Oven-baked meatballs offer a mess-free alternative to pan-frying, making the cooking process much simpler. The convenience of preparing a large batch at once adds to the appeal. Let’s dive into the steps for crafting delicious oven-baked meatballs without the hassle.
Who doesn’t like tender, juicy meatballs? They’re great in spaghetti sauce or as a one-bite appetizer.
The convenience of baking meatballs offers a hassle-free cooking method that saves time and effort. No more messy stovetop frying. I’ll show you how to bake meatballs in your oven.
Ingredients You Will Need For Oven-Baked Meatballs
I used a combination of 85% lean ground beef and ground pork to make these meatballs, but any ground meat could be used. Chicken, turkey, or Italian sausage would be excellent. In some grocery stores, you might find what is called meatloaf mix. That would work also. The baking technique remains the same for any kind of meat.
Along with this combination of meats you will need a yellow onion, fresh garlic cloves, fresh parsley, Panko bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, one large egg, salt, pepper, and cooking spray.
The recipe card below contains the full ingredients and amounts needed.
Shaping and Forming the Meatballs
The best way to form the raw meatballs is by using a cookie scoop. I used a #50 scoop for one batch and a #40 for the meatballs in the spaghetti photos.
The size you make them is totally up to you. Larger meatballs will require a slightly longer baking time. If you want to vary the size of the meatballs, here is a general guide to the number of balls you will get with one pound of meat in various scoop sizes.
- #50 Approx. 1.25 tablespoons = 30balls
- #40 Approx. 1.6 tablespoons = 25 balls
- #30 Approx. 2.1 tablespoons = 18 balls
- #24 Approx. 2.7 tablespoons = 15 balls
- #20 Approx. 3.2 tablespoons = 12 balls
(If you don’t have a cookie scoop, you can weigh portions on a kitchen scale to get consistent sizes of meatballs.)
The easiest way is to portion the meat with the scoop and then place it on parchment paper or another suitable surface. Then, to form the balls, oil your hands with olive oil so the meat does not stick to your palms.
Roll each into a ball with your hands. They can be as perfectly round as you like them. I’m usually not too picky about that.
How To Oven Bake The Meatballs at 350° F Convection
Preheat your oven temperature to 350°F if using a convection oven, (175° C). If your oven has convection heating this is what I recommend. The air moving around the convection-baked meatballs will make them brown nicely.
If you don’t have a convection oven, set the oven temperature to 375° F, (190° C). The baking times for the different ovens should be nearly identical.
Preparing the Meat Mixture
The first thing to do is mix the 1/2 cup of Panko breadcrumbs with 3 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl. Let the Panko rest and absorb the liquid while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Then, mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. For the best results, I always do this with my hands. You could also use a stiff spatula or wooden spoon.
Choosing the Right Sheet Pan
Use a large baking sheet that has rolled edges to catch any drippings. A flatter cookie sheet might not work as well. I use a half-sheet pan size which is 13″ by 18″.
To simplify the clean-up process, prepare your baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil. For optimal meatball perfection, utilize a cooling rack. This prevents the meat from absorbing its juices, ensuring a more efficient browning process. Plus, no need to worry about flipping them during baking.
When using a rack, the meatballs cook more evenly. Spray the rack with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
Arrange the meatballs in a single layer on the rack and give them a light coating of non-stick cooking spray before putting them into the oven. This will make them brown up better.
Bake for 15 to 22 minutes depending on the size you make the meatballs.
You can check if the meatballs are done with an instant-read thermometer or, just grab one off the rack and cut it open. The meat should be cooked through and moist. The internal temperature should be around 155°F or 68°C.
For additional browning, you can place them under the broiler for a minute or two right at the end.
If you place them under the broiler, remember that they are still cooking so start when they are slightly undercooked if possible. Take away about 3 minutes of the normal cooking time. That way you’ll ensure that they stay moist and tender.
Sauce Pairings for Meatballs
Sauces are the perfect accompaniment to elevate the taste of your oven-baked meatballs. The right sauce can take your dish from good to perfectly delightful. Here are some sauce options to complement your meatballs:
- Classic Marinara Sauce: A timeless choice that brings a burst of tomato richness to your meatballs. The tangy and slightly sweet profile of the marinara sauce adds a wonderful contrast to the savory meat. And the marinara sauce is perfect with meatball subs.
- Tangy BBQ Glaze: For those who love a touch of smokiness and sweetness, a tangy BBQ glaze is the way to go. You may want to spice up your meatballs with a bit of chili pepper and cumin for a Tex-Mex flavor
- Creamy Alfredo Sauce: Creamy Alfredo sauce offers a velvety and indulgent richness that complements the meatballs’ heartiness.
- Spicy Sriracha Dip: If you’re a fan of heat, consider pairing your homemade meatballs with a zesty Sriracha dip.
- Pesto Perfection: Elevate your meatball experience with the vibrant flavors of pesto sauce. This could be a unique appetizer dip selection.
- Sweet and Sour Glaze: For a more oriental twist coat them with an Asian glaze and serve them with spicy rice noodles or fried rice.
