Classic Meatballs Recipe


I’m part of a family that has a very particular opinion on meatballs.
A meatball is classic. A meatball is basic. A meatball is juicy, tender yet firm, delicately seasoned and made of all ground beef.

This standard was set long ago by a Grandmother in Northern California that made meatballs so legendary, there were stories told, secrets kept, and of course, sibling competitions over who could replicate this ideal meatball the best.

This meatball was built up to be so magical and mysterious, I was practically frightened to make meatballs around family.

When I finally had a direct descendant of Grandma Meatball in my home, I questioned her. I quizzed her.

I asked her every detail of the mythical meatball process. Noticing my exasperation, she said, “You just make a good meatball!”

So that’s what I did. I listened to the stories, I observed the matriarchs in my family and I did what every home cook has to do every once in awhile: I just made good meatballs!

Classic Meatballs Recipe

Ingredients for Classic Meatballs:
3 lbs. ground beef (80/20 mix)
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP dried Italian parsley
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried Italian herb blend
1 teaspoon salt (black pepper if desired)
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2/3 cup tomato sauce
3 large eggs, beaten

Ingredients for Sauce:
1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup white wine
1 TBSP dried Italian parsley,
1/4 teaspoon Italian herb blend
1/4 crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups diced tomatoes
1/3 cup half-n-half or cream
3 cups tomato sauce
3 cups tomato puree
1 bayleaf
1 lb. spicy Italian sausages, browned

Classic Meatballs Recipe
Makes 20-24 large meatballs or 42-48 mini-meatballs, and sauce. I use Panko breadcrumbs because I think they make for an airy meatball. Use breadcrumbs of your choice. For added instruction and entertainment, watch the MEATBALL MADNESS Video.

1) In a large bowl combine all ingredients for the meatballs.
2) Shape into similar sized balls. Set aside (in the refrigerator).
3) Over medium heat, brown sausages in a tall-sided pot. Remove from pot and set aside.
4) Next, brown the meatballs on all sides in the same pot, or place on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375(F) oven for 20 minutes. If browning in the pan, remove excess grease, leaving behind browned bits before moving on to the next step.
5) Into the tall-sided pot, over medium heat, add carrot, celery, onion and garlic.
6) Deglaze the pan with half of the white wine. Increase the heat to medium-high and get any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
7) Add parsley, Italian herb blend, crushed red pepper and salt.
8) Allow to reduce a few minutes, then add the rest of the wine.
9) Add diced tomatoes and allow to cook a few minutes.
10) Add the cream and continue cooking and stirring until incorporated.
11) Add the tomato sauce and puree and stir in the bayleaf.
12) Carefully add the sausages and meatballs to the sauce and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer at least an hour.

Classic Meatballs Recipe
For added instruction and entertainment, watch the MEATBALL MADNESS Video, give it a thumbs up and please subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

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10 Responses to “Classic Meatballs Recipe”

  1. Rob
    3/8/2013 at 7:52 pm #

    Yum! Yum! Yum! Did I say yum? I love meatballs and especially meatball subs! Tomrrows dinner is going to be meatballs!

    Thanks so much Sara!

  2. Vicky
    3/8/2013 at 9:52 pm #

    HI Sara,

    Can I make these meatballs the night before and leave them in the fridge? Let me know! Thanks.

  3. Average Betty
    3/9/2013 at 7:26 am #

    Thank you, Rob!

  4. Average Betty
    3/9/2013 at 7:28 am #

    Sure, Vicky. The meatballs and sauce only get better with time :)

  5. Jon
    3/9/2013 at 8:57 am #

    Would it be alright to deglaze with something like chicken stock instead? Love the recipe, can’t wait to try it!

  6. Average Betty
    3/9/2013 at 11:14 am #

    Hi Jon, Sure a little chicken broth will be ok… it won’t give the zippy brightness (in my opinion) that the white wine gives… I wonder if you could add just a tablespoon of lemon juice (or the like) with the stock for a little sparkle? Let me know what you do! Thanks a bunch :)

  7. Emon
    9/24/2013 at 4:44 am #

    Betty! Thanks for the recipe. Eventho I skipped on some ingredients but it’s all good!

    I made them today for dinner and my mom & dad said it was delicious! Thanks <3


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