How to Cook Meatballs on the Stove in Sauce! Light meatballs are simmered in marinara sauce and topped with parmesan cheese for an easy meal any night of the week!
Whether you’re having a busy weeknight or a Sunday Supper with your family gathered around the table, a simple homemade meatball recipe is always a winner!
Easy skillet meatballs are a good choice for pairing with homemade tomato sauce, meatball subs, covering in mozzarella cheese, or plopping in your crock pot with chili sauce and grape jelly!
The meatballs recipe creates a delicious canvas for any meal you want. They freeze well for later, too!
You can find all kinds of frozen meatballs in the grocery store, and they’re delicious.
Especially on game day when they’re simmered in the slow cooker for a long time with your favorite bbq sauce!
The next time you want to serve a great recipe for the best meatballs gives this one a try!
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The Best Way to Make Meatballs
First, let’s gather the ingredients we’ll need:
There are a few components of meatballs — you need the meat, the “moisture” mix-ins, and the bread.
Lean Ground Beef is what I prefer, but feel free to use other types of meats like ground Italian sausage, ground pork, ground turkey, etc.
For the “moisture” mix-ins, I like to use eggs, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and seasonings. The ricotta cheese helps the homemade meatballs have a light and airy, tender mouth feels to them. You want this mixture to be super flavor-packed. This is where the majority of the seasoning of the meatball comes from! Add all of these ingredients from the recipe card to a large bowl!
Seasonings for Meatballs:
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Fresh Herbs (like parsley, basil, chives, etc)
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Italian Seasoning
- Red Pepper Flakes
Some people use bread crumbs in their meat mixture, but I prefer to tear up fresh bread into bits, then soak it in a little milk.
The next thing we’ll do is mix all of these together.
To the large mixing bowl, add your ground meat, right on top of the egg and ricotta mixture. Grab your soaked bread and plop it in there too. Now, with a claw motion, begin mixing your meat. Pick everything up, and plop it back down over and over.
People get so upset about not overmixing or handling the meatball mixture too much. You’re going to have the most tender meatballs since we’ve added ricotta cheese! So, don’t worry too much! If it’s taking you longer than a couple of minutes to mix everything, you’re mixing too much. It should remind of a meatloaf mix! And, honestly, this would make an incredible meatloaf!
Use your hands, and scoop out a golf ball-sized amount. Roll between your hands to form a nice ball. I set them back into the bowl so I don’t dirty another dish. But! If you’d like to freeze the uncooked meatballs add them to a baking sheet at this point.
Feel free to use a cookie scoop if you want uniform-sized meatballs!
How to Cook Meatballs
There are different ways to cook meatballs. Whether you want to bake your meatballs, broil them, or use a skillet these delicious meatballs turn out perfectly every single time.
I prefer the frying pan method, using a cast iron skillet. I should also say I prefer a browned meatball with a crispy crust, too!
Over medium heat, add about an inch of olive oil.
A note on olive oil: be sure to use olive oil, not extra virgin olive oil. You’ll want something that can get to a high smoke point, without adding too much flavor.
You’ll bring your oil up to 350˚, and if you’re unsure of that you can test a small piece of bread to see if the oil sizzle when you plop it in. Or, you can be super serious and invest in an instant-read thermometer! It’s a cook’s must-have tool!
Gently lay your meatballs into the HOT oil, and leave 1-2 inches of space between the raw meatballs.
Let these brown for about 4-5 minutes. You want a really nice crust on this first side. Browned meatballs equal flavorful meatballs! (And if you’re worried about dry meatballs since they’ll cook in simmering sauce, they’ll be just fine!)
Using tongs and a spatula, gently and carefully, flip each meatball over to cook the other side.
Now, one thing to note, you don’t have to cook the meatballs all the way through. They’ll finish cooking while simmering in the sauce.
Remove the meatballs from the oil and discard the oil.
To your skillet over low heat on the stove top add in once diced onion. Let that cook and soften a bit.
Stir in either red wine or beef broth and let that reduce a bit.
