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The following recipe uses the traditional mix of two meats, in this case pork and beef. The size of the meatballs depends completely on your own preference...

The first time when I tried to make some authentic Italian meatballs, I just thought it was about some meat and seasoning, with a round shape and cooked through.

You know easy, something like making hamburgers. Trying to come-up the first time, with my best meatballs, was something more like playing a game rather than cooking.   :-)

Italian Meatballs

Though it's an easy recipe made in a simple, succulent tomato sauce. The problem could eventually arrive, when you try to form with your bare hands the round shape of the meatballs, that instead  turns out flat.

Worst the flop could even arrive in the frying pan, when they break and fall splitting in several chunks of meat. Don't worry then, it just happened to me too   :-)

Polpette (pohl-PHE-teh) is the Italian word for meatballs, and they are well loved in South Italy. But if you're making them Italian-American style, maybe with spaghetti, then the size goes up big as a tennis ball.

These Italian-Tuscan style serving plates are designed by me. You can have them in porcelan or melamine and find them on Pinch of Italy's zazzle store.

Tuscan Olive Branch Plate


How To Make Authentic Italian Homemade Meatballs

Authentic Italian Meatballs
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 60 mins

INGREDIENTS: for 12/13 meatballs

  • 8 oz. 225g ground pork
  • 8 oz. 225g ground beef
  • 4 slices of sandwich bread
  • ½ cup, 118ml of milk
  • 1 tbsp, 15ml of oil for frying
  • 2 tbsp, 30g grated parmigiano cheese
  • 2 tbsp, 30g of parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt & pepper

INGREDIENTS: for tomato sauce

  • 1 bottle - 2 ½ cups, (560ml) tomatoes puree
  • ½ cup, (118ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ of chopped onion
  • few basil leaves
  • pinch of salt


  1. In a bowl combine the bread and milk together. Add all the ingredients: beef, pork, egg, parmigiano, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.
  2. Mix all together with your hands, or with a fork, until you have a smooth compound.
  3. To form the meatballs roll about 3 tbsp (45g) of meat mixture within the palms of your hands.
  4. In a frying pan over low heat, warm a small quantity of vegetable oil. Add one by one the meatballs and when the edge sizzles turn them around for several times until nicely browned on all sides.
  5. Pour the olive oil in a saucepan with the chopped onion. On low heat start frying until lightly brown. Add all the bottle of tomato puree. Remove the meatballs from the frying pan and plunge them into the tomato sauce. Cook for about 1 hour with a lid. Add a pinch of salt and stir occasionally. Add some water if the sauce dries too much.
  6. Once cooked through and ready, add a few basil leaves if you like.


I like to fry the meatballs so that most of the grease from the meat will melt in the pan and be discarded.

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Yes, maybe you have to be ready to lose at your very first attempt. But I just said: "Maybe".   ;-)

You may be a better cook than I am, and get your best Italian meatballs right away, and win, win, win. What ever your cooking skills are, if I finally made my best meatballs surely you can too!

So lesson learned, I'm passing you my authentic, winning Italian meatballs recipe, from my trials and errors game.


To make a good mixture and end-up with roughly 12/13 Italian meatballs you'll need:

  • 8 oz. (225g) ground pork
  • 8 oz. (225g) ground beef
  • 4 slices of sandwich bread or 3 oz. (85g) fresh breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup (118ml) of milk
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) of frying oil
  • 2 tbsp (30g) grated parmigiano cheese
  • 2 tbsp (30g) of parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt & pepper

Metaballs Ingredients


Begin by breaking the bread in small bits inside a bowl and then soak it with the milk.

Remove the leaves of parsley from the stems and put them on a cutting board to be finely minced together with the garlic clove. I prefer my “mezzaluna” (half-moon) knife to do this task, because swinging up and down makes whole easy and safe.

Parsley And Garlic


In a  bowl add all the ingredients, minced meats, parsley and garlic, egg, cheese, soaked bread, salt and pepper.

Meatballs Ingredients

I belong to those, who likes to work with their bare hands in the kitchen. And if there's one recipe in which you have to throw your hands in that's Italian meatballs.

Meatballs Mixture

Of course, you can still opt to mash all with a fork if you like. But even though, soon or late you still have to make the round shape with your hands or at least you have a mould. You need to end up with something very similar to a smooth and compact compound just like one giant meatball.


Taking about 3 tbsp (45g) of meat from the mixture, I start rolling within the palms of my hands until I get a good round shape. I like to make medium meatballs so not too big, not too small. I make about 12/13 meatballs ready to be lightly fried in a pan.


I prefer to make them this way, so most of grease from the meat is discarded in the frying pan. But you can avoid to fry them and plunge them directly in the tomato sauce.

Pour in a frying pan about 1 tbsp (15ml) of oil and arrange all the meatballs around. Fry them until lightly brown, then turn off the heat and keep all aside.


My family's most prefered bottled tomato puree for pasta is generally Mutti. This succulent precooked tomato sauce goes well for these meatballs too.

Mutti Tomato


  • 1 bottle - 2 ½ cups (560ml) tomatoes puree
  • ½ cup (118ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ of chopped onion
  • few basil leaves
  • pinch of salt
Tomato Sauce With Meatballs
Meatballs Cooking


  1. Pour the olive oil in a saucepan with the chopped onion. Turn on a low heat and start frying the onion until lightly brown.
  2. In a saucepan add all the bottle of tomato puree.Remove the meatballs from the frying pan and plunge them into the tomato sauce.
  3. Now and then, give a stir to the tomato sauce, and cook well through for about 1 hour covered with the lid.
  4. Add a pinch of salt. If the tomato sauce dries out, you can add about an ½ cup (118ml) of water.

At last if you have a few basil leaves add them in the sauce. Now you could even think of making spaghetti and meatballs if you like. But remember though, there's no such spaghetti with big meatballs in Italy. That's more of an Italian-American recipe becamed famous abraod.

Italians just eat meatballs with sauce known as "polpette al sugo" and served as second course, and usually with a side dish and that's it  ;-)

Authentic Italian Meatballs

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