The Best Fried Meatball Recipe (Italian Fried Meatballs) (2023)

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I’ve made a lot of meatballs in my life. I love trying different meatball recipes and one of my favorite ways to make Italian meatballs is frying them.

The crunchy coating on the outside of the meatballs is something special. Fried meatballs are probably the most flavorful meatballs in my opinion.

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When I was younger I lived on the third floor of my grandparents’ house. Every Sunday morning the smell of meatballs frying in the kitchen would wake me up. It was the best alarm clock in the world.

There are a lot of ways to cook meatballs.

You can bake them in the oven on a sheet pan.

You can put raw meatballs right into a pot of tomato sauce and let them slowly simmer until they are done.

You can also fry them. There’s a good argument that frying meatballs is the best way to cook them. Deep frying them creates a nice crust on the outside that is really flavorful and holds in a lot of moisture.

What I like about deep-fried meatballs is that they are really versatile. You can use them for your classic meatballs and spaghetti. You can also serve them as an appetizer at a holiday get together or party.

Since you came here today wondering how to make fried meatballs, that’s what we are going to talk about. This is a really delicious and easy fried meatball recipe.

It is a great way to put together a quick meal that everyone will enjoy.

I am going to share a recipe with you so you can make some really delicious meatballs. I might be a little biased, but I think they are the best fried meatballs around.

This recipe will make about 2 dozen 2-inch meatballs. The prep time involved is basically just mixing up your ingredients.

(Video) How to Make Fried Italian Meatballs With Breadcrumbs : Italian Dishes

Frying the meatballs will be a little bit of work, but well worth it in the end.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and let’s start cooking.

The Best Fried Meatball Recipe (Italian Fried Meatballs) (1)

The Main Ingredients for Fried Meatballs

Making great meatballs only requires a handful of simple ingredients. Here are all of the ingredients you are going to need to make these amazing meatballs.

Meat

There are many different ways to make a meatball mixture. I am suggesting a meat mixture made of ground beef and ground pork. This combination of meats has always worked for me.

You can make just beef meatballs if you prefer, but the pork adds a lot of flavors. You need enough fat to add flavor and moisture.

I usually use ground beef that has 20 percent fat content. Lean ground beef needs fat to give it flavor.

Garlic

Get some fresh garlic cloves and chop them up really fine.

Parsley

You’ll need fresh parsley. I like using flat leaf Italian parsley chopped really small. Fresh herbs are the way to go, but dried parsley will work fine.

Grated Cheese

You want a good grated cheese for your meatballs recipe. Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese will work. Just make sure it’s a good quality cheese.

Breadcrumbs

For this recipe I am recommending using bread crumbs because they are quick and easy to use.

However, if you have the time, I suggest using some 72 hour fermented pizza bianca in your meatballs. Cut the pizza bianca into cubes and soak it in a little bit of milk in a small bowl. This is the best way to add some extra flavor to your meatballs.

Eggs

You need some fresh eggs that will add as a binder for your meatballs. A good rule of thumb is one egg for every pound of meat.

Seasoning

All you really need is Kosher salt and black pepper. If you really love Italian seasoning, you can use it, but I normally don’t.

Oil

When you fry your meatballs you should use a neutral flavored oil. I like using a good light olive oil. Other oils that you can use are vegetable oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil or canola oil.

Keep in mind that cooking oils have different smoke points that you should consider. The following is a quick guide to what the smoke point of some of the oils are:

  • Olive oil → 325-375 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • Vegetable oil → 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • Sunflower oil → 440 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • Peanut Oil → 450 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • Canola Oil → 400 degrees Fahrenheit;

Keep in mind that the best temperature for frying the meatballs is approximately 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit. So choose your oil accordingly, and use a kitchen thermometer to check its temperature every now and then.

If you want to learn more, here’s an interesting article by Healthline aboutthe best cooking oils, and how you should use them based on their smoking point and qualities.

(Video) How to Make Italian Meatballs Like a Pro - Juicy Meatball Recipe

The Best Fried Meatball Recipe (Italian Fried Meatballs) (2)

How to Make Your Fried Meatballs

Get a large bowl and add all of the ingredients. A large mixing bowl is important because it will give you enough room to really work all of the ingredients together.

The Best Fried Meatball Recipe (Italian Fried Meatballs) (3)

Start mixing everything together so all of the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the ground meat. For the best results, use your hands to do the mixing.

