Italian Meatballs

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Looking for an all-purpose Italian meatballs recipe? Look no further! This version is super simple – we combine ground turkey with parsley, garlic, bread crumbs, egg, Parmesan cheese, and spices. The result is a tender, moist meatball that’s both healthy and delicious! Once you make the mixture, you’ll be ready to serve them up as a delightful appetizer, or you can add them to spaghetti, stews, or soups. The possibilities are endless!

The other thing we love about this recipe is that you can make them in advance. After rolling the Italian meatballs into 1-inch balls, you can pop them into the freezer. We like freezing them flat on a baking sheet before transferring them to an airtight bag or container for storage. Then, they’ll be ready to cook whenever you need them. Pull the meatballs out of the freezer and defrost them in the refrigerator the night before. Then, cook them like normal!

If you’re serving these meatballs as an appetizer, try pairing them with some of our favorite sauces!

A Quick Note on Cooking Meatballs

Our preferred cooking method for Italian meatballs is on the stovetop in a large skillet, especially if you’re planning to serve them with a tomato sauce. You’ll create a beautiful layer of fond in the skillet as the meatballs cook, which is basically concentrated flavor! If you deglaze the skillet with wine, broth, or water and reheat your marinara sauce in the same pan, you will pull up all those tasty bits and infuse them into your sauce. A quick and easy way to make a restaurant-quality sauce without adding any extra ingredients!

You do need to control the heat on the stovetop if you’re cooking the meatballs using this method. If the heat is too hot, you’ll burn the outsides of the meatballs before cooking them all the way through. Keep the heat on medium and rotate the meatballs as they cook so they brown evenly on all sides. When they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, they’re finished!

Alternatively, you can use an oven-safe skillet (like cast iron) and brown the meatballs on the stovetop. Then, you could transfer them to the oven to finish cooking. Some people bake their meatballs 100 percent in the oven, but the stovetop is our preferred method. It adds a layer of caramelization to the meatballs, which definitely gives them more flavor!

How do you prefer to cook your meatballs? Stovetop? Oven? Slow cooker? Let us know in the comments!

Check out our step-by-step video for Italian meatballs!

Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs

Yields: 24 meatballs | Serving size: 2 meatballs | Calories: 136 | Total Fat: 5 g | Saturated Fats: 2 g | Trans Fats: 0 g | Cholesterol: 53 mg |Sodium: 120 mg | Carbohydrates: 13 g | Dietary fiber: 2 g | Sugars: 1 g | Protein: 11 g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 3 |


  • 2 pounds lean ground turkey or chicken
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 cups whole wheat panko, or whole wheat bread crumbs, click here for recipe
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 eggs


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Shape mixture into (24) 1" meatballs.
  2. When cooking meatballs, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet, turn to medium heat and cook until brown on both sides and cooked through. Note: If adding meatballs to a slow cooker recipe, brown as instructed but do not cook through as they will continue cooking while in the slow cooker.

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21 Comments on "Italian Meatballs"

  1. Deanna  January 13, 2013

    I used ground chicken. My family really enjoyed them. I will definitely make these again. Thank you!

  2. Villavici  September 15, 2013

    can these be baked in the oven instead of in a frying pan? I usually brown my meatballs on 425 in oven before adding them to my sauce.

    • Skinny Ms.  September 16, 2013

      Definitely! The oven will work fine.

  3. jennifer  October 17, 2013

    Is that grated parmesan cheese that comes in a little can and you shake it out?

    • Skinny Ms.  October 18, 2013

      Jennifer, I buy the block parmesan and grate it myself. You can always buy the pre-grated as well.

    • Heidi  February 5, 2017

      That’s really processed & unhealthy. If your local market sells fresh cheese they can grate it for you.

  4. Ashley  April 16, 2014

    These are delicious!! I baked them in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. I will definitely make these again.

  5. Naomi  January 2, 2015

    I also used ground chicken, only I added a Tablespoon of Basil and a tad extra Oregano. I also grated in a quarter cup of onion and incorporated a teaspoon and one half of Kosher Salt. They turned out divine, though one peculiarity is this recipe claims that it makes 24 1" meatballs. I made 46 1" meatballs with the exact recipe written above. That's the only oddity I uncovered; the flavor was absolutely magnificent though and I'm very appreciative for this recipe. My girlfriend served me chicken meatballs from Costco that were really yummy, and I thought, "Hmmm…I bet I can make these myself for a lot cheaper." Your recipe helped me accomplish that. Cheers!

  6. Jerri  February 18, 2015

    My family LOVED these meatballs. I am happy they are health and they taste amazing! Other meatballs I have made were very dry. I could never get meatballs right but now I have a go to meatball recipe thank you 🙂 The only change I made was add 1/8 of skim milk to the mixture. I went on a website to calculate the new nutrition . I can't stop smiling

  7. Wendy  January 24, 2016

    Do you think these could be frozen before cooking?

    • Gale Compton  January 24, 2016

      Wendy, Definitely! I make the meatballs, freeze them, then defrost in the fridge the night before cooking. Easy and delicious! 🙂

  8. Mary  February 14, 2016

    I used 93% lean ground turkey, omitted the red pepper, added a tablespoon of basil, rolled each meat ball in olive oil, and baked at 350 for 30 minutes. I got 48 1 inch meatballs out of 2 lbs of turkey. They are cooking now, and smell so delish!

  9. Reiko Sugisaka  February 27, 2017

    I would use only 1 cup of bread crumbs and add 1/3 cup of milk to keep it moist. Otherwise, very good.

  10. MICHAEL j BONAVITA  September 25, 2017

    Try substituting pecorino Romano cheese delicious also add a little water to your bread crumbs makes for a moister meatball

  11. Jessica C  March 7, 2018

    These are amazing! Instead of panko crumbs, I used 3/4 cup cooked quinoa for more protein. I also used cottage cheese instead of parmesan and they came out super moist.

    • Nichole Furlong  March 7, 2018

      Sounds yummy, Jessica! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Shawn  March 31, 2018

    Thanks for your website! Be well!

  13. Laura  June 22, 2018

    Can I leave out the cheese?


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