The Best Cheesy Baked Italian Meatballs (video)

a large casserole filled with tomato sauce and meatballs, on a table

The only recipe you need for the best baked meatballs! These cheesy, baked Italian meatballs have that perfect meatball texture – juicy, savory, and pillowy soft, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture! They’re made with ground beef, ground pork, parmesan cheese, and baked in a homemade marinara sauce before getting topped with loads of mozzarella cheese.  Enjoy these baked meatballs as an appetizer, paired with pasta, or enjoyed in a sandwich.

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Ingredients for Cheesy Baked Meatballs

Here are my tips for the main ingredients you’ll need to make these delicious and soft Italian meatballs. Find the full list of ingredients in the printable recipe card below.

  • Ground Beef: use ground beef with an 80/20 or even 75/25 percent ratio of meat to fat. The extra fat will add lots of great flavor and keep the meatballs soft.
  • Ground Pork: I recommend getting both ground meats at the butcher counter instead of using vacuum sealed packages. Freshly ground meat will have more air and volume.
  • Parmesan Cheese: for the meatballs, the sauce, and for topping!
  • Mozzarella Cheese: this melty cheese is great for topping meatballs.
  • Fresh Herbs: you’ll need parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano for this meatball recipe.
  • Canned Tomatoes: I like to use a combination of crushed and diced tomatoes to give the marinara sauce more texture.
  • Grated Onion: this is my secret ingredient for making the juiciest meatballs! I add grated onion to all my meatball recipes, and it really transforms the texture and adds tons of great flavor!
  • Panko Breadcrumbs: regular breadcrumbs will also work well.

Supplies & Tools for the Recipe

Need some supplies or tools to make these Italian meatballs at home? Shop my Amazon Affiliate links for the items I love! Using these links won’t cost you extra and I’ll earn a small commission.

a closeup image of a bowl of Italian meatballs with sauce

Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe

These incredible and juicy Italian meatballs are baked in a savory and aromatic homemade marinara sauce. It’ super easy to make and tastes delicious paired with the meatballs.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the diced onion and sauté it for about 6 to 7 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Next, add in the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, and basil, sea salt, and season to taste with ground black pepper.
  4. Pour in the crushed and diced tomatoes next. Stir and bring the sauce up to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat slightly to a medium-low and continue to simmer for 25 to 30 minutes while preparing the meatball mixture.
  5. Once the sauce is cooked, stir in 1 cup of parmesan cheese.

Making the Meatball Mixture

While the homemade marinara sauce is cooking away, you can get started on the delicious beef and pork meatball mixture.

  1. Place the ground beef and ground pork into a large mixing bowl. Add the parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs, and grated onion. Either grate or press in the garlic cloves. Drop in the eggs.
  2. Season the mixture with sea salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, and parsley.
  3. Using your hands, gently fold together the ground meat with all the fillings and seasonings, creating a uniform mixture. Do not overmix or compress the ground meat! Poke your fingers into the mixture to introduce air pockets.
a large casserole with tomato sauce and meatballs on a table

How to Make Baked Italian Meatballs

Let’s bring the meatballs and the sauce together and get them ready for the oven!

  1. Pour two-thirds of the marinara sauce into a large casserole pan (I use a 9×13-inch pan).
  2. Using a quarter-cup measuring scoop, measure a heaping scoopful of meat mixture for each meatball. Gently roll the ground meat into a ball, then place into the sauce. This recipe makes approximately 24 large meatballs.
  3. Pour the remaining sauce over the meatballs and bake at 425°F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 165°F. Insert a digital thermometer into the center of the largest meatball.
  4. Remove the casserole pan from the oven and switch the oven settings from bake to broil. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and about 1 cup of parmesan cheese over the top. Return to the oven and broil for 4 to 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden.

Serving Suggestions for Meatballs

These delicious baked Italian meatballs can be enjoyed as an appetizer with toasted, crispy bread on the side for dipping.

You can also serve them with pasta or make spaghetti and meatballs. Add extra parmesan cheese and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

a closeup image of spaghetti and meatballs in a bowl, on a table
Spaghetti & Meatballs

If you love a good meatball sandwich, use these baked meatballs inside a toasted sandwich roll. Add more cheese if desired and dig in to enjoy!

two meatballs sandwiches on a plate, on a table
Easy Meatball Sandwiches

More Recipes to Try!

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5 from 1 vote

The Best Cheesy Baked Italian Meatballs (video)

30 minutes prep + 1 hour cook
24 meatballs
The best, cheesy baked Italian meatballs recipe in marinara sauce, topped with loads of cheese! Juicy, soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture with incredible flavor!

Ingredients 

For Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 18 oz crushed tomatoes, canned
  • 18 oz diced tomatoes, canned
  • 2 tbsp EACH: fresh chopped parsley; chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp EACH: fresh oregano, thyme, chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

For Meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef, 80/20% ratio
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sweet onion, about 2 medium onions
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp EACH: fresh chopped parsley; chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp EACH: fresh oregano, thyme, chopped rosemary
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • ground black pepper, to taste

For Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 to 3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Making the Marinara Sauce:

  • Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the diced onion and sauté it for about 6 to 7 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  • Next, add in the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, and basil, sea salt, and season to taste with ground black pepper.
  • Pour in the crushed and diced tomatoes next. Stir and bring the sauce up to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat slightly to a medium-low and continue to simmer for 25 to 30 minutes while preparing the meatball mixture.
  • Once the sauce is cooked, stir in 1 cup of parmesan cheese.

Making the Meatball Mixture:

  • Next, make the meatballs. Place the ground beef and ground pork into a large mixing bowl. Add the parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs, and grated onion. Either grate or press in the garlic cloves. Drop in the eggs.
  • Season the mixture with sea salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, and parsley.
  • Using your hands, gently fold together the ground meat with all the fillings and seasonings, creating a uniform mixture. Do not overmix or compress the ground meat! Poke your fingers into the mixture to introduce air pockets.

Assembling the Dish:

  • Pour two-thirds of the marinara sauce into a large casserole pan (I use a 9×13-inch pan).
  • Using a quarter-cup measuring scoop, measure a generous scoopful of meat mixture for each meatball. Gently roll the ground meat into a ball, then place into the sauce. This recipe makes approximately 24 large meatballs.

Baking Instructions:

  • Pour the remaining sauce over the meatballs and bake at 425°Ffor 35 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 165°F. Insert a digital thermometer into the center of the largest meatball.
  • Remove the casserole pan from the oven and switch the oven settings from bake to broil. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and about 1 cup of parmesan cheese over the top. Return to the oven and broil for 4 to 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden.

Serving Suggestions:

  • These delicious baked Italian meatballs can be joyed as an appetizer with toasted, crispy bread on the side for dipping. Garnish with fresh parsley and more parmesan cheese before enjoying.
  • You can also serve them with pasta or make spaghetti and meatballs. Add extra parmesan cheese and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
  • If you love a good meatball sandwich, use these baked meatballs inside a toasted sandwich roll. Add more cheese if desired and dig in to enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 210kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 657mg | Potassium: 284mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 330IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 179mg | Iron: 1mg