Quick, easy, tender and juicy, Pan Fried Italian Meatballs are made on the stove top for an easy weeknight dinner that’s cooked in just one pan. Ground Beef, seasonings and tons of flavor are combined for the BEST meatball recipe right in your own kitchen.

Italian Meatballs on a pile of spaghetti with tomato sauce in a white bowl.

Italian Meatballs

We love a good, hearty Sunday dinner every day of the week. Lots of pasta, tangy spaghetti sauce and tender meatballs are one of our favorite meals. And we’re self-professed meatball snobs so it was only fitting that I work to created the BEST meatball recipe.

These Easy Italian Meatballs are like my favorite child. This recipe didn’t come together in just one try, it was a series of testing that led us to this juicy winner. And it’s more about the technique than any secret ingredient.

I promise, your family will LOVE these easy meatballs as much as we do.

Pan Fried Meatballs on a plate of spaghettini with a fork twirled with pasta.

What Makes These Meatballs the Best

Meatballs are made from ground beef, onion, garlic and other seasonings rolled into little balls before cooking. They can be cooked by pan frying, baking, braising or steaming in a sauce, usually tomato based, before being served on top of a mountain of pasta.

You can add your favorite seasonings to this recipe or leave out the extra garlic….we go heavy on it here. But don’t skip the cheese, it makes the meatballs extra flavorful and helps to create a nice crust on the outside of the meatball while frying.

Overhead shot of spaghetti and meatballs on a white plate with a turquoise design and a fork with spaghetti swirled around it.

How To Make Meatballs

Homemade meatballs are super simple to make and this recipe uses one trick to make them extra tasty. Blending your aromatics together; the onion and garlic, helps to blend them together seamlessly with the other ingredients to you’re not biting into a chunk of onion or garlic. We like to Pan Fry our meatballs for the extra flavor from the caramelization

  1. Mix the beef, veal and sausage. Set aside.
  2. Blend the onion and garlic until pureed. 
  3. Mix the ingredients together until well combined.
  4. Shape the mixture into balls approximately the size of a golf ball.
  5. Heat the oil in a deep skillet or dutch oven.
  6. Add the meatballs to the pan and cook on all sides until browned.
  7. Cover and cook the meatballs over low heat until cooked through.
  8. Serve with your favorite sauce.
Pan fried meatballs in a dutch oven.

To keep my meatballs lighter, I really like to use a Panko breadcrumb. Panko is a variety of flaky bread crumb used in Japanese cuisine as a crunchy coating for fried foods.It’s made from bread baked by electrical current, which yields a bread without a crust, and then grinding the bread to create fine slivers of crumb.

Panko keeps the meatball from becoming dense and tough. You can use regular breadcrumbs in it’s place but only add half the amount called for in the recipe below.

You can easily make these meatballs gluten free by replacing the Panko breadcrumbs with gluten free bread crumbs. They’ll be just as tasty!

Overhead shot of pan fried meatballs in a dutch oven with a wooden spoon and tomato sauce.

Tips For The Best Meatballs

  • Fresh ingredients work best here. Fresh meat, cheese, herbs, eggs, etc are only going to enhance the flavor of your meatballs. 
  • Don’t be tempted to buy lower fat meats, you need the fat to keep the meatballs juicy, tender and flavorful. Stick with about 80% lean meat.
  • Cheese, don’t buy it shredded in a bag. Grate it yourself….it takes a minute….it’s totally worth the extra minute of prep time.
  • When shaping your meatballs, don’t overwork the meat. Mixing and rolling is tough on meat….and if you manhandle it…you’ll end up with tough meatballs. Be gentle.
  • Roll your meatballs into balls of a similar size so they cook evenly. I like to use a cookie scoop to ensure they’re all about the same size.

How To Freeze Meatballs

I LOVE to make a big batch of baked meatballs to freeze for later. And they make a great potluck meal or food gift for a neighbor in need.

  • Assemble your meatballs on the baking sheet and freeze them in an even layer BEFORE baking them. 
  • Once frozen, transfer your meatballs to a zip top bag and press out the air. Seal.
  • Freeze your meatballs for up to 3 months.
  • To cook your frozen meatballs, allow them to thaw at room temperature before pan frying according to the recipe instructions below.
Fried meatballs on a pile of spaghetti on a white plate.

Serving Suggestions

While we love serving our ground beef meatballs on top of a pile of spaghetti while ladles of sauce, we also love them in a meatball sandwich with melty cheese.

You can also serve them sliced in half to top a pizza with some basil pesto for a fresh spin on your favorite take out classic.

More Meatball Recipes

If you like this Stovetop Meatball recipe, you’ll also love these easy Ricotta Meatballs. They’re light and airy….as much as a meatball can be.

Or try these easy Swedish Meatballs and these Chicken Marsala Meatballs are amazing, too.

Kids love these Porcupine Meatballs which is often a one pot dinner deal in our house.

For more easy dinner ideas, follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

Italian Meatballs on a pile of spaghetti with tomato sauce in a white bowl.

Get the Recipe: The Best Italian Meatball Recipe

Quick and easy, tender and juicy, Pan Fried Meatballs are made with ground beef, onion, garlic and parmesan cheese for a simple weeknight dinner option that's ready in minutes!
4 from 1 vote


  • 1 pound ground beef, I used 80/20
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound sweet italian sausage
  • 1 large vidalia onion, cut into quarters
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten


  • skillet
  • blender


  • Using your hands, lightly mix the beef, veal and sausage. Set aside.
  • In a blender, add the onion and garlic. Blend until pureed.
  • Add the onion mixture, stock, fish sauce, panko, parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper and egg to the meat mixture and, using clean hands, mix the ingredients together until well combined.
  • Gently shape the mixture into balls approximately the size of a golf ball.
  • Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  • Add the meatballs to the pan and cook until golden brown.
  • Flip the meatballs and continue to brown on all sides turning once crusty and golden.
  • Cover the pan and turn the heat to low.
  • Cook the meatballs for an additional 5-10 minutes until cooked through. (Be sure to check your meatballs to make sure they’re not burning. If they seem a bit dry, add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the pan and cover.)
  • Serve your meatballs with your favorite sauce.


After the meatballs are finished cooking, you can add your favorite sauce to the pan and simmer until ready to serve.
To freeze your meatballs, transfer to a baking sheet and freeze in a single layer until firm, approximately 4 hours. Place the meatballs in a freezer bag and seal, pressing out any air. 
To reheat your frozen meatballs, place in a pan with 1/4 cup of water and cover. Cook over medium heat until cooked through.
You can freeze your meatballs before cooking by using the same method. Then, to cook them properly, allow to thaw at room temperature before pan frying.
Calories: 385kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 138mg, Sodium: 941mg, Potassium: 574mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 291IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 222mg, Iron: 3mg