Gluten free, Main courses

Italian meatballs

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Italian meatballs are one of my family’s favorite meals. I love that they are incredibly versatile too. This is a classic meatball recipe that can be used with many different kinds of sauces from an Asian inspired sweet and spicy to a classic tomato sauce.

An oval bowl of sauteed Italian meatballs
Italian meatballs with garlic, oregano and parsley

These Italian meatballs pair effortlessly with tomato sauce and spaghetti. They are really tasty simply with sauteed mushrooms and rice as well. Make a big batch and you will easily get at least two meals out of them.

When we lived in Italy, you could buy fresh meatballs rolled out daily in the local butcher shop. I asked questions and learned how to make these through trial and error. Here are some tidbits of wisdom I absorbed from the Italian nonnas (grandmas) and chefs like Mamma Agata about making them.

Tips for making delicious Italian meatballs

  1. Use a mixture of ground beef and ground pork meat. Use mild Italian sausage for the pork meat.
  2. Soak the bread in milk. Use a bread like a sliced French or Italian peasant loaf, a whole grain bread or a gluten-free bread. Some brands I like include: Udi’s gluten-free whole grain bread, Parisian Star peasant bread or Dave’s Killer Bread – organic white bread. Day old is best.
  3. Add finely shredded Parmesan cheese to the mixture. Buy the good stuff from the deli and shred it yourself.
  4. Go easy on the garlic. A little goes a long way. If you use too much garlic, all you’ll taste is garlic.

Follow these tips and you’ll have a moister, softer and more flavorful meatball. Your guests will say…”mamma mia…now that’s a meatball!”

If you are gluten free, making your own meatballs is a great idea. Use your favorite gluten free bread and gluten free all purpose flour mix. If you are not gluten free, use regular bread and flour. Meatballs are traditionally made with just regular flour and bread. You’ll notice there isn’t salt on the ingredient list. That is because the Parmesan cheese is salty. If you decide to leave out the cheese, add in a pinch or two of salt.

An oval platter with sauteed Italian meatballs. Garlic on the side.
Italian meatballs are versatile and delicious

There are some crucial steps in making Italian meatballs worth reviewing to achieve a flavorful and tender meatball.

Remove the crusts from the bread in the recipe and soak it in the milk and water for about five minutes. Gently squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the bread to the meat mixture.

Adding the milk soaked bread to the meat mixture.
Adding milk soaked bread to the meat mixture

I use a large stainless steel mixing bowl. You’ll add in the beef, sausage, eggs, oregano, parsley, garlic and cheese.

Ingredients for the meatballs in a stainless steel mixing bowl.
Add all the ingredients to the stainless steel mixing bowl

Next, combine all the ingredients together in the bowl so that everything gets incorporated well. You can use your hands or a utensil. I prefer to use a fork.

The meat all mixed together.
Mix everything up well

Next place the flour on a plate. Spoon out a heaping tablespoon or so of the meatball mixture. Gently roll between the palms of your hands. The meatball should be about the size of a golf ball. Do not squeeze or squish them too much. Gently roll the meatball in the flour. Tap off any excess and set aside on a plate. Continue this process until you have used up all the meat.

A picture of hands forming meatballs gently.
Form the meatballs gently and roll in flour

Pictured below here are all the meatballs gently floured and waiting to be cooked. They can be sauteed in a non-stick frying pan. However, I find it easiest to cook them in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Drizzle the foil with a little olive oil. Place the meatballs onto the baking sheet. Space them out a little. You don’t want them too crowded. Bake in the oven until they are golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Turn them over about half way through the baking time. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Or spoon them onto a platter and let them cool. You can refrigerate them to be used next day in your favorite sauce.

Classic Italian meatballs

Italian meatballs are everyone’s favorite! These can be made gluten free too. Pair these meatballs with your favorite tomato sauce and spaghetti or try them with sauteed mushrooms and a little parsley.

  • 4 slices of regular bread, crusts removed or 5 slices Udi’s gluten-free bread, crusts removed.  (Udi’s slices of bread are a little smaller than standard bread.)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/4 lb mild Italian ground sausage
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, diced or a pinch or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, diced
  • 1 small garlic clove (smashed, then finely minced)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 to 7 tbsp all-purpose flour or all purpose gluten-free flour
  1. Remove the crusts from the bread and soak in the milk and water for about five minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, add the beef, sausage, eggs, oregano, parsley, garlic and cheese.
  3. Gently squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the bread to the bowl.
  4. Next, combine all the ingredients together in the bowl so that everything gets incorporated well. It’s best to use your hands for this, but you can use a wooden spoon if you prefer.
  5. Next place the flour on a plate. Spoon out a heaping tablespoon or so of the meatball mixture. Gently roll between the palms of your hands. The meatball should be about the size of a golf ball. Do not squeeze or squish them too much. Gently roll the meatball in the flour. Tap off any excess and set aside on a plate. Continue this process until you have used up all the meat.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Drizzle the foil with a little olive oil. Place the meatballs onto the baking sheet. Space them out a little. You don’t want them too crowded. Bake in the oven until they are golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Turn them over about half way through the baking time.
  7. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Or spoon them onto a platter and let them cool. You can refrigerate them to be used next day in your favorite sauce.

 

4 Comments

  1. These look delicious!

     
  2. Erik Miller

    These look incredible! Can’t wait to try to make them. Thanks!

     

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