Make Ahead

Extra Tender Meatballs

October  4, 2022
10 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6 - 8
Author Notes

These fork-tender meatballs are great for kids, or atop pappardelle or wide egg noodles. —Merrill Stubbs

What You'll Need
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauté pan, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has begun to soften and lightly caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until both the onion and garlic are soft and golden brown (be careful not to burn the garlic), about another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients except for the egg. Stir it gently using two forks -- combine thoroughly but do not over-mix. Using your hands, gently work in the egg and the browned onions and garlic, until just combined.
  3. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Brown the meatballs in a little olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat; then nestle them snugly into a large baking dish, cover with foil and bake them in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches about 145 degrees. Let them cool for a few minutes before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • chris
  • Kayla
  • Whitney GB
    Whitney GB
  • John Palumbo
    John Palumbo
  • cucina di mammina
    cucina di mammina

33 Reviews

Dizzydog January 23, 2022
I admit to feeling conflicted here. Been making my Italian grandma's recipe since she passed in 1973. These are just excellent with no deviation from the recipe, aside from not adding veal. Chuck+Short Rib.
A perfect recipe and method are rarely found together. Thanks for it!

Merrill S. January 23, 2022
So glad you enjoyed the recipe!
Mary C. April 1, 2019
I made this for dinner tonight. I did not have the pound of ground veal, so I just went with the same ingredients and wow! We enjoyed them very much. Next time I am at the grocery store, I will be getting both the ground chuck and veal. These were so tender and delicious! I am in love with this recipe! The only real change I made was adding fresh ground pepper. The Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce definitely added a lot to this mix. I will be using this recipe again and again. Thank you so much for posting it. <3
Merrill S. April 2, 2019
You're very welcome -- so glad you enjoyed them!
Mary C. April 3, 2019
Merrill, I am amazed at how tender these meatballs are. I never imagined I could produce such a delightful treat. I know my husband will be asking for me to make these again soon. Thank you.
Aimee W. December 5, 2016
Absolutely delicious as is! I have been searching for a delicious meatball and this fits the bill. Thank you!
Liz B. May 31, 2016
This is my go-to meatball recipe now. I followed the ingredients to the letter the first time, then veered off and they still always turn out tender and delicious. All lamb or all beef is great, but I think beef and veal is my fave. It's great with or without the parmesan, but my favorite addition is chopped fresh parsley. I just bake them for about 30 minutes (depending on how big they are) to save time, covered in foil; they fell apart in the pan when moved while browning, and why dirty the extra dish?
chris September 28, 2015
I LOVE this recipe, and have made it several times. Different combinations of beef/turkey/veal/pork/chicken work equally well, though I usually keep the beef to about 25% of the total meat. I just bake the raw meatballs, without pan frying, for 30 mins at 350. (Covered in aluminum foil, per the recipe.) Definitely extra tender.
Kayla July 22, 2015
Has anyone made these of out of poultry entirely? We are working towards eating less red meat and pork... Original recipe still looks quite delicious!!
James G. April 24, 2015
gandom January 9, 2015
Julie W. January 6, 2015
I am so excited to find a meatball recipe that does not use pork or milk. Would it be ok without the parmesan cheese? Is there anything I can substitute as I love parmesan but do not mix meat with milk?
Whitney G. September 30, 2014
These were amazing! I skimped on the veal and went with italian sausage (kids dont' appreciate the veal). I also browned them, and then added a tub of Pomi to the oven and it came out complete with a sauce ready to go on fresh pasta. Total keeper.
John P. May 2, 2014
1st time reading this and some of the comments are very look up tender meatballs and this person gives there recipe of it and everybody tells how they use something else...if that's the case then it is different recipe just use what this person uses if not write your own recipe and post it
cucina D. March 31, 2014
I love that these meatballs use my age-old Italian tradition of sautéing the onion garlic and whatever else is going in as a mix-in (mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, celery, eye.) the flavor is SO much better than when they are added in raw. I too bake my meatballs in the oven, but do still love to pan fry and then add some white wine and stock to finish them off. This recipe is wonderful, thank you!!
cucina D. March 31, 2014
Oops! I meant, etc. :)
Muse December 5, 2013
Am going to make these tonight using all beef...they sound fabulous! Thank you for sharing your recipe. Peace, Light and Love.
Patricia H. February 1, 2014
Yeah, Muse, veal is expensive. I wouldn't waste it on a meatball!
Kelly A. March 28, 2013
I would like to freeze half of these to save for future use. Would it be best to freeze them completely raw, or should I brown them and freeze with out cooking them through? If I were to roast these without browning as one commenter suggested,should I put them on a baking sheet and give them a little room between meatballs, or should I stick with the original instructions and put them snugly in a baking dish?
KarenSue March 24, 2013
Delicious! I used the last of the cream cheese, rather than mayo, panko crumbs, and Italian sausage rather than veal - because that is what I had in the house! Despite these changes, the meatballs were superb! The pan frying and then finishing in the oven made then so moist and tender. Wonderful, thank you!
Patricia H. February 1, 2014
Wow, KarenSue, good cooks know how to improvise. Substituting successfully is a skill that takes a while, but you get the hand of it if you cook long enough.
Luvtocook March 24, 2013
I prefer roasting raw meatballs at 400 degrees for as long as it takes, usually about 40 to 50 minutes, depending on how large they are. I usually eat one to test for doneness. :)
Using an ice cream scoop with a geared release makes them all a similar size and I turn them after about 20-25 minutes so they don't flatten too badly.
Merrill S. March 24, 2013
When I don't have time for browning, I just roast these too. Thanks for the ice cream scoop tip!
Patricia H. February 1, 2014
Did you all know that you can cook meatballs in the microwave? I use a quiche pan, placing the meatballs around the periphery of the pan and covering with wax paper. In 5 min. they are cooked.
TaoistCowgirl March 20, 2013
The problem I've had with pan frying meatballs is that they inevitably get flat on one side, making it a deflated sort of ball. How can you avoid this?
Merrill S. March 23, 2013
Sadly, I don't have any tips there -- I try to just accept it and move on. Sigh.
Patricia H. February 1, 2014
Meatballs not compacted enough. Throw them from one hand to another to get the air out and create a tightly rolled ball.
Erin A. March 7, 2014
I make my favourite meatballs (this recipe/ratio looks delish!), make my favourite homemade sauce. In a large pot I bring my sauce to a boil then throw the balls in raw, not crowding them too much. I let the sauce come to a boil again then turn it down to a low boil and cook em til they're done. Don't disturb them too much in the pot but a nice gentle stir is a good idea. I am a meatball fanatic - like in the worst possible way - and since I've been making them this way I've never looked back. No flat sides, no overcooking/over-browning just unbelievable perfect, round delectable morsels of meaty gold.
Kristin G. March 20, 2013
Thanks Merrill! So excited to try these.
Kristin G. March 19, 2013
Is there a sub for veal for any chefs who don't eat it?
bettemay March 19, 2013
Yes - like turkey?
Merrill S. March 19, 2013
I'd recommend pork. Or you can just do all beef.
Marina P. March 19, 2013
This sounds great! I will be trying these :)