Authentic Italian Meatballs

Juicy, flavorful Italian meatballs bathed in rich marinara, smothered in mozzarella and Parmesan and baked to golden cheesy deliciousness  – AKA my new deliciously comforting obsession!   

These Authentic Italian Meatballs will be the only Italian meatballs you ever want to eat and they make the BEST spaghetti and meatballs ever!  Because this recipe comes from an Italian – read on!

Italian Meatballs


Italian recipes have to be some of my favorite from my Lasagna and Million Dollar Baked Penne, to my Spaghetti Bolognese, to my Italian Vegetable Soup and  Zuppa Toscana and now these Italian Meatballs!  If you love Italian food as much as me then do yourself a favor and check out the  The Slow Roasted Italian blog.  I want to make every single recipe I see of theirs – from their blog, and now from their genius cookbook!  Their Cookbook is packed with delicious recipes that are super flavorful but super easy like these best ever Italian Meatballs!  As Donna says, “We love to find ways to take a complicated recipe and make it simply, without sacrificing flavor.”  And they have done just that.

The Simple Kitchen Cookbook is loaded with over 80 easy, family recipes (with a whole chapter for one pot meals!) such as Tuscan Garlic Chicken and Linguine, Lemon Rosemary Chicken and Rice, Cheesy Cajun Pasta, Slow Cooker Mexican Roast Beef Dip Sandwiches and more drool worthy recipes.  Quite simply, this cookbook belongs in your life and would make a wonderful gift this holiday season!

While I had the hardest time choosing a recipe from The Simple Kitchen Cookbook, to share with you (and still have a gazillion bookmarked to try), I am ecstatic I landed on these Cheesy Baked Italian Meatballs (called Meatball Parmesan Skillet in the cookbook, pg 46), because they BLEW ME AWAY.  and they will blow you away.  

I knew these Italian Meatballs would be good because Donna, after all is Italian, but I wasn’t prepared at just how cravilicious they would be.  They are perfect.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  And coming from someone who loves seasonings and playing with recipes, this is the highest compliment I can give.  They are so good, in fact, I ‘ve already used them in Cheesy Italian Meatball Sliders, because I want to devour them in every possible form. 

The Italian Meatballs recipe itself is quite a few ingredients – BUT DON’T BE INTIMIDATED, this is actually an incredibly easy recipe, that takes just over 30 minutes to make!  Most of the ingredients are seasonings so they literally take seconds to dump in.  The rest of the ingredients are pantry staples.

Side view of Italian Meatballs with pasta on a black plate.

How to make Marinara from scratch

The recipe starts with a quick whisking of the Marinara Arrabbiata sauce ingredients in a saucepan:  fire roasted diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar and a plethora of hand picked spices. which you simmer for 5 minutes.  Eazy peazy!   Marinara Arabbiata or sugo all’arrabbiata in Italian, is a spicy tomato sauce and this one is wonderfully rich, seasoned to perfection and tastes like its been simmering all day.  It does have a kick of heat so if you don’t like heat or want to make this extra kid friendly, then I would reduce the red pepper flakes to ¼ teaspoon.  I used ½ teaspoon and it was perfect for my medium spicy palate.

The key to making marinara that you don’t have to simmer for hours so you can devour your Italian Meatballs ASAP is to use fire roasted diced tomatoes.   Fire roasted diced tomatoes  are a huge shortcut from roasting your own tomatoes. Instead, they are are gently roasted over an open fire for a great smoky, complex flavor which enhances the sweetness and mellows the acidity.

Italian Meatballs with spaghetti.

How to Make Italian Meatballs from Scratch

Next, the soft, tender, flavor bursting Italian Meatballs of your dreams.   The meatballs consist of  lean ground beef, Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 small diced , milk, fresh rosemary, fresh Italian parsley, fresh basil, salt, pepper, garlic and 1 large egg lightly beaten.  Can you taste the flavor now?!!!  If you are in a crunch you can substitute dried herbs for fresh but I don’t recommend substituting onion powder for the onion.  The onion adds moistness as well as flavor. 

