Is This the Easiest Meatball Recipe, Ever?

May 10, 2018

As Food52 gets older (and wiser), and our archive of recipes grows, we’re making the effort to revisit some stellar recipes from our community. Today's bowl of comfort comes from longtime Food52er Sagegreen.

"Everything seems okay with the world when these meatballs are in it," Sagegreen says of her mother Myrtle's recipe. She appreciated "classic, simple, uncomplicated food," and transformed a comforting (but time-consuming) dish into a weeknight-ready meal.

After giving high praise to the dish itself (both the flavorful, tender results and the wonderful aroma wafting through the kitchen), community member adamsvetcooking declared that the best part was its simplicity, adding: "This recipe was a breeze to put together, a perfect option for during the week."

James Ransom

One time-saving trick: Instead of searing the meatballs, making the sauce, then adding everything together, the recipe instructs cooks to make the sauce alongside the meatballs. The meatballs still hold together in this less-traditional method, which Sagegreen explained:

My mom was a very practical cook. I think the reasons she continued making the sauce in the Dutch oven without removing the meatballs is two-fold. First, she thought that the sauce would have more flavor more quickly if the meatballs remained in the pan. Second, I think she didn't want to have an extra step of taking out the meatballs and later having to put them back in. That would save washing up a plate! In fact, she always washed up the skillet right after searing the meatballs. She didn't want any dirty dishes to stand for a minute and wouldn't want to dirty another dish.

Sagegreen does suggest you tweak that method should you choose to make a double batch, as she often does. "It is a good idea to keep the seared meatballs in the skillet before developing the sauce in the Dutch oven," she says. "Pop them in the Dutch oven once the onions and peppers have softened in the sauce."

Do you have a recipe that's been passed down in your family? Or one you want to make sure your future generations make? Let us know in the comments and it might be featured as one of our heirloom recipes!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Phillie Filly
    Phillie Filly
  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Phillie F. May 10, 2018
What are rolled old-fashioned oatmeal flakes? I am confused by the term "oatmeal flakes" ? Thank you.
Lindsay-Jean H. May 10, 2018
You're just looking for rolled / old-fashioned oats! I think the "flakes" is descriptive, since they're flattened in processing, but I'll update the recipe to avoid any confusion.
Phillie F. May 10, 2018
Thank you Lindsay-Jean for answering my question so promptly! Cannot wait then to try this recipe!