Why old fashioned Italian meatballs might become your most popular dish?
In the world of million meatballs recipes, my favorite is definitely the Old fashioned Italian meatballs!
Why? Well, there are several reasons, but let’s just name a few:
They are juicy, delicate, versatile and super easy to make.
In Italy, meatballs are like a base of good old Italian home cooking. Every grandma makes several types and combines them with different side dishes.
We cook them in tomatoes sauces, we bake them, we fry them, we even stuff them with cheese. You name it and for sure Italian’s have a version of it. 🙂
Did you know that Italian name for meatballs is “Le Polpette di carne or simply Polpette”
Today I will share with you a recipe on how to make old fashioned Italian meatballs in the oven and why I love it.
The oven-baked meatballs are one of my favorite because they are lighter (you don’t need to fry them), and once in the oven, you are free can focus on preparing the side dish. Or even a dessert.
Baking meatballs in the oven has been a game-changer for me.
Do you wonder how to keep the meatballs moist?
- Choose the mix of pork and beef minced meat for your juicy meatballs. Pork has a higher fat percentage and it maintains the softness. If you use only beef your meatballs can come out quite dry.
- Use bread instead of the breadcrumbs, as it will maintain the humidity from the milk longer.
- Don’t add eggs!!! Eggs are known to have a binding property when cooking, but they can also make the ingredients harden.
What does milk do for meatballs?
Milk has a great potential in softening the bread, which will maintain the humidity during the baking, but also in softening the meat itself.
In Italy, we often leave the meat in milk overnight to soften it. We use it also to bake meat in.
If you are asking yourself why my meatballs fall apart? I have an advice for you below. 🙂
When cooking the meatballs, in Italy we always give them first a little browning first. Meaning, prepare your meatballs, then place them in your frying pan with a bit of oil and let them get a nice golden crust on all sides.
The crust will prevent that once you add the meatballs to a sauce they fall apart.
Obviously, you will not have the problem with meatballs falling apart if you bake them.
What to serve with meatballs?
I love the endless possibility of meatballs side dish. There are so many choices…but let’s name just a few: you can serve a simple creamy potato puree, baked potatoes, steamed veggies, big colorful salad.
How to make easy homemade meatballs?
Easy, I get 500 g of mixed minced meat (pork and beef), I chop finely 1 shallot, then I grate the peel of one lemon to add amazingly rich fragrance, and one the end you will need about 2-3 bread slice and some milk to soak it in.
I usually start by tearing bread apart with my hands and I add it into a mixing bowl and then I add enough milk to cover it. I let it sit for about a minute and then start mixing.
Once the bread and milk have mixed well, I add continue to add meat little by a little while mixing. Then I add chopped shallot, salt, and pepper and on the end grated lemon peel.
When all is mixed well, I make the meatballs.
My special secret is that once formed, I roll all of them in bread crumbs. 🙂
If you try my trick you will notice that during the baking the meatballs will maintain the shape, and will form the nice crust which will protect the juicy center.
I have tried different sizes and have noticed that golf size balls are the best size.
These homemade old fashioned Italian meatballs recipe can be used as a base for spaghetti meatballs which have one of the Italian immigrants’ favorite meals, or soup meatballs or meatballs in sauce.
How long do you bake meatballs?
Baking duration depends on the size of the meatballs. If I make the golf ball size, then I bake them for 20-25 min at 200 C (390 F), but if I make them smaller I would bake them for about 15 min.
How to cook meatballs in the oven?
I love to bake/cook meatballs in the oven because it is simple, there is no grease splashing around and even beginner can do it. Plus you save on calories as they bake and you don’t need to add any oil.
You need to prepare the meatballs mix, roll them and create the balls (to prevent sticking to your hands wet or oil your palms before you start to make the balls), pass them through bread crumbs and line them on a baking tray covered with the baking paper. That’s it! Super simple. Bake them and serve hot.
Ideas for your meatballs leftovers!
If you wonder what to do with meatballs you have left after you have finished your meal, check my 5 ideas:
- Freeze them for future use.
- Make some simple tomatoes sauce and add them to it and serve by itself or with your favorite side dish (not necessarily the pasta).
- Prepare the veggies base (saute the onion, carrots, peppers and any other veggie of your choice and once they are soft add meatballs in to soak in the flavors and serve immediately.
- Chop and make the frittata with it.
- Make a sandwich with your meatballs
Did you make this recipe?
Italian Kitchen Stories
Yields 12-14 meatballs
These baked old fashioned Italian meatballs are crunchy on outside and juicy and tender on inside. They have amazing lemon fragrance and a perfect touch of meaty flavor. These meatballs are very easy to make and can become your fast dinner. You can use leftovers for other creative meals. However, I'm sure there will be no left overs. 🙂
10 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
30 minTotal Time
- 500 g of minced meat (pork and beef mix)
- 2-3 sliced of bread (if you are using the bread with soft crust feel free to use entire slice, but if you are using the one with hard crust e.g. French bread, then use only the middle part)
- 1 shallot
- 1 lemon (lemon peel)
- 1 cup of bread crumbs
- 1 tea spoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 1/2 cup of milk
- Turn your oven on 200 degrees C to preheat.
- Slice the bread into cubes (or tear it with your hands) and place it into mixing bowl.
- Pour over the milk and turn on your mixer for about 1-2 minutes. You will get nice and creamy texture.
- Start adding the mince bit by bit into the mix and continue mixing it until you have used all the meat.
- Add salt little by little while mixing (so you will get it distributed all over) and add pepper in the same way.
- Grate the lemon peel into the meatballs mix. Make sure that you add only the yellow part of the peel as its the fragrant part of the lemon, while the white part is bitter.
- Grease or wet your palms and add the meat and start rolling it into the balls. You can make them in various sizes, but I have discovered that we love them the best in the golf ball size.
- Once you have a perfect ball, roll it into the breadcrumbs. You will get nice coating one the meatballs.
- As this is the BEST KEPT SECRET to crunchy on outside and juicy soft meatballs on the inside.
- Try this method and I'm sure that you will love it.
- Place the meatballs on the baking tray covered with baking paper and bake in the oven for 20-25 min.
- Serve it hot with mashed or baked potatoes, nice green salad or grilled veggies.