How to Make Baked Meatballs

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Wondering what the secret is to making gorgeous, tender baked meatballs in a cinch? Our easy meatball recipe shows you how to whip up this delicious comfort food quickly.

Homemade meatballs are so much tastier than anything you’ll pick up at the supermarket. They’re a simple comfort food perfect for everything from quick pasta dishes and stews to hearty sandwiches and appetizers. This easy baked meatball recipe is an inexpensive 30-minute meal that is a fantastic option if you’re looking for quick meal prep ideas.

How to Make Baked Meatballs

Our Test Kitchen created this quick and easy meatball recipe that’s simple enough to make on a weeknight.

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1-1/3 cups soft bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds ground beef

Directions

Step 1: Make the meatball mixture

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Crumble the ground beef into a large bowl, and add the eggs, onion, garlic, water, bread crumbs, Parmesan and seasonings on top.

The eggs and bread crumbs are essential for binding the meat. Thanks to their moisture content, eggs help keep your meatballs lovely and tender.

Test Kitchen Tip: This recipe calls for soft bread crumbs—not Panko (bigger, crispier bread crumbs), dry or seasoned bread crumbs (sometimes called Italian bread crumbs). Luckily, you can make your own soft bread crumbs at home. Just put a slice or two of bread in a food processor and voila! Fresh, soft breadcrumbs. 1 slice of bread typically yields about 1 cup.

Step 2: Combine and shape

How To; Meatballs; Step 3; Hands Shaping Mixture Into Balls With Scoop In BowlTMB Studio

Use your hands to combine everything but do not overwork the beef. If you overdo it, you run the risk of tough meatballs. Instead, gently work the mix until it’s just combined.

Once you’re happy with the beef mixture, lightly shape the meatballs to be about 1 to 1-1/2 inches. You can make larger meatballs, if you choose. But no matter whether you decide to go big or small, you’ll want to keep them all roughly the same size. Otherwise, they’ll cook unevenly.

Test Kitchen Tip: Use a cookie scoop to guarantee evenly sized meatballs.

Step 3: Put the meatballs in the oven 

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Grease a rack and place it in a shallow baking tray. I pour a little olive oil onto a paper towel and rub the rack down, but a nonstick cooking spray would work here. Arrange the meatballs, and then put them in the oven. Bake at 375°F for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until your instant-read thermometer says they’re cooked through (160-165°).

Test Kitchen Tip: You also have the option of browning the meatballs before you bake them, if you want to add a little bit of flavor and of course, some color. However, this is completely optional and not necessary if you’re on a tight schedule.

Homemade Baked Meatballs Tips

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Can you use other meats instead of ground beef in this baked meatball recipe?

Yes—don’t limit yourself to beef! You can swap it for pork, chicken, lamb, turkey or game meat to put a new spin on this tried-and-true classic. If you’re hankering for ultra-tender meatballs, fatty meats are the way to go. If lean meats like chicken or turkey are on the menu, consider adding a splash of milk to the egg mix. This will moisten the breadcrumbs and help prevent the meatballs from getting tough.

How can you make baked meatballs your own?

While this recipe calls for Italian seasoning, a sprinkling of fresh chopped herbs like rosemary, thyme and basil pack some serious flavor. Mint would be gorgeous with lamb, while cilantro gives pork and chicken meatballs a zesty flair.

If you’re out of eggs or would rather not use them in your baked meatballs, you’ve got options. You can substitute a few tablespoons of applesauce per egg, or you can prep a flaxseed mixture instead. To do this, combine 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed with 6 tablespoons of water, and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until it turns into a thick gel.

How do you store baked meatballs?

You can freeze your meatballs to enjoy later if you like. After they’re out of the oven, let them cool down completely before freezing them. Or prep the meatballs and put them in an airtight container in the fridge to cook later in the week—just be sure to cook them within 2 to 3 days. (Learn more about how to tell if ground beef has gone bad.)

Do you need to cover the meatballs with tin foil in the oven?

According to Peggy Woodward, Taste of Home Senior Food Editor, these baked meatballs cook fast enough in the oven that they don’t need to be covered. On the contrary, they’d have better flavor and color if you don’t!

What can you serve with baked meatballs?

Of course, baked meatballs go perfectly with a heaping plate of spaghetti! You also can’t go wrong with putting them in a meatball sub sandwich or as a topping on a hearty meatball pizza. Or, make them ahead and freeze them so you can make meatball casserole on a moment’s notice.

Baked meatballs are also a great homemade main course when you pair them with garlic bread and roasted vegetables or a side salad.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of the perfect meatball, here are some of our best Italian meatball recipes and meatball recipes from around the world to try out.

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Camille Berry
Part of the third generation in a family of restaurateurs, Camille was born with a passion for cooking and food. She embarked on a career in hospitality where she excelled as a sommelier and wine director. This hospitality experience has given her a wealth of first-hand knowledge about how to pair all manner of drinks with food—plus some serious kitchen skills. These days, she's hung up her wine key in favor of a pen and covers all aspects of food and drink.