Storing the Meatballs
This easy meatball recipe can be made a day ahead. Just form the meatballs and keep them covered in your refrigerator. Take them out of the refrigerator when you start to preheat your oven so they can warm up a bit.
Store baked leftover meatballs in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to 3 days. You can also make them and then freeze them for up to 3 months.
Place the meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours for them to firm up. Then place them in a freezer bag.
This way you can easily remove the number of frozen meatballs you need without them sticking together.
Tips for Customizing the Meatball Recipe
This meatball recipe is pretty basic and leaves a lot of leeway to add additional herbs and spices.
Experimenting with a variety of spices and fresh herbs is the key to creating your favorite meatballs. Here’s a list of aromatic ingredients to consider adding to your meatball mixture for different flavor profiles:
- Garlic Powder: A classic addition that brings rich, savory notes to your meatballs.
- Onion Powder: Enhance the depth of flavor with a touch of oniony goodness.
- Dried Oregano: Infuse a hint of earthy and slightly floral essence.*
- Dried Basil: Add a touch of sweetness and a pleasant herbal aroma.*
- Thyme: Introduce a mild earthiness that complements various meats.*
- Rosemary: Elevate your meatballs with its piney and aromatic profile.
- Parsley: Freshen up the flavor and provide a vibrant visual appeal.
- Cumin: Bring warmth and a touch of smokiness to your meatballs.
- Paprika: Choose sweet, smoked, or hot paprika for a dash of color and flavor.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Infuse a subtle kick of heat for those who crave spice.*
- Coriander: Add a citrusy and slightly nutty note to the mix.
- Fennel Seeds: Offer a gentle anise-like flavor and a delightful crunch.*
- Ground Mustard: Introduce a mild tang and depth to the overall taste.
- Chopped Fresh Sage: Deliver a savory and slightly peppery note.
* Spices recommended for Baked Italian Meatballs.
Either ground chicken or ground turkey meatballs would be great with some sage mixed in.
Ground beef could be mixed with chili powder and a little cumin for a Tex-Mex style.
Feel free to mix and match these spices and herbs to create your signature blend. Remember that the proportions will depend on your taste preferences and the type of meat you’re using.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! One of the great things about meatballs is their versatility. You can use a combination of ground beef, pork, veal, or even turkey and chicken. Experiment with different meat blends and spices to create your perfect flavor profile.
To keep your meatballs moist and juicy, avoid overmixing the meat mixture, as it can lead to tough results. The egg and moist breadcrumbs help retain moisture. Overbaking is a prime factor to dry meatballs. It is better to keep an eye on the baking process and use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
Yes, you can! Freezing unbaked meatballs is a convenient way to have ready-to-cook meals on hand. After shaping the meatballs, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid. This way they won’t stick together in their final container. Transfer them to a freezer-safe container or ziplock bag. When you’re ready to cook, simply place the frozen meatballs in the oven and adjust the baking time accordingly.
This oven-baked meatball technique is the best way to make meatballs. No pan-frying and greasy splatters, (MaryJo hates it when I do that). Give this homemade baked meatball technique a try. I think you will like it.
Here are some more tasty recipes to try:
- Homemade Italian Sausage
- Tex-Mex Ground Beef Casserole
- Golden Crispy Oven Fries
- Cheesy Beef Noodle Bake
Easy Oven Baked Meatballs
- 8 oz ground beef 85% lean
- 8 oz ground pork
- 1/2 medium size yellow onion, diced fine
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup unseasoned panko bread crumbs
- 3 tbsp. milk,
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese or Romano
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- non-stick cooking spray (PAM)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190° C) or 350°F (175° C) if convection baking, with the rack at the middle position.
- Mix the Panko breadcrumbs with the milk in a small bowl and allow the crumbs to absorb the liquid as you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl using your hands to blend.
- Use a cookie scoop to divide equal portions of the meat mixture and place them on parchment paper or other suitable surface. Oil your hands slightly with olive oil and roll the meat into balls with the palm of your hand. You can also measure out equal portions with a kitchen scale if you don't have a scoop.
- Line a 13" by 18" sheet pan with foil or parchment. Place a rack in the pan and spray with cooking oil like Pam. Place the meatballs on the rack and lightly spray them with cooking oil.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until done. Check the internal temperature of the meat with an instant-read thermometer. It should register 155 ℉ (68° C).
- If desired, for additional browning on the meatballs, set your oven to broil about 3 minutes before the meatballs are done. Place the pan of meatballs approximately 4" from the broiler element. Watch closely for your desired amount of browning (1 to 2 minutes), and remove from oven.
- Serve as desired.
- I used a #50 cookie scoop (about 1-1/4 tablespoons) which made 30 meatballs. The nutrition information is for 1 meatball of that size.
- I baked mine for 15 minutes with the convection function set at 350°F, then placed them under the broiler for 2 minutes.
- If you are in doubt about the meatballs being cooked through, it is better to remove them early so as not to over-cook them. They will continue to cook slightly while resting.