Pour in your favorite jar of marinara sauce. Mine is either Rao’s or Carbone’s! If you want a richer sauce you can add in a tablespoon of tomato paste, too.
Rinse your marinara jar out with 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and pour that into the sauce.
Stir some everything combines then add your meatballs to the sauce.
Allow the meatballs to simmer in the sauce for a good 10-15 minutes.
If you’re making a large amount you might want to use a dutch oven like this one. It’s nice to have a large pot to simmer a rich sauce filled with easy meatballs!
How to Serve
In Asheville, we have this iconic restaurant called Apollo Flame. And, if you know, you know… One of my favorite things on their menu is Greek Meatballs. Years ago, I created an easy version of this recipe. It uses frozen meatballs, and jarred marinara.
While this recipe is definitely a nod to that, it’s the fancy version!
After your meatballs have simmered, and have reached an internal temperature of 165˚ (use a meat thermometer to test one!), top with some Boursin cheese and parmesan. Then, sprinkle over fresh mozzarella.
Bake this until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
Serve with fresh basil and fresh parsley, and LOTS of garlic bread! Here’s an Easy Garlic Bread recipe if you need one!
Want to know What to Serve with Meatballs instead of Pasta? Read that post! It’s filled with yummy ideas, none of which are pasta!
You can definitely enjoy this recipe over your favorite pasta if you’re into that kind of thing!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you cook raw meatballs directly in the sauce?
Yes! You sure can. You can skip the browning altogether, and just simmer in the sauce until they are cooked through. They’ll cook in the sauce for about 30-35 minutes, over medium heat. Depending on your stove you may need some extra time.
How do you know when meatballs are done in sauce?
When the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165˚ degrees f they’re done! It takes about 30-35 minutes.
In conclusion, this recipe is one I serve my own family over and over. It takes a little extra time to make Italian meatball recipes, but it’s so worth it!
If you have any leftovers store them in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 5 days. Or, plop into a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 6 months.
These Italian meatballs make the perfect meatball sub the next day, too!
Be sure to save this recipe to your favorite Easy Dinner board on Pinterest!
How to Cook Meatballs! Meatballs are simmered in marinara sauce and topped with parmesan cheese for an easy meal!
- 1.5 lbs Ground Beef
- 2 slices of White Bread, ripped into pieces
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 1 cup Ricotta Cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1 TBS House Seasoning (recipe in notes)
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 2 tsp Oregano
- 1 small Yellow Onion, diced
- 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 2–3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 3/4 cup Red Wine or Beef Broth
- 24-ounce jar of Marinara
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
- 5.2 ounces Boursin Cheese
- 3 TBS Parmesan Cheese
- 8 ounces of Shredded Mozzarella
- In a small bowl, rip the two slices of white bread into small pieces. Cover with half a cup of milk, and let this stand while you make the ricotta mixture.
- In a large bowl, add in your 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 tablespoon of House Seasoning, 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning, and 1 teaspoon Oregano. Mix all of these together.
- Add in your soaked bread pieces, and your 1.5 pounds of ground beef.
- Mix together until evenly combined.
- Portion out golf ball sized meatballs using your hands.
- Add 1 inch of olive oil to a skillet, and bring to 350˚ over a medium-high heat stovetop.
- Gently lay each meatball into the skillet and brown on both sides. About 4-5 minutes per side.
- Remove the meatballs from the oil, and discard the oil, except for 1 tablespoon.
- Saute the diced onion until soft.
- Add in your 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 2-3 minced garlic cloves. Allow these to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Pour in one jar of marinara, and use the 1/2 cup of heavy cream to get every last drop of sauce out.
- Pour this cream mixture into your sauce, and stir to combine.
- Add your meatballs back into the sauce and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes.
- Top with dollops of Boursin cheese, the 3 tablespoons of Parmesan, and 8 oucnes of shredded mozzarella.
- Broil for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly on top. Watch carefully!
- Serve with garlic bread for a delicious meal!
- 1/4 cup garlic powder
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/8 cup black pepper
- Mix all of these ingredients together
Keywords: how to cook meatballs