Italian Beef Meatball Recipe

Get excited about this beef meatball recipe! It features freshly chopped Italian herbs, rich ricotta, tangy parmesan, and so much more. Mouthwatering, authentic Italian meatballs are only 30 minutes away!

closeup: a plate of spaghetti with Italian beef meatballs on top. One meatball is cut in half so that the center is visible

This beef meatball recipe is simple to make, versatile, and sinfully delicious. Featuring robust, aromatic herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley along with sweet fennel and smoky red pepper, these beef meatballs are a flavor sensation. Texture-wise, they are tender, moist, and marvelously juicy. 

These tender, meaty little masterpieces are incredibly versatile too. Enjoy Italian meatballs by themselves, on a sandwich, or with any of your favorite pasta dishes. I recommend pairing them with this Marinara Sauce, a big pile of spaghetti, and some grated parmesan. 

Beef meatballs are also great served up with a steaming pile of Basmati Rice and some veggies like Greek Roasted Vegetables. Get creative and enjoy!

overhead: a plate of spaghetti covered in Italian meatballs, marinara sauce, fresh parsley, and parmesan cheese

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Ground Beef I recommend a high-quality 80/20 ground chuck for the best results. 
  • Eggs Acts as a binder while keeping the meatballs rich, moist, and fluffy. 
  • Ricotta Cheese Infuses the meatball mixture with a creamy richness and helps with binding.
  • Parmesan Cheese Adds its uniquely tangy, nutty, and complex flavor to the dish. 
  • Panko Breadcrumbs Breadcrumbs are essential for holding the meatball mixture together. I prefer panko breadcrumbs, but you can use plain or Italian if that’s what you have on hand. A simple 1:1 substitution will work. 
  • Basil Brings a spicy-sweet, slightly pungent flavor to the party. 
  • Parsley Adds a clean, earthy pepperiness to the flavor profile of the dish. Flat-leaf parsley is ideal, but curly parsley will work if that is all you have. Just make sure to chop it finely. 
  • Oregano Robust and peppery with hints of mint and thyme.  
  • Fennel Adds a deep, earthy sweetness reminiscent of anise or licorice. Use ground fennel, not the seeds for this recipe. 
  • Red Pepper Flakes Perks up the beef meatball recipe with a hint of smoky, spicy heat.

How to Make Italian Beef Meatballs

  1. Prepare the Oven. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and use 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat the bottom of a 13×9 inch roasting pan. Set aside.    
  2. Make the Meat Mixture. Combine the ground beef, eggs, Panko breadcrumbs, herbs, and seasonings together in a large bowl. Use your hand to mix thoroughly.   
  3. Form the Meatballs. Continue with your hands or use a scoop to create around 24-28 golf ball-sized meatballs. Nestle them closely together in the baking sheet, making sure all sides are touching other meatballs. 
  1. Roast the Meatballs. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. While your beef meatballs are roasting, heat up your favorite marinara or meatless spaghetti sauce. 
  2. Simmer & Serve. You can serve the meatballs right out of the oven with sauce spooned on top or, if desired, you can simmer them for a while in the sauce or gravy of your choice.
closeup: a plate of spaghetti topped with 3 beef meatballs, red marinara sauce, and fresh parsley

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Better to Fry or Bake Meatballs?

For this beef meatball recipe, I definitely recommend baking over frying. Pan-searing or frying is an option but better if you are only making a few meatballs. The process can get messy and producing evenly browned meatballs requires all of your attention on the frying pan. 

When making large quantities, baking is the way to go. It is faster, easier, and reliably produces evenly cooked, beautifully browned Italian meatballs. Plus, I like having my hands and attention free to finish cooking the rest of the meal. 

What Makes Italian Meatballs Different?

Italian meatballs feature aromatic herbs and spices like basil, oregano, and parsley and usually include grated parmesan and other cheeses. While traditionally a beef meatball recipe, Italian meatballs can also contain pork, veal, or even lamb. It is the Italian herbs, spices, and other ingredients that make them truly unique. I find the ricotta cheese add a surprise hit to keep them moist, and my secret flavor weapon here.

And trust me, this is just one of countless meatball recipes along the Silk Road — each with its own spicy cultural twist. There are smoky Moroccan Meatballs (Kefta Mkaoura), Spicy Tunisian Beef Meatballs, Kung Pao Asian Meatballs, and so many more!

Why Do My Meatballs Fall Apart When I Cook Them?

If your meatballs are falling apart when making this beef meatball recipe, there are a few possible culprits. 

– Make sure that you have added the appropriate amount of breadcrumbs. In the right amount, they serve as a binder but too few or too many can lead to loose meatballs.
– Be sure that you work the meat mixture thoroughly with your hands to fully incorporate all the ingredients. This is crucial to the binding process, but don’t overdo it. A few minutes will do the trick. You could even chill them for 15 minutes after shaping before cooking to keep firm.
– Letting your meatballs simmer in sauce for too long can also lead to mushy meatballs. Give them just enough time to infuse with flavor, then serve.

extreme closeup: a plate of spaghetti with Italian beef meatballs on top. One meatball is cut in half so that the center is visible
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Italian Beef Meatball Recipe

This Italian Beef Meatball Recipe delivers tender, juicy meatballs featuring ricotta cheese that are bursting with authentic Italian flavors.
Servings: 6
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes



  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat bottom of a 13×9″ roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, set aside.
  • In a large bowl add the ground beef, eggs, ricotta, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, herbs and seasonings. Mix thoroughly by hand.
  • By hand or scoop, make 24 to 28 meatballs about the size of a golf ball. Stack them tightly in the baking dish so all sides are touching.
  • Roast for 20 minutes (internal temp should be 165°F). While roasting, heat your favorite Marinara (Meatless Spaghetti Sauce).
  • OPTIONAL: Feel free to simmer cooked meatballs in your favorite spaghetti sauce (or gravy) or serve immediately with sauce spooned over your favorite pasta or in a sub sandwich.



Calories: 517kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 186mg | Sodium: 1040mg | Potassium: 522mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 622IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 202mg | Iron: 4mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: main dishes
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): Italian beef meatball recipe


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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