Quick and easy homemade Italian meatballs are juicy, flavourful, and delicious. They are seasoned with herbs, garlic, and Parmesan cheese, pan-seared in olive oil, and simmered in a rich and savoury tomato sauce. The best part? You can make these Italian meatballs in just 30-minutes, making them the perfect weeknight dinner. Serve them on their own, over pasta, or in a meatball sandwich. Plus, you can make a bigger batch and freeze any extras for an even quicker meal on a lazy day.
Why You'll Love Italian Meatballs
- The beef flavours the sauce. For this recipe, you’ll sear the Italian meatballs before transferring them out of the pan. Then, using the juices left behind, you’ll create the flavourful and rich tomato sauce with garlic, onion, bay leaves, and crushed tomatoes. The result is an amazing and flavourful tomato sauce to smother your meatballs in.
- And the sauce flavours the beef. Once you’ve created the sauce, the meatballs return to the pan to simmer, allowing the naturally occurring msg in the tomatoes to bring out the umami flavour in the beef. The result is beefy, saucy goodness all around.
- Meatballs are more versatile than you think. When you make them, serve them with your favourite pasta. The next day, reheat some leftover Italian meatballs in tomato sauce to have on their own or in a meatball sandwich. After that, mix them into a meat sauce. The options are endless!
To make these easy Italian meatballs in tomato sauce, you will need the following ingredients:
- ground beef
- fresh parsley
- Parmesan cheese
- Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper
- olive oil - for cooking.
There are plenty of ways to customize these family-favourite meatballs to change things up every once in a while. You can experiment with different flavours, but always be sure to include binding ingredients such as eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, or milk.
For the tomato sauce, you will need:
- crushed tomatoes and tomato paste
- bay leaves
- salt and pepper
How to Make the Best Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
- Prepare the meatballs. In a large mixing bowl, combine beef with breadcrumbs, milk, egg, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well and form the mixture into a uniform consistency. Take 2 spoonfuls of the beef mixture at a time and roll them into meatballs. Set aside.
- Cook the meatballs. Heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or shallow saucepan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes until the hot oil sizzles. Slowly add the meatballs and gently stir to cook until browned on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Make sure to stir gently to prevent meatballs from disintegrating. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and set aside (Note that the meatballs are not fully cooked at this point).
- Make the tomato sauce. In the same skillet, add onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper.
- Add meatballs and simmer. Return the meatballs to the skillet and bring the sauce mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover the lid and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes until the meatballs are fully cooked.
- Serve. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan if desired and serve immediately over pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes.
Storing and Freezing Instructions
- How to store: If you have any leftover Italian meatballs in tomato sauce, store them in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Be sure to allow the meatballs to cool to room temperate before storing them in the refrigerator.
- How to freeze: Meatballs freeze beautifully (both cooked and uncooked).
- To freeze uncooked meatballs: Place the shaped meatballs on a large half sheet baking pan lined with parchment paper. Transfer the pan to the freezer and freeze until hard, about 1 hour. Then, transfer the meatballs into a freezer bag or freezer-safe airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To cook, allow the meatballs to thaw overnight in the refrigerator first, then cook as per recipe instructions on the stove.
- To freeze cooked Italian meatballs: Once they have cooled, store the meatballs and sauce in an airtight container or freezer bag (leaving room for expansion) for up to 3 months.
- How to Reheat: Reheat in a shallow saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat until warmed through. You may need to add a little water if the sauce thickened up too much in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can reheat the meatballs in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave in 20-second increments. Be sure to cover the bowl to avoid tomato sauce splatter.
More Meatball Recipes
- Swedish Meatballs
- Sticky Honey Garlic Meatballs
- Lion's Head Chinese Meatballs
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Baked Turkey Meatballs
- Vegetarian Meatballs
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