Baked Italian Ground Beef Meatballs Recipe Under 30 Mins

Tonight, those cravings for juicy Italian meatballs are going to be satisfied – and quickly! These oven-baked beauties come together in a flash, so ditch the takeout menu. With nothing more complicated than some ground beef, a touch of garlic and onion, fragrant parsley, and salty parmesan cheese, you’ll have that irresistible Italian aroma wafting from the kitchen in under 30 minutes.

Baked Italian Ground Beef Meatballs

I’ve always thought homemade meatballs were intimidating, but these have changed my mind. This recipe is all about maximizing flavor with minimal effort. The key is not to overwork the meat. Combine everything tenderly – a bit of gentle mixing is all the seasoned ground beef needs to hold its shape. A quick bake in the oven, and these morsels of perfection are ready to be served. I promise, this dish is so incredibly easy, you’ll be ditching the jarred sauce forever.

New Favorite Comfort Food: Homemade Italian Meatballs

Comfort food sometimes holds the best memories, doesn’t it? Growing up, spaghetti and meatballs were my absolute favorite. That steaming bowl, the rich marinara sauce tangled with the noodles, and those tender, juicy meatballs… it was a perfect meal I daydreamed about constantly.

I always thought those restaurant-style meatballs would be impossible to replicate, especially those huge, melt-in-your-mouth ones. That was when I mostly relied on the frozen kind for my quick weeknight meals. But then, something shifted. I wanted the real deal, so I started experimenting in my kitchen. Turns out, those insanely delicious meatballs, better than anything in a bag, were surprisingly easy to achieve from scratch!

Since everyone has their own way of making meatballs, I’m excited to share the method I’ve perfected after lots of kitchen experiments. These baked meatballs are packed with flavor and incredibly tender. They’re the perfect centerpiece for a classic pasta dinner or tucked into a delicious sandwich – pure comfort food at its best!

The Secret to Perfect Italian Meatballs: What’s in the Mix?

This Italian meatball recipe boasts simple ingredients you likely have in your fridge or pantry already. That means it’s a fantastic go-to for those “emergency” meals when you need something delicious and satisfying. Let’s break down everything you need:

  • Ground Meat: The base of this recipe is ground beef. You can mix in a half-and-half ratio with pork, sausage, or veal for some variations. Always prefer fresh meat over previously frozen for the best possible results.
  • Italian Breadcrumbs: While some recipes call for day-old bread, plain breadcrumbs are more convenient. If you want a boost of flavor, seasoned breadcrumbs add wonderful flavor to the mix without any extra effort.
  • Milk: Whole milk is best for soaking the breadcrumbs instead of water. It adds flavor, richness, and moisture. This milk-and-bread paste, called a panade, is commonly incorporated into ground meats to keep them tender and moist during the cooking process. If you have a dietary preference, substitutes like almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or low-sodium beef broth can be used to soak the breadcrumbs instead.
  • Egg: Acts as a core binding component in the mixture, adding extra moisture and helping the meatballs hold together.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano is ideal for that authentic Italian flavor. If you’re in a pinch, a handy box grater will get the job done quickly and seamlessly.
  • Onion & Garlic: While some recipes call for sautéing, I personally find that as long as these aromatics are very finely chopped, they blend perfectly into the mixture.
  • Parsley: Fresh herbs are always best! If you only have dried parsley on hand, it’ll work; use a ratio of about 1 tablespoon fresh parsley to 1 teaspoon dried.
  • Salt + Pepper:  Essential for seasoning the overall mixture.

Nutritional Information

NutrientAmount% Daily Value
Sat Fat4g20%
Iron3.8 mg20%
Zinc6.1 mg60%

Baked Italian Ground Beef Meatballs

Recipe by Whisk and NibbleCourse: MealsCuisine: Italian


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Here is what you need to create the most tender, flavorful Italian meatballs with this simple, homemade recipe.


