Jen’s Incredible Baked Meatballs

By Ann Fulton

These tender, flavorful baked meatballs have been a family and reader favorite for many years. Hundreds of readers have called them the best meatballs ever! Serve them with spaghetti and your favorite sauce, as an appetizer, in a meatball sandwich-or all by themselves. A perfect meal prep recipe that freezes well, too!
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These tender, flavorful baked meatballs have been a family and reader favorite for many years. Hundreds of readers have called them the best meatballs ever! Serve them with spaghetti and your favorite sauce, as an appetizer, in a meatball sandwich-or all by themselves. A perfect meal prep recipe that freezes well too!

 

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 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.

A single recipe yields two dozen golfball-size meatballs. The recipe may easily be doubled and the meatballs freeze well, whether cooked or uncooked.

If freezing raw, I thaw the meatballs before baking for more even cooking, although they may be baked from frozen and will require five or so extra minutes. That said, I tend to bake the meatballs first and then cool and freeze. That way, they are ready for a speedy dinner, whether that is a meatball sandwich or two or a big pot of spaghetti.

I made the quadruple batch pictured below with a friend. Meal prep is inherently rewarding–and so much more fun when chatting the whole time!

Advance prep and a few more tips:

  • The meatballs may be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking. 
  • Refrigerating for at least an hour before cooking will also help the meatballs hold their shape better. That said, I regularly bake them without doing this. 
  • For a crispy exterior, you can broil the meatballs for a couple of minutes at the end of the cooking time. Just watch closely so as not to burn.
 

 

Jen's Incredible Baked Meatballs have been a reader and family favorite for years!

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.

slider-Blender-Tomato-Sauce

Shortcut Blender Tomato Sauce (above) pairs beautifully with these meatballs and is perfect when vine-ripened tomatoes are in season.  When canned tomatoes are the best option, Basic Marinara (below) is a great option.

Basic-Marinara

I’d love to know if you try this recipe. Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @fountainavenuekitchen on Instagram and Facebook. Your feedback is always appreciated.

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.

Yield: approximately 24 meatballs
Ingredients
  • 1 pound hamburger, grass-fed if desired
  • 2 eggs, beaten with 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup panko or breadcrumbs (see notes)
  • 1 small onion, minced or grated (1/2 a large onion)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 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 & Tips
  • For a gluten-free option, crushed Rice Chex work beautifully.
  • When making a big batch, I recommend mixing all of the ingredients except the beef first. This will ensure everything is well incorporated but help prevent over-working the meat.
  • Advance prep: The meatballs may be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking.
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These tender, flavorful baked meatballs have been a family and reader favorite for many years. Hundreds of readers have called them the best meatballs ever! Serve them with spaghetti and your favorite sauce, as an appetizer, in a meatball sandwich-or all by themselves. A perfect meal prep recipe that freezes well, too!

Jen’s Incredible Baked Meatballs. One of our most popular recipes!

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Comments

  1. Sunflower9
    (5/5)

    Insanely simple and delicious. I’ve never made meatballs before and these came out perfect! I only made 20 meatballs… maybe I made them too big? They came out great though. Now I want to do meatballs instead of ground beef with pasta and sauce. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      My pleasure! I’m delighted your first-ever batch of meatballs was perfect and appreciate the fabulous feedback!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Keely, This is normal – fat will naturally cook out of the meatballs. It happens when meatballs sautéed too, but may be more obvious when baked because it pools around the meatballs rather than spreading throughout the skillet. I like an 80/20 ratio of lean to fat. If you use leaner meat, you will likely notice less fat but may lose some tenderness.

      Reply
  2. Ben J
    (5/5)

    Always the best outcome!! At least 5 people I know use this recipe…it’s easy and tastes fantastic. I too keep extra on hand. Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Great news, Ben! I’m delighted this recipe has served you (and some of your friends!) well. Thank you for the very thoughtful feedback.

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I’m happy you enjoyed, Gramma Di. (I called my great grandmother the same thing!) Thank you for taking a moment to comment.

      Reply
  3. Mary McGovern

    I made a batch of these delicious meatballs awhile ago and we just finished the last of them with spaghetti sauce over spaghetti squash. Each time we had some, my husband remarked how much he loves them and I agree! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Mary, I’m delighted the meatballs were a success and provided several meals for you and your husband. I too love the spaghetti squash combo!

      Reply
  4. Jen
    (5/5)

    This is a staple in our family. Everyone loves these meatballs. I always make a double batch so that I can freeze some for easy meals later.

    Reply
  5. Lynn

    I have looked for years for the perfect meatballs. These are the perfect meatballs. Every time I make them everybody wants the recipe. Thanks for posting

    Reply
  6. Kathy D Mareska

    I LOVE these!! I make and freeze them. Then I only have to take out what I need. I was searching comments for how to bake from frozen. I found that too! Thank you very much! I don’t change a thing!

    Reply
  7. Lisa B

    I would like to do the Meatballs tonight with Jens receipe ingredients and then cook tomorrow. Would putting the egg, bread crumbs and milk be ok mixed in the night before or should I just do everything the day of?

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Lisa, I tend to bake them the day of, but I’m confident the meatballs will be fine if you put them in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.

      Reply