These classic all-purpose meatballs have the best blend of ground meat, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. Easy to customize to your tastes and adjust serving sizes!
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Table of Contents
- About Best Meatballs
- What’s in this classic meatball recipe?
- Can you use a different type of meat?
- Can you make them in advance?
- How long are they good for?
- Can you freeze meatballs?
- Should you freeze meatballs before or after cooking?
- How to reheat meatballs
- What to serve with meatballs
- Notes & tips for this meatball recipe
- More fun appetizers
- More easy dinners
- How do you make the best meatballs?
- Recipe Details
About Best Meatballs
When I started to learn how to cook, one of the first recipes I tracked down was an all-purpose meatball recipe.
And really, can you blame me? When are meatballs not the perfect fit for any situation?
They’re an easy go-to option whenever you need to whip up something tasty that doesn’t require a lot of planning. I’ve made them for appetizers (either on their own or jazzed up with a sauce) and have numerous dinner recipes where meatballs are the showcase. Plus, I love that this recipe can be made with any type of meat, giving you even more freedom to create different tastes with a single recipe.
That’s why I consider this to be the best meatball recipe: a freshly baked batch of these meatballs opens up so many options for just a few simple steps!
What’s in this classic meatball recipe?
In order to make these perfect-for-any-occasion meatballs, you’ll need to collect the following ingredients:
- Ground pork and ground beef – The primary proteins used to form the meatballs.
- Panko breadcrumbs and eggs – Adds texture and helps bind the meatball mixture, resulting in a softer interior.
- Smoked paprika, olive oil, garlic, chili powder, salt, and black pepper – Used to infuse the meat with moisture and subtle smokey and spicy flavors.
Can you use a different type of meat?
The idea behind this recipe is to create an all-purpose meatball, so the ingredients are mild enough that they will complement any type of meat.
For me, I like to use a 50/50 split of beef and pork, so that is how this recipe is written. However, you can substitute one (or both) of these meats for all beef, all pork, chicken, turkey, or any other type or combination of ground meat. So long as the total amount of meat you use equals two pounds, then you’re good to go with creating a meatball that perfectly suits your tastes.
Can you make them in advance?
Totally! Meatballs are great for planning ahead and can be stored (both before or after cooking) for up to 24 hours before serving. To do this:
- Refrigerate raw: Mix and shape the meatballs, then store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Let the meatballs sit on the counter for 30 minutes to come back to room temperature, then cook as directed.
- Refrigerate cooked: Follow the recipe instructions to prepare and cook the meatballs, let them cool, then store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
How long are they good for?
Once prepared and cooled, meatballs can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three to four days.
Can you freeze meatballs?
Absolutely! Meatballs are great for freezing. And better yet, whether you’re freezing them cooked or uncooked, the process is the same:
- Place room-temperature meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Note: this means that if you’ve already cooked the meatballs, they should first be cooled to room temperature.)
- Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer until meatballs are frozen.
- Remove the baking sheet from the freezer, then transfer the frozen meatballs to a ziplock bag.
- Seal the bag and store it in the freezer until ready to eat. Raw meatballs can be frozen for up to three to four months while cooked meatballs can be frozen up to two to three months.
When you’re ready to use the meatballs, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then use them in your desired recipe as directed. NOTE: Be sure that your chosen recipe is appropriate for the current state of the meatballs, whether that the cooked or raw.
Should you freeze meatballs before or after cooking?
The decision really boils down to personal preference. Both raw and cooked meatballs can be effectively frozen, but each approach has its unique advantages.
But if you’re having trouble deciding, there are some minor benefits between the two:
- Freezing raw: This method will capture the freshness of the ingredients and give you more freedom in how the meatballs are cooked up later (whether that be baking, frying, simmering in sauce, etc). Raw meat also still has plenty of moisture, so it will be less susceptible to freezer burn than its cooked (and dryer) counterpart. Plus, freezing raw meatballs is great for meal-prepping days when you don’t want to turn on the oven.
- Freezing cooked: Cooked meatballs are the ultimate heat-up-and-eat meal and can be added to a variety of dishes. And once cooked, the meatballs will have a more even and firm texture (so they’ll maintain their shape better once frozen) and they’ll be less likely to harbor bacteria.
How to reheat meatballs
When ready to reheat the leftovers, allow the meatballs to sit on the counter for 30 minutes to come to room temperature, then use the following guidelines for bringing these meatballs back to their original tastiness:
- Microwave method
- Place meatballs in a microwave-safe dish.
- Cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid, paper towel, or paper plate, ensuring that there’s a loose corner to vent the steam.
- Heat on medium power for one to two minutes, or until heated through. Check and stir every 30 seconds to ensure even heating.
- Oven method
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place meatballs in a baking dish, preferably in a single layer.
- Heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until they’re heated through. For frozen meatballs, you might need to extend the time.
- Stovetop method
- Slow cooker method
- Add meatballs (and sauce, if using) to the slow cooker.
- Cover and heat on the LOW setting until they’re warmed through, anywhere from one to two hours.
What to serve with meatballs
Meatballs are one of those recipes that go well with just about everything, but a few of my favorites are:
- Your favorite sweet or savory sauces, such as marinara, BBQ, or sweet and sour.
- The true classic: on a bed of your favorite pasta.
- Garlic bread, whether it be cheesy or extra buttery.
- Steamed or grilled veggies (like green beans, zucchini, tomatoes).
- Sweet or savory salads.
- In a meatball sub.
Notes & tips for this meatball recipe
- This recipe is great for making larger batches. I’ve doubled and tripled the recipe with great success.
- When baking, use the center rack of the oven if you can; it’ll ensure the meatballs are cooked evenly from top to bottom.
More fun appetizers
More easy dinners
How do you make the best meatballs?
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – In a large bowl, add some panko breadcrumbs, smoked paprika, chili powder, black pepper, and salt, then mix them until thoroughly combined.
Step 2 – Add two pounds of ground meat (I used a 50/50 split of beef and pork, but feel free to use whatever you prefer), beaten eggs, olive oil, and garlic. You can either use a fork to mix the ingredients together or knead it together with your hands. Whichever method you choose, do your best to get the meats mixed, the eggs and oil distributed, and the dry ingredients are absorbed.
Step 3 – Use a cookie scoop to measure out a meatball size of your choice (standard meatball size is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in width). Roll the meatball between your hands, taking care to occasionally press the ingredients together; doing this will help the meatball keep its shape. Once finished, place the rolled meatballs on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.
Step 4 – Bake!
Step 5 – Serve and enjoy!
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Add ground beef, ground pork, eggs, olive oil, and garlic to bowl with dry ingredients. Using a spatula (or even just your hands), mix or knead meat into dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.1 pound ground beef, 1 pound ground pork, 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- Scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of meat mixture and work it with your hands. For best results, gently press meat as you roll it into a ball; doing this will help meatballs keep their shape. If there are any seams along meatball surface, pinch them closed, then roll meatball between your hands until smooth. Take about 10-20 seconds for each meatball to ensure they're rolled correctly. Once finished, place meatballs on prepared baking sheet; it's okay if meatballs are placed close together, but ensure they're not touching. Repeat this step until all meat mixture has been used.
- Bake meatballs for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
- Serve immediately.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.