Jen’s Incredible Baked Meatballs

Jens-Incredible-Baked-Meatballs

Last week, a friend emailed me to report that she made these meatballs while on vacation, serving them as an appetizer to rave reviews.  And then today, while roaming the grocery store aisles, another friend approached with a few questions about making homemade spaghetti sauce.  We got talking about meatballs, and when hearing about a baked alternative, she decided to make this easy version that my family has been enjoying for years.

Perhaps you are like me in this way:  I have recipes everywhere…a shelfful of cookbooks, a box with recipe cards, and various pages torn from magazines, newspapers…and so many slips of scrap paper with my own hand-written notes that I scratch out as I create in the kitchen.  Amidst all the recipes, I return often to the gems given to me by my friend, Jen. Like me, Jen  likes to experiment with new recipes and acquired many of her favorites from her grandmother.

This meatball recipe reduces mess–and fat–by baking the meatballs instead of pan-frying. Parmesan and panko add great flavor and texture. Make them ahead and simmer all day with Basic Marinara sauce (your favorite store bought works, too) in a crock pot set on low. Or heat on the stove as you are boiling water for pasta.

Click here for my favorite gluten-free option to panko.  And for a sauce option using vine-ripened plum tomatoes, I love this recipe for Balsamic Pesto Marinara Sauce.

Jen’s Incredible Baked Meatballs
Tip #1: Double the batch and freeze half to serve later as mini meatloaves. Or reheat with sauce, top with cheese and make into a mean meatball sandwich. Tip #2: If you have a leftover piece of rind from the Parmesan, let it simmer in the crock pot with the marinara sauce or save for another soup recipe. This will add a great flavor boost to most any sauce or soup.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound hamburger, grass-fed if desired
  2. 2 eggs, beaten with 1/2 cup milk
  3. 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  4. 1 cup panko or bread crumbs (see notes)
  5. 1 small onion, minced or grated (1/2 a large onion)
  6. 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. freshly ground pepper to taste
  10. 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients with hands.
  2. Form into golfball-size meatballs.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Notes
  1. For a gluten-free option, crushed Rice Chex work beautifully.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen http://fountainavenuekitchen.com/
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Comments

  1. Jessica

    A, these meatballs are seriously,….THE BOMB. so deliciously good! Thank you, thank you. So easy to make and I doubled the recipe thankfully bc they ROCK!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      You are very welcome and I am so glad they were a hit! I am always happy to have some of these on hand, too! In fact, I think I am due to make them soon: )

      Reply
    2. Sharon

      I’ve been using this recipe for over 30 yrs..A friend of mine told me to bake them in the oven to reduce cooking mess & clean-up …such a great idea!!!

      Reply
  2. Nina

    So I tried this last night and they were DELICIOUS but then when I took them out of the oven, after following the recipe, my meatballs came out as half meatballs. The bottoms had flattened out and stuck to the baking sheet. How can I fix this?

    Reply
    1. Ann

      That is really interesting, Nina, and I am trying to figure out why that may have happened. Do you know the fat content of the ground beef you used? Perhaps the fat content was high and much of it cooked out, causing the meatballs to seemingly shrink. I typically use beef that is anywhere between 85 and 90% lean. I hope this is helpful!

      Reply
  3. Terry

    I am an American of Italian decent. I have never heard of putting oregano in a meatball. Maybe I will try this in a half recipe, just to make sure we like it with the oregano.

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Yes, you can do a taste test and see which way you like best! Oregano can be pungent, but this small amount does not overpower. Hope you enjoy!

      Reply
    1. Ann

      I store Parmesan in the refrigerator where it will keep for over a month if wrapped well, Allisan. It is fine to freeze it, too.

      Reply
  4. Ruth Jth

    The meatballs are great. Thank you. Do you have a good marinara sauce recipe you can share? Can’t seem to get mine just right.

    Reply
  5. Shannon

    Mmmmeatballs! We brought these to the beach at the lake last night – the adults and kids ate them as hors d’oeuvres dipped in the basic marinara. My baby ate FIVE! Delicious!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      That is so great, Shannon, and what a wonderful setting to have dinner. I bet it was perfect, and I am thrilled the meatballs and marinara were a hit!