Once you mix your Italian Meatball ingredients together, you drop the balls as you make them into a skillet over medium heat.  So you roll and drop, roll and drop all the while the meatballs are sizzling in the skillet.  As the meatballs turn golden, you roll them over and continue to roll and drop.  I love this method for quick and efficient meatballs!

Next, we bathe our Italian Meatballs in our velvety Marinara Arrabbiata then bake for 15 minute. Remove meatballs from the oven, smother in mozzarella and Parmesan cheese – heavens yes! – and return to bake until ooey gooey cheesiliciousness.

You can serve these meatballs as is with toothpicks for a crowd pleasing party appetizer or I love to serve mine with spaghetti for the best spaghetti and meatballs




No joke.  Cheesy Baked Italian Meatballs you will want to dive face first into.  And never stop.

Thank you Donna and Chad.  Thank you.

Easy, juicy, flavorful Italian meatballs bathed in rich marinara, smothered in mozzarella and Parmesan and baked to golden cheesy deliciousness!  This is one of my favorite recipes EVER and they make the BEST spaghetti and meatballs!


Rolling past and a Italian Meatballs on a fork.


Pin them to your DINNER, MEAT or ITALIAN Board to SAVE for later!

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©Carlsbad Cravings by

Easy, juicy, flavorful Italian meatballs bathed in rich marinara, smothered in mozzarella and Parmesan and baked to golden cheesy deliciousness!  This is one of my favorite recipes EVER and they make the BEST spaghetti and meatballs!

Authentic Italian Meatballs

Juicy, flavorful Italian meatballs bathed in rich marinara, smothered in mozzarella and Parmesan and baked to golden cheesy deliciousness  – AKA my new deliciously comforting obsession!   These Cheesy Baked Italian Meatballs will be the only Italian meatballs you ever want to eat and they make the BEST spaghetti and meatballs ever!  Because this recipe comes from an Italian!
Servings: 6 servings
Total Time: 35 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

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  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten

Marinara Arrabbiata

  • 1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar to taste
  • 1 tsp EACH garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, dried rosemary, dried oregano, dried basil
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried thyme, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried sage


  • 2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley


  • Combine all of the Marinara Arrabbiata ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until the sauce is well mixed. Decrease heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes then keep warm on low until ready to use, stirring occasionally.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients. Using clean hands, gently mix everything until well-blended. Be careful not to overmix or your meatballs will be tough.
  • Add 2 tablespoon olive oil to a 12-inch oven safe skillet and heat over medium heat. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, portion out a meatball and roll it into a ball. Place the meatball into the skillet. Continue scooping, rolling and placing the meatballs in the skillet.
  • Keep an eye on the meatballs and flip them over once they are golden brown. After all the meatballs have been turned at least once, remove from heat and pour the Marinara sauce over the meatballs. Place the skillet in the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  • Sprinkle the meatballs with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and continue baking until the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Broil if desired. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil and parsley.


*You may substitute 1 fresh tablespoon for 1 teaspoon dried.
**Arrabbiata is a spicy Italian sauce.  If you want more mild heat use ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes.

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©Meatball Parmesan Skillet, pg 46, The Simple Kitchen Cookbook by Donna and Chad Elick

Carlsbad Cravings© Original

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  1. Karen M. says

    The meatball were delicious! I made them with no changes. I didn’t make your sauce, but did make Mario Batali’s marinara sauce. I served them on garlic noodles. My husband is Italian and he loved them. Very good. Definitely a keeper.

    • Jen says

      Hi Karen, I’m so happy you loved the meatballs and they sound delicious with garlic noodles – yum!

  2. Penny says

    Just made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! Thank you for another great recipe! You may want to add a note about taking the skillet off the heat before adding the sauce. When I added mine there was a volcanic eruption of sauce as the sauce hit the hit oil from the meatballs in the pan. Messy clean up, that was worth it because this tasted so good but when I make it again I will take my skillet off the heat before adding the sauce.

    • Jen says

      Hi Penny, I’m so happy you loved this recipe! Thank you so much for the note, I didn’t have that problem but definitely don’t want anyone else to have a volcanic eruption – so sorry about that! I have added to take it off the heat to the recipe. Thank you so much!

