Baked Italian meatball recipe with dairy-free options, featuring process images and expert tips for tender, flavorful meatballs.
Our delicious baked Italian meatballs are perfect over cooked spaghetti or your preferred pasta. We love serving with our homemade garlic bread and a side salad.
You can easily enjoy these for a sit down dinner or even meal prep. They also freeze well!
Baked Italian meatball ingredients
- Panko: We use Japanese-style breadcrumbs in this recipe as a binder in the mixture, ensuring the meatballs hold their shape while remaining tender and moist on the inside. We use the Kikkoman to make this completely dairy free.
- Milk (Full Fat Oatly for Dairy-Free): Oat milk softens the panko, contributing to the meatballs’ tender texture. Opting for full-fat oat milk helps brings richness and moisture to the dish, ensuring a dairy-free option that doesn’t compromise on flavor and texture.
- Eggs (Beaten): Beaten eggs are essential for binding all the ingredients together. They also add structure and help distribute the flavors evenly throughout each meatball.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese (Follow Your Heart Grated Parmesan for Dairy-Free): Parmesan cheese adds a sharp, salty flavor enhancing the overall taste profile of the meatballs. You can use the dairy-free alternative so you can still enjoy a rich, cheesy depth of flavor.
- Garlic Cloves: Minced garlic cloves infuse the meatballs with it’s flavor. Garlic adds a depth of flavor that complements the meats and herbs beautifully.
- Small Onion: Grated onion provides moisture and sweetness, while balancing the robust flavors of the meats and cheese.
- Fresh Parsley: Chopped fresh parsley brings a burst of color and a fresh, herbal note to the meatballs, it helps by brightening the dish and adding layers of flavor that elevate the overall taste.
- Basil: This herb contributes a sweet, yet slightly peppery flavor that pairs perfectly with the other ingredients, adding depth to the meatballs.
- Oregano: Earthy, slightly bitter and aromatic qualities, oregano rounds out the seasoning of the meatballs, providing a classic Italian seasoning that is essential to the dish’s authenticity.
- Kosher Salt: Salt is added to enhance the flavors of all the ingredients, kosher salt is crucial for seasoning the meatballs properly, ensuring they are flavorful throughout.
- Black Pepper: Ground black pepper adds a mild heat and a pungent, aromatic layer to the meatballs.
- Ground Beef (80%): Our choice of 80% lean ground beef provides the perfect balance of fat to lean meat, ensuring the meatballs are juicy, flavorful, and tender.
- Ground Pork: We prefer adding ground pork to the mix introduces a rich, fatty quality that enhances the texture and flavor of the meatballs, making them even more succulent and delicious.
How to make baked Italian meatballs
Start Your Oven: Heat it to 400°F (200°C) to ensure it’s ready for baking.
Prepare Your Baking Sheet: Line it with parchment paper for easy cleanup and set aside.
Mix Breadcrumbs and Milk: In a large bowl, combine 60g of panko breadcrumbs with 60ml of milk. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes, allowing the breadcrumbs to soak up the milk.
Add Flavor and Binders: To the same bowl, add the beaten eggs, 50g grated Parmesan, minced garlic, grated onion, 13g chopped parsley, basil, oregano, kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir until the mixture is well combined.
Combine Meats: Gently mix in 453g each of ground beef and pork until just integrated. Overmixing can make the meatballs tough.
Shape the Meatballs: With a large cookie scoop (about 1/8 cup or 30ml), portion out the meat mix onto your prepared baking sheet. Then, with oiled hands, roll these portions into round meatballs.
Bake to Perfection: Place the meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes. They’re done when they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
Serving Suggestion: Pair these succulent meatballs with your favorite sauce for a delightful meal.
Recipe tips and variations
- Bread Crumbs Substitute: If you don’t have panko breadcrumbs, you can use regular breadcrumbs or even make your own by pulsing stale bread in a food processor.
- Milk Alternatives: Aside from oat milk, any plant-based milk (like almond, soy, or cashew) can be used for a dairy-free version. The milk helps to keep the meatballs moist, so don’t skip this ingredient.
- Egg-Free Option: If you need to avoid eggs, a flaxseed or chia seed egg substitute can work as a binder in this recipe. Mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water for each egg and let it sit until thickened.
- Cheese Varieties: While Parmesan adds a nice flavor, you can try it with other hard cheeses, like Asiago or Pecorino Romano.
- Meat Variations: For a lighter version, you can use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef and pork.
- Herb Adjustments: Fresh herbs can be substituted with dried herbs if fresh ones are not available. Use one-third the amount of dried herbs compared to fresh.
- Cooking Methods: Besides baking, meatballs can be cooked in a skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through, or simmered in sauce for a flavorful finish.
- Spicy Meatballs: Add some red pepper flakes or finely chopped jalapeño to the meat mixture for a kick of heat.
- Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs: Place a small cube of mozzarella or dairy-free cheese inside each meatball before baking for a gooey, cheesy center.
Storage and reheating tips
- Refrigerate: Store any meatball leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and enjoy within 3-4 days.
- Freeze: To freeze the meatballs, place them in an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. For best results, freeze them on a baking sheet until solid before transferring to the container; this prevents them from sticking together.
- Reheat: To reheat the meatballs, you can use your oven or air fryer at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 15 minutes, or in an oven at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 15 minutes. If you’re using a microwave, reheat for 3-4 minutes on high, then turn them halfway through cooking to ensure even heating.
How to serve
For a satisfying meal, serve your savory meatballs over pasta with marinara sauce, alongside warm garlic bread, or serve them in a hoagie roll for a delicious meatball sub.
Frequently asked questions
Air fry the meatballs for 12 minutes at 400 degrees F, flipping once in between.
Yes, you can fry the meatballs in a pan with about 2 tablespoons of avocado oil over medium-high heat. Cook them for about 8-12 minutes flipping as needed to prevent them from burning.
The meatballs should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F once fully cooked.
Baked Italian Meatballs
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- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs 60g
- 1/4 cup milk full fat Oatly for dairy-free, 60ml
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese Follow Your Heart Grated Parmesan for dairy-free, 50g
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 small onion grated
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley chopped, about 13g
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lb 80% ground beef 453g
- 1 lb ground pork 453g
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs, 60g, and milk, 60ml. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Next, add in the beaten eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, 50g, minced garlic cloves, grated small onion, chopped fresh parsley, about 13g, basil, oregano, kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir together until combined.
- Add the ground beef, 453g, and ground pork, 453g, to the bowl. Mix until just combined.
- Use a large cookie scoop (about 1/8 cup or 30ml) to make meatballs. Place them onto the prepared baking sheet. Once all meatballs are scooped, use oiled hands to roll them into a round shape.
- Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
- Serve as desired with your favorite sauce.
- For a juicier meatball, avoid over mixing the meat mixture.
Allowing the breadcrumb and milk mixture to sit ensures the breadcrumbs fully absorb the milk, contributing to the tenderness of the meatballs.
- Use oiled hands to shape and form the meatballs which will prevent sticking and smooth meatballs.
The nutritional information is automatically calculated and can vary based ingredients and products used. If the nutrition numbers are important for you we recommend calculating them yourself.
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