Classic Italian Meatballs

The ultimate recipe for tender meatballs
53 Ratings
91% would make again
Classic Meatballs
Photo: Lizzie Munro/Tasting Table

Few things are better on a Sunday evening than a pot of tender meatballs and sauce. Ours—made with veal, pork and beef—are juicy and waft an irresistible aroma. Serve them with crusty bread, on top of spaghetti or enjoy them on their own. Bonus: The leftovers can be popped into the freezer.

To learn more, read "Culinary Institute: Meatballs."

Classic Meatballs

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus chilling time

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes, plus chilling time


For the Meatballs:

10 ounces ground pork

5 ounces ground chuck

5 ounces ground veal

2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped

¼ cup lard

1 cup fine white bread crumbs

3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried)

1½ teaspoons toasted fennel seeds, ground

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

½ cup whole-milk ricotta

2 tablespoons whole milk

2 large eggs, beaten

Olive oil, for greasing

For the Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup yellow onion, finely diced (1 small onion)

½ cup dry red wine

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 cup water

Kosher salt, to taste

Finely grated Grana Padano, for serving


1. Make the meatballs: In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, beef, veal, pancetta, lard, bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, ground fennel, salt, red pepper flakes and allspice. Using your hands, combine all of the ingredients until evenly mixed.

2. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, milk and eggs. Add the mixture to the meat and gently mix until just incorporated, careful to not overwork the meat. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

3. While the meatballs are chilling, make the sauce: In a large, wide saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced to a glaze, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and water, and bring to a boil. Season with salt and keep warm while you form the meatballs.

4. Adjust the oven racks to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and grease each one with the olive oil. Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator and, using your hands, form large golf ball-size meatballs, placing them onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until brown, 10 to 12 minutes, flipping the meatballs and trays halfway through baking.

5. Transfer the meatballs to the sauce and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Make ahead: The meatballs can be made up to 2 days in advance. Let cool, cover and chill. Reheat them over medium-low heat in the sauce before serving.

6. Transfer the meatballs to a platter, spoon over the sauce and sprinkle with Grana Padano to serve.

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