Want to learn the secret to making tasty meatballs that are easy to make? While many pan fry them for Italian gravy, it’s much easier to bake meatballs in the oven and I’ve got a recipe to keep them moist and delicious. Here’s how to do it!

While pan-fried meatballs have a little more flavor, baking meatballs in the oven is easier, healthier for you, and makes less of a mess!

I usually make meatballs as I’m preparing my Sunday sauce.

I learned how to make meatballs from my grandmother and mother. Not that they ever sat down to really show me how to make them, but I watched as they made Italian gravy every Sunday.

For years, I’ve perfected how I make meatballs and my family loves them every time.

It’s important to note that I don’t make meatballs the same way twice and that’s because I don’t measure things out.

But I do make them a particular way and this recipe shares how I generally make them. So feel free to tweak the ingredients as you like.

Are you ready to make meatballs in the oven for Italian gravy? Let’s go!

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What is the Secret to Making Good Meatballs?

Be selective with your meats. Leaner meats like chicken or turkey can overcook easily and be tougher than fattier meats of beef or pork.

And if you want meatballs with more flavor, mix in a few different meats like beef and pork.

It’s also important to keep moisture in the mixture with eggs (that help bind the meatballs together) and milk or cream. I tend to use half and half because that’s what I have on hand but the point is, you want to keep the meat moist so it doesn’t dry out when cooking.

Finally, be gentle when forming the meatballs. Because rolling and packing them too tightly will make them tougher and chewier after cooking.

mixing ground beef with bread mixture and eggs to make sunday sauce with meatballs
Mixing the meatball ingredients in a bowl to make Italian gravy

Is It Better to Bake or Pan-Fry Meatballs?

To me, the answer depends on what your goals are.

Pan frying is quicker to cook, but the meatballs are higher in fat and it makes a huge mess on the stove top.

Baking takes longer to cook, but the meatballs are lighter in calories because they are not fried in oil. And, there is much less mess to clean after baking.

So for me, baking meatballs in the oven is better than pan-frying them.

Making meatballs for Sunday Sauce
Hand mixing the ingredients to make Italian gravy

How to Make Meatballs in the Oven for Italian Gravy

My family loves how I make meatballs and I almost never make them the same because I generally don’t work with measured ingredients and eyeball it instead.

So the recipe ingredients below are a rough estimate based on how we like it.

If I’m feeling lazy about it, I’ll swap out real onions and garlic for the prepared spices so there is some flexibility when making these. They just won’t taste the same.

Making the meatballs for Sunday sauce
Making meatballs for Sunday sauce

To me, meatballs in Italian gravy taste better when they have more seasonings in the mix.

This recipe makes about 20-25 meatballs depending on how big you make them.

That may sound like a lot, but they go quickly. And if you have leftovers, they freeze easily too.

Making meatballs for Sunday sauce
Roll the meatballs in palm of hand to make

Ingredients for Meatballs in the Oven Recipe

I typically use one type of meat when making Italian gravy with meatballs, but sometimes I’ll mix it up with pork.

Lately, I’ve been making meatballs in the oven with turkey to lighten the calories even more.

So think of this recipe as more of a guide than anything set in stone because you can easily play around with the ingredients.

  • ground beef
  • Italian bread crumbs
  • parmesan cheese
  • eggs
  • milk Whatever you have on hand is OK
  • Worcester sauce
  • basil
  • oregano
  • onion
  • garlic
  • fennel seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
Makinng meatballs for Sunday sauce on baking sheet instead of frying
Placing meatballs on baking sheet to bake instead of frying
after removing meatballs from oven before adding to sunday sauce
After removing meatballs from oven before adding to sunday sauce

Directions to Make Meatballs in the Oven

Making meatballs is pretty straightforward and easy to do because you pretty much dump all the ingredients in a bowl, mix it together and make the meatballs.

You can use a mixer, but I prefer to make meatballs with my hands. It’s less to clean up and easier for me but feel free to use a mixer if you want!

Here’s how to make my recipe for oven meatballs.

  • Pre-heat oven to 400
  • Grab an oversized bowl and dump all the ingredients in
  • Mix it up with hands until fully mixed
  • Make meatballs to be a little bigger than a golf ball
  • Place on baking sheet
  • Bake for 25 minutes
  • Remove from oven and add to Italian gravy

As an aside, meatballs can also be cooked directly in the sauce but I prefer them pre-cooked before going in the sauce.

close up of sunday sauce with meatballs How to Make Sunday Sauce like a Pro
Sunday Sauce with Meatballs
A close-up of a dish of baked meatballs in a rich tomato sauce, topped with melted mozzarella cheese and fresh chopped basil. A wooden spoon is placed in the dish, suggesting it is ready to be served. The dish is in a white rectangular baking dish, reminiscent of a hearty chicken spinach flatbread pizza recipe.

How to Make Meatballs in the Oven for Italian Gravy

Stacy Ling
Do you love Italian food as much as I do? Learn how to make meatballs for Italian gravy like a pro!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 servings
Calories 326 kcal




  • Pre-heat oven to 400
  • Grab an oversized bowl and dump all the ingredients in
  • Mix it up with hands until fully mixed
  • Make meatballs to be a little bigger than a golf ball
  • Place on baking sheet
  • Bake for 25 minutes
  • Remove from oven and add to sauce.


These meatballs can also be sauteed, but it is less work and lower in calories if you bake them. They are just as good baked as they are fried.
Meatballs can also be cooked directly in the sauce but I prefer them pre-cooked before going in the sauce.
Click here to learn how to make my Italian gravy recipe


Serving: 1gramsCalories: 326kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 31gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 331mgPotassium: 508mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 145IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 125mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Meatballs in Italian Gravy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

More Italian Recipe Ideas

I’m a huge fan of Italian food and make dishes all the time for my family.

It’s part of my heritage and the food is delicious!

Here are some easy recipes to try.

Close up of The Best Bruschetta Tomatoes Recipe
The Best Bruschetta Tomatoes Recipe

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Stacy Ling

Want to learn more about me? I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

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close up of meatballs in the oven recipe

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    My meatball recipe is similar to yours and I bake mine too, it’s so much easier especially when your making a big batch!

  2. These looks so delicious and happen to be one of my favorite things to eat. I have never thought about baking them, I am going to give it a try!

  3. Hi Stacy
    I enjoy reading all you have to offer, gardening, home decor and cooking!!
    Do you use very lean ground beef?
    I can’t wait to make these meatballs ☺️

    1. Thank you!!!! It really depends what’s available at the market and who does the shopping but I usually grab 80% – 90% (and usually more like 90% and above to keep it lean). If I’m cooking for a crowd for an event or something, I’ll go to the meat market and grab better quality meat than what’s available at the supermarket.

  4. If I were to blend Pork in with the beef, what type of Pork would you recommend?
    Second is it a one for one ratio (1 pound of beef to one pound of Pork)?
    Thank You,

    1. Hey Walter! Yes, the ratio would be 1lb of beef to 1lb of pork and I’d just grab any ground pork the market has. It’s really tasty when you blend the two! Have an amazing weekend!