(originally published on Feb. 4, 2016 | photos & information updated on Dec. 16, 2021)
This is a classic Italian meatball recipe that has been on my blog for nearly six years, and for good reason. These meatballs are soft, spicy, and perfect for tossing with your favorite jar of red pasta sauce. You’ll get about 15 medium-sized meatballs (just over an ounce each) from this recipe, which is perfect for 3-4 servings. I typically make recipes for two people, but these meatballs refrigerate and freeze really well, so it makes sense to just make a couple more servings while you’re at it!
Ingredients for these Spicy Italian Meatballs:
- 1/2 cup finely chopped Yellow Onion (white onion also works)
- 1 slice good old-fashioned White Bread (crusts removed)
- 6 oz. Ground Beef
- 6 oz. Spicy Italian Sausage (or mild if preferred)
- 1 Egg
- 1/3 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped Parsley
- 1.5 tbsp. Olive Oil
Ingredients for the Meatball Sauce:
- 12 oz. (1/2 jar) your favorite pasta or Marinara Sauce (I really love Rao’s Marinara or Tomato Basil for milder sauces, or the Arrabbiata for a spicier choice.)
- 1/4 tsp. Basil
- 1/4 tsp. Oregano
- 1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
- small pinch of Dried Mint
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Despite my glaringly obvious addiction to all things Italian, I have never been the biggest fan of lasagna or meatballs. For the longest time, I felt a sense of sheer disappointment towards myself. Two of the greats, and I just wasn’t a fan. Until I made them for myself, and developed this recipe to showcase all of the flavors we know and love in Italian cooking.
Also, if you’ve visited my blog before, you know that I’m obsessed with risotto. This blog started over six years ago, I had full intentions of conquering recipes that I had previously deemed “difficult”; i.e. risotto. Since then, I’ve developed my Small Batch Parmesan Risotto, which is a perfect pair for these Italian Meatballs!
How to Make Spicy Italian Meatballs
- Combine all of the meatball ingredients (except for the olive oil) in a large bowl. (Use a bowl that’s a little bigger than you think; you’ll appreciate the extra room).
- Form it into equal-sized balls. I like to make meatballs that are just over one ounce each, which makes fifteen meatballs. If you like them bigger, do it! Just as long as they’re equal in size, so they cook evenly.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the pan so the oil coats the entire surface. Then every meatball has a touch of oil to cook in!
- Brown the meatballs on all sides, then transfer the meatballs to a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.
- Cook the sauce in the same pan. Turn the heat down to medium, and pour the sauce into the pan. Stir in the basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, and dried mint, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the meatballs back in the sauce, toss to coat them in sauce, then cover the pan with a lid. Cook the meatballs in the sauce for ten minutes, flipping them halfway through and re-coating them with sauce.
Once I started making risotto regularly and my obsession with it reached a fairly dangerous level, I began running out of ideas for protein or veggies to pair with it. Shrimp, asparagus, Italian pot roast, yes yes yes. All good things. But then I made started developing my Date Night Short Ribs for Two, and found myself wanting just the sauce and risotto to eat on its own. I don’t know if there are many things I love more. But the rich, hearty sauce from the short ribs left my mind wandering towards a tomato sauce-based recipe that I could throw on top of risotto. Alas, here we are. Italian meatballs.
These are also great served over your favorite pasta (like spaghetti, angel hair, or bucatini). Be sure to make extra sauce, though. We definitely want to coat all of the noodles in saucy goodness!
So, without further ado, please enjoy these Italian meatballs. Or I will for you. They’re fun and easy to make, and if you can let the whole meatball mixture refrigerate overnight, please do so. I’ve tested it both ways, and refrigerating overnight really does deliver more cohesive flavors in the meatballs. (But honestly, they’re really good no matter what).
If you’ve noticed a new, blue “Thanks” button on my website, it’s a really cool experimental feature from Google! I’m actually so excited to be one of Google’s paid early testers for their Thank with Google pilot program, which allows you to purchase a virtual sticker and let me know which content you love the most on my blog!
You also get to choose from a variety of different stickers. Every time you decide to send a paid sticker, you can write me a direct personal message. These virtual stickers can translate to direct revenue that I get to put back into my blog, creating even more of what you love.
You can find the Thank with Google feature at the top of each blog post (the blue “Thank” button), or in the side bar to the right. Feel free to test it out with some free balloon stickers, and shoot me a message if you’d like!
As always, feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions you may have! Be sure to follow me on Instagram & Pinterest for more recipes, or sign up for my newsletter for a weekly update of my favorite recipes!
- 1/2 c. yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 slice white bread crusts removed, shredded
- 6 oz. ground beef
- 6 oz. spicy ground Italian sausage
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs italian seasoned
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp. Italian parsley finely chopped
- 1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 can pasta sauce
- 1/4 tsp. basil
- 1/4 tsp. oregano
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
- pinch dried mint
- salt and pepper to taste
- Tear the slice of white bread into tiny pieces, placing them into a large bowl as you tear them. Combine all of the meatball ingredients, except for the olive oil, into the bowl with the white bread.
- Mix thoroughly with your hands until everything has totally combined. Get in there and enjoy it.
*refrigerate overnight if you can! otherwise...
- Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the meat into your hands and roll into a ball. Set these balls aside on a cutting board or plate near your oven. Repeat until you have no meat left in the bowl.
- Heat a large sauté pan slightly above medium, and add the olive oil and tilt the pan to coat the entire surface with the oil. Place half of the meatballs into the pan, and brown on all sides. Remove the meatballs from the pan and place onto a clean plate once they are browned. Repeat with the second half of meatballs. Remember, you are not cooking them through, you're just browning the outsides!
- In the same sauté pan, without cleaning it out, add your pasta sauce and herbs. Turn the heat down to about medium-low so it's just simmering, then add the meatballs. Spoon some of the sauce over every meatball, then cover the pan and let it set for five minutes.
- Flip the meatballs over and repeat.
- Serve these over pasta or risotto, and enjoy while hot!