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Italian-Style Meatballs - A Family Feast

Here’s a great, classic recipe for Italian-Style Meatballs that my husband Jack has really perfected over the years. In fact, we originally shared this recipe here on A Family Feast back in January 2013 – and in addition to updating the photos, Jack made some additional tweaks to the recipe before sharing it again today!

These moist, tender Italian-Style Meatballs are a savory combination of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal, and they are perfectly seasoned with onions, garlic, Parmesan cheese and other herbs and seasonings. (If you can’t find the veal ground, buy veal stew meat and process in a food processor or meat grinder. Veal is an important part of this recipe).

We’re also sharing our trick to making these Italian-Style Meatballs so tender and moist! Slices of white bread soaked in milk are used to help bind the meat together, rather than dry bread crumbs which we’ve seen used in so many other Italian-style meatball recipes.

Italian-Style Meatballs - A Family Feast

This recipe makes a generous amount of meatballs so you’ll have lots of options for how to use them – and they freeze quite well!  Whether you are making spaghetti and meatballs with your favorite tomato sauce, or a classic Italian Meatball Soup, or eating them as is, this is a great go-to meatball recipe for you to have in your recipe collection.

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Italian-Style Meatballs - A Family Feast

Italian-Style Meatballs

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 28 meatballs (approximately 2 1/2 ounces each)
  • Category: entree
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 3 ounces (in weight) Italian or French bread, crusts removed
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup finely minced onions
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh garlic finely minced
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork (not sausage meat)
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Soak bread in milk in a large bowl.
  2. After the bread soaks for 4-5 minutes, add eggs and beat with the wet bread.
  3. Add onions, garlic, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Add the beef, pork and veal and gently work the mixture to combine the ingredients but do not over mix.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out meatballs to about 2 ½ ounces each (would roughly fit into a ¼ cup measuring cup). However you can make them any size you want, just adjust cooking times.
  6. Wet your hands and roll out the meatballs into a round shape. Place in the refrigerator to firm up if the mixture gets too warm. They will keep their shape better when cooking if not too soft.
  7. In a large 12”–14” skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  8. Working in two batches, gently place the meatballs in the pan and cook a few minutes on each side (top, bottom, and all sides), using a few soup spoons to roll the meatballs over as they cook. The meatballs will flatten just a bit and not stay exactly round but as you keep turning and browning, they will form back into a round shape. (strain out oil between batches with a slotted spoon to get rid of any burned bits). Total cooking time for each batch should be about 10-12 minutes. Use a probe thermometer and remove from pan at 150 degrees F.
  9. The meatballs are fully cooked and can be used in a variety of recipes. For spaghetti and meatballs, put the meatballs directly into a pot of your favorite tomato sauce and continue to cook in the sauce for another five to ten minutes. Or place them into hot stock for an Italian Meatball soup.
  10. These meatballs freeze well. Freeze on a single layer in a dish or pan. Once frozen, place in zip lock bags and place back into the freezer.

Keywords: Italian-Style Meatballs

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A classic recipe for Italian-Style Meatballs - moist and delicious on their own or served with your favorite Italian sauce. A recipe everyone should have in their collection!

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  • Sylvia Sharenow wrote:

    Made these meatballs today. So wonderful. My only change to the recipe was that I gently sautéed the garlic and chopped onion and when it was brown added it to the meat mixture. A bit more flavor thx for posting this recipe

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for your feedback Sylvia.

  • Ray Balchi wrote:

    Excellent recipe for meatballs. I used 4 lbs of meat and adjusted the recipe accordingly. Didn’t have ground veal so substituted ground turkey for the veal. I did add some Italian flavored breadcrumbs to the recipe, about 3/4 cup. They were amazing!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Ray!

  • Joanne wrote:

    Just wondering if you think meatballs can be baked in the oven instead of fried.

    • Jack wrote:

      They certainly can. Only drawback is that the shape may flatten out a bit. Other than that, should be good. I’d drizzle some olive oil over them before baking.
      Good luck Joanne.

