baked italian meatballs meatballs baked with tomato sauce 10
classic baked Italian meatball recipe

Classic Baked Italian Meatballs

January 28, 2020 5 Comments

These little secrets will change the way you make classic baked Italian meatballs forever.

Classic Baked Italian Meatballs

From the recipe collection of Tara Ippolito

Sauce is simmering on the stove and classic baked Italian meatballs are in the oven.

I can literally smell that sentence.

This was the scene at my house every Sunday growing up. Sauce and meatballs were a must.

classic Italian meatballs

My siblings and I would look forward to this dinner all week.

I used to love waking up to the smell of my mother making tomato sauce in the kitchen.

But the smell of the Italian meatballs baking was what I would just be drooling over.

The anticipation of knowing that one of my favorites was for dinner would have me so excited all day.

baked Italian meatballs

Italian meatballs really are the ultimate classic comfort food.

As easy as they are to make, there are a few simple tips and tricks to making your meatballs the absolute best they can be.

Light and fluffy little balls of perfectly seasoned beef. That’s what we’re going for!

spaghetti and meatballs

We absolutely love this recipe for Sunday dinners around here. it’s a family favorite for sure.

I’m really excited to share this classic baked Italian meatball recipe with you.

I know if you try them that they will become a favorite in your home, too.

Italian Dinner Ideas:

If you love pasta dinners and Italian food in general, here are a few other recipes that I know you’d love:

rigatoni in creamy tomato sauce

Meat Options:

I made these meatballs with beef only this time.

I do like to add some ground veal and pork sometimes, too.

They both add nice flavor to the meatballs.

ground beef veal and pork

Grocery stores sometimes even sell packages of beef, veal and pork together.

If you’d like to add those to the meatball mixture, try one pound of beef and a half a pound each of veal and pork.

The Secrets To Making Perfect Meatballs:

Making meatballs themselves isn’t necessarily a complicated task but they need to be done right.

There are a few things we can do to make sure this classic Italian baked meatballs recipe is at its absolute best.

baked Italian meatballs

All of these bullet points play a big role in the process:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Adding Milk
  • Consistency
  • Over Mixing
  • Baking

I think if you apply these little tips and tricks you will see a big difference in the taste and quality for sure.


Italian seasoned breadcrumbs are the best choice for this recipe in my opinion.

It’s a great way to add a lot of extra flavor into the beef.

seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

I also like these because the breadcrumbs are finer then Panko. Those tend to be a little bigger and chunkier.

They’re flavorful and really work well towards with the smooth consistency of the meatballs.

Adding Milk:

Adding milk to the meatball mixture may sound a little strange at first but I promise you that it’s completely necessary.

it will actually do two things.

soaking breadcrumbs in milk

First, it will soak into the breadcrumbs and soften them up. This will keep the meatballs from drying out while they’re in the oven and keep them fluffier overall.

The second thing the that the milk does is tenderize the meat.

baked Italian meatballs

That’s right, the milk will help keep the beef nice and tender so the meatballs don’t get too tough.

Adding milk to the meatball mixture will overall keep them moist and fluffy.


I just want to address consistency a little bit.

Since I’ve had kids, I generally stopped sautéing garlic and onions to add into the meatball mixture.

onion for meatballs

It does add a bunch of really nice flavor. So If you’d like to do that, be my guest.

But my kids just don’t care for the texture that it brings. My grown up brother doesn’t like it at all either.

I think some people just don’t enjoy it. So, I’ve substituted them with garlic and onion powder.

baked Italian meatballs

It does keep the consistency of the meatballs really nice and smooth for picky eaters.

Over Mixing:

This is a huge mistake I see people do when making meatballs.


Italian meatball mixture

I can’t stress that enough. Mix the meatball mixture until it’s just combined and then stop.

Over mixing can lead to tough dense meatballs and we do not want that.

To keep them light and fluffy they need to be mixed and messed with as little as possible.


Classic Italian meatballs need to be cooked before being added to the sauce.

