Bobby Flay’s Meatball Recipe

Bobby Flay’s homemade meatball and marinara sauce recipe is easy to make ahead of time and can be prepared on the stove top or in the slow cooker. It’s perfect for pasta, subs, or as a side dish!

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.

Meatball Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs ground meat: An even combination of ground beef, pork, and veal. 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.
  • Eggs
  • Parmesan Cheese- A high quality block grated into a powder at home.
  • Garlic– Use fresh garlic cloves and mince them yourself for best flavor.
  • Breadcrumbs– Homemade breadcrumbs really make the difference here. (see below)
  • Parsley– Fresh
  • Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Marinara Sauce Ingredients

  • Olive Oil
  • Spanish Onion– Yellow onions work well too
  • Garlic
  • Crushed Tomatoes– Or freshly canned garden tomatoes or plum tomatoes, pureed.
  • Bay Leaf
  • Parsley
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Fresh Basil Leaves

Note: 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. I stir it in just before I add the meatballs to the sauce to simmer.


How Much Fat Content Should the Beef Have?

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 solely using beef.

Uncooked meatballs rolled out on a white surface

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

Using Homemade Breadcrumbs

Homemade breadcrumbs really make a difference in meatballs. Here’s an easy way to get it done:

  • Preheat oven to 300°F
  • Cut bread into cubes, (any kind, I like French bread but even hot dog buns work).
  • Use a food processor to grind the bread into course or fine breadcrumbs, depending on preference.
  • Spread evenly over a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.
  • Stir, bake for 5 more minutes.
  • Stir and bake for up to 5 more minutes until completely dry. Let them cool.
  • For Italian breadcrumbs, season with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning.

Jessica Gavin has a great reference with more information on making homemade breadcrumbs!

Breadcrumbs in a food processor and a in a bowl with a spoon scooping some up


Freezing 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 Meatballs

I like to prepare these meatballs 1-2 days ahead of time:

  •  Brown the outside of the meatballs in a cast iron skillet with oil.
  • 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:

  • Place the meatballs in a slow cooker and cover them with marinara sauce.
  • Heat them on low for 5-6 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.

Storing Meatballs in the Refrigerator

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

Storing Meatballs in the 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.

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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.)

Did You Make This Recipe?

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Print
5 from 16 votes
Servings: 25 meatballs
Bobby Flay's Meatball and Sauce Recipe
Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr
Total Time:
1 hr 15 mins
 
Author: Stephanie
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Bobby Flay's Meatball Recipe, Meatball Recipe, Meatballs

Bobby Flay's homemade meatball and marinara sauce recipe is easy to make ahead of time and can be prepared on the stove top or in the slow cooker. It's perfect for pasta, subs, or as a side dish!

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
  1. 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
  1. Gently combine all meatball ingredients, (except the oil), in a large bowl, don't overwork the meat, we want tender meatballs.

  2. Roll into 1+1/2 inch balls.

  3. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat.

  4. Give each meatball a final roll and add them to the pot.

  5. Brown them in batches, for a few minutes on each side. They won't be cooked all the way through.

  6. Remove and set aside until the sauce is prepared, then simmer them in the sauce for 45 minutes.

Homemade Sauce
  1. 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.

  2. Add the garlic and heat for 1-2 minutes.

  3. Add the crushed tomatoes.

  4. Add the bay leaf, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

  5. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat back down to a light simmer.

  6. Add the meatballs and toss them with the sauce.

  7. 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.)

  8. Cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes.

  9. Remove the bay leaf and parsley prior to serving. Stir in the basil. Serve, and enjoy!

Recipe Video
Recipe 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.

Make Ahead Meatballs/Slow Cooker Method.

  • I like to prepare these meatballs 1-2 days ahead of time. After assembling them, I like to sear them in a cast iron skillet to brown the outside and firm up the edges so that they hold up well in the slow cooker.
  • Let them cool and refrigerate them in an airtight freezer bag until ready to serve.
  • When ready to serve, place them in a slow cooker and cover them with marinara sauce. Heat them on low for two hours or more prior to serving.
  • If the sauce begins to bubble, decrease the heat to warm.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 97, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 34mg, Sodium: 140mg, Potassium: 286mg, Carbohydrates: 6g, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 7g, Vitamin A: 225%, Vitamin C: 7%, Calcium: 45%, Iron: 1%
FoodNetwork.com
With a combination of 3 meats in a homemade marinara sauce, Bobby Flay's Italian meatball recipe is sure to quickly become your favorite! | The Cozy Cook | #Meatballs #BobbyFlay #Meat #ItalianFood #Italian #SideDishes #Pasta #Spaghetti #GroundBeef #MarinaraSauce #BestMeatballRecipe #ComfortFood #Dinner