      Reply
  6. Nancy

    July 21, 2013

    This might sound crazy to a few, but as I haven’t made meatballs in years, just want to confirm that it is 1/4 cup or parsley or basil? Also, has anyone done both parsley and basil?

    Thanks, Nancy

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Yes, Nancy…1/4 cup of fresh herbs is correct. If you use dry, reduce to 1/3 of that amount or a slightly rounded tablespoon. Also, a mix of both herbs would be delicious. You could even mix in a little thyme, chives, or another favorite if you have them on hand.

      Reply
  7. Katie

    These look great! When I don’t have bread crumbs on hand I sometimes crush croutons and use them in meatballs – they add a little extra flavour.

    Reply
  8. Viki Yaeger

    This was such a crowd-pleaser! The 5, 8 and 11 year olds could not get enough. We had not had meatballs since my 8 year old was diagnosed with celiac disease, and they had been a beloved staple in our pre GF life… We used Ann’s GF version with Rice chex and they were such a success I cooked a double batch just to freeze! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      You just made my day, Viki! I am so happy these were a hit and thrilled I was able to help bring back an old favorite in your family!

      Reply
  9. Amy

    These are delicious! I didn’t have basil and they are still awesome! My house smells of goodness!
    Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Great question, Natalia. You could omit the Parmesan, although it does provide great flavor and some binding in this recipe. If I were to try to closely replicate the flavor I might–odd as it sounds–try ground cashews. Cashews are often used in vegan recipes to mimic the flavor of cheese. If you try, I’d love to hear what you think!

      Reply
    2. Samantha

      Tried these with a mixture of Byson and Grass fed, also used apple sauce in place of cheese, they are amazing. Double batch, half with marinara and the other with grilled veggies topped with Parmesan….Thanks so much for sharing.

      Reply
  10. Amy Rodgers

    I’ve failed at making meatballs twice. This is a homerun.

    This a great simple recipe. I used ground pork and ground beef. I didn’t have fresh basil so I added a teaspoon or so. Next time i shall use fresh basil.

    This has a great texture and taste. My whole family approves.

    Reply
  11. Amy Rodgers

    Another thing I did that helped the balls stay round and not flatten is chilled them in the fridge for 10 minutes or so.

    I made one batch regular size meatballs. And another batch of big meatballs for sub sandwiches. I used a ice cream scoop and that makes the perfect size for subs IMHO. And the cooking time was the same.

    A convection oven makes the meatballs brown evenly and get a little crust on them.

    Yummy

    I can’t wait to make more

    Reply
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  13. Marta

    I Love Meatballs!! Your Recipe is almost like mine. The difference is I do add dried Cilantro, Oregano and Parsley and they are so delicious! I also make a double (huge) batch and freeze. Great to have for many meals in a hurry! I pinned to save as I never measure when cooking and this helps so my kids have it written someplace safe. LOL..
    And I Love your Blog! Thanks So Much!!

    Reply
    1. Marta

      Oh and another Tip.. I omit the salt and add a packet Of Sazon Goya.. it’s a Spanish seasoning just adds a little more flavor with a latin spin on it. YUM!!!

      Reply
  14. Mary Lou Keller

    I made for our dinner tonight Ann, it’s a big hit! I used a jar of my favorite marinara and served with spaghetti.

    My husband even commented on how it would make great meatball subs.. so that’s dinner tomorrow night!

    Reply
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  16. Jennifer

    Made these tonight with my 14 year old son. We doubled the recipe, so after filling 2 cookie sheet of meatballs we had some leftover and my son turned it into a meatloaf…he LOVED it. This meatball recipe is awesome and a definite keeper. Thanks!

    Reply
  17. Debbie

    Just made my first batch. Not only are they absolutely delicious, they were rather easy to make. My family loves them. I plan to make them a little smaller and serve them as an hors d’oeuvre at my next party…….Thanks Ann!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      You are most welcome, Debbie! I am thrilled they were a hit with your family and appreciate your taking the time to comment!

      Reply
  18. Alicia

    Tried this for the first time tonight and all I can say is WOW! Super easy and super delicious….so good that my kids even ate them! I did cheat though and used 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 ground lamb 😉
    So glad that I found your website!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      I’m so glad you found me, too, and am thrilled these were a hit with your family. Thanks for the great comment and hope you find lots of other recipes to try!

