Traditional Meatballs { Italian-American Recipe}

October 20, 2017

Traditional Meatballs { Italian-American Recipe} are a deliciously tender and flavorful recipe that will have your meatball fans coming back each time for more. These meatballs are made with love out of lean ground beef, quality ground pork, breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano cheese, garlic, fresh Italian herbs, and then lightly fried to perfection in olive oil.

My Traditional Meatballs are an Italian-American recipe that has been in our family since the early 1940s. Over the years, my family has tweaked them a bit from my Grandmother Josie’s original Meatball recipe to make them a little more simplified and to the point to make.



Traditional Meatballs { Italian-American Recipe}My Grandmother was born in Bellosguardo, Italy, a town and comune in the province of Salerno in the Campania region of south-western Italy. Some years later, she would make her dream journey to Ellis Island, New York, to begin her life here in America; and learn to make these meatballs in her quaint kitchen from one of the neighbors.

Her Italian-American Meatballs are a far cry from traditional meatballs that are found in Southern Italy. Traditionally Italian Polpette is usually the size of marbles, made with ground beef or veal, and never served with pasta in Italy. Polpette is cooked in a homemade sauce, broth, or sometimes just fried and served as is.




Traditional Meatballs { Italian-American Recipe}My Grandmother’s Meatball recipe has become one to reckon with after being fried in a quality olive oil and then added to her homemade sauce to be simmered for a period to marry the flavors together. Those tender, flavorful meatballs are perfect for Italian bread with mozzarella cheese or eaten over al dente pasta; the choice is yours to make. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have.





Ingredients needed for Traditional Meatballs { Italian-American Recipe} 

  • One and 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1/2 of a pound of ground pork
  • 3/4 of a cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 of a cup of quality Pecorino Romano cheese +more
  • 1/4 of a cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • Four cloves of garlic, minced
  • Two tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
  • Two large egg, lightly beaten
  • Two tablespoons milk
  • pepper flakes, to own taste
  • kosher salt to own taste
  • fresh ground pepper to own taste
  • Six tablespoons olive oil for cooking meatballs divided by 2
  • Homemade sauce
  • Fresh Mozzarella



Chef tips for making great meatballs

  1. Choose the correct meat for your recipes, such as ground fattier meats like beef, pork, sausage, and pork. It will provide more tender meatballs. If you use leaner meats like poultry, be careful not to overcook them, or they will become tough. For better flavorful meatballs, use a blend of different types of ground meats.
  2. Keep the ingredients refrigerated until needed. You will want to keep the fat content from breaking down before you prepare the meatballs. Always keep the meat and other ingredients as cold as possible.
  3. Add moisture to the recipe. Since the proteins in meat make it reduce when cooked, it can lead to a tougher meatball. The added moister will aid in a more tender meatball. Eggs and binders like breadcrumbs mixed with milk will assist in meatballs tender and moist.
  4. Use a tender touch when you are forming the meatballs. If the meatballs become packed too tightly, they’ll turn out on the tough and chewy side.
  5. Use a small scoop to make the meatballs uniform-sized meatballs.






Traditional Meatballs { Italian-American Recipe}

Traditional Meatballs { Italian-American Recipe}

These meatballs are made with love out of lean ground beef, quality ground pork, breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano cheese, garlic, Italian herbs, and then fried to perfection in olive oil.
4.94 from 15 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 People
Calories 490 kcal


  • pounds Lean ground beef
  • ½ Pound Ground pork
  • ¾ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Pecorino Romano cheese +more
  • ¼ cup Chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 cloves Garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh basil chopped
  • 2 large Egg lightly beaten
  • 1-2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 pinch Pepper flakes to own taste
  • Kosher salt to own taste
  • Fresh ground pepper to own taste
  • 6 tablespoons Olive oil for cooking meatballs divided by 2
  • 2 cups Homemade sauce
  • 8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella


  • In a large bowl combine cold lean ground beef, ground pork, panko breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano cheese, Italian flat-leaf parsley, minced garlic, fresh chopped basil, beaten eggs, milk, pepper flakes, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Form meatballs to 1×1 or 2×2 inches. Place on a metal baking pan till needed.
  • Heat 2 large cast iron or metal skillets on medium heat before adding olive oil to the bottom, add enough to coat the bottom of the skillet or metal pan but not drench the meatballs in olive oil about 3 tablespoons or less in each.
  • Fry the meatballs on each side until browned. Remove from the skillets and place them on a wire rack to drain for a few moments.
  • Meanwhile, add your favorite homemade sauce to a large saucepan over low heat and then place the meatballs in the sauce to cook for 1 hour on the very low heat. Be sure to stir here and there.
  • Serve meatballs with Italian bread and cheese, or over your favorite al dente pasta if desired.
  • Top with Pecorino Romano cheese, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil.


Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and how ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Under no circumstances will be responsible for any loss or damage resulting from your reliance on nutritional information.


Serving: 01Calories: 490kcalCarbohydrates: 0gProtein: 0gFat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgPotassium: 0mgFiber: 0gSugar: 0gVitamin A: 0IUVitamin C: 0mgCalcium: 0mgIron: 0mg
Keyword Ground Beef, Ground Pork, Meatballs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Suggested Italian-American Recipes

  • Sicilian-Style Stuffed Peppers, made with Sausage and Couscous. A delicious version of stuffed peppers made with quality Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese, couscous cooked with Rosemary, and Authentic olive oil, placed in sweet bell peppers served with organic fire-roasted San Marzano tomato and red wine sauce.
  • Frank Sinatra’s Italian Tomato Sauce and Meatballs, the perfect Marinara sauce, was Sinatra’s culinary passion. Frank published the recipe for his Mother’s Natalie Della Garaventa, aka Dolly Sinatra, tomato sauce in a cookbook and even launched his jar sauce line in the late 1980s.
  • Al Capone’s Walnut Sauce is a deliciously flavorful straightforward meatless-style recipe made with cold-pressed organic olive oil,  fresh garlic, walnuts, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper and tossed with al dente spaghetti noodles. 




Traditional Meatballs are a deliciously tender and flavorful recipe that will have your meatball fans coming back each time for more. These meatballs are made with love out of lean ground beef, quality ground pork, breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano cheese, garlic, Fresh Italian herbs, and then lightly fried to perfection in olive oil.





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  • Reply
    Paula Montenegro
    June 7, 2020 at 8:37 am

    These were fantastic meatballs! I love how you added cheeses. All my favorite flavors in one place! Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed them

  • Reply
    June 6, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    I love how delicious and beautiful these meatballs turn out! Perfect on pasta or on their own, thanks! Great recipe.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2020 at 9:41 am

    We made these meatballs for dinner last night. The whole family LOVED them! They have perfect texture and are full of flavour! Perfect meal for any day of the week, definitely making this again!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    Those meatballs were a hit last night! I’m so happy it’s only me and my husband here, so we still have leftovers for lunch. Great recipe, super easy to follow and super flavorful meatballs.

  • Reply
    D.M. Hensley
    June 5, 2020 at 9:28 am

    For me, these meatballs are so fun to make and taste so good! I absolutely loved the addition of Pecorino cheese! This recipe is a keeper.

  • Reply
    Ben Butler
    June 4, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Aww yeah, this recipe is remarkably good. It doesn’t get better than your meatball recipe. These were so easy and went over perfectly at dinner.

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