Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs - Delicious for a family meal

A perfect family-friendly dish

Comfort food at it’s best. Italian Meatballs are the perfect family supper. Perfect for kids and adults of any age, and easier to make than you think. I usually allow an hour to make this recipe as there are a few stages involved – but don’t let that put you off. Just maybe a recipe for the weekend when you aren’t pushed for time.

I enjoy making Italian Meatballs with my kids. They enjoy getting their hands messy and rolling out the meatballs! Plus it’s one of their favourite meals to eat so that helps! The addition of the breadcrumbs and milk to the meatball mixture gives a lighter meatball texture which my kids definitely prefer. Also, it means the mixture goes further so friendlier on the shopping budget too.

Italian Meatballs

  • Serves 4-6
  • A great family dinner suitable for all ages
  • Serve with pasta, garlic bread or vegetables
  • Freeze any leftovers


For the meatballs you will need:

  • 500g pork mince (other minced meats will work just as well)
  • 2 slices of white bread (stale bread is best)
  • 75ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic (or 1 clove crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Good grinding of black pepper.

For the tomato sauce you will need:

  • One onion finely chopped (I used a handful of frozen onion)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic (or 1 clove crushed)
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (or honey if your children are over 12 months)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Good grinding of black pepper
  • Basil leaves to serve (optional)


  1. Using your hands tear the bread into very small pieces into a bowl. You need to make it into breadcrumbs so you may need to rub it between your thumb and fingers to make the crumbs smaller.
Make breadcrumbs by rubbing the bread between your thumb and fingers

2. Add the milk to the breadcrumbs, stir and leave to soak for 5 minutes then stir again ensuring the crumbs become a smooth paste.

3. Add all the other meatball ingredients (apart from the olive oil) to the breadcrumb paste. This includes the pork mince, crushed garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.

Mix well with either a spoon, spatula or better still your clean hands. Make sure it is really well combined.

Mix the meatball ingredients together then refrigerate for 30 minutes

4. Cover the meatball mix with cling film and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes so the mixture firms up.

5. In another wide based pan, pour the olive oil in the pan you will be making the tomato sauce in and turn to a medium heat.

6. Add the chopped onions and crushed garlic to the oil. Stir over a medium heat for 5 minutes until they soften.

Add the onion and crushed garlic to the olive oil and fry gently

7. Add 2 tins of tomatoes, oregano, sugar (or honey), salt and pepper and stir.

Add the tomatoes, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper

8. Once the tomato sauce is bubbling leave on a low heat without a lid for 20 minutes. Keep checking it isn’t sticking to the pan. If it starts to stick turn the heat down further.

9. Once the sauce is ready turn the heat off.

10. Take the meatball mixture out of the fridge. Make sure your hands a clean to roll them out into balls. If you wet the palms of your hands with cold water the meatball mixture won’t stick to your hands. The mixture should make around 24 meatballs.

11. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a non-stick frying pan and turn on to a medium heat. Once the oil is warm add half of the meatballs to the pan.

Fry the meatballs over a medium heat in 2 batches

12. Don’t touch the meatballs whilst they are frying – leave them for 5 minutes and they should have formed a crust on the underside and will come away from the pan easily.

Once the meatballs have formed a crust, turn them over

13. Once the meatballs are brown on both sides carefully add them to the tomato sauce. (If your pan is too small, add the sauce to the frying pan instead).

Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce

14. Turn on the heat on and without stirring, give the pan a wiggle so that the meatballs start to sink into the sauce. Once the sauce is bubbling turn the heat down to a low heat and put the lid on. This will enable the meatballs to steam and cook right through.

15. Set a timer for 20 minutes but check a couple of times that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

16. Once cooked through, carefully stir the meatballs into the sauce and if you are using fresh basil, tear or chop it and stir it through it now.

Add torn or chopped basil leaves – optional

17. Serve immediately, or transfer to a serving dish if you prefer.

Italian Meatballs – Delicious for a family meal

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