This homemade meatball recipe has been passed down in my family. Using a combination of beef, hot Italian sausage, veal and aromatics for the most tender juicy meatball. These meatballs are pan seared in the dutch oven and then finished in an easy made from scratch red meatball sauce.
Meatballs just scream family and comfort food. Although these meatballs and homemade sauce are not traditional (please don’t judge me real Italians), this recipe is so flavorful and perfect for a Sunday night meal with the ones you love.
If you’re in a rush you can use store bought red sauce (which I also do sometimes myself), but if you have the time to make a sauce from scratch it’s so fun and rewarding!
First, lets talk meatballs. You can choose your own destiny (the meats) that go into a meatball. Typically you see combinations of beef/lamb/pork/veal, but people have different preferences. I love spicy, so with my meatballs, I use hot Italian sausage, ground sirloin, and veal. You can substitute to your preference, just ensure the meat combination comes out to 1.5lbs.
Second, let’s talk size because size does matter when it comes to meatballs. I roll mine into about 1 ½ inch balls, which are perfect for: meatball subs, by themselves, over pasta, etc. You can make them smaller but remember cook time will differ. Regardless of size, 160F degrees internal temperature to signal they are done.
Tip: I put olive oil on my hands prior to rolling so the mixture doesn’t stick to my hands. Do not over work the meatballs when mixing/rolling, or they will come out tough and dense.
Cooking the meatballs
I personally prefer to pan sear my meatballs and then I finish them in the sauce. Some bake the meatballs and then put them in the sauce, or just fully let them cook in the sauce. After searing the meatballs, I let them finish cooking in the sauce jacuzzi for about 30 minutes. I don’t like them to be dry in the center, so just be mindful when cooking them. [Remember: we are looking for 160F degrees.]
Making the sauce
So how do you get that delicious flavor into your sauce? By searing the meatballs in the dutch oven prior to making the sauce, you have the leftover bits and flavors that are left behind. This is our starter.
Along with the flavorful bits the meatballs leave behind, I love starting with anchovies (please don’t immediately close the tab, hear me out). When you put anchovies in hot oil, they dissolve and give your sauce so much umami [flavor bomb]. Please don’t write them off so fast and try it at least once, I promise the sauce doesn’t taste fishy at all.
I also use carrots in the sauce which is not traditional, but I grate them into the sauce for texture. I also grate my garlic, so the max flavor comes out and it blends into the sauce. Next, I break up the san marzano whole tomatoes as I go, but if you aren’t partial to having a chunky sauce you can use an immersion blender to thin it out.
Finishing the dish
Place your meatballs back into the sauce and allow them to finish cooking. I leave them in for 30 minutes. While they are cooking, it’s the perfect time to make my homemade garlic bread! This is perfect for scooping up all the delicious sauce
What are we left with? Flavorful, moist meatballs with a delicious homemade sauce. The perfect meal to gather your family around the dinner table with. Make sure to watch the cooking video!
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- ½lb ground beef
- ½lb hot italian sausage
- ½lb ground veal (or lamb) (see note #1)
- ⅓ cup yellow onion, chopped
- ¼ cup garlic, minced
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ¼-1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs (start with ¼, then adjust if mix is too wet)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (can omit if you don't like spicy)
- ½ tsp kosher salt & pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil for pan searing
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 anchovy filets
- ¼ cup yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, grated (about ⅓ cup)
- 6 garlic cloves, grated or pressed (leftover ends put in sauce)
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2-28 ounce cans San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Freshly chopped basil
- Grated Parmesan or ricotta cheese
- Homemade roasted garlic bread
- In a dutch oven, over medium heat, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and sauté onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add all the meatball ingredients (minus the olive oil). Using your hands mix the meatballs until ingredients are all combined (see note #2 and #3). Form balls with your hands (I usually form mine into 1 ½in balls) and place aside.
- Heat ¼ cup olive oil in dutch oven on med/high heat. Add the meatballs and pan sear sides for about 1 minute on each side or until browned. You will have to do this in batches. Set aside on a pan and start the sauce once all the meatballs have been pan seared.
- Leaving the oil in the dutch oven, lower the heat to medium and add the anchovies. Once they are dissolved, add the onions and sauté until they begin to soften about 3-4 minutes. Next, add the grated garlic and carrots to the sauce, let cook another minute. Pour in the red wine and allow the liquid to reduce by half (about 4 minutes).
- Open 2 cans of San Marzano tomatoes and add to the sauce. Mix in the red pepper flakes, oregano, and fresh ground black pepper.
- Using your cooking utensil break up the tomatoes in the sauce and bring to a boil. Once it begins to bubble lower the heat to simmer. If you do not want a chunky sauce you can use an immersion blender or laddle into a heat safe blender. Add the fresh basil, stir the sauce, and add the meatballs.
- Cover and reduce the heat to simmer. Let the sauce and meatballs simmer for 30 minutes. The meatballs should reach an internal temperature of 160F degrees.
- Serve alone, over pasta, as a meatball sub, or with my homemade garlic bread
- Top with additional parmesan cheese, basil, and red pepper flakes
- You can use whatever combo of meat so long as it equals 1.5lbs. (Sirloin/lamb, lamb/pork, all 3, etc.)
- When making the meatballs, put some olive oil on your hands so the mixture doesn't stick to your hands
- Do not over mix or over work the meat when rolling the meatballs. This will result in tough and dense meatballs.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 715Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 173mgSodium: 925mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 44g
*Note: Nutrition information is an estimate. Values vary based on different brands and ingredients*