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When everything is mixed together it’s time to form your meatballs.

The size of meatballs you make is up to you, but I think the perfect meatballs are the size of a golf ball. When I make meatballs I use a 2 ounce cookie scoop. You will end up with a 2 inch meatball.

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Get a large frying pan and add about a half inch of oil. Turn the stove on medium-high heat and let the oil get hot. As I was saying above, it should reach approximately 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you don’t have a thermometer, test the oil by sprinkling a few breadcrumbs in the pan. If they start to sizzle, the oil should be ready.

Now take your raw meatballs and roll them in the breadcrumbs. This will create a nice crust when you fry them.

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Place the meatballs in the hot oil in a single layer. Make sure you don’t crowd the pan. Allow them to fry for 4-5 minutes, turning them once at the halfway point.

If the oil seems too hot, turn the stove down to medium heat.

You want the outside of the meatball to have a nice crust.

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When the meatballs are done, remove them from the hot oil with a slotted spoon or tongs. Place them on a baking sheet or dish that has been lined with a paper towel. This will remove all of the excess oil.

Check the meatballs with a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees in the middle.

(Video) Fried Meatballs Italian style.

Let the meatballs rest for 15-20 minutes once they come out of the oven.

Fried Meatballs FAQs

Can I put my fried meatballs in tomato sauce?

Yes. Place your deep fried meatballs in a pot of tomato sauce and let them simmer. They will add a lot of flavor to the sauce.

Can I freeze the meatballs after they are cooked?

Yes. Leftover meatballs are great to have on hand. If you make a large batch of meatballs you can freeze them. Let your fried meatballs cool and store them in an airtight container or ziplock bags and store in your freezer. When you need them, just pull out the freezer bag and you can make a quick dinner.

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What else can I do with my fried meatballs?

Fried meatballs make a great appetizer at a party. When they are an appetizer I make small balls. Maybe about an ounce per homemade meatball.

Put out a tray of meatballs with toothpicks and some sauces to dip in. Fried meatballs are my favorite finger food because they are still perfect at room temperature. They can sit on the table for a while and still be delicious.

Can I deep fry meatballs?

Yes. If you have a deep fryer you can use it to cook your meatballs. I actually use the deep fryer in the restaurant to cook meatballs sometimes. Deep fried meatballs come out really crunchy on the outside and juicy in the middle.

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Can I make meatballs with different types of meat?

Yes. This recipe will work with ground turkey and ground chicken. Chicken meatballs and turkey meatballs are a healthy option. Serve your fried chicken meatballs with Buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing.

The Best Fried Meatball Recipe (Italian Fried Meatballs) (10)

Do I have to serve the meatballs with pasta?

No. You can serve the meatballs as a main course with vegetables on the side. They go great with rice and a nice salad. This is a great healthy option if you are trying to lose weight.

Making meatball subs is also a great way to use up your meatballs. Get some fresh rolls from the local bakery and let the whole family build their own meatball subs. Make a big pot of marinara sauce and meatballs and let everyone help themselves.

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The Best Fried Meatball Recipe (Italian Fried Meatballs) (11)

Fried Meatballs

  • Author: Mortadella Head
  • Total Time: 35
  • Yield: 4 1x
Print Recipe
(Video) Meatballs Easy Recipe (How to Prepare) – Gordon Ramsay

Ingredients

Scale

1 lb ground 80/20 beef

1 lb of ground pork

5 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic

2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 eggs

1 cup plain bread crumbs

1 cup grated Romano cheese

2 cups of light olive oil or other neutral-flavored oil (choose one with a smoking point higher than 350°F)

Instructions

  1. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. I like to use my hands because you can really get everything incorporated nicely.
  2. Form the meatballs with your hands. I try to get the meatballs about the size of a golf ball. I think that size is perfect for soaking up the sauce and staying nice and moist.
  3. Add a half inch of oil to a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Bring the oil to about 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  4. Coat the raw meatballs in breadcrumbs.
  5. Fry the meatballs in the hot oil for 4-5 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  6. Place cooked meatballs on a paper towel lined plate to soak up the excess oil.
  7. Enjoy!
(Video) America’s Oldest Italian Restaurant Makes The Best Meatballs In Philly | Legendary Eats
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Resting time: 20
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Category: Meatballs
  • Method: Fried

FAQs

Is it better to fry or bake Italian meatballs? ›

Baking them gives the meatballs a little more flavor without additional oil since you are searing the outside under the broiler in your oven.

