Homemade Italian Meatballs and How to Freeze Them

Italian meatballs, those flavorful, tender, and aromatic orbs of deliciousness, have captured the hearts and palates of food lovers worldwide.

Whether served atop spaghetti or nestled inside a crusty bread for meatball subs, homemade meatballs are the ultimate comfort food. What’s even better is that they are a versatile dish you can make in batches and freeze for future enjoyment.

Handy” loves to have meat in any kind of pasta while I like it without. Having these meatballs in the freezer is an easy way to quickly add meatballs to our favorite Italian dishes. My recipe makes a lot of meatballs. 

pasta, marinara and italian meatballs in a white bowl ready to eat.

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The Art of Making Homemade Italian Meatballs

Ingredients:

Before you embark on your Italian meatball-making journey, gather the following ingredients:

  1. Ground Meat: A classic combination is a mixture of ground beef and ground pork. Some people prefer using a combination of beef, pork, and ground veal for a more complex flavor.
  2. Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs work well. They act as a binding agent and help keep the meatballs tender. My secret is fresh bread crumbs from 3 slices of white bread processed in my food processor.
  3. Onion: If you prefer small pieces of onion, like me, process it in the food processor before adding it to your large mixing bowl
  4. Garlic: Finely minced fresh garlic cloves infuse the meatballs with a wonderful aroma. You can also use garlic powder if you don’t have fresh.
  5. Eggs: Eggs provide additional binding and moisture to the meatballs.
  6. Parmesan Cheese: Grated Parmesan cheese adds a rich, savory flavor.
  7. Fresh Herbs: Chopped fresh parsley, basil, or oregano adds a burst of freshness if you have fresh available. If not using dried Italian seasoning works well.
  8. Secret Sauces: I add a little bit of hot sauce and Worcestershire Sauce for added flavor
  9. Salt and Pepper: Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can increase or decrease my suggestions to your liking
  10. Optional: Add red pepper flakes if you want some heat

Instructions:

  1. Mix Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, breadcrumbs, eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to gently mix the ingredients together until well combined.
  2. Shape Meatballs: With clean, damp hands, shape the meat mixture into uniform-sized meatballs. Roll them gently between your palms to create smooth, round shapes. Size can vary, but golf ball-sized meatballs are a popular choice. You can also use a cookie scoop for a more consistent size of raw meatballs.
  3. Cook Meatballs: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a bit of olive oil. Once hot, add the meatballs in batches, ensuring they have space to cook evenly. Cook until browned on all sides then turn to medium heat and cook through about 8-10 minutes. You want the internal temperature to be 160 degrees
  4. Serve: Enjoy your homemade Italian meatballs immediately with your favorite pasta and sauce, or create a tasty meatball sub with crusty bread and melted cheese.

Freezing Italian Meatballs: Tips and Tricks

Now that you’ve mastered the art of making Italian meatballs, it’s time to learn how to freeze them properly to ensure they maintain their flavor and texture. Freezing meatballs is a convenient way to have a quick, homemade meal on hand whenever you need it. Not not freeze uncooked meatballs.

  • Cool Completely:
    • Before you start freezing your meatballs, allow them to cool completely. Placing hot meatballs in the freezer can lead to the formation of ice crystals on the surface, affecting their texture.
  • Use the “Flash Freeze” Method:
    • To prevent meatballs from sticking together in a single clump, place meatballs on a baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper in a single layer. Place the sheet in the freezer for a few hours. Once they’re partially frozen, you can transfer them to your chosen storage containers without fear of them sticking together.
  • Choose the Right Packaging:
    • Select a freezer-safe airtight container or resealable freezer bag for storage. It’s essential to remove as much air as possible from the packaging to prevent freezer burn.
  • Portion Control:
    • Consider portioning your meatballs before freezing. This makes it easier to grab the exact amount you need for a meal without having to thaw the entire batch.
  • Layer and Separate:
    • If you plan to stack meatballs in a container, place a layer of parchment paper or plastic wrap between the layers to prevent them from sticking together. 
  • Label and Date:
    • Always label your containers or bags with the contents and date of freezing. This helps you keep track of how long they’ve been stored and avoid freezer burn.
  • Proper Thawing:
    • When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen Italian meatballs, it’s best to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. Slow thawing helps maintain their texture and flavor. Alternatively, you can gently reheat them from frozen in a sauce on the stove but be careful not to overcook them.
  • Sauces and Accompaniments:
    • If you plan to serve the meatballs with sauce, consider freezing the sauce separately. This allows you to mix and match sauces and meatballs according to your preferences.

Italian Meatballs

These flavorful morsels can be frozen to provide a quick and easy addition to many meals
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Flash Freeze2 hours
Total Time2 hours 50 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: italian meatballs, Meatballs
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 299kcal

Equipment

  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • small mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Food Processor
  • large skillet
  • tongs
  • Baking Sheet
  • Parchment Paper

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 slices of white bread or 3/4 cup of pre-made bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3 dashes of hot sauce
  • 10 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Redmond Real Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

Meatballs

  • Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with your hands
  • If you sprinkle everything over the meat evenly it makes mixing easier.

Cooking

  • Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to a large skillet and heat on medium-high heat.
  • Sear all the sides of the meatballs and then turn the heat down to medium and cook, turning often until the meatballs are cooked through. The internal temperature should be 160°
  • Work in batches as you don't want the meatballs to be crowded in the skillet.
  • Let the meatballs cool

Flash Freezing

  • Place the meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Put into the freezer for about 2 hours.
  • Once the meatballs are frozen transfer them to a container of your choice for storage in the freezer.
Yum

Ways to Use Your Meatballs

Conclusion

I think I have the best Italian meatball recipe 🙂 They are so much more flavorful meatballs than what you can buy frozen in the grocery store. 

Homemade Italian meatballs are a culinary delight that can bring comfort and flavor to any meal. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create these delectable treats and freeze them for future enjoyment. 

With the right techniques, your frozen meatballs will taste just as good as the day you made them, making them a convenient and delicious addition for busy weeknights. So, go ahead and whip up a batch of Italian meatballs, freeze them, and savor the flavors of Italy whenever you desire. Buon appetito!

Peace and. Love,

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2 Comments

  1. carol kubicz says:

    Hi Lynn! so excited to make the meat balls. We made all natural sauce this fall and it is frozen in quart sizes. I usually buy my meat balls at Heybecks but they are so expensive. This will be so great. thank you
    carol kubicz (Scott)

    1. I used to buy store bought too and they seemed to have more filler (bread crumbs) than meat. I hope you like them!