  • 1 pound ground beef (80/20 lean)

  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

  • 1/3 cup whole milk

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/4 cup minced onion

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  • Get the oven ready: Preheat your oven to 400 °F (200 °C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat for easy cleanup.
  • Prepare the panade: In a large mixing bowl, combine the Italian bread crumbs and milk. Set this aside for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, allowing the breadcrumbs to soak.
  • Combine the meat mixture: Add the ground beef, onion, garlic, egg, salt, black pepper, Parmesan cheese, and parsley to the breadcrumb mixture. Use your hands to gently mix until everything is just combined – be careful not to overmix, or the meatballs might become tough.
  • Shape and bake: Portion the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Using a cookie or ice cream scoop makes this easier! Wet your hands slightly to prevent sticking, and roll the portions into meatballs, about 2 inches in diameter. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 400 °F (200 °C), or 22-25 minutes at 375 °F (190 °C), or until the internal temperature reaches 165˚F (74°C).
  • Finishing touches: Remove the meatballs from the oven and carefully drain any excess fat. Serve with your favorite sauce, and enjoy!


  • For extra tenderness, soak breadcrumbs in milk for 5 minutes before mixing.
  • Use freshly grated Parmesan cheese for optimal flavor.
  • Don’t overmix the meat mixture to avoid tough meatballs.

Serving with Tomato Sauce

These baked meatballs are delicious on their own, but for an extra layer of flavor, simmer them briefly in your favorite marinara or cream sauce before serving.

Tips & Tricks to Make the Best Homemade Meatballs

  • Fresh is Best: While pre-packaged ground beef and dried herbs work in a pinch, try to use as many fresh ingredients as possible. Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely chopped onion and garlic, and vibrant parsley will create the most flavorful meatballs. High-quality ingredients always produce the tastiest results!
  • Don’t Skimp on Fat: Fat is essential for creating tender and juicy beef meatballs. Unlike leaner hamburger patties, using ground beef with an 80-85% lean ratio works best for meatballs.
  • Gentle Hands: Mix the ingredients with your hands or a spatula until everything is just combined.  Overworking the meat mixture is a surefire way to end up with tough meatballs.
  • Perfect Portions: Use a large cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to portion the meatballs. This helps create equal-sized meatballs, ensuring they cook evenly in the oven. A trigger-release scoop makes the process even easier. This recipe should yield about 12 large meatballs.
  • Damp Hands, Gentle Touch:  Working with damp hands prevents the mixture from sticking to your fingers.  Gently roll the portions into balls, applying just enough pressure to hold their shape without squeezing too tightly, which can make them dense.
  • Don’t Overcook! Large meatballs typically take about 15–20 minutes in a 400 °F (200 °C) oven. They’re done when golden brown on the outside and register an internal temperature of 165 °F (74 °C) using an instant-read thermometer. If serving in a marinara or cream sauce, briefly simmering the meatballs helps them release flavor into the sauce, but avoid cooking them so long they become dry and overcooked.

Can You Prepare Meatballs Ahead of Time?

Absolutely! These baked Italian meatballs are fantastic for make-ahead dinners or meal prep. The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled in advance, making it ideal for storing in the fridge or freezer.

To store the meatballs, simply follow the regular cooking instructions. After baking, allow them to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container. They’ll keep well in the fridge for 3–4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How to Reheat Frozen Meatballs

For the best results with your make-ahead meatballs, allow them to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat them in your favorite sauce over low heat on the stovetop, or bake in a 350 °F (175 °C) oven for about 8–10 minutes.

If you’re short on time, you can also reheat frozen meatballs directly in the microwave.  Heat on high for 2–3 minutes, or until they are fully heated through.

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What to Serve with Meatballs

Italian meatballs are wonderfully versatile and can be enjoyed in so many ways! Of course, the classic spaghetti and meatballs with a delicious homemade sauce is a beloved favorite. For something richer, try a creamy four-cheese sauce. Or, turn them into the ultimate meatball sub, loaded with mozzarella and your favorite toppings.

These flavorful meatballs also star on a homemade pizza! They work brilliantly alongside a savory cream sauce with mashed potatoes for a comforting twist. The possibilities really are endless – feel free to get creative!  This homemade recipe is an excellent option for a dinner the whole family will love.

Can You Make These Meatballs in the Air Fryer?

