Much like my dad’s spaghetti sauce, he didn’t have a recipe for his meatballs either.  So in addition to trying to perfect my homemade sauce, meatballs were also right up there in the perfection process.  It wasn’t easy.  It seemed like every time I made them, they came out differently.  Sometimes too soft.  Sometimes too overcooked.  Sometimes with no flavor.  I was getting distressed.  And then, like a sign from heaven, as my friend Jen and I were gushing about how much we love Ina, she (as Italian as I am) said to me “Have you made Ina’s Real Meatballs yet???”  I thought to myself, “uh, no…I’m Italian and don’t need a recipe for meatballs.”   Boy was I wrong because the next time after this conversation that I made meatballs, I felt defeated again.  I just couldn’t get them right.  Shame on me.


So I gave in.  I pulled out Family Style and decided to give Jen’s suggestion a shot.  After all, she was spot on with her turkey meatloaf suggestion…Folks, I have found my meatball recipe.  The one that wows.  The one that bursts with a “bada bing!” when you eat it.  With an “aaay oh! aaay oh!” even.  Ina even claims that she’s not Italian but she seriously could pass for one with this recipe.  I promised myself to not ever think about making meatballs without this recipe again.  If you’ve been living with the same thought process as me (the superior Italian one – you know which one I mean), drop it.  And try this recipe the next time you’re making a big pot of Sunday sauce.  You won’t be sorry. Promise.


  1. To shape the meatballs, I use a small ice cream scoop (1 1/2 tbsp) and usually get 48.  I throw a few in the sauce and then freeze the rest.  To freeze, cook them first then cool them.  Freeze on a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper until hard.  Transfer to a zipper bag and return to the freezer.
  2. I’ve made these meatballs twice now.  The first time I fried them as instructed below and baked them the second time.  They were great both ways…Less fat and less mess (on the stove) by baking them of course.

Ina’s Real Meatballs

source, Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, page 103-104

  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil
  1. Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
  2. Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels.
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Leave a Comment

  • joelen
    January 7, 2009 at 8:27 PM

    I really am craving meatballs… I’ve been seeing a lot of them in blogs and now with this one being an Ina recipe, I’m sure it’s super good. *shakes fist* Darn for my husband not eating beef! I wonder if subbing more veal and pork in the recipe will still give enough meaty flavor the original recipe calls for…

  • fingers80
    January 7, 2009 at 10:47 PM

    I am a big meatball lover. These look great!

  • January 8, 2009 at 11:17 AM

    These look delicious. I love the idea of making them with part fresh breadcrumbs, part dried – to get that balance in texture. I’ll have to try this recipe!

  • Karen
    January 10, 2009 at 12:08 PM

    when i was trying to choose my pick for BB i kept coming back to the spaghetti and meatballs recipe. yours looks really good and since you give it good reviews, i’m going to have to try it now.

  • March 12, 2009 at 11:00 AM

    […] and Meatballs as well as the Meringues Chantilly, I can honestly say that I’ve made the meatballs before (which are fabulous!) and have plans for the meringues in the near […]

  • Leslie
    September 13, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    What a delicious recipe. I made these for dinner last night. Thank you for the post! My husband and I loved them. The only thing I did different, was I didn’t use the veal or the beef. Just the ground pork. I wanted to do it exactly like you did – but totally spaced picking up the veal and beef! But with the pork and everything else staying the exact same – so very good. This is going straight into the recipe box. Have a great day!!