Rustic Italian Meatballs

With an Italian hubby (or almost hubby in a few months!), I’ve been expanding my Italian recipe repertoire! One recipe that has been on my to-do list to make is to create amazing Italian meatballs: meatballs that would transport Eric and me to a cobblestone street in a sleepy, enchanting town somewhere in Italy.

Based on the amount of meatballs we’ve consumed in the past few weeks, we LOVE these meatballs. Made with a mixture of beef, Italian sausage, homemade breadcrumbs, and a bunch of other yummy things, these meatballs are just the right balance of tender yet meaty, flavorful, and just delicious.

My STEP-BY-STEP VIDEO below will help guide you through the recipe. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for recipe videos every week!




Makes: 10 tennis ball-sized meatballs

Prep time: 55 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes

The Ingredients

1 pound 80/20 (20% fat) ground beef

1 pound Italian sausage, out of the casing (spicy, sweet or a combo)

3 cups white bread, cut into roughly tiny ¼ inch cubes (I use the inside of an Italian loaf)

1 cup milk

¾ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or parmesan)

1/3 cup whole milk ricotta

1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


For sauce:

2, 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced

Fresh basil (optional)




The Steps

For sauce: In a medium pot, add whole peeled tomatoes. Use a potato masher to crush tomatoes to desired texture. Add yellow onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, and a small handful of basil. Let simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, while you make the meatballs!

For breadcrumbs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread white bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake breadcrumbs on the bottom rack of the oven for about 15 minutes, until the bread turns crispy and just starts to turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a medium bowl, add milk and cooled breadcrumbs. Let breadcrumbs soak up all the milk, tossing once, about 5 minutes. Squeeze excess milk out of breadcrumbs. Set moistened bread crumbs aside.

For meatball mixture: Add ground beef and sausage meat to a large bowl. As if your fingers are forks, lightly toss the meat to combine, gently pulling apart large pieces. Add in moistened breadcrumbs, 2 cloves minced garlic, ricotta, parsley, parmesan, and a pinch of salt. As if your fingers are forks again, lightly toss together all ingredients until just combined. Do not squeeze or overmix!

To form meatballs: Form meat mixture into tennis ball-sized balls. Gently press together meat so that it stays together and doesn’t fall apart but don’t squeeze meat! There’s a fine line between meatballs that fall apart and meatballs that are tough! Mixture should make 10 meatballs.

To sear meatballs: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large, oven safe nonstick skillet (using 2 skillets makes flipping meatballs so much easier!), add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Heat pan(s) for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add meatballs, at least an inch apart from each other. Let meatballs sear on side #1 for 3 minutes, until light golden brown. Flip meatballs, being as gentle as possible, to keep them intact. I find that using tongs and a spatula to flip is easiest! Sear meatballs on side #2 for 3 minutes.

To bake meatballs after searing: spoon 2/3 of the tomato sauce around the meatballs. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches at least 165 degrees (I target 170-175).

Remove pan from oven. Serve with more tomato sauce, fresh basil, and a side salad (greens mixed with red wine vinegar and olive oil is traditional Italian) or pasta (the American way!).

To store meatballs: store in an airtight container for up to 4 days, reheating in the oven or microwave. These meatballs also freeze well!




The Steps with Video

My STEP-BY-STEP VIDEO below will help guide you through the recipe. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for recipe videos every week!

YouTube video



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