  • Kathleen wrote:

    Can’t wait to try these. How many slices of bread is 3 ounces if I have a loaf of Italian Bread?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Kathleen – Loaves of Italian bread vary in size which is why we listed the ounces rather than slices. It could be anywhere from 1 large slice to two or three smaller (without crusts).

  • Mildred dubrow wrote:

    I love these meatballs. I have a batch in the freezer right now.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Mildred! (We do too!) 🙂 So glad you enjoy the recipe and thanks for writing to us today.

  • Laurie wrote:

    What type of beef is best to use for the meatballs? 80/20? 90/10?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Laurie – We almost always recommend 80/20 – while the meatballs will give off more fat than that leaner ground beef, we feel the 80/20 also has more flavor. Hope you love the meatball recipe!

  • Jennifer wrote:

    I am planning on making this tonight for supper. I am always on the look out for something new ti introduce to my family of picky eaters. Can I omit the veal and use an extra 1/2 pound of hamburger or pork instead?

    • Martha wrote:

      Yes of course Jennifer! You can adjust the mix to suit your preferences. Enjoy!

  • Gail Galanty wrote:

    Do you chop the bread before soaking?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Gail – You can – the bread will basically fall apart as it soaks in the milk but breaking it into pieces will help things along.

  • Bob reddy wrote:

    For Sunday gravy sauce do I just cook the meatballs halfway before adding to the sauce

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Bob – Apologies for the delay in responding. Yes – the meatballs will finish cooking in the sauce (gravy). Enjoy!

  • John Glowacki wrote:

    I followed this recipe exactly. Actually never made meatballs before. I have never received more positive responses from my family ever! Everyone loved them. I had more people ask me for “my special meatball recipe” and I had to tell the truth and forward them this recipe. Simply amazing. This was months ago and have made them twice since. I am commenting here now because so many family members gathering for Christmas have asked me to make them again. I wanted to review the recipe so I don’t miss a thing. We did buy a ice cream scoop which makes the job much easier. Simply delicious. Don’t change a thing!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you for taking the time to write to us John! So glad the meatballs were a hit!


    Please provide me with a recipe for small ” VEAL MEATBALLS FOR WEDDING SOUP ” . Can not find my Sicilian Mothers recipe . They were the best !
    Love your site ~ Thank you ~ Barb

  • Kim wrote:

    Making these tonight for dinner. Made sauce this morning. Salad is ready and bread is rising and going in the oven in 1 hour. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Kim! (Sounds like a delicious meal!)

  • Janna wrote:

    This is a great recipe, thanks for sharing this. Yummy.
    To the comment about the missimg basil and how the sauce shouldn’t have mint… Mint is the most widely used herbs in Italy especially by home cooks. Our Sicilian sauce & meatball recipe comes from a native Sicilian still living in Italy who says everyone she knows has used mint for generations in their dish. This article outlines 13 recipes from 13 parts of Italy that hinge on the herb mint, one of which is meatballs.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Janna! Glad you enjoyed the recipe! 🙂

  • TMB wrote:

    Good recipe I like it Thank you

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome! Glad you liked the meatballs!

  • john wrote:

    Looks like a very good recipe. I use water instead of milk learned that from my wife’s 98-year-old grandmother and she also uses freshly grated pecorino romano instead of the parm cheese which makes a tremendous flavor difference. I bake mine as well just a lot easier. Just found your blog and absolutely love it!!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks John! We’re glad you found us! 🙂

  • Rob wrote:

    This is how I have made meatballs for 40 years. The key is soaking bread in milk or water. No bread crumbs. You will have perfect results every time.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Rob!

  • Elaine Kallio wrote:

    I had had a recipe for meatballs made with wet fresh bread years ago and lost it somewhere along our many moves in the military. I am so happy to have found this recipe. I had used water in the old recipe, but this recipe was even better. I used a large cookie scoop to measure these and got 52 meatballs from a batch. My husband would’ve eaten all 52 right there if I’d have let him. They are DELICIOUS!!! Thanks for bringing back an old favorite of ours but making it even better than ever!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Elaine! So glad you both enjoyed the recipe!

  • Michelle wrote:

    Love the way you cook I do the same an a pleasure to read

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Michelle!

