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Great-Grandma’s Italian Meatballs

My great-grandmother started this easy meatball recipe with our family. We use ground beef and turkey for these meatballs, and the flavor’s so good, you won’t miss the extra calories. —Audrey Colantino, Winchester, Massachusetts
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. Bake: 20 min.
  • Makes
    8 servings


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and parsley flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • Optional: Hot cooked pasta and pasta sauce


  • Preheat oven to 375°. In a small skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheese, eggs, seasonings and onion mixture. Add turkey and beef; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape into 1-1/2-in. balls.
  • Place meatballs on a rack coated with cooking spray in a 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake until lightly browned and cooked through, 18-22 minutes. If desired, serve with pasta and pasta sauce.

Test Kitchen Tips
  • Consider preparing meatballs in bulk to save on prep time. You can make several batches of meatballs, bake them and then freeze until needed. Simply thaw the frozen meatballs in the refrigerator overnight and you’ll be ready to go.
  • Spaghetti-and-meatball pizza is a fun way to combine two Italian-inspired favorites. If you have leftover cooked spaghetti, toss it with some spaghetti sauce or additional pizza sauce, then layer it on the pizza before the onion and meatballs. Buon appetito!
  • Check out our favorite meatball recipes and ground beef recipes.
  • Nutrition Facts
    1 serving: 271 calories, 13g fat (5g saturated fat), 125mg cholesterol, 569mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 27g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 4 lean meat, 1 fat, 1/2 starch.


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    Average Rating:
    • Joe
      Sep 10, 2020

      Tasty! I substituted pork sausage for the turkey used gluten free bread crumbs. Would reduce bread crumbs to 1/2 cup next time.

    • Stephanie
      Sep 7, 2020

      Delicious recipe! I would definitely make this again. I did make minor adjustments with what I had on hand. I used 3 eggs instead of 2, I used 1lb ground turkey and 1lb ground pork, I used shredded parmsean instead of grated due to running out of grated, and I used regular bread crumbs vs Italian (I thought I had Italian on hand but it was regular bread crumbs) I baked for 22 mins then flipped meatballs over and baked for an additional 6-7 minutes. I served over rice and chicken gravy with a side of mixed vegetables. The only complaint was from my oldest daughter who requested that I serve over mashed potatoes next time :-)

    • Kathy
      Sep 6, 2020

      No comment left

    • Paula
      Sep 2, 2020

      Used only 90% lean ground beef, but otherwise followed the recipe as is. I made them a day ahead and dropped them in simmering marinara the next day. The held their shape/texture perfectly. Delicious and now my go-to meatball recipe!

    • mrscessna
      Aug 29, 2020

      Great flavor and easy! I used 2 lbs 90% beef and used 3 eggs.

    • Judie
      Aug 23, 2020

      Ok. I am for simplicity! I make delicious meatballs--no onion, no seasonings exc. parsley & what is in the seasoned crumbs. I use only 90% or better hamburg & just roll into balls & put directly into the homemade sauce that was started before the meatballs & continue to cook sauce. When done there is NO oil floating on the sauce & the meatballs are terrific. They don't break up while cooking either.

    • kiltyone
      Aug 22, 2020

      No comment left

    • Haley
      Jul 9, 2020

      This has become my go-to meatball recipe. I’ve used all combinations of ground beef, pork, and turkey including just ground turkey and they are always delicious. As to the validity of being “Great Grandma’s” recipe, I got curious and learned that lots of processed turkey products started coming out in the 1940s and ‘50s. Turkey burgers and meatballs became popular in the 1970s. (According to the book “The Turkey: An American Story” by Andrew Smith.) I’m in my 30s and my great grandmother would have been a young housewife in the 1930s and ‘40s. She would have been in her 60s when turkey meatballs became popular. These may not be from the old country, but it is feasible that Great Grandma developed this recipe. :)

    • Sherry
      Apr 7, 2020

      Made per recipe but seasoned the beef and turkey with homemade Italian sausage seasoning

    • soonrzfan
      Feb 1, 2020

      This is pretty much the same recipe I have used for years except I use finely crushed saltine crackers instead of bread crumbs. Makes a lighter, more tender meatball. I'll never go back to breadcrumbs!