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Baked Meatballs

These Italian Meatballs are baked in marinara sauce and topped with melted Mozzarella cheese. These are perfect to serve with spaghetti, in subs, or as a side dish for a potluck or holiday! This is an easy dish to make ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze for later.

Be sure to serve this with a side of my garlic bread with cheese.

A spoon pulling up a cheesy baked meatball in marinara sauce from a casserole dish.

Baked Meatballs

I am so excited to share this recipe with you. These meatballs are SO juicy and tender, and it’s all due to the miracle of using a panade. It makes these meatballs melt in your mouth.

I am more than proud to bring this dish to a Potluck or special gathering, either as an Italian side dish or to enjoy with spaghetti or sub rolls. (BONUS: It’s make-ahead and Crock Pot friendly!)

If you want to get super fancy, you can make my homemade marinara sauce or Italian breadcrumb recipe to go with it! But first, let’s talk about what makes this the BEST baked meatball recipe:

What is a Panade?

A panade is a mixture of starch and liquid that is combined to form a paste. It’s mixed in with meat for meatballs, meatloaf, or burgers to preserve the tender texture of the meat.

When meat cooks, the proteins expand and contract and in doing so, moisture escapes. The starch in the panade turns to a gel when cooked and lubricates the fibers in the meat as it cooks.

How to Make It

The bottom of this post also contains recipe card with ingredients and full instructions.

  • Soften the onions and garlic in a pan and set aside to cool.
  • Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and seasonings in a small bowl.
  • Combine the eggs and milk in another small bowl.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine until a paste forms. (This is the panade.) Add the onions/garlic.

  • Add the panade to the meat and use your hands to mix until just combined. Don’t overwork the meat or the meatballs will be tough.

A glass bowl with a panad added to ground beef and being mixed for baked meatballs.

  • Add 3/4 of the marinara sauce to a 9×13 casserole dish. Roll meat into 24 balls 1+1/2 inches thick. 
  • Add the meatballs to the dish and spoon remaining marinara sauce on top. Cover and bake at 375° for 30 minutes.

A white casserole dish with uncooked meatballs topped with marinara sauce.

  • Remove the cover and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 more minutes.
  • Broil at 450° for 1-2 minutes at the end if desired. Use a paper towel to carefully dab off any excess grease on the top. Top with parsley and serve.

A casserole dish with baked meatballs topped with cheese before and after being baked.

Baking Sheet Method

To bake these on a baking sheet without sauce: 1.5 inch meatballs take approximately 30-35 minutes to bake at 350°, the internal temperature needs to reach 160°.

I use this instant read thermometer (Amazon Affiliate link), it is a life saver in the kitchen.

Make Ahead Method

These meatballs can be rolled and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours prior to baking.

You can also flash freeze the raw meatballs on a baking sheet for 1.5 hours, then store them in a gallon freezer bag for up to 3 months. Let them defrost in the fridge overnight prior to baking.

PRO TIP: I like to bake this entire dish of meatballs, let them cool, and freeze them in portions of 4+ to serve with spaghetti during a busy week. I just drop the frozen meatballs right into a pot of marinara sauce and let them defrost over low heat.

Crock Pot Method

Roll the meatballs and place them in a lightly greased Slow Cooker. Top with marinara sauce and. Heat on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7. Top with cheese and cover until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.

Storage

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Tools for This Recipe

(Amazon affiliate links)- Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.

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A spoon in a casserole dish full of baked meatballs in marinara sauce with melted cheese.

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Prefer to use ground turkey?! Try my Turkey Meatball recipe!

A spoon scooping up a meatball covered in marinara sauce and topped with cheese.

Baked Meatballs

5 from 34 ratings
Juicy Italian meatballs are covered in marinara sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese and baked in the oven! Serve these with spaghetti, in subs, or as a delicious side dish for a Potluck!

