Easy pan fried meatballs are made with just a few simple ingredients and cook quickly in a single skillet. This fried meatball recipe can also be frozen for easy meal prep.
Meatballs are one of those things that I very rarely order in a restaurant. Everyone has their own idea of a perfect meatball and I prefer my own homemade ones. Of course, I also like my mom's meatballs and loved the ones my grandmother made too. There is nothing better than a pot of Sunday Gravy with these pan fried Italian meatballs added to it.
While I make other meatball recipes, this basic meatball recipe is one I have been making for as long as I can remember. To me this is the best way to make tender meatballs that are a bit crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It's the easiest way to make a meatball recipe that doesn't require many ingredients.
- Ground Beef – Use 85/15 ground meat for tender and juicy meatballs.
- Bread Crumbs – Italian bread crumbs add flavor and help the meatballs to retain essential moisture.
- Eggs – Eggs act as a binder to hold their shape as they cook.
- Seasonings – Salt, black pepper and dried Italian seasoning give these meatballs a classic flavor. You can also add chopped fresh herbs like parsley or basil to really brighten up the flavor.
- Cheese – Freshly grated parmesan cheese adds a mild, nutty flavor to the meatballs.
- Olive Oil – Or choose your favorite neutral oil for pan frying.
How To Make Pan Fried Meatballs
- In a large bowl, combine the meat, breadcrumbs, eggs, seasonings and parmesan cheese until just blended. Do not overmix.
- Form 18-20 meatballs from the meat mixture keeping the size as uniform as possible.
- Heat ¼ inch of oil in a skillet and add half of the meatballs.
- Cook the meatballs on medium heat for about 8 minutes, turning frequently until they are no longer pink inside.
- Repeat with the remaining meatballs.
- Drain the meatballs on a paper towel and serve as desired. (Full instructions on recipe card below.)
- The high fat content of the meat is needed to keep this fried meatball recipe moist and tender. Don't use super lean meat or the meatballs will be dry.
- Always use fresh ingredients such as cheese and eggs for the best flavor.
- Grate the cheese rather than buying pre-shredded cheese.
- Don't over mix the meatballs or they can be tough.
- Gently form the meatballs with wet hands, again being careful not to overwork the meat.
- Use a cookie scoop to make each meatball the same size. This will ensure more even cooking.
- Use a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet for best results as the meatballs will not stick and you will only need to use a little oil.
Make Ahead Meatballs
Meatballs are an ideal make ahead meal. Fresh, raw meatballs can be shaped and stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours before cooking and cooked meatballs can be refrigerated in an airtight container for about 4 days.
Freezing is also a great option for meatballs. I love to keep a bag of homemade meatballs in the freezer for easy weeknight meals any time. They can be stored for 3 months and since this recipe is easy to double, making extras is practical and saves time and money in the long run.
Freezing Raw Meatballs
Place raw meatballs on a baking sheet and flash freeze by placing the tray in the freezer for a few hours until the individual meatballs become firm. Transfer the meatballs to a freezer bag and store for up to three months. Remove from the freezer and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until they are no longer pink inside.
Freezing Pan Fried Meatballs
Alternatively, freeze meatballs that have been cooked through in the same manner and store for up to three months. Remove from the freezer and add to your favorite recipes being sure to heat them all the way though. Due to their small size they generally defrost very quickly and can be added directly to sauces or you can thaw them overnight in the fridge. This is my prefered method for quick and easy meals with flavorful meatballs.
What To Serve Meatballs With
This fried meatballs recipe is simple and so versatile. My husband likes a good meatball sub with tomato sauce and here are a variety of ways to turn these pan fried meatballs into a satisfying meal.
- Easy Italian Marinara Sauce Recipe in 25 Minutes!
- Angel Hair Pasta With Blush Sauce
- Eggplant Parmesan Casserole
- Italian Meatball Soup via Food Fanatic
For smaller meatballs it will take about 8 minutes for them to cook through. If you roll larger meatballs you will need to increase the cooking time.
To prevent meatballs from sticking to the pan use a non stick pan. If not using a non stick pan, use a more generous amount of oil and don't over heat the pan. You want at least ¼ of an inch of oil in the pan and work with a medium-high heat. If you cook the meatballs in batches, you may need to add additional oil to the pan.
Meatballs can cook through in sauce as long as the sauce is kept at a simmer until the meatballs are fully cooked.
A fully cooked meatball will no longer be pink inside and the juices should run clear. When checked with a meat thermometer the internal temperature should register 165 degrees F.
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Easy Pan Fried Meatballs
- 1 large non stick frying pan
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef (85/15)
- 1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 ½ tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
- olive oil for pan frying
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Mix with hands until blended but do not overmix.
- Shape into about 18 to 20 meatballs, making sure all are evenly sized.
- Pour a few tablespoons of oil into the frying pan so that the bottom is covered with about ¼ inch of oil. Heat pan on medium high heat then add half the meatballs, making sure the pan is not too crowded. Cook about 7 to 8 minutes making sure to turn on each side so that the meatballs are fully cooked and no longer pink inside. Repeat with remaining meatballs and add a bit more oil if necessary.
- After meatballs are cooked, drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with any type of sauce or add to soup or a pot of sauce.
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