These old fashioned traditional beef meatballs made with authentic Italian ingredients and skillet fried are some of the best and easy meatballs you will ever eat. With soft meaty centers that are tender and juicy, it cannot be easier to bring Italy into your home this week!
Smothered in sauce (homemade or jarred), put in a sub or simply eaten right from the fork, the Italian spices and seasonings with the *secret* ingredient are exactly the classic recipe you crave.
Why this recipe works
Old Fashioned Methods: Many meatballs are only made by combining eggs, bread crumbs and meat, but the extra flavor comes from milk soaked bread.
Recipe by an Italian Grandma: We originally came across this Italian meatball recipe being shared on TikTok and followed it closely from an Italian grandma – in a few cases we substituted for more readily available ingredients that had no effect on final recipe ( like chopping a real garlic in place of using minced garlic).
- Italian bread – cut ripped into small pieces and soaked in 1/2 cup milk
- ground beef – as listed elsewhere in this article, there are other meats that work perfectly in a meatball like sausage or veal, but for this classic meatball, we simply use ground beef
- Parmesan cheese – do not substitute shredded parmesan for regular cheese because it has totally different melt points. However, shredded can be substituted for grated.
- eggs – eggs are part of the binding process.
- seasonings: parsley, minced garlic, fresh basil, kosher salt and cracked pepper.
- bread crumbs – in addition to Italian bread, this 5 star recipe for Italian meatballs also includes dried bread crumbs and panko crumbs, which both act as a meat binder.
- vegetable oil – enough to fry up meatballs in a cast iron skillet.
- marinara sauce – jarred or homemade sauce if using.
How to make Authentic Italian Meatballs
Make sure to check out the printable recipe card for full step by step instructions and ingredients.
Steps 1-6: Add raw beef, cracked eggs, fresh parsley, garlic, both dried bread crumbs, torn fresh basil into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix beef and ingredients together well, your hands work best.
Steps 7-10: Squeeze milk from bread and add to the beef mixture. Mix well.
Heat a pan of hot oil, about 1/2″ deep.
Using a 2 tablespoon portion scoop, scoop beef into balls and place into hot oil.
Steps 11-14: Fry, flipping frequently until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Add meatballs to sauce and heat over medium heat until hot.
Recipe makes 25-28 meatballs
Meatballs are held together by a binder and in this case, that is by eggs, bread crumbs and Italian bread. This keeps the meat from falling apart in the skillet. In these authentic meatballs, the Italian bread gets soaked in milk and that can lead to moisture. Be sure to wring out as much moisture as possible to make sure the final shape doesn’t fall apart.
Traditional meatballs are either made from beef or a combination of veal/beef and sausage.
A great meatball can not only be smothered in sauce but eaten exactly as is- crispy edges and a soft tender center. The secret to the BEST meatballs are frying over baking and using day old bread soaked in milk.
Absolutely! Some of the best meatballs I have EVER had came out of Venice, Italy and included pork. It’s fine to use ground beef, ground sirloin, or a combination of pork + beef or beef + sausage.
Sicilian Meatballs are made with golden raisins.
How to Serve Meatballs
- MEATBALL SANDWICH
- ON TOP OF MAC AND CHEESE
- AS AN APPETIZER (TOOTHPICK)
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Old Fashioned Italian Meatballs
- 4 slices Italian bread - cut ripped into small pieces and soaked in 1/2 cup milk
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 package - 6 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons Panko Crumbs
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- salt and pepper
- vegetable oil
- marinara sauce
- Tear up 4 slices of Italian Bread (day old is best) to 1/2 cup of milk and push bread into milk. Set the bowl aside.
- Add ground beef, 2 cracked eggs, fresh parsley, minced garlic, dried bread crumbs, dried panko crumbs, and fresh basil leaves into a bowl.
- Season meatball mixture with salt and pepper.
- Mix all ingredients together well, your hands work best for this.
- Squeeze milk and all moisture from bread and add to the beef mixture. Mix ingredients well.
- Heat a pan of hot oil, about 1/2" deep until medium-hot and oil is hot and sizzling.
- Using a 2 tablespoon portion scoop, scoop beef into balls and place into hot oil.
- Fry each meatball, flipping sides frequently until browned on all sides. It should take about 8-12 minutes to fully cook through meatballs, depending on size of ball and temperature of oil.
- Using tongs, remove from pan and set to drain on paper towels.
- If wanted, add meatballs to sauce and heat over medium heat until hot.
- Serve immediately.