In this recipe, we’re going to bake them but you can use this same recipe and fry them if you’d like too.

baked Italian meatballs

Baking the meatballs first will do a couple of things.

The grease that’s produced when baking can easily be discarded. Better all that grease goes in the trash rather then in your pasta sauce.

baked Italian meatballs

The meatballs will also develop a really nice little crust around them in the oven.

That crust is the best and I absolutely love it!

Classic Italian Baked Meatballs Video:

Classic Baked Italian Meatballs Ingredients:

baked Italian meatballs
  • Ground beef (ground veal and pork optional)
  • Eggs
  • Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Italian seasoning.
  • Milk
  • Tomato sauce


First, add the beef to a large bowl.

ground beef

Now add the eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning.

ground beef and eggs

Next add the Parmesan cheese and the breadcrumbs.

Italian meatball mixture

Then pour the milk over the breadcrumbs. Let the milk soak into the breadcrumbs for a minute or two.

italian meatball mixture

After that, mix the meat until it’s just combined and then stop. Don’t overdo it.

Italian meatball mixture

Now form the mixture into small equally sized balls about 2 inches wide.

Then add them to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. You can bake them close together but make sure to leave a little space so they’re not completely touching.

Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes.

Then once the meatballs are done cooking, add them to a pot of simmering sauce.

I have a simple tomato sauce recipe that goes great with these classic Italian baked meatballs if you need one. If not, use your own recipe or your favorite jarred sauce.

Now the meatballs generously with more tomato sauce. Let them simmer in the sauce for about 15 minutes.

Finally, serve the meatballs over pasta and enjoy!

Classic Baked Italian Meatballs

Beef and pork meatballs baked it tomato sauce
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: baked meatballs, calssic meatballs, classic italian meatballs, meatball recipe, meatballs


  • baking sheet


  • 2 Pounds Ground beef
  • 1 Cup Seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tbs Garlic Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tbs Onion powder
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • In a small pan sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil.
  • Season lightly with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning
  • In a large bowl add- the beef, pork, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning.
  • After the onion and garlic are sautéed and cooled- add it to the bowl
  • Now add the breadcrumbs
  • Pour the milk on top of the breadcrumbs
  • Gently mix the ingredients until they are just combined. Don’t overmix
  • Form them into medium sized balls.
  • Add them to a baking sheet thats been sprayed with cooking spray
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes
  • Then add them to a tomato sauce lined baking dish
  • Cover the meatballs with additional sauce.
  • Baked covered for another 15 minutes.
  • Serve hot


The amounts on this recipe are much greater then usual. I was cooking for a family party. Feel free to scale it down. 
Tara Ippolito

About Al Dente Diva

Tara Ippolito is a self taught home cook from New Jersey and cookbook author of Fast, Simple, Delicious. Better known as “T” across social media, she makes easy to follow recipes using familiar ingredients. T uses her Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest channels to share recipes and cooking tips for everyday people. Her motivation to share with her followers is simple. To inspire people to cook and become more comfortable in the kitchen.

As a wife and busy mother of two little boys she she’s always cooking fast family friendly meals. Sharing her kitchen with others that want to learn is a true passion of hers. As her social media platforms continue to grow she is committed to delivering consistently delicious content to her followers.

Al Dente Diva

Hello there! My name is T & I’m a home cook from New Jersey. I love to share easy to make recipes, cooking tips & kitchen hacks with people who love to cook like I do. My recipes are all easy to follow & use ingredients most people are familiar with. Being a busy stay at home mother of two, I have to cook delicious budget friendly meals that are fast to make. I hope you find something helpful here. Thanks for coming by.

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  • Eileen Dwyer December 9, 2022 at 8:02 pm

    I’m not a fan of veal, can I replace it with sausage instead,?

    • Al Dente Diva December 12, 2022 at 2:57 pm

      Hello. He’s absolutely but it may change the taste completely. Feel free to add it but I would just completely omit it if I were you.

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