Should you roll meatballs in flour before frying? ›

Roll your meatballs in flour

Roll the finished meatballs in plain flour before frying. This is, hands down, one of the easiest ways I've discovered to prevent meatballs from falling apart when cooking.

Should you fry meatballs before putting in sauce? ›

Do You Put Raw Meatballs in Sauce to Cook? Although you can, I recommend browning the meatballs in a skillet with a little olive oil first. This creates a nice texture on the outside of the meatball, while allowing the middle to remain tender and juicy as it finishes cooking in the tomato sauce.

Should you chill meatballs before frying? ›

Keep things cold. You want to keep the fat from melting and breaking down before you cook the meatballs, so keep your meat and ingredients as cold as possible.

Why do my meatballs fall apart when I fry them? ›

ANSWER: Usually when meatballs fall apart, it's the binder that is the problem. Most meatball recipes call for using bread crumbs and eggs. But too much bread crumbs make them too loose, and not enough bread crumbs won't help them hold together either.

Is milk or egg better for meatballs? ›

Add Milk for Moisture

(Many people think it's the eggs that add the moisture, but their role is to bind the meat, breadcrumbs, cheese and herbs.)

How do you get batter to stick to meat when frying? ›

How To Keep Breading From Falling Off Chicken
  1. Pat the Chicken Dry.
  2. Dredge in Flour.
  3. Dip in Beaten Eggs.
  4. Coat in Breadcrumbs.
  5. Chill and Be Patient.
Sep 2, 2022

Why do you add baking soda to meatballs? ›

Adding baking soda to the beef keeps it moist by enhancing its PH levels and stopping the proteins from binding too quickly (which dries out the meat). Use fresh ingredients whenever possible. Avoid low-fat meats Fat helps make the meatballs tender.

How many eggs do you add to meatballs? ›

The eggs will cook and make the meatballs dense and spongy--you want light, airy meatballs. For one to two pounds of meat, you usually won't need more than one or two eggs. And make sure not to add too much breadcrumbs, either--about a half cup per pound of meat will suffice.

Do meatballs get more tender the longer they cook in sauce? ›

How long to cook raw meatballs in sauce. BEEF MEATBALLS take a bit longer to become tender, so let them simmer for at least one to one and a half, preferably two hours. PORK MEATBALLS only need about 45 minutes of simmering in the sauce.

Why do you put egg and breadcrumbs in meatballs? ›

Use egg and breadcrumbs

You only need a small amount of egg – it's there only to help the cooked meatball retain its shape, and shouldn't detract from the meat's flavour or texture. Filler ingredients like breadcrumbs or flour are important too because they stop the meatballs becoming dry.

Should you beat eggs for meatballs? ›

3) beat the eggs separately before adding them to your meat mixture so it combines better. 6) If you prefer to bake instead of fry them, chill the meatballs for at least an hour before baking. They will hold their shape better.

What are traditional Italian meatballs made of? ›

These easy-to-make meatballs are made with ground beef and pork, strewn with fresh parsley, garlic and grated cheese. But the “secret” to good meatballs comes down to their juicy, delectable texture. And that is the result of including soft, milk-soaked breadcrumbs.

Should you pan fry meatballs before baking? ›

You can brown the uncooked meatballs in a sauté pan before adding them to the sauce. You can brown them in the oven. Or you can skip browning altogether and put the raw meatballs straight into the sauce to cook.

How do you fry meatballs so they stay round? ›

Not letting the meatballs sit and rest in a pan, but instead quickly making them and placing them in the skillet helps them stay round. Second, after the first side is cooked instead of flipping the meatball over to the other side (like you would a piece of chicken) flip the meatball onto one of its sides.

Should you boil or fry meatballs? ›

Simmer meatballs in sauce — For the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs, skip the browning and cook them directly in simmering sauce. We do this when making our tender turkey meatballs. In that recipe, we make a simple tomato basil sauce — similar to our marinara sauce.

What happens if I add extra egg to meatballs? ›

Too much egg, therefore, is not a good thing. It will make your meatballs spongy and over-absorbent (in a bad way), so that they run a high risk of being soggy and too heavy. As a general rule of thumb, one to two eggs per pound of meat should do the trick. If your recipe calls for more egg than that, beware.

What is the best binder for meatballs? ›

You can use eggs, breadcrumbs, grated or creamy cheeses (think ricotta or feta here), ground nuts, or a mixture of these ingredients to bind the balls and help them stay together while you cook them and as you eat them—no one wants a meatball that breaks apart all over the plate.

