Ground beef and sausage combine for delicious, balanced flavor in these baked Italian sausage meatballs. With no pan-frying required, these meatballs are never dry thanks to a few tricks! This easy recipe has fairly quick prep and freezes wonderfully.
I've long maintained that meatballs are one of the easiest meals to feed a crowd. Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl, scoop onto a baking sheet and cook, then throw in a pot of sauce and serve with pasta for a hearty and flavorful dinner for 7-8+.
While I typically go for standard beef meatballs and Italian sausage links when I make Sunday sauce, I got to thinking what would happen if I combined the two into one meatball recipe.
As it turns out, it might be my favorite way to prepare meatballs yet. Ground Italian sausage provides a great flavor base, with its strong flavor mellowed out by an equal portion of ground beef. And even with skipping the pan-frying, these Italian sausage meatballs are ultra juicy and satisfying.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- Using a 1:1 ratio of ground beef to ground sausage provides a great balance of flavors. You get all those Italian sausage flavors without them overpowering the rest of the dish.
- Grating the onion adds so much moisture to ensure baked meatballs aren't dried out at all. I love this tip when making baked turkey meatballs.
- With two pounds of meat, this recipe yields plenty of meatballs to enjoy some now and later. Meatballs freeze so well!
- Sausage: While you can use any ground Italian sausage variety, I'm partial to mild over sweet or hot. Either a package of ground sausage or Italian sausage links removed from their casings works.
- Ground beef: A particular fat percentage isn't super important here as a portion of the fat cooks out during the bake time. I often use 85/15 or 80/20.
- Parmesan: This can be subbed with Pecorino Romano. I prefer to grate a wedge myself as I find it has the freshest flavor, though the refrigerated supermarket deli section will have pre-shredded cups that are of a higher quality than the shelf-stable canisters.
- Grated onion: Grating an onion vs. dicing it releases more moisture than you might think! One-quarter cup roughly amounts to most of a small onion. Do use care when doing this as it becomes wet and slippery, though you can achieve a similar consistency by pulsing it in a small food processor.
- Italian breadcrumbs: While this is an easy way to add Italian flavor in just one step, you can use regular breadcrumbs and add individual Italian seasonings (or a pre-made blend) separately. These include dried basil, oregano, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, etc.
- Prep the ingredients: grate the onion and the Parmesan and chop the parsley. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Tip: If deciding between bowl sizes, go with the larger one. This way crumbles of the meatball mixture are less likely to fly out onto the countertop.
- Combine all of the ingredients together until a cohesive mixture forms. Doing this by hand is my preferred method as you're much less likely to overwork the meat, which can lead to less tender meatballs. The mixture should hold its shape when formed into a ball and resemble one giant round meatball.
- Scoop meatballs and place them onto a large rimmed sheet pan (or two) with a little space between them. Using a two-tablespoon capacity cookie scoop will yield around 31 meatballs, while a one-and-a-half tablespoon cookie scoop will get you about 41. The Italian sausage meatballs pictured here were made using a 2-tablespoon scoop.
- Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 25 minutes, or until the center of the largest meatball registers at least 160°F, the USDA minimum safe cooking temperature for ground beef and pork. Once baked they're ready to serve.
- Use care when grating the onion as it becomes slippery as the moisture releases. When doing this I like to wear a cut-resistant glove for a little extra assurance against nicking my fingers on the grater.
- I haven't tried this recipe with a sausage variety other than pork, but I would imagine ground Italian chicken or turkey sausage would also work. If going this route, ensure the center of the largest meatball reaches 165°F (the minimum food safety temperature for ground poultry), not just 160°F.
- You may notice some white stuff oozing out of the bottom of the meatballs after cooking. This is a coagulated mixture of fat and protein and likely a bit of the cheese. Simply use tongs to lift the meatballs up off the sheet, leaving this behind.
Yes, you can play around with the ratio of ground beef to ground sausage within the two pounds of total meat if you have a specific amount of either you'd like to use up. Keep in mind more sausage will have a stronger flavor and vice versa.
Not with this recipe. These Italian sausage meatballs are shaped and then baked, simplifying the recipe steps and making them (slightly) better for you. They bake up perfectly juicy without drying out.
Meatballs freeze really well! My favorite way to freeze meatballs is in sauce in an air-tight container. Otherwise meatballs without sauce can be frozen, once cooled, in an air-tight bag with as much excess air pressed out as possible. Cooked meatballs can be frozen for several months, after which time they may develop a tinge of freezer burnt flavor.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Italian Sausage Meatballs
- 1 lb (454g) ground Italian sausage mild, hot, or sweet
- 1 lb (454g) ground beef
- ½ cup (30g) grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup (55g) grated onion (about two-thirds of a small onion)
- ¼ cup (13g) chopped fresh parsley
- 4 cloves garlic pressed/finely minced
- ½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons (88g) Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly spritz a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
- Add all meatball ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix until all of the ingredients are combined. Take care not to over-mix as that can lead to a tougher consistency.
- Scoop meatballs using a two-tablespoon capacity cookie scoop and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving just a little room between them.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until the center of the largest meatball registers at least 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Meatballs are ready to add to sauce, meatball subs, or be served however you like.
- You can play around with the ratio of ground beef to sausage if you have slightly different amounts to use up. Just remember that less sausage will have an impact on flavor.
- Be careful when grating the onion as it gets slippery. Use a cut-resistant glove if you have one, or you can pulse the onion in a small food processor to break it down into a similar consistency.
- If using a smaller capacity cookie scoop, check them sooner as they may need less time to cook.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer