Italian Fried Meatballs

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
One of any Italian home's pride and joy recipes is Italian Meatballs.

This was a tradition in our home every Sunday morning, you would wake up to the smell.

Mom would make meatballs that made your heart sing and thank God every day you were born in an Italian household.

Just like Italian Sunday Traditional Sauce, no two were ever alike in taste.

Mom showed tons of folks how to make them, hers were always the best ever etched in anyone's mind.

Even today after making them over 30 plus years, I still come close but as they say no cigar.

Some have thought they tasted like mom's, but there was something more than ingredients you can't replace her love.

As addicting as this tradition is every Sunday, meatballs are a must make and it's not Sunday morning without them.

Mom's recipe is the best in our eyes, but what makes them the best is her making them, her memory, and the fabulous years we spent with her in the kitchen.

Nothing replaces that, never will plus with modern technology we included air fried, and baked mom in 1940s only fried them that was tradition and we still do.

Here is her recipe below, enjoy what is written down tried and true, but no two again are alike.

Italian fried meatballs golden brown in a glass plate with flora and mutti tomatoes in the background

Years of Tradition

Times and things have changed dramatically in the cooking industry.

We established that Sunday morning isn't the start of a new week without having meatballs for breakfast in our Italian family.

As the years passed by, there are so many cooking methods tried and healthier versions.

Fried is the only way we ever had meatballs growing up, there were no other methods, no air fryers or thoughts or baking them in the 1960s..

Then with all the controversy of healthy cooking, we started to bake them in the 2000s.

Italian fried meatballs cut open to see the inside

Cooking Methods

  • Air Fryer(as shown below): Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees. Place meatballs in a single layer in the air fryer. Turn the air fryer down to 380 degrees. Cook meatballs for 12-15 minutes or until browned and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. 
  • Baked Meatballs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large deep baking pan with cooking spray. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes depending on how crispy you like them
  • Instant Pot: Add 1 cup of beef broth into the pot. Place your meatballs on the trivet do not stack. secure the lid, then cook on high pressure for 8 minutes release pressure and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove your meatballs, drain liquid, set to saute mode, and brown in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until you crispy and browned.

These are air fried Italian meatballs

Ingredients You Will Need

  • ground chuck
  • Italian bread
  • Italian flavored bread crumbs
  • grated cheese
  • finely minced fresh garlic
  • fresh minced parsley
  • garlic powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • eggs
  • canola oil or other oil

These are Italian fried meatballs in a fry pan frying in oil made with ground beef, herbs and spices

The Story Behind Italian Fried Meatballs in our Italian Family Home

What better way growing up was there than to wake up to the smell of meatballs frying.

Fresh garlic, fresh parsley waffled the house with this mouth-watering aroma.

You could hear the oil popping from the heated oil and moisture in the meat.

I just loved those days and wouldn't change one memory with the history learned from cooking and I was only 11 years old.

My first lesson came from a wonderful woman neighbor who lived in an apartment mom and dad rented out and I visited her often.

Her biggest tip was to only use fresh ingredients like chopped parsley and chopped fresh garlic plus she left the pieces where you could see them a little salt pepper and it was simple and delicious.

She would fry them like a burger, the smell was one I will never forget etched in my mind forever.

meatballs in oil frying in an iron skillet

Sunday Sauce

Mom and grandma would always be getting the sugo ready first.

Fresh plum tomatoes strained and then simmered with fresh herbs from the garden.

Nothing was better than that time period, everything was homemade and with love.

Italian sauce with meatballs

Cooking Pans

  1. cast-iron skillet for even frying
  2. electric frying pan
  3. air fryer basket
  4. large deep baking sheets
  5. instant pot sauteed

this is ground beef with herbs and spices added to make a round ball then fried in oil in a pan these are cooking in a heavy fry pan and the meatballs will be crispy on the outside and soft inside nicely browned using vegetable or canola oi

Grandma (Dad's Mom)

Grandma, my dad's mom always used a cast iron skillet to fry meatballs.

She was Roman from Rome, Italy, and came over to America when she was 16.

Since Grandma lived with us, she showed Mom many of her heritage traditional ways to cook.

She was 94 when she passed, but I still remember that aroma of fresh pieces of garlic that stood out in each meatball she made, lightly browned, fried and
her meatballs were loaded with it.

I have tried baking these Italian Meatballs several times, eating them just baked, did not have the same impact in flavor, however adding them to the sugo, no big difference as they simmered.

I also have air-fried them, very good to eat and shocking how crunchy outside and soft they are inside.

They've come out great when reheated in an air fryer also if you do fry them, they will taste as fresh as when out of the frying pan.

These are just some of my own observations.

meatballs frying in a Ninja frying pan

Old School Growing Up

You can follow your own taste as you try different options.

The old-fashioned family style was having them fried period.

The best crust formed on the outside of a meatball was by using a cast-iron skillet and fried slowly until crispy.

You can choose however you like to make yours and any kind of pan you prefer.

raw meatballs mixture

Some Other Of Our Favorite Recipes

Traditional Sunday Sauce
Marinara Sauce

Pin for later

pin for later meatballs fried itaian style in a plate and how to make them

Adapt Your Recipe

Make your Italian meatball recipe with as much or less spice as you like.

We sometimes love a spicier flavor and add cayenne pepper, other times less for those who do not like it with too much spice or garlic.

I love garlic and usually add lots more of the fresh garlic and grated cheese.

You decide to experiment and make your traditions the best ever Italian meatball recipe.

Italian meatballs, fried meatballs, air fried meatballs, homemade meatballs, baked meatballs
meat, beef, Italian food, meatballs,
Yield: 12

These are Italian fried meatballs in a fry pan frying in oil made with ground beef, herbs and spices

Italian Fried Meatballs

prep time: 10 Mcook time: 25 Mtotal time: 35 M
This is a very old recipe that is a tradition in our Italian family. My mom's meatballs recipe is tried and true. We love them extra crispy and fried. You can fry, air fry or bake.


  • 2 lbs ground chuck, ground round or sirloin, (or you can use a mixture of veal, pork, and  ground beef  meat), for those who want low-cholesterol meat use  all ground lean turkey
  • 4 slices of Italian bread run under warm water, and then tightly squeezed out
  • 1/2 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated  Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 or 2 large cloves finely minced  fresh garlic or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • Garnish or while frying spinkle with 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper optional for a spicy heat
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • canola oil or grandma always used vegetable oil around 2 inches deep.
  • If you're baking line with oil-sprayed foil or I prefer parchment paper
  • ice cream scoop medium-sized for perfect round meatballs


How to cook Italian Fried Meatballs

  1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix all together. 
  2. Shape into balls by hand or using an ice cream scoop to form the meatball. 
  3. Fry in 2 inches of heated oil or bake on a lined oiled sprayed cookie sheet until crispy on both sides turning a few times while cooking.
  4. Sprinkle while frying with garlic powder.
  5. These are hot so be careful eating until cooling a few minutes. 
  6. These can be added to a rich tomato Traditional Sunday Sauce
  7. Note: If Air Frying shape meatballs to fit air fryer into an oil sprayed basket and air fry at 400 degrees until browned around 15 minutes to 20 minutes. 
  8. If baking place meatballs on parchment paper or a heavily greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until browned around 35 minutes.
Fat (grams)
Sat. Fat (grams)
Carbs (grams)
Net carbs
Protein (grams)
All information is based on the calories information online, I am not a dietary doctor and if there is any discrepancy, I am not liable for this information.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Pin for later

pin for later meatballs fried itaian style in a plate and how to make them

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15 Pasta Recipes

30 Appetizers and Side Dishes

Southwest One Pan Bean Filling

These are a glass dish of Air Fried Meatballs


  1. Claudia all your recipes take me home! Those meatballs look great.

  2. Complimenti cara, queste polpettine hanno un aspetto fantastico, una tira l'altra!!! Un abbraccio e buon week end :)

  3. My Mom also made two batches, one for the sauce and the other for fried meatballs that she would fatten. Your right about the aroma in the house on Sunday mornings, all my buddies would not miss those fired meat balls. My guess she make about 6 lbs and all had their fair share.

  4. I never thought of eating meatballs for breakfast, but I'd happily indulge!

  5. Very delicious recipe for Italian meatballs, I made them in the air fryer without an oil and they turned out awesome!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  6. Oh these sound so good! It's been way too long since I've had meatballs!

  7. Now this may just be the recipe that makes me buy an air fryer! What yummy, tempting meatballs!!!

  8. Frying meatballs is the ONLY way to go! Any other way the meatballs turn out soft and mushy for me. And the air fryer method sounds great too!
    I love your recipe Claudia! Seriously delicioso!

  9. These meatballs look amazing! I've always baked my meatballs, but you're tempting me to try air frying or perhaps even pan-frying them.

  10. Buon Giorno,
    have been married to my Southern Italian love, have learned so many wonderful recipes.I am Northern Italian and we cook very differently.Love your Sunday Morning
    tradition. Jeanie from San Francisco


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