Finally! Moist Meatballs

grandma's meatball recipe

As a descendent of an Italian immigrant family, I have been handed down numerous variations of Meatball recipes from great- grandmother to grandmother to mother then me. That’s a picture of Mom over on the left.

Then after marrying an Irish-Italian man I was given his Italian families versions of their best meatball recipes.  I could fill a book with these recipes.

However, they really don’t differ much.

grandma's meatball recipe

It could be as simple as a little less cheese or no parsley but basically the same.  However, I could never find one recipe that really gave me a nice moist meatball and one that would stay moist after being cooked in spaghetti sauce.

Solution was not in the ingredients but in the method of preparing.  Thus, I have found a method that makes a moist and juicy meatball.

Watch me prepare moist meatballs in this video below and see how easy it really is!


  • 1 lb. ground meat (preferably chuck)
  • 2 slices bread or rolls
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 TBS. chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp. course ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt ( to taste)


  1. In large bowl mix together with your hands (best tool for this recipe) the bread, milk, egg, garlic, parsley, and cheese.  You can also use a food processor for this. Mix until well blended.  It will be a very runny mixture.
    secret to moist meatballs
  2. Add the ground meat, salt and pepper and mix well, again using hands.
  3. The mixture will feel soft and moist.  Shape into balls.
    forming moist meatballs
  4. Fry in olive oil or microwave or bake until fully cooked.
    baking moist meatballs
  5. Now you are ready to add the cooked meatballs to simmer in your spaghetti sauce.  Here’s my Marinara Sauce Recipe along with a video.
    baked meatballs

56 Responses to “Finally! Moist Meatballs”

  1. marilyn cordial mincer says:

    We can’t wait to try this recipe. We’ve tried Mary’s stuffed pepper recipe and it is to die for!

  2. Mary says:

    Hi Marilyn:
    Would love to hear from you after you try the recipe. I plan to post the stuffed pepper recipe soon.

    • Madre Lull says:

      These are the best meatballs I have ever had. I’m a pretty good cook but could never master making a moist meatball. The only thing I had to change was using cream instead of milk because that is what I had on hand. These are so good, incredible flavor and texture. Mary, thank you!!!!

  3. Carmen says:

    What a pretty adornment this cook is to her efficient kitchen! I thought she had a lovely manicure and wondered if she ever uses disposable gloves when attacking mixings that are best done by hand. I never knew to cook the meatballs first – always dropped them into the simmering sauce as I formed them I’m sure Mary’s way retains the individual meat flavor. Is it permissable to freeze meatballs? Cooked or uncooked? When visiting my married daughter with family I would cook a large batch for the freezer to save her time. My favorite pictured “recipe” is “Mom.” I miss our darling Moms. I’ve had a wonderful visit with Mary today. Thank you

  4. Mary says:

    Hi Carmen:

    I too enjoyed our visit. Yes, you can freeze the meatballs once they are cooked. I still prefer baking my meatballs instead of frying, less fat and they stay really moist that way.

  5. Julie says:

    I enjoyed your video and plan on trying your meatball recipe out. The video says 1 1/2 lbs ground meat but the recipe says 1 lb. I don’t want to mess up the recipe, so which is the correct amount? I’m planning on serving the meatballs as an appetizer, so I’ll make the meatballs much smaller. How will this affect the baking time? Thank you so much for your help!

  6. Mary says:

    Hi Julie:
    Sorry for the discrepancy. Use 1 lb. of ground meat and if too moist add seasoned bread crumbs. Just remember the liquid (milk, eggs) is what makes these meatballs moist.They make excellent appetizers, just bake 20 to 30 minutes.

  7. Cheryl says:

    I tried this recipe…these meatballs are the best!!! Great flavor, very moist and light. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Cheryl:

      So happy you enjoyed the meatballs. If you make them in advance you can freeze them and they will still keep moist. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Carrie says:

    I’m going to try this, hopefully tonight. How long should I cook these in the oven, and at what temperature?

    • Mary says:

      Hi Carrie:

      Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Coat pan with olive oil, place meatballs in pan, not touching, and sprinkle olive oil on meatballs. Bake for 15 minutes, turn meatballs and bake until done. Approximately 10 mins.more. Timing for baking meatballs is similar to baking a meatloaf. Would love to hear how this works for you.

  9. Lauren says:

    Your recipe looks delicious! Just a quick question. My son’s grad party is in a month or so and I would love to make these for it. Do you know how long they will stay fresh if i freeze them?

