Best Ever Meatballs

July 12, 2021thetipsyhousewife

A Family Tradition

These best ever meatballs are a long time family tradition. This is a recipe best made on a Sunday when you can leisurely lounge around the house. You will need to make time to “stir the sauce”. If time is not on your side, this recipe can also be modified for the crock pot so that you can set it and forget it. These best ever meatballs can also be made ahead of time and frozen before cooking for a quick freezer meal on busy days.

A sheet pan full of beef meatballs waiting to be cooked.

What makes this recipe different?

This recipe is different because you use parmesan cheese instead of bread crumbs to hold the best ever meatballs together. The best kind of parmesan cheese to use is the powdered kind in the canister they sell in the Italian aisle of the grocery store. Do not use expensive cheese for this recipe. The powdered parmesan holds these meatballs together and also helps them to remain soft and tender. The other secret ingredient you will use in this recipe is Maggi Seasoning. Maggi Seasoning is a liquid seasoning that comes in a jar. You can usually find it in the grocery aisle with the gravies. It is best described as “soy sauce on crack”. Maggi seasoning is used in soups and stews in many European countries and to make gravies. This recipe calls for a tablespoon and it adds depth and richness to these best ever meatballs.

Top Secret Tricks To Having Tender Meatballs

There are two things you can do wrong when making meatballs that make them too dense and tough. One is over mix the meat. The other is not giving the meat time to rest and relax after you form the meatballs. When you mix the ingredients for this meat and form the meatballs, do not over handle or over mix the meat mixture. After you form the meatballs, you want to let them rest, on the counter, at room temperature for about thirty minutes. Unless your kitchen is excessively hot, they will be fine as you will be cooking these low and slow for quite some time. When you let the meatballs rest after forming, it allows the meatballs to hold up better when being cooked.

Make the meatballs in a sauce or bake them in the oven.

I make these meatballs in their own special sauce. These steps are outlined in the written and printable recipe that is below. This step creates a delicious flavorful sauce that is perfect with any pasta or for making meatball sub sandwiches. This step does take some time. If you do not have time to stir the sauce all day, you can add all of the ingredients to a crock pot and let them cook low and slow all day.

The Recipe!

Below is a complete recipe that is also printable. The steps are easy to follow and the recipe yields a decent amount for a large family or for great leftovers. This recipe can also be made and frozen both before cooking and after. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

Yield: 24 meatballs

Best Ever Meatballs

Best Ever Meatballs

This is a family recipe handed down for generations. This recipe yields beautiful soft and savory meatballs that pair well with any sauce and our delicious just on their own. This recipe uses parmesan cheese instead of bread crumbs which adds great taste and texture. This is also a great recipe to make ahead and keep in your freezer for busy days.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 2 lbs of ground beef
  • 1 8 ounce container of powdered parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon of garlic salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of dried parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon of Maggi Seasoning (soy sauce or gravy master are good substitutes if you can't find Maggi Seasoning)
  • 1 large yellow onion finely diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • Optional Sauce Recipe
  • 2 Large cans of crushed tomatoes with basil ( 28 ounces)
  • 2 small cans of tomato paste (6 ounces)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of white sugar + 1 Tablespoon
  • 56 ounces of water ( use the tomato cans to measure and get the rest of the tomatoes in the can)
  • 3 or 4 links of Italian Sausage


  1. Add the ground beef, seasonings and herbs, cheese and onions to a large bowl.
  2. Whisk the eggs with the milk and add to the bowl.
  3. Using your hands combine all the ingredients until it is just combined with the ground beef, do not over mix or you will have tough meatballs.
  4. Make about 2 inch balls with the meat mixture, again do not over handle or mix, loosely form the balls and set them out on a cookie sheet as you go.
  5. When you have all the meatballs formed leave them to sit out on the counter for 30 minutes. This helps them to remain intact while cooking.
  6. The best way to cook these meatballs is to throw them in a simmering sauce and simmer on low for 3 to 4 hours or into a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours on low. You can also bake these meatballs on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. If you want to make these at another time, freeze these meatballs uncooked to defrost and cook at another time.
  7. To make the optional sauce, add your butter to a large stock pot, add your sausage links and let them get slightly browned on the outside.
  8. When the links are browned, add the two 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, plus two cans of water and bring to a simmer.
  9. Turn the heat down to low and slowly add your meatballs, add two tablespoons of the white sugar and simmer on low about 3 and half hours, stirring occasionally. Gently stir so the meatballs don't break apart.
  10. At the 3.5 hour mark, whisk the two cans of tomato paste with a tablespoon of sugar and a couple of tablespoons of hot water until smooth. Add to the simmering sauce.
  11. Simmer for 30 more minutes (or longer if you prefer) stirring occasionally.
  12. Serve with your favorite pasta and garlic bread.

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