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. 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

4.9 from 9 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 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 people


  • 1 pound ground beef sirloin
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs divided
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 loosely packed cup fresh parsley
  • 1 loosely packed cup s bunch basil
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 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.


  1. I haven’t made meatballs in ages, and I don’t know why! This reminds me that I need to do it with this recipe ASAP!!

    1. Hey Ellen!

      Sorry! I don’t have the software to calculate the nutritional value of my recipes – there are some online programs you can input the recipe in if you’re comfortable using a specific program! Thanks

  2. Made these tonight. These meatballs were super easy to make and a wonderfully hearty dish on a rainy Pacific Northwest night.

  3. Do you use all 1/2 cup of oil in the meatballs or is some of this intended for frying? Do you toast your pine nuts or leave them raw? Thanks!

  4. These look awesome..I am in the process now of making brie, bacon and basil, I am however roasting a few heirloom grape tomatoes with it
    …Can’t wait for dinner…You are a cook after my own heart!!!

  5. i wa looking at this once and knew i had to try it…and boom! i have been making these eversince. i make batches of the meatballs and just put them on the freezer. And anytime we want to have some italian meatballs it would be so much easier to make it from then. thank tou gaby. this is a real bomb and a lifesaver.

  6. These were incredible! My husband claimed them “best meatballs he ever had” Next time I’m trying poly-o mozzarella (personal preference).

  7. How many meatballs does this make? Also, if making ahead and reheating the next day, how long would you reheat for? Thanks!

    1. roughly 20-24 meatballs depending on the size! I’d reheat in some sauce in a skillet for 10ish minutes but check the middle to see if its warm

  8. 5 stars
    This is my FAVORITE meatball recipe! My husband and I love meatballs and when we made these, we knew we’d never need another recipe!

  9. Sorry, I’m confused. The recipe says for 1/2 C olive oil, but how much of that goes into the herb mixture and how much is used for the pan?

    1. Hi Courtney, I read in a previous reply she posted that all of it actually goes into the meatballs!

  10. 5 stars
    First of all, thank you- your book has gotten us through covid-19 quarantine.

    I had never made meatballs… these are amazing! And now our family is hooked. I was hesitant about freezing them because I have frozen store-bought meatballs before and they were not good. You cannot tell the difference with these. Still delish.

    Gaby, is there a side-dish that you would recommend to go with these (besides pasta)? Like a specific salad or something.

    Thank you!

  11. I just made these and they are delicious. I was confused about the oil though. It says 1/2 cup plus more for drizzle, yet its mentioned as part of the herb mix, part of frying, and then the drizzle. Are you supposed to put 1/2 cup of oil IN the herb mix? That’s what I did…

    1. yes – in step 2: In a food processor, combine the parsley, basil, garlic, olive oil, parmesan and pine nuts. Process for 30-45 seconds until chopped. Add the herb mixture to the meat and mix until evenly combined.It’s basically like adding a pesto into the meat mixture before you cook

  12. 5 stars
    I think these are the best thing I’ve ever cooked. They have so much flavor; I feel like someone cooked them for me. I didn’t change the recipe and wouldn’t do anything differently.

  13. These are so good! My husband and I high fived after eating them because we were so proud!

    I have a ton of pesto in my freezer from this past summer so I used a cup of that instead of making the herb mix (since the herb mix is basically a pesto). I also only had 2 eggs so I used only 2 instead of 4 and they still stuck together fine. Taking a cue from Gaby’s chicken parm meatballs, we stuffed these with a ball of mozzerella. I figure you can’t go wrong with more cheese!

  14. This looks great, perfect for a potluck I’m organizing in early November. My question, and forgive me if someone has already asked this question, is what size baking dish? I’m planning to double the recipe so need to know if I use one large or two medium or two large. Thanks,

  15. 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 9×13 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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?

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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

  23. 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.

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