Classic Beef Meatballs Recipe

Classic Beef Meatballs Recipe

Here they are—the top sellers at The Meatball Shop and sure to be a big hit at home. Most traditional meatball recipes call for Parmesan or pecorino cheese. While we’re big fans of these stronger cheeses, we prefer ricotta. It’s our secret weapon. The mild and creamy consistency of this fresh cheese gives the meatballs a unique, light texture. Beef has a subtle flavor, and the ricotta is a great way to add fat and moisture to the recipe without the overpowering flavor of a sharper cheese. These are quick to prep, and baking rather than frying makes this a fast comfort food even during the busiest of weeks.–Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow

LC On Top Of Spaghetti… Note

Remember that little ditty about somebody’s meatballs that some poor hungry soul lost when somebody sneezed? Well, there’s more ways to serve your meatballs than over pasta. Like in a sandwich. Or on pizza. Or, well, you tell us.

Classic Beef Meatballs Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes about 2 dozen


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds 80% lean ground beef
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups classic tomato sauce (store-bought or homemade)


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Drizzle the olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface.
  • 2. Combine the ground beef, ricotta, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, salt, fennel, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl and mix by hand until everything is thoroughly incorporated.
  • 3. Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.
  • 4. Roast until the meatballs are firm and cooked through and a meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball reads 165°F (74°C), 20 to 30 minutes.
  • 5. While the meatballs are roasting, heat the tomato sauce in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often.
  • 6. When the meatballs are firm and fully cooked, remove them from the oven and drain the excess grease from the pan. Pour the tomato sauce over them and turn to coat. Return the meatballs to the oven and continue roasting for another 15 minutes. Serve as desired.

Turkey Meatball Variation

  • Substitute ground turkey for the beef. That’s it. Everything else remains the same.
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  1. Bianca says:

    I’ve been on a meatball fervor lately and these were the perfect classic version to try. I halved the recipe with no known issues. I did increase the fennel and red pepper flakes as I really wanted to have a nice spice flavor profile: 1/2 teaspoon fennel and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes for my halved batch. I also used the full amount of salt: 1 teaspoon for my half batch. Using my #16 scoop, I was able to make 10 beautiful meatballs. Unfortunately I couldn’t cook these the same day I made them so into the fridge they went. Pulled them out the next day, let then set out while the oven came to temp, and popped those babies in. They cooked to temp beautifully in 25 minutes–they were still on the cool side when I put them in–then I plopped them in some marinara to finish for about 10 minutes more. Served over creamy ricotta polenta. Keeper!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Love to hear that, Bianca! Many, many thanks for taking the time to let us know how well these worked for you. So glad to learn you love them as much as we do. Let us know which recipe from the site you try next…!

    • David Leite says:

      So glad you enjoyed them, Bianca. And good to know that the recipe can be cut in half successfully.

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