    • Mary says:

      Hi Lauren:

      I have only frozen these meatballs after they were cooked in spaghetti sauce and they hold up well.I put the sauce and meatballs together in a ziplock freezer bag and have frozen it up to two months. However, if you freeze these meatballs separately, either uncooked or cooked, I am not sure they will retain the same moisture and consistency that makes this recipe unique. Thanks for your comment and congratulations to your son on his graduation.

  10. Lakisha says:

    Hi Mary! Thanks for the recipe. I made them and added a packet of lipton’s beef onion soup for seasoning. They are moist and yummy!! I made meatball subs and will use the leftovers with pasta tomorrow.

  11. Mary says:

    Hi Lakisha:

    Thanks for sharing your idea of adding the onion soup for seasoning. This addition would also make a great meatloaf.

  12. Robyn says:

    What a tasty and moist meatball! Delectable! Mine were slightly flat – I think I needed a little more bread. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Robyn
      Happy to hear you like the moist meatballs. If they were too flat, I recommend using a more dense bread i.e. Italian bread, sourdough bread. Adding more bread will make the meatballs less moist.

  13. teresa says:

    hi mary i have been looking for a recipe for moist meatballs for awhile now. I am going to use yours tonight. I was wondering you said to add them to your sauce to finnish cooking I want to cook them and then add them to the spaghetti at the talbe so the question is how long do i cook them in the oven to make sure they are done ….thank you ..i will leta you know how they turned out thanks again

    • Mary says:

      Hi Teresa:

      I have often served the meatballs without putting them in sauce. Bake them for about 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. If frying, cook until thoroughly brown all over and for microwave, cook on high for approximately 8 minutes, turning once. My favorite cooking method is baking them. Love to hear how yours come out.

  14. Young cook says:

    I have been trying to make the perfectly moist flavorful meatballs for years and needless to say I failed. Until I tried this one the meatballs are so good and tasty I am glad I have leftovers. Thank you so much this will start my traditional meatball. I added a little grey popoun and substituted milk with water and left out the cheese but ovrall great!!!!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks for the lovely comment. Your additions sound interesting and different. My Mother also sometimes used water in place of milk. Don’t forget those leftovers can be frozen and reheated. Happy Holidays.

  15. Amelia says:

    Hello Mary,
    I just wanted to say that i loved the recipe, it was absolutely delicious. however i didn’t exactly follow it as it was, but instead used it as a base for another recipe of mine: what i did was i added some fresh ginger (that i ground with the egg, milk and garlic mixture) as well as some teriyaki sauce (homemade as well), which I glazed on top of the meatballs before i turned them over in the oven. i sauteed some mushrooms with the rest of the sauce and served it as a side dish to your delicious meatballs. I recieved so many praises, but I feel that the only one I should be thanking is you. Simple, but great recipe.

  16. Christina V says:

    Hi mary, I absolutley LOVE this recipe. My 3 year old daughter Jaida and I spent a afternoon watching all of your youtube videos and adore you.Thanks for the great recipe.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you for taking the time to submit a lovely comment. So happy you and your daughter are cooking together. That’s an excellent start for a great cook. Say hi to Jaida for me.

  17. Lois F. says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe for meatballs with us. Your video was very well done. I have no trouble understanding your step by step instructions. Spaghetti & meatballs have always been my favorite dish. I make a great sauce, but I’ve never mastered the ability to make moist meatballs. Mine always turn out so dry they are a bit hard to swallow. I’ve always attributed my hard as golf ball meatballs to the lean meats sold in the markets now days. No fat, no moisture. I will be trying your recipe and technique very soon. Thanks again Mary.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Lois:

      I have even used lean ground meat in my recipe but the method I use will still keep the meatballs moist. However,ground chuck really makes the best moist meatballs. Thanks for the comment and I would love to hear how this recipe turns out for you.

  18. Debbie says:

    These are best meatballs ever.Sometimes I mix the ground meat with a 1/2 lb Italian sausage, it’s wonderful.(I always bake mine and add to sauce later, like you) What other recipes do you have videos of. I just love you. Do you have a web site?

  19. Dawn says:

    Hi Mary,
    I found your recipe after searching for a tender, moist meatball recipe on the internet.. After 40 yrs of marriage, and never making meatballs, I found a keeper.. I made them last night.. They turned out great. Hubby says don’t lose this recipe. I did make a change however, I used lean groundbeef only, 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs as that’s all I had and I used evaporated milk. Oh my! They were tender & flavorable.. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.. I look forward t trying your sauce next.. GBU!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Dawn:
      Thanks for your comment and sharing your changes. Using less breadcrumbs when using a lean ground beef is an excellent modification. Hope you enjoy the sauce as well.

