Perfect Italian Meatballs

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Perfect Italian Meatballs seem like the appropriate way to kick off the ALMOST weekend!

Perfect Meatballs from (@whatsgabycookin)


These meatballs have been in the fall/winter rotation since my culinary school days, much like my baked rigatoni. They are PERFECTION. Adam, one of my very best friends and food stylist wizard, made them for me over 8 years ago! I've since stolen his recipe and made them on repeat for chilly nights when all I want to do is throw something in the oven, curl up on the couch with a blanket, and have a glass of red wine. That's basically my recipe for success these days between all the crazy deadlines and work obligations. I'm majorly savoring any down time when I can snuggle with Poppy, eat some Perfect Italian Meatballs and be very chill.

The key to these meatballs is two fold:

  • the pesto like herb mixture that gets blended in a food processor before being adding to the meat mixture. It's insane and really a key moment in this recipe
  • the use of both beef and pork. yes, you could absolutely just use one or the other, but the combo of two makes these extra special and worth the extra trip to the grocery store.
Perfect Meatballs from (@whatsgabycookin)

If you're wondering what to serve these with... here are a few of my favs:

Perfect Italian Meatballs

Author: Gaby Dalkin
5 from 17 votes
Buckle up - these are the most perfect italian meatballs that will ever grace your kitchen. Go ahead and double the recipe because you'll want these on hand at all times. Inspired by the OG Food Network man himself... Tyler Florence
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 people


  • 1 pound ground beef sirloin
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 ½ cup panko bread crumbs divided
  • 4 tablespoon milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 loosely packed cup fresh parsley
  • 1 loosely packed cup s bunch basil
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • cup pine nuts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium ball fresh mozzarella


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl combine the beef, pork, ½ cup panko bread crumbs, milk and eggs and set aside. In a food processor, combine the parsley, basil, garlic, olive oil, parmesan and pine nuts. Process for 30-45 seconds until almost pesto like. Add the herb mixture to the meat and mix until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Shape the meatballs into large balls then roll them in the remaining panko bread crumbs.
  • In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Fry the meatballs on all sides to seal the crust. Transfer to a baking dish.
  • To the same pan, add the crushed tomatoes and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and some extra basil. Let everything simmer together and reduce slightly for about 10 minutes. Pour the tomato mixture over the meatballs and top with torn mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Garnish with extra torn basil and parsley.


Want to save time later on? Double the meatballs and freeze the second batch. Then when you're ready, thaw and add the sauce and cook. Quick and easy!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 894kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 67g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 31g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 257mg | Sodium: 884mg | Potassium: 1084mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1883IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 450mg | Iron: 7mg
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  1. Do you have a recommendation to replace the eggs? A different binder? Hoping to make these for Xmas Eve but niece is allergic to eggs.

  2. 5 stars
    Have made this recipe three times now, perfect each and every time. Make it my own with very small tweaks. More herbs and I rarely have fresh mozzarella on hand but always have shredded cheeses and real grated Parm. Cheese blocks are better but also more expensive. First two times completely forgot pine nuts, still great! Have found using shredded does not sacrifice flavor at all. Have 1 picky eater in the house and he devours these, making sure there are leftovers for meatball subs the next day, thank you Gaby!

  3. 5 stars
    Wow this recipe was amazing. These meatballs were so juicy. I probably needed more panko, I could not keep it round but still soooooo much flavor.

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe is easy and very forgiving when substituting ingredients. The meatballs come out perfectly juicy and are great for tossing on pasta or in a meatball sub.

  5. Hi Gaby! I’m taking a shortcut and using store-bought pesto. How many tbsps / cups of that do you recommend I add? Not sure how much your recipe produces. Thanks

  6. This was fabulous. My daughter (9) helped me make the meatballs and LOVED the outcome. I like how everything cooks in one pot and all the flavors come together. I will definitely make this again for my family.

  7. 4 stars
    Hi! Taste was great, but I would love tips on how to make that as a 10 minute preparation. Did you use a scoop instead of rolling these? Cook some of them as you are rolling others? Even with two of us working and two pans to simultaneously cook meatballs rather cook two batches in same pan, it was longer than stated prep time.

  8. Hi Gaby! Can’t wait to make these. I happen to have a bunch of pesto in my fridge already - if I were to use that instead of making my own, how much should I add to the meatball mixture? Thanks!

  9. Could these be made with ground chicken & pork, rather than beef. (We have a couple non-beef eaters in the family.)? Planning to make them as our contribution to a Christmas gathering because they sound so good!

  10. Making these tonight… Absolutely can’t wait!

    Eating some tonight, plan to freeze the rest. How would you recommend freezing? Simply taking what we didn’t eat including the fresh mozzarella that was baked on top and putting it in one dish? Would the mozzarella freeze OK? Simply reheat in a 350 oven from frozen until defrosted and warmed through?

  11. I made these meatballs today…OMG! Sooo good! Amazing how light they were! I especially liked adding the herbs to the meat mixture after combining in the Cuisinart….a new way to make meatballs for me. My husband was over the moon! His favorite meal is spaghetti & meatballs, will definitely make these again. Thanks Gaby!

  12. 5 stars
    Made these meatballs last night. Seriously, the best meatballs I've ever eaten, Today I ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner--I'm obsessed! My "large" meatball were slightly smaller than a tennis ball. I baked them in a 9x13 pan and had 16 meatballs. The sauce is simple and oh so good. The total star of the dish is the pesto added to the meatballs. Thank you, Gabi, for a new family favorite.

4.95 from 17 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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