  3. layne says

    You were right. This was awesome! Loved that the sauce wasn’t overpowering but full of flavor!

    • Jen says

      yay! I’m so happy you loved it coming from your Italian background! phew!

  4. Jay says

    I made the whole recipe, and it is absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much! Very authentic

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Jay, I’m thrilled it was a winner! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  5. Nicole says

    The sauce was absolutely amazing and just so easy to make. What a wonderful meal! Thank you so much for all of your wonderful recipes. I see the thought you put into each post and it really means a lot. I’ve been a long time follower and have loved every meal I have made by you. Thanks again!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Nicole! Thank you for following along and making my recipes – I love hearing you’re enjoying them!

  6. Katie says

    Everything I make from your site is literally the best I’ve ever had… and these meatballs were no exception! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for making my day Katie! I’m honored you’re loving my recipes so much!

  7. Marci says

    Jen, May I bake the meatballs, if so, what are your recommendations as far as temp and cook time?

    • Jen says

      Hi Marci! Yes, you can bake the meatballs by placing on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and baking at 425 for 15-20 minutes (just until cooked through) then combining with the sauce. Enjoy!

  8. Patrick (Paddy) Harrington says

    Hi Jen,
    I am making this tonight for the millionth time! My family loves me for this dinner, this’s the ultimate easy delicious meal! You as I always tell you ROCK!!!!! Your recipes and ease of directions make us all chefs in the kitchen!,, you are not only known by name in my house here in Connecticut but much loved!, tomorrow I am makein your Chile and your cornbread which has sent me into the stratosphere with in my family as the best most unbelievable Chile and cornbread on earth! Also to everyone reading this out there you have to make the bulgogi!!!!! That’s going to be my Monday meal

    • Jen says

      Hi Paddy, it’s so good to hear from you! I hope you received my email – I was so touched by your comment about the IG comment and that you would go out of your way to make my day. What a gem you are! Thank for this awesome comment as well! I absolutely love hearing that these Italian meatballs are a fav with the fam and that the chili and cornbread are a favorite with the entire neighborhood! I hope you had a very Happy thanksgiving and wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy holiday season!

  9. Marc says

    This is a rather excellent recipe, I have made it as is before as well as a slightly tweaked version with a shallot in place of the onion in the meatball. Even being super lazy and making just the meatballs without the cheese, some decent jarred sauce and ravioli they really stand out!

    The only questionable thing on this is that I generally do not recommend using a cast iron for acidic sauces as it can cause it to leach an iron taste into the food or worse occasionally peel the whole finish off. If you do decide to go this route be sure that it is WELL seasoned.

    Thanks always for your recipes!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for the awesome review Marc, I’m so happy these meatballs are a repeat favorite! You are absolutely right about the cast iron skillet. I shared this recipe on behalf of my friend the Slow Roasted Italian to help promote her cookbook and didn’t think to change that detail – I will make a note in the recipe. Thanks!

  10. Rosemary Beckham says

    Where to begin and why have I never made these before? Simply divine!
    Flavour bursting with herbs, tender meatballs, delicious sauce (I added a good splosh of red wine too!) and so the list goes on!

    Jen, I’m still waiting for your cookbook but meanwhile, I am thankful for all your wonderful recipes!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your glowing review Rosemary! I’m so pleased you loved these meatballs so much! xo

  11. Jayne says

    These meatballs are very delicious as is the sauce. We have made them several times as they are a favorite. We have used the sauce in our lasagna because it is so flavorful. We bought their cookbook when it came out and this recipe was the first one we made. Thank you for providing us with free delicious recipes.

    • Jen says

      Thank you for your kind words Jayne, I’m so pleased this recipe is a repeat favorite!

  12. Jolene says

    Can ground turkey be used? I’m looking for heart healthy recipes

  13. Cheryl says

    These are delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipes. They are always a hit!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, Cheryl! I am so happy to hear that my recipes are always a hit- Yay! Thanks for the awesome review!