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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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  • 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! 🙂

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