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How to Make the Best Meatballs
Meatballs might not be gourmet but they're well worth making, and they're worth knowing how to make well — because there's more to making meatballs than just rolling up meat.
Read on for tips on how to make flavorful meatballs for crowd-pleasing appetizers and comfort food dinners.
Here&aposs why meatballs should be in every cook&aposs arsenal:
- Meatballs are easy to make. Making meatballs doesn&apost require complicated kitchen skills —you just mix together and cook. Also, you can double up a recipe and freeze half to bank for speedy meals later. (See Freezing Meatballs below.)
- Meatballs are versatile. Just about every global cuisine includes some kind of meatball. That&aposs a world of flavor to explore.
- Meatballs are economical. You don&apost have to spend big bucks on prime cuts of meat to make meatballs. (You can even make meatless meatballs.) And with all the add-ins and binders that go into the making of a proper meatball, you can make a little meat go a long way.
Use up mince to make delicious meatballs. We have recipes for pork, turkey, lamb and more. They're great in curries, sandwiches, or dolloped on spaghetti.
Pistachio lamb koftas with apricot relish
These budget-friendly, Middle Eastern-inspired lamb meatballs make a simple yet tasty supper, served with fruity chutney and crisp wholemeal pittas
Lamb meatballs with watercress dressing
Lamb mince gets a makeover in this fresh and colourful couscous dish with feta, mint and pomegranate
Sesame pork meatballs with chilli noodle broth
Transform pork mince into an Asian-inspired supper in just 40 minutes with this easy recipe - a true weeknight winner
Lamb & rosemary koftas
Shape lamb mince around rosemary sprigs for a no-fuss, midweek meal that's on the table in just 20 minutes
Deep-dish meatball marinara pizza
Be inspired by America's deep-dish pizzas and make our meatball marinara version with a lip-smacking sauce. It takes a little effort, but it's well worth it
Summer courgetti & meatballs
Use a spiralizer or julienne peeler to make spaghetti-like 'noodles', then top with pork meatballs and a garlicky, creamy sauce
Veggie meatballs with tomato courgetti
Spiralize courgettes to make this healthier, gluten-free 'pasta' dish. The vegetarian meatballs use ground almonds instead of breadcrumbs to increase the protein
The Ricotta makes these meatballs 100% more succulent than the traditional Pecorino Romano method. When you go to eat them you can dust as much Pecorino Romano as you like, however roasting these meatballs with aged cheeses will only dry them out. I prefer this recipe with dried ingredients rather than fresh also & I tend to double up I'm just about everything. Rather than salt I also use a nice steak seasoning rub and I dust the meatballs prior to roasting. A little dried crushed onion and a little garlic powder can also be added to the mixture if you desire to bump it a bit. You can also put in a tiny amount of Worchester sauce & a little dried Thyme. The Fennel is spectacular in these meatballs and I definitely would never omit this key ingredient. A note on the fresh ingredients. I find the fresh parsley & oregano soggs the meatballs out. The reason these meatballs are so good is because they are moist. Therefore the dried ingredients couples better with the roasting method. I also like a little bit more olive oil and a little bit more crushed red pepper & bread crumbs. I will never soak several day old Italian bread and milk again as the base for my meatballs to be moist. Ricotta is an excellent idea & this meatball recipe as written can be expounded on in many creative ways. It's the basis for a world-class meatball depending on what you want to do with your particular fancies. Celery seeds also bring a unique layer to these meatballs,
Delicious with a tender texture. They freeze in their sauce really well. Quality ingredients is key. If you can, use grass-fed beef, definitely grind fennel seed yourself, and use young parsley. I don’t think it’s fair to downgrade the recipe when you’ve not followed the recipe. Make it as written and enjoy (or not) the fresh flavors, then post a review.
a good basic recipe, but needed to boost flavor profile. Agree with prior reviewers that adding sauteed onions and garlic makes a huge difference. Also used 1/2 pound ground pork to 1.5 pound of very lean ground beef. and used panko (better than breadcrumbs). Replaced parsley with basil for more flavor, and added just a bit of harissa paste and lemon zest to boost flavor, too. What I did miss about roasting the meatballs in the baking dish is that nice crust you get when you roast it straight on a baking pan. Both are equally easy.
I wanted a good meatball recipe to make for tonight’s dinner. Had all needed for recipe and halved it bcz there’s only 2 of us. I too omitted the fennel, not a fan of fennel, used dried Italian seasoning, also dried parsley and omitted the Red Pepper flakes. Really light nice tasting enjoyable meatballs. I’ve always heard not to over mix your meat mixture as it makes for tough results, so I didn’t use my hands at all to mix used a teaspoon-really think it helped.