While this recipe doesn’t specifically call for pan-frying, you can certainly use an air fryer instead of the oven. Air fryers cook meatballs without any special adjustments, and they’re a lifesaver on busy weekdays since they significantly reduce cooking time. Simply preheat your air fryer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In most cases, you’ll want to place the meatballs in a single layer in the basket and cook them until they reach the proper internal temperature.

This alternative cooking option might just result in the best Italian meatballs you’ve ever tried! The air fryer method is definitely worth the minimal extra effort and would be a cherished recipe on your date nights or a highly requested addition to your blog! I hope you enjoy it.

How to Store Baked Meatballs

For best results, store leftover baked meatballs in a shallow, airtight container and refrigerate them for up to four days.

Can You Freeze Baked Meatballs?

Baked meatballs freeze beautifully! For the best results, flash freeze the cooked meatballs on a baking sheet for a few hours or overnight. Once fully frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag. They’ll keep well for up to three months.

The beauty of freezing meatballs is that you can cook them from frozen directly on the stovetop whenever you want to whip up a quick and delicious dish!

Health Benefits of Italian Ground Beef Meatballs

  • Good source of protein: Meatballs, especially those made with lean meats, offer a significant amount of protein, essential for building and repairing tissues.
  • Rich in iron: Ground beef is a good source of iron, a mineral vital for oxygen transport throughout the body.
  • Provides B Vitamins: Meatballs contribute B vitamins, including B12, which supports healthy nerve and blood cell function.
  • Source of Zinc and Selenium: These trace minerals found in meat are important for immune health and various bodily functions.

Who Should Be Cautious

  • Individuals with heart health concerns: High-fat meatballs, especially those made with fatty cuts of meat or fried, can contribute to saturated fat intake. Those managing cholesterol or heart disease might need to limit consumption or choose leaner options.
  • People monitoring sodium intake: Meatballs and accompanying sauces can be high in sodium. Those watching their salt intake should choose low-sodium ingredients and limit sauces.
  • Those with food allergies or intolerances: Ingredients like breadcrumbs, cheese, and eggs can be problematic for people with specific allergies or intolerances. Modifications might be necessary.

Important Notes:

  • Portion control is key: Even with healthy ingredients, portion sizes matter for overall dietary balance.
  • Preparation methods matter: Baking or air-frying meatballs instead of deep-frying reduces added fat and makes them a healthier option.
  • Homemade is best: Controlling ingredients allows you to make informed choices about fat content, sodium, and potential allergens.

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It’s always best to consult with a doctor or registered dietitian for personalized guidance on dietary choices.


Forget store-bought meatballs! This homemade recipe delivers restaurant-quality flavor with minimal effort. Perfect for spaghetti, subs, or even as a delicious appetizer.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to cook Italian meatballs in the oven?

Bake in a 400 °F (200 °C) oven for 24–27 minutes. Cooking Tip from Whisk and Nibble: Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your meatballs and if the meat was fresh or thawed. Make sure the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 160 °F (70 °C) for fully cooked ground beef.

Is it better to bake meatballs in the oven or pan?

Baking meatballs is often preferred. It results in a slightly crunchy exterior with delicious caramelization that’s hard to achieve with frying. It’s also the least labor-intensive method, as you only need to turn the meatballs once or twice during the cook time. Baking is ideal for larger batches.

Is it better to bake meatballs at 350 °F or 400 °F?

Both 350 °F (175 °C) and 400 °F (200 °C) are suitable for baking meatballs. The higher temperature yields a golden-brown exterior with a juicy interior in a shorter time. Baking at 350 °F (175 °C) ensures a juicy center but requires a slightly longer cook time.

What is the difference between regular meatballs and Italian meatballs?

Italian-style meatballs often include additional ingredients such as breadcrumbs soaked in milk, olive oil, ground pork, fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, and Italian herb seasoning.  Classic “regular” meatballs typically stick to a simple combination of ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasoning.

Whisk and Nibble

Whisk & Nibble is a blog devoted to all things related to food - from sharing recipes for meals and drinks to highlighting the latest dessert trends and culinary lifestyle content. Visitors can find ideas and inspiration for all eating occasions while enjoying engaging writing about food culture. Whisk & Nibble aims to bring readers together over the shared joy of cooking and dining.

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