three meatballs with tomato sauce on black plate
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Classic Italian Meatballs

A big, best meatball recipe for a Sunday sauce crowd. This recipe can be easily halved, and extra can be frozen in a gallon freezer bag and saved for other dinners.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keywords:: italian, meatballs
Servings: 60 or so medium-sized meatballs


  • 2 1/2 pounds beef, pork, veal mix (equal portions)
  • 2 cups plain breadcrumbs
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 bunch fresh, flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 medium onion, grated on the large-grate side of a box grater
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 3 large cloves fresh garlic, finely grated or minced
  • 15 turns fresh-cracked black pepper, or 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and lightly grease or line with parchment two half-sheet pans.
  • Put the meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, and pour the milk over the breadcrumbs and allow it to soak in for a minute.
  • Add the eggs, Pecorino-Romano cheese, chopped parsley, minced garlic, grated onion.
    PRO TIP: Include the upper half of the parsley stems when chopping. The stems of most soft herbs, like parsley and cilantro, are completely edible and have great flavor.
  • Remove your rings and bracelets and put them safely on the windowsill or a ring holder. Your hands are about to get a little messy. Mix the meatballs until combined -- mixing with your hands is the best, and arguably only, way.
    PRO TIP: Mixing the meatballs is an important step. It is important not to over-mix the meat. If the meat becomes too over-mixed, it will lose its ideal, fall-apart consistency. Using your hands helps control the mixing.
  • Using a 1/2 cup scoop, lightly shape the meatballs with your hands into loose but solid rounds, and place them on the prepared sheet pans, with at least 1" space between each.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway. "Sample" one or two hot out of the oven, then smother them with Sunday sauce or marinara, and serve with pasta.