Left out the fennel, substituted Italian seasoning for the oregano, and added shredded mozzarella to the top for the last 5 min. The whole family loved them! Will definitely make again, and will probably take some of the recommendations for the diced onion and garlic next time.
Quick and easy. Mild spice so good for people who want it without too much heat.
You must add 1/2 a diced onion and 4 large minced garlic cloves along with 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese. The meatballs will melt in your mouth.
With my changes I give this 4 forks. I could tell this was lacking in the flavor department so with these changes it does not disappoint! Substitute 1 lb Italian sausage for 1 lb of ground beef. Add 1/2 onion very thinly sliced and diced (or grated as another recommended), add 3-4 tblsp chopped garlic, 1/4 cup parmesan and go heavy on the parsley. I served this with ricotta gnocchi. Delicious. Making again this week.
These meatballs were extremely bland and flavorless (though moist). Luckily, I tested a small portion (by frying in some olive oil) before baking. It needed sauteed onions and garlic in addition to pecorino and parmesan before the balls tasted flavorful. I would skip this recipe and look elsewhere.
Yummy and easy. Meatballs were moist. I took a shortcut and used jarred marinara.
I used a mix of half pork/half lean ground beef for this followed the rest of the recipe as is. I loved the addition of ricotta- they made the meatballs light and moist. I will definitely make again, and next time will make sure to have extra sauce! Eating leftovers today in a meatball parm.
These were surprisingly flavorless! Very bland. Why? I think some cooked onion and garlic would add something. I wouldn't make this again.
Nice, easy recipe. I really use liked the texture. Next time I will reduce salt a little bit - I don't enjoy salty foods very much, but my husband liked them as is. I will also eliminate or reduce the pressure pepper flakes - my daughter would not eat them because she does not like anything spicy. I loved how quick, simple, and "non-messy" they were to make.
This recipe was outstanding. I added a grated onion and some garlic. I followed the recipe exactly besides the addition of the onion & garlic and it is just perfect, the amount of salt was fine. My husband is a big meatball fan and he was beyond impressed. He accused me of being a real Italian LOL. It was so easy and my new go to
I made a half recipe and substituted a mild goats milk cheese instead of riccotta. No fennel seed so I substituted dried marjoram. This was a big hit with my daughter and husband! She is 2 1/2 and hard to please.
I make these often, have used half pork & half 80/20 beef, and I like that combo better than the all-beef (which was good, but not *as* good). I use fresh oregano and prepared breadcrumbs. I roast them for the original 20 minutes but I don't cook them again with the sauce cuz I like to keep the leftovers un-sauced -- I heat up the sauce on the stovetop (usually a prepared sauce if it's a weeknight) and then add meatballs according to how many people I'm serving. The balls themselves are so tasty! They make great snacks all by themselves and I can't help but snitch while the spaghetti & sauce are cooking :)
Very moist, light, and tasty. I substituted fresh chopped basil for the parsley and added 4 cloves of garlic and one large, finely chopped onion to the recipe. I didn't find them too salty. The best 26 meatballs I ever made.
If you are looking for good & easy-peasy meatballs, these are the ones. I switched it up a bit by using half sausage and half beef and used a trick of patting the meat out into a rectangle and then cutting the meat, bar style so theyɽ all be about the same size. This recipe makes about 24 light and fluffy, medium-sized meatballs. YUM!
I have made these meatballs about 5 times and I'm completely obsessed! Wow, such a great recipe that's SIMPLE! I like fennel so I doubled the amount. I also like to add diced onions for texture and wrap them in BACON! It helps hold the ricotta together because the cheese tends to ooze out a bit. The temperature setting are perfect and the meatball is so moist and flavorful.
Amazing. Moist and delicious. I used 1/2 ground pork and 1/2 ground beef and they were probably the best meatballs I've ever made. The recipe makes more like 48 than 24. beware!
How to Make Porcupine Meatballs
Making porcupine meatballs is just like making regular meatballs. The process is the same, you’re just adding in some rice to the mix. So, grab a skillet and a jar of your favorite tomato sauce, and let’s get to it!
Form Meatballs: In a large bowl combine the rice, diced onion, celery salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and ground beef. Form the mixture into 1- inch meatballs.
Start the Sauce: In another medium bowl combine the tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and set aside.
