Here’s How to Have the Tastiest (Meat)Balls on the Block

best meatball recipe
Photo by Liz Clayman
Chef Boyardee. Lady and the Tramp. Your grandmother. Ikea. All of these people, places, and dogs have one thing in common: They’ve got balls.

Meatballs, that is. Delicious, delicious meatballs.

The greatest thing about the meatballs mentioned above is that they’re made by someone else. That is (in part) what makes them so tasty — you get delicious food delivered straight to you without having to worry an ounce about the complexity that goes into making a damn good meatball.

It’s time to change that, though. It’s time to take ownership of one’s balls. Sure, if you rolled meat into a ball and cooked it, it would be, in the literal sense, a meat ball, but no one wants that meatball. There’d be no flavor, no fine notes to mingle with whatever sauce ( such as hot sauce or even barbecue sauce) you’re about to serve them with.

Remember: You want your balls to end up in people’s mouths, not in the garbage.

The question, then, is how does one make a delicious meatball?  In order to solve this question, we went to the experts — people who really know their balls. We asked The Meatball Shop chef and co-owner Daniel Holzman for his take on how to make the best meatballs ever. Below, you’ll find recipes for how to make classic beef meatballs and how to make chicken meatballs.

Then, once you’ve decided on a sauce (we’re partial to tomato-based for the beef balls and a parmesan cream for the chicken), all you need to do is invite people over, have a charcuterie plate to whet their appetites, and show off your balls.

The Meatball Shop’s Classic Beef Meatballs

The Meatball Shop beef
  • 2 lb 80-percent lean beef
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • .5 cup bread crumb
  • .25 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • .25 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • .25 tsp ground fennel

Method: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle the olive oil into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside. Combine the ground beef, ricotta, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes, and fennel in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Roll the mixture into round, golf-ball sized meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Top with sauce of your choosing.

The Meatball Shop’s Chicken Meatballs

The Meatball Shop chicken recipe
  • 2 lb ground chicken, preferably thigh meat
  • 2 large eggs
  • .5 cup bread crumbs
  • .5 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • .25 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle the olive oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside. Combine the ground chicken, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, white wine, salt, fennel and pepper in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meatball should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.

Feature image by Liz Clayman.

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