Meatball lovers usually like meatballs of all sizes. Little ones in soup or a casserole, medium-sized ones tucked in a twirly plate of pasta. And, these big fat giant meatballs, are the kind that is so substantial that one or two might make a meal.
What Kind of Meat to Use in Meatballs
While beef is the most typical meat used to make meatballs, you can sub in other meat, or create your own meatball mix. You can also find a packaged meatball or meatloaf mix in many supermarkets in the meat section, often fresh ground at the butcher counter. If you see a freshly made meatloaf mix, buy it! Often this is a combo of beef, pork, and veal. Otherwise, you can make your own — I like to make a very simple blend of about 2 parts ground beef to 1 part ground pork.
Shaping Jumbo Meatballs
You absolutely want to make sure your onions, carrots, garlic, herbs, and so on are chopped very finely or minced so that the meatball mix will hold together as you shape them into your jumbo (or whatever size) meatballs. This will also allow the meatballs to hold their shape during the cooking process.
Because these are jumbo meatballs, you want to start with ¼ cup of the meatball mix for each meatball. Measuring the mixture as you form the meatballs will ensure that you get consistently sized meatballs that will all cook through at the same time. Plus, no one at the table will be jealously eyeing someone else’s bigger meatballs. In meatball-loving families, this can become an issue!
Handle the meatball mixture as lightly and swiftly as you can while you are making the meatballs. Overworking the meat mix can cause the meatballs to become dense and heavy. You are not looking for a paste; you should still see little pieces of the meat and other ingredients after everything has been blended. You want to handle the meat as little as possible but still form them into big balls that are fairly smooth and evenly shaped.
One tip for shaping meatballs is to keep your hands slightly wet with frequent rinses under cold water as you go. This prevents the mixture from sticking to your hands and allows you to get a smoother round shape. You can also lightly oil your hands with olive or another cooking oil.
How Do you Keep Meatballs from Falling Apart?
Make sure everything is super finely chopped in the recipe before you start mixing everything together! Big chunks of ingredients like onion or carrot will cause the meatballs to fall apart. The inclusion of eggs and breadcrumbs also helps bind the meatballs together during the shaping and cooking process. And baking the meatballs before they are added to the sauce allows them to firm up and hold their shape better.
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Baking Jumbo Meatballs
I like to bake my meatballs at around 375 degrees. Baking them allows them to hold their shape a bit better than pan frying (though you are welcome to do that! Just heat them in a bit of oil in a large skillet, and brown them until they are cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes.).
When they are finished cooking, the meatballs should be nicely browned on the outside. The internal temperature should be 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. The meatballs should feel fairly firm when you gently press them. The total cooking time for these giant meatballs baked at 375 should be about 20 to 25 minutes.
How to Make Jumbo Meatballs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, if you have it, then either way, spray the baking sheet with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, combine the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne, eggs, parsley, milk or half and half, and breadcrumbs. Add the meat to the bowl, and use your hands to gently but thoroughly combine the meatball mixture.
Scoop out ¼ cup of the meatball mixture. Form each into a 2-inch ball, and place them at least 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the meatballs are browned and cooked through is cooked through (an internal temperature of 160 on an instant-read thermometer). Let the meatballs rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.
What Goes With Meatballs
The most common way to serve classic meatballs is with spaghetti or some other pasta and tomato sauce. You can also make a pan sauce with the remaining fat from cooking the meatballs and some flour, plus the addition of some broth (see below).
I also tend to pair any meatball meal with a salad, such as:
- Crunchy Green Salad
- Broccoli Salad
- Winter Salad
- Cherry Tomato Antipasti Salad
- Kale Crunch Salad
- Brussels Sprouts, Apple, and Pecorino Salad
- Mixed Lettuce Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
How to Make a Pan Sauce for Meatballs
If you want to make a sauce, after the meatballs are done cooking, pour up to 2 tablespoons of the fat from the baking pan into a small skillet (discard any additional cooking fat). Heat over medium-high heat and then whisk in a tablespoon of flour. Whisk over the heat for 1 minute, until the flour mixture, or roux, starts to become slightly golden. Whisk in 1 cup of beef, chicken, or vegetable broth, and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and starting to thicken. You can whisk in ½ cup of cream at this point if you want a creamier sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
What to Serve With Jumbo Meatballs
Other Meatball Recipes:
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- ½ cup minced onions
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 large eggs (beaten)
- ½ cup minced parsley
- ½ cup whole milk or half and half
- ½ cup dried plain breadcrumbs
- 2 pounds meatloaf or meatball mix (or 2 pounds mixed ground beef, pork, veal or lamb)
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, if you have it, then either way spray the baking sheet nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne, eggs, parsley, milk or half and half, and breadcrumbs. Add the meat to the bowl and use your hands to gently but thoroughly combine the meatball mixture.
- Scoop out 1/4 cup of the meatball mixture. Form each into a 2-inch ball, and place them at least 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the meatballs are browned and cooked through is cooked through (160 F internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer). Let the meatballs rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving. See Note if you want to make a pan sauce.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.