Why put water in meatballs? ›

Not adding any moisture to the meat.

Some kind of moisture, like eggs or a binder made from bread crumbs and milk, is essential when making meatballs. Without it, the protein content forces the meatballs to shrink as they cook, and produces a final dish with a tough texture.

What makes batter more crispy? ›

Use Cornstarch or Rice Flour

Michael says that cornstarch or rice flour in combo with flour will give you the crunchiest batter. Even cake four will cook up crunchier than all-purpose flour because it doesn't have a high gluten level.

Why do you dip meat in flour before frying? ›

The coating keeps the food from sticking to the pan while cooking. The flour and other dry ingredients seal in moisture to prevent the food from becoming tough. The coating helps to brown the food and provides a crunchy layer. The seasoning in the coating adds flavor to your food.

Do you need baking powder for frying batter? ›

The moisture helps create a craggy coating that, when fried, yields lots of crunchy morsels to bite into. But the baking powder is key, because it acts like a salt. It helps draw moisture to the surface, where it can evaporate.

Do you Rinse baking soda off meat before cooking? ›

Just as you would with dry brining, rinse your meat until it's (mostly) free of all the baking soda.

Should I Brown meatballs before baking? ›

Frying or baking the meatballs first develops a crust, so they stay together better, though the crust means they're not quite as tender as a poached meatball. But then some people like that textural contrast between the exterior and interior of the meatball. Browning also gives the meatballs a nice flavor.

How do Chinese make their meat so tender? ›

Velveting is a Chinese method of marinating which keeps delicate meat and seafood moist and tender during cooking. The velveting technique is very easy and gives amazing results.

Can I substitute panko for breadcrumbs in meatballs? ›

Panko and breadcrumbs can certainly be used interchangeably. Both items are used to serve the same purpose — a crispy topping for baked casseroles, breaded coating for fried foods, and binder for meatballs and veggie burgers.

How many ingredients do you need to make meatballs *? ›

Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds ground beef.
  2. 2 large eggs.
  3. 1/4 cup water.
  4. 1 small onion, finely chopped.
  5. 1-1/3 cups soft bread crumbs.
  6. 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  7. 2 garlic cloves, minced.
  8. 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning.
Nov 18, 2022

How do you keep meatballs moist? ›

Do not overmix the meat or it will result in tough meatballs. Don't skip the bread crumbs and water mixture, which adds moisture to make the meatballs juicy. Make even-sized meatballs for even cooking (a trigger release ice cream scoop makes it easy).

Is it better to bake meatballs or cook them in sauce? ›

The best meatballs are tender, baked and browned in a hot oven to seal in all the juices. Simmered in robust sauce for a couple of minutes ensures they soak up all of those saucy flavours, this is an easy dinner recipe that will be a hit with your family!

How long does it take to cook meatballs at 350 degrees? ›

How Long to Bake Meatballs? In an oven preheated to 350 degrees F, these meatballs should be fully cooked through and evenly browned in about 30 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the meatball should read at least 165 degrees F.

Can you over cook meatballs in sauce? ›

Giving the meatballs enough time to cook is essential, but if they are left to soak up the sauce for too long they'll turn squishy. Your meatballs should be fork-tender, but not soggy. But things can go the other way too; poorly cooked meatballs can come out of the pan dry as opposed to juicy.

Why do you dip the meat in flour before egg? ›

The initial dip in flour helps the egg wash stick better to the food's surface. A little bit of oil in the egg wash helps thin the liquid coating, and the extra fat browns the breadcrumbs better underneath.

What makes meatballs softer breadcrumbs or bread? ›

Bread soaked in some form of liquid puffs up when cooked, creating little air pockets that makes meatballs extra soft. It works far better than ordinary breadcrumbs which actually has the tendency to make meatballs tough little balls (panko breadcrumbs is ok though), and the Italians have been doing this for years.

What happens if you don't brown meatballs? ›

Although the meatballs are not browned first, they still cook though in the sauce and it is safe to add them to the sauce raw, as long as the sauce is kept at a simmer until the meatballs are cooked through. Cooking the meatballs this way means that they stay quite tender even when cooked.

Why do my meatballs fall apart in the sauce? ›

If your meatballs fall apart when they are mixed with the sauce, it's usually the binder that is the problem. Most meatball recipes call for using bread crumbs and eggs. But too much bread crumbs make them too loose, and not enough bread crumbs won't help them hold together either.

