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I want to make GREAT meatballs!

  • t

OK, I make a good meatball but not a great meatball. I want to make a melt in your mouth,oh my god this is so good meatball. So far, I prefer a baked meatball. I like there texture a little better. But I've tried frying first , baking first cooking in the sauce, not cooking in sauce, only beef, a mix of pork and beef blah blah blah. Anyway, whats your secret to a really great meatball.

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  1. are you talking about dinner meatballs, to go with rice and pasta? Or small little cocktail meatballs on frilly sticks?

    1 Reply
    1. I love Alton Brown's Good Eats episode about meatballs, and that's what I use as a my guide when making meatballs. I'm sure you could find it online.

      The blog Lucullian Delights also has a recipe for mixing pesto into the balls, which sounds delicious.


      1. I make the Cooks Country version of BIG Italian meatballs, and get raves everytime.

        Use italian sausage and ground beef. Lots of chopped onion and garlic, sauteed, until translucent. Add dried oregano and red pepper flakes. Put into a bowl and add a couple pieces of torn bread and a little bit of milk. Combine, that's your panade. Then add the meats, lots of chopped fresh parsley and grated fresh parmesan. Roll into balls, can be any size, but the size of these are about 2" around, and makes about 16, for about 1.5 lbs of meat. Then place into a 475* oven for 20 minutes, or until browned. Obviously wouldn't need that long if you make them smaller.

        Very tender and flavorful.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Phurstluv

          Looks good. I think the $30 for Cooks Country cookbook and DVD set is a steal. At the time of this writing, the recipe can be found here:

          1. re: Phurstluv

            I love this recipe....I make mine in bulk and freeze them for later use.

            1. re: attran99

              Me too. I just did another batch yesterday.

          2. My husband just made the meatballs found in the rsvp (?) section of the June 2010 Bon Appetie--it's provided by a restaurant in Dorchester, MA, I think, but it doesn't appear to be online. Anyway, they're delicious, very tender meatballs w/ lots of fennel and leeks in the base. We ultimately had them in sauce but also froze many plain and look forward to all kinds of future fun w/ them.

            1. I like "JFood's" Meatball Recipe which is adapted from Rao's Restaurant of New York :


              Rao's Meatball Recipe:


              4 Replies
              1. re: Norm Man

                Ditto this. These are the best meatballs I've ever had.

                1. re: Norm Man

                  I made JFood's meatball recipe last night, very doubtfully. I've tried plenty of recipes and this just seemed too easy. I used out of the can breadcrumbs, did not add the egg whites and used half milk-half water. I also used the Cooks Illustrated method of oven browning the meatballs in a 450 degree oven for 20 minuts. Fabulous - tender - moist! I will use homemade breadcrumbs next time because I think it would improve an already very good outcome. Thanks JFood!

                  1. re: Siobhan

                    Siobhan, if you like JFood's Meatball Recipe, you will also like JFood's Braised Short Rib Recipe:


                    I reduce the amount of sugar JFood uses in his marinade though.

                    Jfood can really cook!!!

                    1. re: Norm Man

                      FYI - there are other, much easier and less time intensive short rib recipes out there.

                2. I follow a recipe from Cook's Illustrated. Mix of meats,and make a ___(pomade? blanking on the term) by soaking white bread in buttermilk and adding salt pepper, maybe parsley? You brown them,the heat them in a simple tomato sauce. I love them. I think the key is the buttermilk with bread,and the frying, and they are perfect for a weeknight.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cocktailhour

                    i think the term you are looking for is a panade....

                  2. I fry a test meatball to see if I've got the seasoning right and then if I do, I bake my meatballs in mini muffin tins. Works great- keeps the ball shape.

                    1. The polpetonne or giant meatballs from Molly Stevens' All About Braising are some of my favorites. Here is a COTM report about them.

                      1. This is my grandmother's recipe, it's amazing but it still doesn't come out as good without her making them :)


                        1 ¼ lbs ground chuck
                        1 ¼ lbs ground pork
                        4 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
                        2 slices white bread, torn
                        ½ cup milk
                        2 eggs
                        3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
                        ½ tsp kosher salt
                        ¼ tsp pepper
                        1 tbsp fresh parsley

                        Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

                        In a small bowl, combine torn bread with the milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes until the bread has absorbed most of the liquid. Squeeze liquid out of bread and shred into bigger bowl.

                        In a large bowl, combine bread, garlic, cheese, eggs, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Add meat and mix by hand until just combined. Do not over mix.

                        Lightly coat a sheet pan with olive oil. With clean hands, roll out 3” meatballs. This recipe should make about 12 3” meatballs. Bake for 35 minutes. Transfer meatballs to tomato sauce and let simmer for at least 3 hours.

                        Of course she did everything by sight, so it took a while to actually write a recipe.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: krisrishere

                          sounds like mine (and my grandmother's). except on occassion, i add veal to the mix.

                        2. My wife always mixes in a few anchovies dissolved in a bit of EVOO for a salty umami hit.

                          1. A16's Italian Meatballs With Tomato & White Wine Braise is my absolute favorite recipe for GREAT meatballs:

                            1. use equal quantities of beef, pork and (whisper it) veal. Season well. Best seasonings are parsley, nutmeg, lemon rind, salt, fresh ground pepper, and a good heap of parmesan. Lightly sauteed onions will help keep the meatballs moist. Try to use a good quality day old loaf of bread for your breadcrumbs. Chill your meatballs and then don't fry them for too long.

                              Make your tomato sauce a little more concentrated than you would normally, and season very well with s and p, but also a little sugar and balsamic vinegar to round out flavours. Make sure you have lots and lots of sauce.

                              Serve with egg noodles eg tagliatelle rather than normal pasta.

                              I am famous for my meatballs, hope these tips work for you!

                              1. 1. Use a mixture of meats (beef or bison for depth of flavor, pork or sausage meat for sweetness, and veal for texture)

                                2. Use a panade with bread (not dry bread crumbs) and milk or buttermilk

                                3. Use egg yolks only; the whites make the meatballs gummier than ideal.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Karl S

                                  I only use veal when making meatloaf, not meatballs. I find the sausage meat adds a lot of flavor to the beef, better than straight ground pork.

                                  And the fresh bread instead of breadcrumbs makes them more tender, hence no need for the expensive ground veal. And I use 2 whole eggs.

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    Karl, I use part bison, too, and get rave reviews. In fact, I do all 3 that you mention, and fry them stovetop in a shallow amount of oil. If I'm going to put them in lasagna, I make them small and flattened, fry them in oil, and then simmer in the sauce. If they're going in a soup, I bake them, so there isn't excess oil on the surface of the soup.

                                  2. I use English muffins for the bread, soaked in heavy cream but I think I'll try buttermilk next time, good idea. When I switched from regular bread to muffins something just clicked. If using regular bread, at least use good Italian with some crust. If you want to add a handful of breadcrumbs, panko will fluff everything up nicely.