Bobby Flay’s Italian Meatball Recipe

Bobby Flay’s famous Italian Meatball Recipe has a 3-meat combo that you can make on the stove top or in the Crock Pot. Simmer the meatballs in his homemade marinara sauce and serve with spaghetti or in a sub!

Pair this with homemade cheesy garlic bread and a side salad with homemade Italian dressing!

A skillet full of meatballs and marinara sauce with a wooden spoon scooping them up.

There are thousands of meatball recipes out there, I know. But this recipe is one that stands out to me the most with the 3-meat combo, Parmesan cheese, and homemade marinara sauce.

The cooking method is also perfect. It leaves  you with super flavorful meatballs that hold their shape but are also super tender.

What Makes a Great Meatball

3-Meat Combo

Bobby Flay’s meatball recipe calls for an even combination of ground beef, pork, and veal which makes for the best flavor and texture.

I use Catelli Meatball & Meatloaf mix, it’s located near the ground beef and pork. You can also use 50% pork and 50% beef. See below for my recommendation on fat content for the beef.

High-quality Parmesan cheese

Be sure to shred it from a block at home to the best flavor and texture.

The Cooking Method.

Brown them first, then let them finish cooking in the marinara sauce.

This results in a nice texture on the outside of the meatball but keeps it juicy and tender on the inside. It also adds more flavor to the tomato sauce.

Fresh garlic

Mince your own garlic from a fresh bulb. It’s much better than the jarred stuff. This garlic twister makes it easy.

Homemade Breadcrumbs.

Not totally mandatory, bu if you have a little extra time, check out my recipe for homemade breadcrumbs.


Best Kind of Beef for Meatballs

The fat content in the beef that you use for meatballs depends on what other meats are included.

In this recipe, ground pork and ground veal are also being used, which contain a higher fat percentage than ground beef, so 90% lean is a good proportion to use.

Otherwise, 70% lean is a good choice if using just beef.

Uncooked meatballs rolled out on a white surface

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.

Side by side images of meatballs in a skillet before and after being browned.

A pot with onions and garlic next to a pot with crushed tomatoes and parsley, and seasonings

 

How to Freeze Meatballs

Meatballs freeze well and can be frozen before or after they’ve cooked in sauce.

If you freeze them before they are cooked in sauce:

  • Place the uncooked rolled meatballs on a plate and flash freeze them 30 minutes. This will prevent them from sticking together.
  • Store them in a freezer bag or airtight container in the freezer for 3-4 months.
  • When you’re ready to cook them, add the frozen meatballs to marinara sauce and let them simmer until they’re cooked through, about 80 minutes.

If you freeze the meatballs after cooking them in sauce:

  • Place them in an airtight container along with some sauce. Let it cool completely.
  • Freeze for 3-4 months.
  • Defrost in the microwave and reheat on the stove until heated through.

Meatballs in a homemade marinara sauce in a large pot with a wooden spoon.

Make-Ahead Method

I like to prepare these meatballs 1 day ahead of time:

  •  Brown the outside of the meatballs in a cast iron skillet with oil. (This is optional, but creates a nice texture on the outside.)
  • Let them cool and refrigerate them in an airtight freezer bag until ready to serve. Note: Do not eat until you have finished cooking them in the Slow Cooker or Stove Top.

To Finish Cooking:

Stove Top:

  • Please the meatballs in a large saucepan and cover them with marinara sauce.
  • Heat simmer over medium-low heat for 55 minutes, with the lid cracker slightly.

Slow Cooker:

  • Cover them with sauce.
  • Heat them on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • If the sauce begins to bubble, decrease the heat to warm.

A white serving platted with a wooden spoon, marinara sauce, and meatballs on a white surface with bread around it.

Storage

Refrigerator

  • Cooked meatballs should be stored in an airtight container and will remain good for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Freezer

  • Meatballs maintain their best quality for the first 3-4 months in the freezer, but can still be cooked and eaten after that time.

Try These Next!

 

A large skillet filled with marinara sauce and meatballs with a wooden spoon on a white marble surface and a white and blue kitchen towel.

No time for homemade sauce? Rao’s Homemade Marinara is always my sauce of choice for that. (Worth every penny.)

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Did You Make This Recipe?

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Italian meatballs sprinkled with Parmesan cheese being scooped by a wooden spoon.

Bobby Flay's Italian Meatball Recipe

5 from 25 votes
Bobby Flay's famous Italian Meatball Recipe has a 3-meat combo that you can make on the stove top or in the Crock Pot. Simmer the meatballs in his homemade marinara sauce and serve with spaghetti or in a sub!

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork, *see notes
  • 1/2 pound ground veal, *see notes
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated into a powder
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs, preferably homemade
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Homemade Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped and sauteed
  • 56 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 basil leaves, sliced into strips

Instructions

  • Note: Use a large enough pot to hold the marinara sauce and the meatballs. We're browning the meatballs in the pot first and cooking the sauce in the same pot after for extra flavor.

Meatballs

  • Gently combine all meatball ingredients, (except the oil), in a large bowl, don't overwork the meat, we want tender meatballs.
  • Roll into 1+1/2 inch balls.
  • Heat the oil in a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Give each meatball a final roll and add them to the pot.
  • Brown them in batches, for a few minutes on each side. They won't be cooked all the way through.
  • Remove and set aside until the sauce is prepared, then simmer them in the sauce for 45 minutes.

Homemade Sauce

  • Use the same saucepan as you used to brown the meatballs. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they’re softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and heat for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes.
  • Add the bay leaf, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat back down to a light simmer.
  • Add the meatballs and toss them with the sauce.
  • Note: Use an immersion blender right in the pot if you prefer to smooth out the tomatoes more. (This can also be done in a regular blender.)
  • Cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaf and parsley prior to serving. Stir in the basil. Serve, and enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • You can use equal parts ground pork & beef if you prefer that over using veal.

  • To serve with pasta, combine with 1 lb. of spaghetti. This is also great with a side of garlic bread!

  • I like to add a splash (3-4 Tablespoons) of red wine to the sauce as well. Chianti, Pinot Pior, and Merlot are great options.

  • Slow Cooker:
    • Brown the outside of the meatballs in a skillet for added texture if desired. This is optional.
    • Cover the with sauce. Heat them on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
    • If the sauce begins to bubble, decrease the heat to warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 97kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 34mg, Sodium: 140mg, Potassium: 286mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 225IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 45mg, Iron: 1mg
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