  20. Jane says:

    I made your moist meatballs for my sister who was visiting from Maine. She loved them so much and when she went home she immediately shopped for the ingredients and made them herself. It’s the only meatball recipe we will ever use. We are not novices either – she is 75 and I am 74 – which proves you are never too old to learn! – :> ) Thanks for this wonderful recipe.

    • Mary says:

      What a lovely comment! So glad you and your sister like the recipe. My sister and I also are senior citizens and we too are always looking to learn new recipes. Hope you enjoy your summer.

  21. Michelle says:

    Thank you, Mary! I made these today. My hubby and I have been on search for the perfect meatball and now we have! These are so delicious! Thanks again!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Michelle
      Pleased to know this is the recipe you and your husband truly enjoy. Don’t forget these meatballs also freeze well after cooking and can be added to pasta sauce.

  22. Filipa Kay says:

    Hi Mary! So glad I stumbled upon this recipe! You did a great job explaining the recipe and you’re a natural on camera! Much love, Filipa (UK) x

    • Mary says:

      So happy that you enjoy the video and that you will try this recipe. Please let me know how your enjoy making these meatballs, would love to hear your comment.

  23. jennifer caputo-lacoax says:

    Mary.. have you ever tried canning your meatballs in pasta sauce? I am trying to recreate my papa’s sauce which includes sausage and meatballs. I would like to can it and send it across country to my family. Just wondering if you have ever had any luck with that. Do you think the the meatballs might be too tough if canned? Thanks. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Hi Jennifer
      I am not familiar with canning meat products and not sure how safe that would be. I would suggest freezing and mailing with dry ice. I do freeze my sauce with meat and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. It tastes just as fresh as the day it was made. Many food companies mail frozen food. Worth looking into.

  24. Irene Jones says:

    This is exactly the recipe for meatballs that has been passed down in my family….(Grandmom, Mother, Me (74), my son Steve and now my Granddaughter is learning to make them.

    Its easy and the best meatballs ever….

    Question: do you know anything about Christmas special “Spaghetti aglio e olio with Black Olives
    and walnuts”?

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

    • Mary says:

      Hi Irene:
      It always pleases me to read that my recipe brings back family memories. My grandchildren love these meatballs and it thrills me to hear they call them “Grandma’s Meatballs”. I always called them “Mom’s Meatballs”. The tradition passes on. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  25. Jerry says:

    Looks gr8 I have added sauce instead of the milk when making meatballs and we love it

  26. Ania says:

    What a delicious recipie! I’ve never used milk and wow, they were so moist and tasty! Totally recommend it to all ????

  27. Maria says:

    Thank you for this recipe the meatballs are delicious !!!!

  28. Steve says:

    For the past 2 years, I used this recipe to make spaghetti meatballs. Before I found your website, my meatballs were dry. As a self taught cook, I’m always looking for ways to improve a recipe. For a healthier alternative, I use 85 percent ground turkey instead of ground chuck. I also add finely diced colored bell peppers and white onions to the mix. Alternatively, I use Panko bread crumbs from the Asian grocery store instead of white bread. Finally, I add Italian seasoning for additional flavor. I freeze half of the meatballs raw for future baking. My wife loves, loves my meatballs! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  29. Tarry says:

    This recipe makes fantastically moist, tasty meatballs. A bit of a challenge to shape because, as the recipe says, the mixture is runny. Well worth the effort and beats all the dry, tasteless alternatives by a mile!

  30. JT says:

    Best meatball recipe ever these were the only moist meatballs I ever had or made.

  31. Sharyn White says:

    Hi I have made these meatballs three times now and they are just beautiful and also fabulous made up in a hamburger . I am very interested to read all the other Italian recipes, Thank you for the meat ball recipe which I have shared with many.


  32. Marianne says:

    I really like your meatballs. I don’t always have stale rolls or bread. I usually use Italian Panko bread crumbs, how much should I use in place of bread.
    Also, I usually make meatballs for a large group and if I use 4 lbs of ground meat do I isle 4 eggs and all that milk?
    Thank you for your help.

  33. Carol says:

    love your meat balls I have made these several times and they are always moist the perfect meatball for years I have been trying to find the perfect meatball and your recipe is the best

    Thank you Thank you Thank You

  34. Doug says:

    I’m on the South Beach Diet so I followed your recipe sans bread. It was very decent though I think the bread would help. I’m just surprised you don’t cook the meat in the sauce. But nicely done. Thanks!

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