Oven Baked Meatballs

5 from 8 votes
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Tonight’s dinner is calling for saucy Oven Baked Meatballs! In less than an hour, you can dive into these juicy, tender meatballs, each generously coated in spicy marinara sauce. They’re easy to whip up, promising a feast that’s as quick as it is delicious!

Meatballs in a pan with tomato sauce and topped with basil.


Baked Meatballs Recipe

Meatballs are a joy, aren’t they? The aroma that fills the air as they bake is divine, and the taste is simply incomparable. Now imagine pairing that with the scent of marinara sauce bubbling away with fresh herbs – it turns your kitchen into the heart of a homecoming dinner! With this easy oven-baked meatballs recipe, simplicity is the key. Shape those beauties, pop them in the oven, and let the heat work its magic as you focus on the rest of the meal. Tradition calls for serving them over a generous serving of spaghetti, but grabbing a loaf of your favorite crusty focaccia bread to soak up that sauce is a no-fuss alternative. Add a crisp, large la scala chopped salad to the mix, and voila – a balanced, fantastic meal awaits!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy. This is a super easy recipe to make, especially when you’re running behind on dinner. From start to finish, you’ll have an enticing batch of flavorful meatballs ready to eat in under an hour.
  • Ultra flavorful. You’ll pair fresh herbs – parsley and basil – with Italian seasoning, onion, and garlic for a savory punch.
  • Makes great leftovers. This recipe makes a lot of meatballs, and I love a recipe that allows me to save time on future dinner prep. Store leftover meatballs in the freezer to use for another meal.
Close-up image of meatballs stirred in with marinara sauce and garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Ingredients For Meatballs

  • Stale Bread: To make breadcrumbs. These create the tender, juicy texture in each meatball.
  • Milk: It’s the secret to making the bread crumbs mushy and helps bind all the flavors together.
  • Ground Beef, Ground Pork, and Ground Veal: A trio of meats for the ultimate flavor combination, ensuring each meatball is succulent and rich in taste. More pork can be substituted if veal is not your thing.
  • Onion: Finely minced.
  • Garlic: Minced and mixed in for that aromatic kick.
  • Eggs: The binding agents that hold all the deliciousness together
  • Fresh Parsley and Basil: Chopped and stirred into the mix for a herby, fresh aroma and taste.
  • Italian Seasoning: A sprinkle of this brings that classic Italian touch.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano: Make sure to use fresh cheese for the best flavor.
  • Marinara Sauce: You can use store-bought sauce for this recipe.

How to Make Oven Baked Meatballs

You’ve probably made meatballs before, so you know the drill: combine ground meat with breadcrumbs, herbs, egg, and cheese, shape them into balls, and cook. My method is to bake the meatballs in the oven before simmering them gently in marinara sauce.

  1. Prepare pans. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Grease two baking sheets with cooking spray and set them aside.
  2. Make breadcrumbs. Tear slices of stale bread into pieces. Place them in a food processor and pulse to make chunky crumbs. In a large mixing bowl, place the bread crumbs and pour in the milk. Let the bread and milk mixture stand for 5 minutes so the bread absorbs the milk.
  3. Make the meatball mix. Add the ground beef, pork, veal, minced onion, garlic, eggs, parsley, basil, Italian Seasoning, salt, pepper, and cheese to the milk and bread mixture. Gently stir and mix everything together until thoroughly combined.
  4. Form the meatballs. Lightly grease your hands with cooking spray and scoop out portions of meat. Then shape them into meatballs about 1-inch to 1.5-inches in size each. Place the meatballs to your prepared baking sheets, leaving some space in between.
  5. Bake the meatballs. Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. Then flip over and bake for 8 more minutes, or until they’re cooked through. Meatballs are done when the internal temperature registers 165˚F on a meat thermometer.
  6. Warm the sauce. While the meatballs are baking, warm the marinara sauce in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  7. Add meatballs to the sauce. When the meatballs are done, remove them from the oven and add them to the warm marinara sauce. Stir to coat and continue to cook over medium-low heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Garnish the meatballs with basil ribbons and Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.
Baked meatballs are added to a pan of marinara sauce.

Tips for Oven Baked Meatballs

Since these meatballs are cooked mainly in the oven rather than on the stove, I have a few tips to make sure the oven-baking method gives you the ultimate best results.

