Baked Italian Meatballs
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These moist, flavor-packed Baked Italian Meatballs are a weeknight meal staple in our house. They are done in 40 minutes or less and will make everyone happy. If you prep ahead using our freezing instructions, this meal is even faster!
4 Reasons to Make This Recipe
- Fast: Perfect for busy weeknights. If you prep them ahead of time, dinner is even quicker!
- Moist and Delicious: My kids go gah-gah over these and many of them get eaten straight from the sheet pan before they ever make it atop whole wheat spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce or on a Meatball Sub.
- Freezer-Friendly: This is one of the best meals to double and freeze a batch for later. Use our freezing instructions in the recipe.
- Less Mess: We skip the messy, greasy method of searing on the stovetop. Just pop these directly in the oven for crispy, perfectly cooked meatballs every time.
Another benefit of this recipe: You likely already have most of the ingredients for these easy, baked meatballs. I’d suggest doubling this recipe, so you can make an extra batch for the freezer.
- Lean ground beef – I use grass-feed, grass-finish ground beef from ButcherBox for these but you could also use ground turkey.
- Panko bread crumbs – These Japanese-style bread crumbs are crispy and work well as a binder. You can use store-bought whole wheat or regular Panko breadcrumbs. If you are gluten-free, look for gluten-free Panko.
- Grated Parmesan cheese – This adds saltiness, and savoriness, and acts as a binder in addition to the bread crumbs.
- Egg – Be sure to beat this large egg before adding to the meat mixture.
- Milk – Helps to add moisture. Plain, dairy-free milk works fine.
- Tomato Paste – Adds some extra umami flavor to the meat mixture.
- Garlic powder – I use the powder form so you don’t bite into a chunk of garlic in the meatballs.
- Italian Seasoning – This dried herb blend often includes oregano, rosemary, basil, savory, thyme, marjoram, and sage…and it just smells like Italian food. 🙂
- Salt and pepper – Key to adding the right balance of flavors.
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How to Make Italian Baked Meatballs
I promise, this really couldn’t be easier. I also promise that doubling this recipe and freezing one batch for later will be a really good decision. 🙂
Prep Oven & Pan
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
Combine Meat Mixture
Using clean hands, gently combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
Use a medium dough scooper or a spoon to scoop and then roll about 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Line up meatballs on the sheet pan, leaving room between each.
Bake in the Oven
Bake for about 20 minutes or until no longer pink inside (160°F internal temperature).
Optional: Serve with warm Marinara Sauce or Pesto on the side for dipping, over spaghetti with marinara, or on a Meatball Sub.
How to Freeze Meatballs
One of the best parts about this meatball recipe is that it is freezer-friendly. Meatballs work beautifully to assemble and then freeze before baking for a meal down the road.
Below is one way to freeze these meatballs, but sure to read our whole article about Freezing Meatballs: Raw or Cooked for more expert tips.
Freeze For Later:
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil and line up the rolled, uncooked meatballs on the pan. Flash freeze uncooked meatballs by placing on the sheet pan (or in a baking dish) in the freezer for about an hour or so.
Once they are frozen, dump the meatballs in a gallon-sized freezer bag, seal, and place in freezer.
Prepare From Frozen:
Thaw meatballs using one of these safe thawing methods. Cook according to instructions.
The beauty of freezing meatballs is that you can now pop out as many as you need for future meals. No need to bake them all at once. These can be a great freezer meal for 1-2 people.
What to Serve with Italian Baked Meatballs
Here are some ideas that baked meatballs would go well with…
How Long to Bake Meatballs?
The length of time it takes to bake meatballs can vary depending on the size, the ingredients, and the oven temperature. As a general guideline, 1 1/2-inch round meatballs should be baked at 350°F (175°C) for 20-25 minutes. Note: Larger meatballs will likely require additional cooking time, while smaller meatballs may be done a bit quicker.
One way to make sure you bake your meatballs perfectly is to use a meat thermometer. They are done when the internal temperature is at least 165°F (74°C), which is the minimum safe temperature for ground meat according to the USDA.
Baking Italian Meatballs is a simple, healthy, and fast way to make delicious weeknight meals. Your family will love this one!
Did you make this? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @thrivinghome so we can see your creations and cheer you on!
Baked Italian Meatballs
Everybody loves a good meatball! These delicious, moist ones may get eaten before they ever make it atop spaghetti or a sub sandwich. You’ll want to make this baked version of meatballs again and again.
- 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef (This is where we get our favorite grass-fed ground beef.)
- 1/2 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs (or sub gluten-free breadcrumbs)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or sub more breadcrumbs)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk (your choice)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
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Make It Now:
- Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
- Combine: Using clean hands, gently combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Roll: Use a medium dough scooper or a spoon to scoop and then roll about 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Line up meatballs on the sheet pan, leaving room between each.
- Bake: Bake for about 20 minutes or until no longer pink inside (160°F internal temperature).
- Serve: Optional: Serve with warm Marinara Sauce on the side for dipping, over spaghetti with marinara, or on a Meatball Sub.
Freeze For Later:
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. Then, complete Steps 2 and 3. At this point, flash-freeze uncooked meatballs by placing on the sheet pan (or in a baking dish) in the freezer for about an hour or so. Once frozen, dump meatballs in a gallon-sized freezer bag, seal, and place in freezer.
Prepare From Frozen:
Thaw meatballs using one of these safe thawing methods. Cook according to instructions, beginning with Step 4.
Gluten-Free Version: Use almond meal or gluten-free bread crumbs in place of the whole wheat bread crumbs. (Tip: I make my own bread crumbs by toasted gluten-free bread and then tosses pieces into my high-powered blender or food processor. Blend until they are fairly fine bread crumbs.)
Dairy-Free Version: Use more bread crumbs in place of the Parmesan cheese, plus add 1/4 teaspoon more of salt.
Where We Get Our Beef: We get our beef from ButcherBox. The beef is grass-fed and curated from trusted farms. We highly recommend this service to source healthy meat–like uncured bacon, chicken, and wild salmon–and have used it for years ourselves.
Photos and video by Whitney Reist of Sweet Cayenne.
More Meatball Recipes
We love meatballs because people of all ages love them, they are easy to make, and super easy to freeze for later. Try some of our other favorites.
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