Cook the Meatballs: In a large (10- inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs on each side. Drain excess grease from the pan. Turn the heat to low and pour the tomato sauce mixture onto the meatballs. Cover the skillet and cook for 30 – 40 minutes. Serve warm.
- I used Panko breadcrumbs here because I prefer them especially when trying to get something really crispy, but I put them in a food processor first and pulsed a few times to make them finer.
- If you find your mixture is too sticky be sure you’re letting it sit in your fridge long enough! I find leaving it overnight makes it a lot easier to work with.
- For a vegetarian option, used finely chopped mushrooms.
- I would highly recommend whipping this recipe out the next time you’re trying to impress a crowd, chances are they’ve never had anything like it before!
- 1 (29 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
- 19 fluid ounces tomato juice
- 1 (5.5 ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
- 16 soda crackers, crushed
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- ⅛ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Combine tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato paste, onion, parsley, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, thyme, and cloves in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, combine beef, crackers, eggs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, and thyme in a bowl. Form into large meatballs and place into a broiler pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until browned and no longer pink in the centers, about 30 minutes.
Transfer meatballs to sauce and continue to simmer, 2 to 2 1/2 hours more.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain.
6 Tips for Making the Best Meatballs
Meatballs are an inexpensive blank canvas — take ground meat, add some seasonings, form into cute little balls, and cook! Whether you like them crispy, glazed, or simmered in sauce, they’re super versatile and delicious. Here are a few tips on putting them together and cooking them to guarantee tasty meatballs every time you make them!
If you’ve never made meatballs before, don’t be scared — they are just basically seasoned ground meat or meatloaf mixture formed in bite-sized pieces. Take a look at our step-by-step recipe for basic meatballs to get started:
Even with a good recipe, there are a few tips and techniques to keep in mind so that you end up with well-seasoned, juicy and tender meatballs:
1. Pick the right meats.
While you can make meatballs out of any ground meat, fattier meats like beef, lamb, and pork will yield more tender meatballs. If you use leaner meats like chicken or turkey, be careful not to overcook them or they can become tough. For great flavor, use a blend of different kinds of ground meats.
2. Keep things cold.
You want to keep the fat from melting and breaking down before you cook the meatballs, so keep your meat and ingredients as cold as possible. Make the mixture in a chilled bowl, and if you are adding precooked ingredients like onions, let them cool down completely before adding them in.
3. Add moisture.
Since the protein in meat makes it shrink when cooked and can result in tough meatballs, you want some insurance against that. Eggs and binders like breadcrumbs mixed with milk all help with keeping meatballs tender and moist, so don’t skip any of these.
4. Taste test the mixture.
After your meatball mixture is ready, you should always taste it for seasoning before you form the meatballs. No, this doesn’t mean eating raw meat! All you have to do is form a little test patty and cook it in with some oil in a frying pan.
After you taste the patty, adjust the seasoning if you need to — does it need more salt, spices, herbs? Fixing that now means that your cooked meatballs will taste exactly how you want them to taste. Say goodbye to bland meatballs!
Bring the water to a boil in a deep skillet over high heat.
Meanwhile, combine the ground meat, onion, rice, salt, and pepper. Mix well then form into 1-inch meatballs.
When the water is boiling, add the meatballs. Let the water come back to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. The meatballs should be covered in water at all times, add additional water as needed.
Remove the meatballs from the water and set aside. Drain the skillet and wipe dry. Add the oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
Add the eggs to a small bowl. Dip the meatballs in the egg, coating completely and letting any excess drip off.
Add the meatballs to the hot oil and cook for 5-8 minutes, turning as needed, until browned on all sides.
Remove the meatballs from the oil with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper toweling.
Meatballs can be cooked a variety of different ways like – stovetop in sauce, in a slow cooker, fried, or baked in the oven. Baking them in the oven is a fast and easy way to cook a large batch.
Simply add your balls to your parchment-lined baking sheet. This recipe makes about 12 meatballs. You could of course make more if you made them smaller.
How To Know When They Are Done Baking
Meatballs are done baking when they reach a temperature over 160°F. The easiest way to tell, is to stick a food thermometer into the center of one and check.
Another way to tell if your meatballs are done baking is to look for a browned outer crust and that there are no pink juices running from them while cooking. They should only have clear juices running from them and be semi-firm to the touch.
It’s okay if they are slightly pink on the inside. Just make sure they aren’t cool and/or soft on the inside. As a matter of fact, the best way to confirm they’re okay to eat is by measuring the temperature to ensure they are above 160°F when cooking.