experiments in cooking

Sometimes I wish I were Italian and had a family cookbook of heirloom Italian recipes brought over by a great grandmother from the old country who shared her secrets with her daughters who taught them to their daughters who in turn passed them on to future generations.

But, sadly, I am not Italian. Not one little bit.

Fortunately, my Aunt Grace married an Italian man from Philadelphia, who brought his family’s Italian meatball recipe into our family. Thank you, Uncle Ed.

I serve these meatballs with spaghetti on a regular basis. As someone who has messed up a lot of meals in the past, when I say this recipe is easy, I mean it. I have never had a problem with this recipe. Even when I’ve realized I didn’t have enough of a particular ingredient, or forgot one, it has still turned out tasty. Even when I’ve overcooked the meatballs a little, they’ve still tasted good once they’re covered in spaghetti sauce.

For example, when I was preparing the meatballs one night and discovered I had only half as much breadcrumbs as I needed, I used matzo meal (kept around for matzo soup) to complete the measurement and added a little bit of Italian seasoning. The meatballs tasted fine. And when I forgot to add any parmesan cheese, the meatballs tasted fine. When I cooked them almost to a crisp because I suddenly got worried about the meat being raw, in spite of having made them a dozen times before with no problem, the meatballs tasted fine. When I’ve used a lean grade of beef or a fattier grade of beef, the meatballs have tasted fine.

You get the message. These meatballs turn out fine, in spite of my best efforts to mess them up.

The recipe below is easily doubled—in fact, the original recipe my mom gave me was double these amounts. Making it my way, you’ll get between 20 and 24 meatballs. If you double the recipe, you’ll have enough to freeze for another meal.

Italian Meatballs

1 lb ground beef

1 egg

¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs (or use oatmeal or matzo meal and 1 T Italian seasoning)

1 tsp garlic powder

¼ to ½ cup grated parmesan

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Mix ingredients well. Place teaspoon-size meatballs on a baking sheet. (You may wish to use one with a rim as the meatballs will release grease.) Bake at 400 degrees for 12–15 minutes.

Comments on: "Easy Italian Meatballs You Can’t Mess Up … and I’ve Tried" (13)

  1. thanks!very easy and i’m determined to make them tonight.:]

  2. fINALLY! A recipe I can use indefinitely. The teaspoon size has me a bit stumped however. Are they more the size of a nickel, quarter, half dollar, or other? An actual teaspoon measured serving to me would be like the size of a marble. Are they like that, or more like a ping pong ball? Questions questions….

    • No doubt you figured this out already, but I make the meatballs around the size of a ping pong ball.

    • I don’t think it really matters. I just made them and we like large meatballs (the size of silver dollar or even bigger). I simply adjusted the baking time. Delicious!

  3. I’m thinking ahead and plan to make these for Father’s Day, as my husband LOOOOOOOOOVES meatballs but almost never gets them unless he orders them at a restaurant (no one else in the family likes them). I want to make them “restaurant style,” aka, probably triple the size that your recipe calls for netting only 10-12 meatballs; do you have any hints on how long I should bake a larger meatball for it to be done? Or an internal temp to shoot for? Thanks!

    • I think that 15 minutes might be enough time even for a larger meatball. I would slice open one of the meatballs after 15 minutes to see if it’s done, then bake them for 5 minutes longer if it’s still pink inside.

  4. tfrench143@yahoo.com said:

    now this workes good i mae it for my kids and there mother on spaghetti night

  5. natalie said:

    Is it the bread crumbs with Italian seasoning or the oatmeal with the Italian seasoning? Or both?

  6. Debann Pugh said:

    Best recipe ever – good every time – family loves it. I use it with a lite sauce and dreamfields (Did add a bit of italian seasonings and granulated garlic). Perfect.

  7. These were amazing!!! Only change I made was adding 1/4 cup of milk and baking a little longer

  8. I’m so excited to try this tonight! You’re blog totally resonates with me!

  9. Great recipe. Perfect texture. I had to laugh about all of your “They will turn out fine even if…”s. Just as I was about to serve them, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to add in the Parmesan cheese. I could not believe I did that since the Parmesan cheese is my favorite part of a meatball! But you are right, they still turned out fine. I just made sure to grate loads of Parmesan cheese on top of them when I served them.

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