Ricotta Meatballs with simple tomato sauce. It is a super easy and flavorful recipe.
Tender meatballs baked to perfection and served with a light tomato sauce. A must-try!
We love meatballs, and quite often, I make large batches and freeze them in small packages so I can enjoy them when I do not know what to make or have time to cook.
In this Article
- Perfected over 20+ Years, this is the best Meatball recipe… Ever!
- Are meatballs initially from Italy?
- Are meatballs Italian or American?
- Here is what you need.
- Do I need to add eggs to my meatballs?
- Can I make these ricotta meatballs ahead of time?
- Is it better to pan-fry or bake the meatballs?
- Let’s not forget the Tomato Sauce.
- Tips on how to make homemade Ricotta Meatballs
- Craving more flavorful food? Be sure to try my:
- Ricotta Meatballs
Perfected over 20+ Years, this is the best Meatball recipe… Ever!
My journey to perfect my best-ever meatball has been long and fun. This recipe is comforting food at its finest: one filled with cozy Sunday dinner, crazy weeknight running around, and quickly trying to feed a small crowd.
Those meatballs pack some serious flavor, yet they are so soft and tender that they melt in your mouth.
The ricotta cheese with the Parmigiano and breadcrumbs gives it the best light melting, tender texture.
While the parsley and Worcestershire sauce give it a rich flavor.
The ricotta meatballs are a treasure to prepare. I love them in the oven. More time for me to prepare whatever side dish we choose to have.
You can fry or gently simmer them in a simple, delicious tomato sauce, making them golden brown and perfectly tender.
Are meatballs initially from Italy?
The origin of the first meatballs is a bit unclear, although it is believed that they first originated in Persia, where leftover meats were used to make a dish known as Kofta.
And from Persia, the meatball spread throughout the Middle East to China.
In Italy, they have “Polpette,” which you can trace their Italian heritage back to the Roman empire.
Recipes dating back to the 4th or 5th century include several varieties of meatballs made of everything from fish to chicken.
Are meatballs Italian or American?
Between 1880 and 1920, when millions of Italians left Italy and migrated to America, they brought with them the concept of meatballs.
Still, they adapted this recipe to meet their budgets at the time, using ingredients that were available to them locally.
In America, we have two popular versions of meatballs: “Italian” meatballs or Classic Italian-style Meatballs and Swedish Meatballs.
I use Italian in quotes because, and please do not be mad at me, those little balls slathered in a heavy marinara sauce and served alongside pasta are in reality, an American creation.
Here is what you need.
As with most delicious recipes, you only need a handful of high-quality ingredients.
Whole milk ricotta will give the richness that it needs. It replaces milk or heavy cream, something that I love to use. It created a seriously light and tender meatball.
The egg is a binding agent and holds everything together during cooking time.
Parmiggiano brings its unique flavor to the party. Nutty and rich flavor.
Ground pork. Lots of debate on which meat to use for meatballs. For this recipe, I opted for all ground pork. Have your butcher direct you to the leanest ground pork they have.
Many traditional meatball recipes have ground beef and ground veal. I have fun using all three combines or whichever it’s readily available to you.
Seasoning. Less is best as you want to enjoy the richness of the meat. Worcestershire sauce gives that perfect kick. And, of course, season as needed with salt and pepper.
Do, however, season it last, as not all parmesan is the same, and you do not want your dish to be too salty.
Do I need to add eggs to my meatballs?
Absolutely, YES!! The egg uses as a binder and holds the meatballs, this recipe with ricotta, or any other that you may choose to make. Without the egg, your meatball will likely crumble and fall apart during the cooking or baking process.
Can I make these ricotta meatballs ahead of time?
Yes, you can. Prep and form the meatballs ahead of time. When it is time to cook, bring them to room temperature and proceed with the baking instructions as per the recipe.
Is it better to pan-fry or bake the meatballs?
I personally love to bake them instead of frying the meatballs on the stove. The result is fantastic, less greasy, and a lot faster.
It is worth mentioning that they did not fall apart in the oven.
I found that when I pan-fry, they dry out faster, forming a very tough outer crust, although gorgeous, a bit tough to bite into. Not always cooking evenly.
My personal experience is that the baked meatballs are more evenly and stay super tender.
Let’s not forget the Tomato Sauce.
Super easy and light. Brown the garlic in the oil and then remove. Add the tomatoes gently to the hot oil, season, and cook for 20-30 minutes. I love light homemade sauces.
When it comes to tomato sauce, as you know, there are so many to choose from. I was raised with light Italian sauces that I enjoyed all my life in Italy.
One easy way to enjoy your fresh tomatoes is to cut them in half, remove all the internal seeds and then grate the meaty interior part of the tomato.
This will create a fresh tomato pulp; you do not have to worry about the tomato skin.
Mind your fingers as you grate.
Tips on how to make homemade Ricotta Meatballs
Nothing is more manageable, and once you have done it a few times, you can make those divine little balls in your sleep. The process is simple and straightforward, and quick too, my favorite part.
- Use a large bowl and start by breaking the sausage meat into small chunks.
- Add all the ingredients to the bowl to combine and dig in with your hands. This part is their favorite if you have little ones at the house. Once their little hands play with the food, something magical happens, and they will always want to help you in the kitchen.
- To mix everything, you can also use your KitchenAid stand-up mixer with the paddle.
- Form the meatballs into 2-inch, the size of a golf ball. Roll them in the palm of your hand without pressing them down, and do not overwork them either.
- Or you can use an ice cream/cookie scooper to have them all uniform in size from the get-go.
- Cookie sheet with a shadow of butter if you wish. However, it is not necessary. Make sure your oven is well preheated.
- Be careful with the salt when you are seasoning. Not all Parmigiano cheese is the same, and you do not want to over-salt your meat.
- If you are using seasoned breadcrumbs, taste them before adding salt.
Enjoy it with your favorite pasta. I love tubular pasta, and here, I used mezzi rigatoni. Penne, farfalle, or spaghetti are a great combination. Toss your pasta with tomato sauce.
I leave it up to you to mix the meatballs with ricotta and the tomatoes. Make sure you grate some fresh parmesan over every way you want to do them.
This meatball recipe with ricotta cheese is the only recipe you will ever need! ❤️
Craving more flavorful food? Be sure to try my:
Equipment and ingredients that I used to make this recipe
For The Tomato Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and end removed
- 28 ounces San Marzano tomaotes, crushed or pureed
For The Meatballs
- 1 pound ground pork
- ¾ cup whole milk ricotta
- ½ cup Parmiggiano cheese, fine grated
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- Worcestershire Sauce, Dash (optional)
- 1 teaspoon pepper
Preparing The Tomato Sauce
- In a saucepan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and the garlic. As soon as the garlic is golden, remove and discard.
- Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook over medium low heat for about 25-30 minutes.
Preparing The Meatballs
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Mix all the ingredients by hand or in the KitchenAid mixer with the paddle. Roll out 12 meatballs.
- Place them on greased baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or golden brown.
- Can be served alongside any pasta of choice. Cook pasta according to manufacturer directions. Mix the meatballs with the tomato sauce and pasta. Serve hot with freshly grated Parmiggiano cheese over it.
Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.
Did you make this?
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Originally published on December 9, 2018. Updated on September 5th, 2022.