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated from a block
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 lbs. ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork

Sauce + Cheese

  • 32 oz marinara sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh Parsley, to garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Set aside and let cool.
  • Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper and set aside.
  • Crack an egg in a small bowl and whisk it. Add the milk and whisk to combine.
  • Combine the dry mixture with the wet mixture to form a smooth paste. Mix in the onions and garlic. (This is called a panade and keeps the juiciness and flavor intact while the meatballs cook.)
  • Add the meat to a large bowl and top with the panade. Use your hands and gently mix until just combined. Don’t overwork the meat or the meatballs will be tough.
  • Roll into 1 ½ inch meatballs.
  • Pour ¾ of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Add the meatballs. Spoon remaining sauce over the top.
  • Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and top with cheese. Bake 15 more minutes. Broil for additional 1-2 minutes at the end if desired. Use a paper towel to carefully dab off any excess grease on the top. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Notes

To save time, you can skip sautéing the onions and garlic. Doing so creates a more subtle texture and flavor, particularly for picky eaters.

Ground sausage and/or ground veal may also be used.

The internal temperature of meatballs should be 160 degrees before serving.

Make Ahead Method

These meatballs can be rolled and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours prior to baking.
You can also flash freeze the raw meatballs on a baking sheet for 1.5 hours, then store them in a gallon freezer bag for up to 3 months. Let them defrost in the fridge overnight prior to baking.
PRO TIP: I like to bake this entire dish of meatballs, let them cool, and freeze them in portions of 4+ to serve with spaghetti during a busy week. I just drop the frozen meatballs right into a pot of marinara sauce and let them defrost over low heat.

Crock Pot Method

Roll the meatballs and place them in a lightly greased Slow Cooker. Top with marinara sauce. Heat on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7. Top with cheese and cover until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.

Baking Sheet Method

To bake these on a baking sheet without sauce: 1.5 inch meatballs take approximately 30 minutes to bake at 350°, the internal temperature needs to reach 160°.

Nutrition

Calories: 128kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 35mg, Sodium: 415mg, Potassium: 228mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 254IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 79mg, Iron: 1mg
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97 comments on “Baked Meatballs”

  1. This is my second time making this recipe. In fact, I thought I hadn’t saved it and panicked a little until I found it in my Favorite Recipes section. This is the BEST meatball recipe EVER!!! Thank you for sharing it!

    • Thanks so much for the great comments and for taking the time to leave a review Jan💗! I’m so happy you’ve been enjoying the Baked Meatballs, my family loves these!

  2. I love the meatball recipe, but if in a pinch, if you had to use frozen meatballs, would the cooking time be the same?

    • Hi Tracy! I would refer to the conventional oven baking instructions for a better guideline on that, we are baking these meatballs from a raw State, where is frozen meatballs are generally already cooked.

  3. Soooo good! Recipe and directions are perfect!

  4. These meatballs are the best you must try them. 😊

  5. Will this make enough sauce to serve with spaghetti or should I make extra? 

    • Hi Jenna, there are 32 oz. of sauce here (equal to 4 cups), so there is enough to serve with some pasta but it all depends on how much pasta you’re making and how much sauce you like with your pasta. But if I had to guess, I’d say there is enough here 🙂

      • Easy to make, and very tasty. I doubled the recipe (& got the exact number of meatballs 😄). I will be making them again. Served with vegetables, but leftovers will be with pasta. I made my own marinara sauce. The recipe was a hit with all eight of us.

      • I’m so happy this was a hit with everyone Coral! I love keeping a big batch of these in the freezer. Thanks so much for the great review!❤️

  6. This was so delicious! My son is very picky and doesn’t care for marinara sauce on anything or anything tomato based and he Loved it! 

  7. Hi! Love this recipe. I lost it for a few months and so glad I found it again!!!! Are the nutrition facts per one meatball?

    • Hi Sam!! I’m so happy that you were able to track the recipe down again!! 🙂 Yes, the nutrition facts are per meatball and includes a proportionate amount of sauce/cheese as well!

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