How to make tight meatballs? ›

Your job is to massage or knead the meat, after you've added your seasonings. This helps release more protein into the mix that will then harden to create a matrix that will hold the meatballs together.

Can I use mayo instead of eggs in meatballs? ›

Because it's a stable emulsion, mayo serves as an excellent binder for meatballs. It easily slips into the role played by eggs and bread crumbs. With mayo, the path to meatballs is simple: no eggs to crack, no bread to blitz into fine crumbs, no guessing at the amount of crumbs to work in (too much...

Do you add egg when making meatballs? ›

It is a fairly basic recipe for fresh homemade meatballs. You need the most standard ingredients: fresh garlic and onion, eggs and a handful of fresh herbs. Learn how to make meatballs for spaghetti for instance!

What size scoop is best for meatballs? ›

A 1/4-cup ice-cream scoop is great for 1 to 2-inch meatballs, a 1 or 2-tablespoon ice-cream scoop is best for 1-inch meatballs and a melon baller is perfect for 1/2-inch size. Simply roll each scoopful of meat into a ball and smooth with your hands.

What's the difference between Italian style meatballs and regular meatballs? ›

American meatballs are the biggest in size, with Italian and Swedish meatballs following on the depth chart. Italian meatballs call for seasonings like grated parmesan and oregano, while Swedish ones use seasonings like nutmeg and allspice. While it doesn't sound like a huge distinction, you'll notice it in the taste!

Why do you soak breadcrumbs for meatballs? ›

Here, we're soaking fresh or dried breadcrumbs in a little milk until the bread becomes soggy, then mixing that right into the meat. This binder (aka panade) helps add moisture to the meatballs and also prevents the meat proteins from shrinking and becoming tough.

Can I bake meatballs instead of frying? ›

If you don't want to stand over the stove frying meatballs, baking is a great option. For this method, we simply place the meatballs on a large baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. Super simple, eh?

What is the cooking method for meatballs? ›

The best way to cook meatballs is to shallow fry them, preferably in a non-stick pan with a little oil like vegetable oil or sunflower oil. They'll take around 10-15 mins over a medium heat, depending on their size. Cook until they are no longer pink in the middle and any juices run clear.

Does baking meatballs dry them out? ›

Bake in the oven for 18 to 22 minutes at 400 degrees. The meatballs should be nicely browned and juicy. You don't want to overcook them or they'll end up dry. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the beef is at an internal temperature of 160°F.

Do meatballs get more tender the longer they cook? ›

How long to cook raw meatballs in sauce. BEEF MEATBALLS take a bit longer to become tender, so let them simmer for at least one to one and a half, preferably two hours. PORK MEATBALLS only need about 45 minutes of simmering in the sauce.

Do you really need eggs for meatballs? ›

Yes, you can make meatballs without eggs. Whether you have an egg allergy or can't eat eggs, there are plenty of alternatives like mashed potatoes, unsweetened applesauce, cheese, and mayonnaise. These options will help keep your meatballs from falling apart during the cooking process.

Do eggs make meatballs hard or soft? ›

Eggs are not a source of moisture! They're in the meatball mix to bind the meat, breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs. The eggs will cook and make the meatballs dense and spongy--you want light, airy meatballs. For one to two pounds of meat, you usually won't need more than one or two eggs.

Can you cook meatballs too long in sauce? ›

Simmering in the sauce for the wrong amount of time

Homecook World explains meatballs can become overcooked if you allow them to simmer for too long. The overcooked meatballs will result in a tough texture and become soft and soggy over time as they absorb too much sauce and liquid.

Why do you chill meatballs before baking? ›

6) If you prefer to bake instead of fry them, chill the meatballs for at least an hour before baking. They will hold their shape better.

How long do you cook meatballs in the oven at 350? ›

How Long to Bake Meatballs? In an oven preheated to 350 degrees F, these meatballs should be fully cooked through and evenly browned in about 30 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the meatball should read at least 165 degrees F.

How long should you cook raw meatballs in the oven? ›

Place formed meatballs onto the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Brush with olive oil if desired and bake until browned and crispy, about 15-20 minutes, or until an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees for 15 seconds.

Do you drain the grease from meatballs? ›

You can use beef with more fat if you like. You'll just likely want to drain the excess grease after browning your meat.

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