Spicy Italian Meatballs

Spicy Italian Meatballs

I have to confess something. My grandmother is Italian and I grew up eating both her and my mom’s homemade meatballs on a regular basis. I love them, and so does the rest of the family. However, I’m going to go ahead and say that these meatballs that I made recently just might be the best I’ve ever had. And the recipe came, not from my grandmother’s old handwritten notebook of recipes, but from a recipe website. On the internet. I don’t think my grandmother has ever even used the internet.

Raw Meatballs

Now to be absolutely truthful, the reason these are so delicious might have something to do with the method I used. I recently went to a Williams Sonoma cooking class (yes, another one…what can I say, they’re free), and the theme was Italian comfort food. There I learned that when making meatballs, the most important thing is to not overwork the meat. Apparently if you overwork the meat, the fat does something funny and becomes a sort of “glue”, making the end product dense and heavy. Definitely not what you want. The instructor recommended mixing all the other ingredients together first, then just gently folding the meat in. There is no “kneading” of the meat, or rolling the meatballs into balls. She ever so gently combined everything, and then just as gently shaped them into balls.

Spicy Italian Meatballs

I used the same technique for these, and they turned out moist and tender and almost falling apart. The red pepper flakes give them a great flavor as well, although I was nervous and cut the amount of red pepper in half. That turned out to be just the right amount of spice and combined perfectly with the other flavors. Absolutely delicious. I ate 2 right off the baking sheet before I even took a picture.

I served these as meatball sandwiches with a homemade marinara sauce and homemade sandwich buns (recipes coming soon!) They were wonderful, and great reheated the next day as well. But actually, I think I prefer eating the meatballs plain, where their delicious taste and texture really shines.

Spicy Italian Meatballs

Spicy Italian Meatballs


2 pounds Ground Beef
¼ cups Bread Crumbs
½ cups Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 teaspoons Dried Basil
2 teaspoons Parsley Flakes
1-½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 whole Large Garlic Cloves, Minced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
⅓ cups Milk
1 whole Egg
½ cups Bread Crumbs


Preheat oven to 350º. Beat egg lightly. Mix together 1/4 cup bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, basil, parsley, salt, garlic, red pepper flakes, milk and egg. Using a folding motion, gently mix in the ground beef. Be careful not to overwork it. Using a spoon, divide out equal portions of the meat mix and gently form into balls, pressing lightly to hold together. Roll into the reserved 1/2 cup bread crumbs and place onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350º for about 30 minutes, flipping the meatballs after 20. Bake until bread crumbs begin to brown and meatballs are cooked through.

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  1. I wish my Williams Sonoma had classes – they don't! I have no Italian in me on either side, but I love me some meatballs. 🙂

  2. I can't believe I've never made homemade meatballs before! My husband would be soooo happy if I made these… and even better if I randomly told him we were having meatball sandwiches for dinner.

  3. They look delicious! Great pics… I can almost smell the oregano! 😉 (not that there is any in the recipe… I just automatically assume with meatballs I guess!)


  4. I've been craving meatballs for week and these look perfect! I think I'm going to have to give into the craving now.

  5. Wow! These meatballs sound fantastic. Those are very helpful tips!

  6. Mmm… meatballs!! My favorite!! The sauce makes the meatballs look even better! Yum!

  7. Those meatballs look mighty fine, but could I have a couple of those granola cookies please…he he!


    P.S. very yummy blog!

  8. These meatballs look great – I think my partner would love them – just might make him a batch for a special treat Sunday night. That is a great tip about folding the meat into the other ingredients.

  9. These meatballs look great – I think my partner would love them – just might make him a batch for a special treat Sunday night. That is a great tip about folding the meat into the other ingredients.

  10. They look amazing!!

  11. Those meatballs look fantastic! I really want to go to the cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. I have thought about it before, but after reading your post, I think I'll have to sign up for a few!

  12. ces boulettes de viande ont l'air tellement délicieuses que je met cette recette de côté pour l'essayer
    bonne journée

  13. Jen – the classes I have taken have been great. Plus I love to taste the food 🙂 I think it all depends on the instructor though – the one at the store near me is so interesting and full of random food knowledge. let me know if you end up going to one!

  14. These sound fantastic – I'll have to try some Willams Sonoma classes out, I didn't know they were free

  15. This recipe is almost the same as mine, except I use oregano instead of basil, more garlic, and I sometimes mix ground pork with the beef, 1:2.

    I've mixed the other ingredients together beforehand for years, out of sheer laziness. It keeps me from having to knead the meat as much to mix it all together. It's less work. 😉

    I'm so lazy that I don't even roll the meatballs. I have spring loaded stainless steel ice cream scoops in a few different sizes, and I use the 1/8th cup one for meatballs. IIRC, I got it at Williams Sonoma.

  16. i say you can keep your spaghetti and meatballs–give me a saucy meatball sandwich! thanks for what's sure to be a great recipe, megan, and i'm looking forward to your post about the buns!

  17. I think the biggest problem with meatballs has always been that they are dry and tough. I like the Sonoma idea of mixing all the other ingredients first and then carefully adding the meat. No doubt this is the answer to tough meatballs. Will be trying this soon!

  18. meatballs from scratch are so much better arnt they 🙂

  19. Great tips! I know I've been overworking my meat. I'll try this next time thanks!

  20. I finally got around to making these and am really looking forward to eating them with friends tomorrow (sandwich style). I ate two right from the pan (as you recommended, Megan) and am super excited. They're very moist and flavorful. Thanks for another great recipe!

  21. Laura – I'm so glad you liked them! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and let me know. And aren't they good right off the pan? 🙂 Hope the sandwiches were good!

  22. Laura – I'm so glad you liked them! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and let me know. And aren't they good right off the pan? 🙂 Hope the sandwiches were good!

  23. Megan – I just made the meatballs and they were a hit with my wife and kids! Thanks for the advice on not over handling the ground beef – I used to try to roll them into perfect spheres and they would end up tough and dry. Kindest regards.

  24. Anonymous – So glad you liked these! Thanks for letting me know how they turned out 🙂

  25. Hi,
    I made these meatballs and they were great! An easy recipe to follow and a delicious outcome. My only suggestion for those who prefer… either add some onion to the ground beef or onion powder in the mix. Otherwise, awesome and thank you!

  26. Megan: these are the best meatballs ever. I cooked them for my brother and my mum and dad and put them in a sandwich I love all the recipes u put on ur website thank u sooooooo much

    Ps:i am only 10!!!!

  27. Pingback: Hot Meatball Sub Sandwich | Cheap & Easy Recipes | PicklesTravel

  28. WOW! These are great! My husband is Italian and he said that these beat his mother’s AND his great Aunt’s meatballs! They are just so good!
    Thanks for the great recipe!

  29. My family really loves these, I usually make a double batch and freeze the extras for a fast dinner another night. Thanks for the recipe!

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