      Reply
  19. Lauren

    A number of companies like Ian’s and Aleia now make gluten-free panko, so it’s getting increasingly easy to find. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Hi Lauren,
      For another option, one of my favorite gluten-free substitutions is using crushed Rice Chex for panko. Even people who can eat gluten often like the Chex version better–perfect crispness and the subtle rice flavor blends in beautifully. Whatever you try, I hope you enjoy!

      Reply
  20. Christie

    I made these last night. First time I have made meatballs in a year since going GF. I didn’t have any rice Chex but had a funky flax cereal that I couldn’t eat as a cereal! These were so great you didn’t even notice the weird smalls balls of cereal in them. Even my gluten loving family choked these down! Already have a batch in the freezer!!

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      That’s awesome, Christie! And I love when you can use something that might otherwise go to waste…like the funky cereal: )

      Reply
  21. Lori B

    HI Christi – The meatballs look deelish and very close to my own. I am publishing a cookbook and would love to use this photo as an illustration. Of course you would be given the appropriate credit for the image and your link would be shown as well.

    Many thanks!
    Lori B:)

    Reply
      1. Ann

        I’m Ann, but no worries! Would love to know more about your cookbook. Feel free to contact me (see the top of the page) with any specific questions.

        Reply
  22. Elaine

    I patted the mixture into a 1 inch thick rectangle and cut it into evenly sized squares. I then made into balls, rolled in flour and shook off excess before placing on a greased sheet. Baked 10 min. at 400 degrees then turned over balls and cooked another 12 to 15 minutes. (I realize this makes the recipe not gluten-free)

    Reply
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  24. Christine

    Yours was the first recipe that popped up when I searched ‘oven meatballs’ in Pinterest and I’m so very glad it did. These meatballs are delicious, full of flavor, quick and easy. These are the first oven meatballs I will be making again!

    Reply
  25. Kate

    my BF can not have any garlic or onion does the recipe still work without or can I sub it for something else?

    Reply
    1. Ann

      If it’s an allergy, I’d say skip them and don’t worry about it, Kate. If it’s just a preference, you could get similar but milder flavor from shallots. Hope you both enjoy!

      Reply
  26. Sharon

    This is seriously the BEST meatball recipe EVER. They are perfect every time I make them. The only substitute I make is onion powder instead of chopped onion. These are the BOMB. My husband told me to stop looking for meatball recipes once I found this one!!! It is the keeper of all keepers!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      I haven’t tried with rice, Ginger–and I assume you mean cooked rice. It wouldn’t hurt to try. I don’t think the outcome would be bad, just slightly different. If you do try, I’d love to know what you think. And if you are looking for a good gluten-free substitute, I like crushed Rice Chex. : )

      Reply
  27. Andy

    Thank you for this recipe. These are the best meatball as my wife and I have ever eaten. If, like us, you are an onion lover, increasing the amount of onion and not dicing them too small works perfectly.

    Reply
  28. Sharon

    Thank you so much for this recipe. Tonight is probably the 20th time I’ve made these and they turn out perfect every time. These meatballs are the bomb. I have tried so many recipes over the years but these are PERFECT every time. And my husband loves them too!!!!!

    Reply
  29. Lisa

    Just made them this morning and sampled one. Omg very delicious, mine did come out a little flat on bottom. I used the meatloaf meat mix and it might be do to the fat content. I added both fresh basil and parsley. Best recipe by far I ever tried. Definitely going to be pinning this one

    Reply
    1. Ann

      No one will mind a flat side on a meatball that tastes great. : ) Thanks so much for your great comment, Lisa. I’m so glad you like!

      Reply
  30. lisa madson

    My daughter in law is nursing and can’t do dairy. How would I alter this if I left out the cheese? What could I use as a replacement? Would they be ok if I simply left the cheese out and didn’t replace it with any other ingredient?