  • Mixing the Meat: Avoid overmixing the meat mixture. Gently combine the ingredients just until they’re mixed to keep the meatballs tender.
  • Size Consistency: Make sure all meatballs are the same size for even cooking.
  • Line the Pan: Consider lining your baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
  • Chill the Meatballs: If time allows, chill the shaped meatballs in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before baking. It helps them hold their shape better while cooking.
  • Seasonings: Feel free to experiment with spices and herbs.
  • Testing Doneness: Ensure your meatballs are perfectly cooked by aiming for an internal temperature of 165˚F. An instant-read thermometer is your best friend for this task, guaranteeing each meatball is just right.
  • Broiling Option: For a browned, slightly crispy exterior, broil the meatballs for the last few minutes of cooking. Keep a close eye to avoid burning.
  • Simmer: Allowing the meatballs to simmer in the sauce for a few extra minutes infuses them with flavor.

Serving Suggestions for Meatballs

Another reason I love this recipe is because there are so many options for how to serve meatballs. You can mix things up each time you serve them. Here are some suggestions:

Baked meatballs in a pan with marinara and topped with basil.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

  • Fridge: Let the meatballs cool, then transfer them to an airtight container and store them in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
  • Freezer: Cool the meatballs, then place them in a freezer-safe container without the sauce. You can store the meatballs in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost them in the fridge before reheating.
  • To Reheat: Place the meatballs in a skillet with your favorite sauce. Heat the meatballs and sauce over low heat until they are hot and warmed through, stirring often.

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5 from 8 votes

Oven Baked Meatballs

Make these saucy, oven-baked meatballs tonight! They are so delicious, but also easy to make. In under an hour, you’ll be savoring juicy meatballs, perfectly simmered in a tasty marinara sauce.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 40 meatballs


  • 2 cups bread crumbs made from stale bread,, try not to use store-bought breadcrumbs
  • ¾ cups milk
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground veal,, or use more ground pork
  • 1 small yellow onion,, finely minced
  • 4 cloves garlic,, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 24 ounces jar of marinara sauce,, or use your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce
  • fresh basil ribbons,, for garnish
  • grated Parmesan,, for garnish
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  • Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line two baking sheets with foil and grease them with cooking spray; set aside.
  • Tear slices of stale bread into pieces; place them in a food processor and pulse to make 2 cups of chunkier crumbs.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups of bread crumbs with milk and moisten the bread; let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. Then, add in the ground beef, pork, veal, minced onion, garlic, eggs, parsley, basil, Italian Seasoning, salt, pepper, and cheese. Gently stir and mix everything together until thoroughly combined.
  • Lightly grease your hands with cooking spray and shape the meat mixture into meatballs; meatballs should be about 1.5 inches in size. Transfer the meatballs to the baking sheets.
  • Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes; flip over the meatballs and bake for 8 more minutes or until just cooked through. Meatballs are done when the internal temperature registers at 165˚F. Use an instant-read thermometer for accurate results.
  • While the meatballs are baking, warm the marinara sauce in a deep skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Remove the meatballs from the oven and add them to the warm marinara sauce; stir to coat and continue to cook over medium-low heat for 3 more minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Garnish with basil ribbons and Parmesan cheese, and serve.


  • Ground Meats: More pork can be substituted if veal is not available. Also, be mindful not to overwork the meat while mixing it. A light mix in combining the ingredients ensures your meatballs stay soft and juicy.
  • DIY Bread Crumbs (from stale bread): These create a tender, juicy texture in each meatball, ensuring they’re flavorful and perfectly moist. Avoid using store-bought breadcrumbs if possible.
  • Uniformity is Key: Aim for consistent sizing in shaping your meatballs to guarantee even cooking.
  • Easy Clean-Up: Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  • Chill Before Cooking: When possible, pop the meatballs in the fridge for a half-hour before cooking.
  • Spices and Seasonings: Don’t hesitate to play around with different herbs and spices.
  • Check for Doneness: Use an instant-read thermometer as a quick and accurate tool to ensure a 165˚F internal temperature for perfectly cooked meatballs.
  • Browned Finish: Broil the meatballs for the final few minutes of baking if you’re after a golden, crispy touch.
  • Simmer in the Sauce: Let the baked meatballs simmer in the sauce a bit longer for a more flavorful meal.


Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 80kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 121mg | Potassium: 89mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 65IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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  1. Chris David says:

    I made these in the past and they are amazing. Have you ever tried them in the slow cooker? Im wondering if they come out the same?

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      There are a couple of ways I like to cook meatballs in the slow cooker. First, if time permits, I brown the raw meatballs under the broiler for about 8 to 10 minutes, and then I put them in the slow cooker with the sauce and cook on LOW for 6 hours, or HIGH for maybe about 3 to 4 hours. You can also just put the raw meatballs and the sauce straight into the slow cooker and cook them on LOW for 6 to 7 hours.

  2. Greg says:

    Can you substitute bread crumbs for stale bread ? If so, what is suggested amount?

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      Yes, just start with the same amount listed and, after adding in all the other ingredients and mixing, add more bread crumbs if the mixture is too wet to handle.