaw before you simmer them in sauce…the easiest way to do this is to take them out the night before and let them thaw in the fridge.
  • Leftovers: Leftovers the next day are wonderful! Just reheat in the microwave or in a small skillet on the stove. You can also freeze the leftover sauced meatballs. Just store them in an airtight container or ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 6 months. De-thaw before reheating.
  • Doubling the recipe: This recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled. Sometimes I will double it so I can freeze half for later…my future self always thanks me!

Italian Meatballs (Flavourful and Delicious!)

  • Author: Jo-Anna Rooney
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Resting Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x
  • Category: Beef


  • 1 lb ground pork (fresh)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (fresh)
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a bowl mix the bread crumbs and milk together. Let sit for 10 minutes
  3. After 10 minutes add the diced onion, garlic, eggs, and spices. Mix together.
  4. In a large bowl mix the beef and pork together.
  5. Then add the bread/seasoning mix to the meat mixture, and combine.
  6. Shape into meatballs, about 2 inches round.
  7. Now you need to let the meatballs rest in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. 
  8. After this time, place the meatballs on a cooking rack over a baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes (until browned and cooked through with an internal temperature of 165).
  10. After this time transfer the meatballs to a large skillet.
  11. Pour your favourite tomato sauce over the meatballs and simmer for 15-20 minutes on low-medium heat.
  12. While the sauce and meatballs are simmering you can start the noodles.
  13. Sprinkle the meatballs with fresh basil and parmesan cheese, and serve immediately with the cooked pasta.

PIN IT to make later!

Have a delicious day!

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