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Hi Lisa, You could certainly make this recipe without the cheese, although it does add extra flavor and binding qualities. I have heard of people using ground cashews–I’d use roasted and salted in this case to mimic the hint of saltiness provided by the Parmesan. You could also try nutritional yeast, a vegetarian staple that, when combined with a little salt, matches the flavor of cheese quite well. In both cases I would use the same quantity. In the case of the nutritional yeast, I’d add an additional 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. I hope that helps. If you try, I’d love to know how you make out…and best wishes to the new mom!

      Reply
  31. Debbie Spear

    Great Meatballs! I actually used 2 lbs. of a veal, pork and beef blend and they were still very moist with the two eggs and milk. I also used an Italian spice blend in place of just oregano and used grated Grana Padano instead of parmesan. Im sure they would be great either way

    Reply
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  33. Tamkeen Pirzada

    Hi. Is it possible to make these meat balls with chicken mince. I have tried the mince beef version they turned out excellent. Wasn’t sure if mince chicken would give same results. Would love to hear back. Thanx

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I haven’t tried, but I think it could be good. My suggestion, however, would be to use dark meat as the breast meat is more likely to dry out if overcooked even a little. If you do try, please report back!

      Reply
  34. Kelly

    Made these for a large group of the University of Michigan men’s rowing team last spring and thankfully pinned this recipe on Pinterest — the meatballs were gone in seconds and the guys loved them. Changes: added 1 lb Italian sausage to every 3 lbs of ground beef and substituted crushed french onions instead for the bread crumbs. Seriously awesome meatballs! Off to shop for the ingredients for tonight’s crew dinner!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Kelly, It’s great to know these meatballs fueled a bunch of really strong guys…such a demanding sport and fun to watch! Thanks for the awesome feedback and for mentioning your tweaks. They sound perfect and I’m glad they’re on the menu again!

      Reply
  35. Karen

    Made these today and they came out so good! They were very tasty and moist!! Added them to my spaghetti sauce with sausages, so yummy!!

    Reply
  36. Ann Alteio

    It does not say whether the pan is lined with foil or sprayed with cooking spray.
    My meatball receipe is very similar and i fried them.I was looking for a way to bake them.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Ann,
      In the photo you can see what I like to use–parchment paper. Lightly greasing the baking sheet or lining it with foil (which I would still lightly grease) would work well, too.

      Reply
  37. Bea

    I am alone and too tired to make lengthy recipes. This looks easy and tasty. I can follow recipe, when done simmer in my marina sauce.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      It is easy, Bea, and I’m sure they will taste especially delicious after simmering in your sauce!

      Reply
  38. Chaztitee

    I was desperate for an easy meatball recipe for busy weeknights & I have FINALLY found one I think it’s absolutely perfect! Thanks for posting! Followed recipe exactly & thought there was far too much liquid & far too much breadcrumbs but I was wrong. It’s perfectly yummy!

    Reply
  39. Linda Spitzer

    I have found that frozen hamburger can contain less moisture than fresh. Have you experienced this?

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I usually start with fresh, but ground beef stored in the freezer could definitely dry out over time, especially if not well wrapped. Maybe you could try double-wrapping when you do freeze it and see if that helps.

      Reply
  40. Alyssa

    Can’t wait to try these in my meal rotation this week! I’ve been looking for a good meatball recipe for way too long now lol- have you ever made these with ground turkey meat??

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hope you love them as much as we do, Alyssa! I always make this recipe with ground beef–mostly out of habit. If I were to make it with ground turkey, I’d go for a blend with some of the dark meat to avoid drying out. If using ground turkey breast, just be extra cautious not to overcook.

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Generally speaking, when you want to use dry instead of fresh, use 1/3 the amount as the dried herbs are more concentrated.

      Reply
      1. Chesney

        Like you use 1/3 cup if they are dried herbs, instead of 1/4 cup if they are fresh??

        Also, what tastes better in this recipe- parsley or basil??

        Reply
        1. Ann Post author

          You would want to use 1/3 of the total amount–so less–when using dried instead of fresh. So 1/4 cup fresh would translate to 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried. As for parsley or basil, I tend to use what I have on hand. I like them both. You could even use a mix!

          Reply
  41. Peggy

    These meatballs are phenomenal!! I made them gluten free with Schars gf breadcrumbs for my husbands recently diagnosed celiac disease. I will never look for another meatball recipe!!! May try with ground turkey next time. So so good!!!

    Reply