Oven baked meatballs are mess free…much better than pan-frying them. And you can do a large batch at one time.
Who doesn’t like tender and juicy meatballs? They’re great in spaghetti sauce. Also, as one-bite appetizers. Meatballs and barbecue sauce are a great combination.
The secret to making meatballs that come out juicy and tender is using panko crumbs and letting the mixture sit for 30 minutes before forming the meatballs. This allows the panko to absorb moisture from the other ingredients and hold onto the meat juices while the meatballs bake. (Or, stir the breadcrumbs in a small bowl with a bit of milk so the crumbs become moist. This is a recipe update. Either method works equally well).
Ingredients You Will Need For This Recipe
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. Just vary the spices used in the mix for the flavor profile you are looking for. 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 onion needs to be chopped finely so that the meatballs hold together well when formed. Garlic powder can be substituted for the fresh garlic. I would use 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons in the meatballs recipe.
Either ground chicken or ground turkey would be great with some sage mixed in.
Give them an Asian spin with minced green onion, grated ginger, and some soy sauce.
Ground beef could be mixed with chili powder and a little cumin for a Tex-Mex style.
Of course, there is always Italian seasoning for meatballs in spaghetti and a red sauce. And don’t forget some finely minced garlic…MaryJo always says you can never have too much garlic.
The best part of baked meatballs is that there are no greasy splatters like in pan-frying. And you can do a big batch all at one time.
How to Make Oven Baked Meatballs
Preheat your oven to 400°F or 350°F if using a convection oven. If your oven has convection heating this is what I recommend. The air moving around the convection baked meatballs will make them brown really nicely.
Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Cover the bowl and let the meatball mix rest for a half hour. This will allow the Panko bread crumbs time to absorb some moisture to insure that you have tender meatballs. Alternatively, you can put the Panko breadcrumbs into a small bowl and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of milk. Stir the crumbs around so that they all get moist. Then you wouldn’t have to rest the mixture for 30 minutes. (Recipe updated on June 2, 2022).
Then, the best way to form the raw meatballs is by using a cookie scoop. I used a #50 scoop which is pretty small. It makes about a 1 1/4″ meatball. A #40 scoop would make a meatball that is closer to the size of golf balls which is 1.6″,
If you don’t have the cookie scoop, you can weigh portions on a kitchen scale to get consistent sizes of meatballs.
Spray a large baking sheet and rack with cooking spray to prevent sticking. When using a rack, the meatballs cook evenly and there’s no need to turn them.
Arrange the meatballs in a single layer on the rack and give them a light coating of non-stick cooking spray. This will make them brown up better. Bake for 15 to 22 minutes depending on the size you make them. You may also line your baking sheet with parchment paper if you would like.
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 160°F or 71°C.
If they’re not browning as much as you’d like, 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. That way you’ll ensure that they stay moist and tender.
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.
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 for a quick meal.
Store baked leftover meatballs in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 3 days. Or, freeze them in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.
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 meatball recipe a try. I think you will like it.
Here are some more tasty recipes to try:
- Honey Balsamic Italian Chicken Meatball Kabobs
- Homemade Italian Sausage
- Tex-Mex Ground Beef Casserole
- Golden Crispy Oven Fries
- Cheesy Beef Noodle Bake
Tasty 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 *see notes
- 2 to 3 tbsp. milk, *optional...see notes
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- non-stick cooking spray (PAM)
- Mix all ingredients together, then cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes. (See notes. This is a recipe update.)
- After 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 400°F (350°F if convection baking) with the rack at the middle position.
- Spray a large sheet pan and a rack with cooking spray. Form the mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter and place on the rack. Lightly spray all the meatballs with cooking spray.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until done.
- To brown the meatballs, if desired, place the pan of meatballs approximately 4" from the broiler element and set the oven controls on "Broil". 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 18 minutes with the convection function set at 350°F, then placed them under the broiler for 2 minutes.
- The Panko bread crumbs could be placed in a small bowl and 2 or 3 tablespoons of milk added. Stir them around so all the crumbs are moist. This way you would not have to let the meatball mix rest for 30 minutes.