  • Patti wrote:

    thank you for sharing

  • Lendsi Paubel wrote:

    HI! I have a Sicilian husband and have been trying to find new recipes to cook for him, your home made speghetti sauce and pork and beef meatballs sound awesome and I look forward to trying them for him, I’m not sure if you guys have one posted but a recipe I found I really wanted to try for him was eggs in purgatory. Thank you guys for the recipes! Makes me happy to see families still cooking at home instead of always going out.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi – We don’t have a recipe for eggs in purgatory – but it sounds delicious! I hope you enjoy the recipes and thank you so much for taking the time to write to us! (We love sharing our recipes!) 🙂

      • Maria wrote:

        I am Italian (Sicilian) and I looked at your recipes for meat balls and sauce. First off, there is no fresh basil in your meatballs, or in your sauce!!! this is an essential ingredient to good Italian meat balls and sauce!!! Second, no Italian I know puts mint in their sauce!!! This is not the way meatballs and sauce are made. Hurts me to see authentic recipes done wrong

        • Martha wrote:

          Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback Maria. I’m sorry you are disappointed with our recipes.

        • Julie G wrote:

          My Italian (Sicilian) husband puts a little mint in his ravioli because that’s the way his mother made them. You don’t taste the mint persay, but it does make them extra special! We do put fresh basil in the sauce. It’s nice to try ways other people make it too! Thanks for sharing Martha!

          • Martha wrote:

            You’re very welcome Julie – We agree – the mint adds something special (without being a very distinctive flavor). Thanks for taking the time to write to us!

  • Walter Christie wrote:

    Hi Guys:
    Got a question. I have been trying to find a recipe for good “old fashion” German Potato Salad. An old German lady used to make it for us when I was a child (my brother Fred Flintstone love it also) and in the past 35 to 40 years I’ve been searching for the recipe, or a similar one. If I remember correctly, it contained (ready?) real bacon bits and their drippings. I was too young to remember what the green leave pieces were and I remember it was best served warm. My next question will address Wilted Lettuce…can’t wait for that one, eh?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Walter – No – I’m sorry – we don’t have a good German Potato Salad recipe of our own. (We always make my husband’s potato salad recipe which you can find on our blog.) But doing a quick online search – we usually have good luck with Alton Brown’s recipes…have you tried this one? (Hope that helps!) Thanks for writing to us! Martha

  • chris barnes wrote:

    Read the review and discovered the ideas very useful, since my personal meatballs are generally always difficult and dried out. Another great effective dishes maybe a uncomplicated parmesan cheese cake?

    • Martha wrote:

      Great suggestion Chris!

  • Marlene wrote:

    Martha, thank you so much for sharing your recipes! I can’t wait to try them. You are now one of my go-to sites for great ideas!
    Sincerely, Marlene

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Marlene! We’re glad you found us!

  • Jennifer Yuille wrote:

    Read your comment and found your tips very helpful,as my meatballs are always hard and dry.Any other nice successful recipes maybe a easy cheese cake?
    Thank you once again.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Jennifer – we hope you have better luck making meatballs with our recipe! Our very first recipe we ever posted was a classic cheesecake recipe (forgive the very amateurish photo here: and there is a pumpkin cheesecake on our site as well. With any cheesecake recipe – we recommend using the water bath method for baking which helps prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking as it bakes and cools. You can read more about water baths here: I hope this helps! Thanks for visiting our site! Martha

  • Gloria Natale wrote:

    I’d not use milk…I’d use water…I think milk makes hard meatballs…I always put my bread, crusts and all , under the faucet and squeeze excess water out…them beat bread w/ my eggs and cheese to break it up well….a great cook from Atlantic City taught me years ago to bake my meatballs…much easier…no hard outside ….I’ve been doing them in the over for 65 years.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Gloria! We’re going to give that a try the next time!! Thank you so much for your advice! Martha

    • Sherrill MacMillan wrote:

      What would be the time and baking temperature for the meatballs?

      • Martha wrote:

        Hi Sherrill – Step 6 outlines a few cooking options for the meatballs – for baking it would be 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees (F) or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Hope that helps!

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