National Meatball Day Recipes

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JLP Staff

Food & Home /

It's National Meatball Day!

Do you prefer traditional meatball recipes served with marinara sauce, or would you try a unique recipe like lamb meatballs with couscous & feta cheese? We want to share some of our favorite meatball recipes. Take a look…. 

TRADITIONAL ITALIAN MEATBALLS -  Spaghetti and meatballs is a favorite meal for many. Cut out the spaghetti and try serving JUST the meatballs as a main course. Add some green veggies as a side dish, (or mix them in the red sauce) and you have a hearty meal!  

  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, stale
  • 1/3 cup cold milk
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 medium onion, grated (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • Quick Marinara Sauce, recipe follows
  1. Grate the bread or pulse into crumbs in a food processor. In a small bowl toss the bread crumbs with milk to re-hydrate.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pork, veal, beef, Parmesan, parsley, salt, onion, garlic, and egg and mix until combined. Season the meat mixture with pepper.
  3. Using your hands, gently form the meat mixture into 18 slightly larger than golf ball-sized balls. (Packing the meat mixture too tightly together will result in tough meatballs). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  4. Heat half the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 6 minutes.
  5. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Drain the oil and wipe out the skillet, return to the heat, and repeat with the remaining oil and meatballs.
  6. Drain and wipe out the skillet again. Return all the meatballs to the skillet and pour in the marinara sauce.
  7. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, swirling the pan occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through about 15 minutes. The cheese in the meatballs will start to melt when the meatballs are ready.
  8. Serve immediately with the Quick Marinara Sauce and spaghetti or on sandwiches. If serving with spaghetti, toss with 1/3 of the sauce.These meatballs can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for 3 days, or frozen for up to 6 weeks.
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LINDSAY'S BUFFALO CHICKEN MEATBALLS - Get that delicious buffalo flavor without the greasy mess of a buffalo chicken wing. They are easy to make, easy to serve, and easy to eat!

  • 1 lb lean ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Wing Sauce (divided into 1/3 cup & 1/2 cup)
  • Serve with toothpicks, Blue Cheese or Ranch salad dressing and celery sticks 


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, egg, bread crumbs, celery, and 1/3 cup Wing Sauce
  3. Shape into 1 inch balls and place on greased baking sheet
  4. Bake 20 - 25 minutes or unit cooked through
  5. Toss meatballs with remainder of wing sauce
  6. Serve with toothpicks, side of blue cheese or ranch dressing, and celery sticks for dipping! 
  7. Makes about 24 meatballs

ASIAN PORK MEATBALLS - These delicious Asian-style meatballs are a crowd favorite.

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 small jalapeño, seeded, finely chopped (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten 
  1. 1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño (seeds removed)
  2. 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)
  3. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  4. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  5. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  6. 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  7. 1/2 cup duck sauce
  8. 1/2 cup sweet and sour sauce
  9. 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  10. 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth 
  11. 4 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Mist a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients and mix gently but thoroughly with your fingers.
  4. Using wet hands, shape mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls and place on baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, until meatballs are slightly browned on the outside, shaking pan occasionally.
  6. In a large bowl, combine all sauce ingredients except scallions, stirring well.
  7. Place meatballs in slow cooker, pour sauce over and stir gently.
  8. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
  9. Turn heat to warm setting and serve meatballs directly from slow cooker or, alternatively, transfer meatballs to a serving platter or bowl.
  10. Garnish with scallions and serve

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LAMB MEATBALLS W/ COUSCOUS & FETA - Serve these meatballs as an appetizer, side dish or main course! Anything goes with these yummy meatballs! 
  • 1 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 small red onion, half finely chopped and half thinly sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces Feta, crumbled
  1. Heat broiler. In a medium bowl, combine the meat, apricots, coriander, chopped onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Form the meat into 1 ½-inch balls (about 20) and place them on a broilerproof baking sheet. Broil until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place the couscous in a bowl. Add 1 cup hot tap water, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  5. Serve the couscous with the meatballs, tomatoes, cucumber, Feta, and sliced onion. Drizzle with the dressing.

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SPENCER CHRISTIAN'S TURKEY MEATBALLS - Since Good Morning America's Spencer Christian was inspirational and instrumental in my weight loss and conversion to healthier eating, I had to include a couple of his recipes in my book. This meatball recipe shows that often a fat-laden recipe can be made deliciously more healthful. Spencer uses ground turkey breast in place of ground beef, which makes for a hearty entree. *A recipe from Joan Lunden's Healthy Cooking

  • 1 pound ground, raw turkey (preferably breast meat)
  • 1/3  cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
  • Pepper to taste
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups Roasted Fresh Tomato Sauce (tomato sauce recipe below) or your favorite purchased tomato sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. In a bowl, combine well the turkey, bread
  3. crumbs, water, salt (if using), and pepper to taste. 
  4. Roll the mixture into meatballs the size of walnuts.
  5. Arrange the meatballs in one layer in a shallow roasting pan sprayed with the nonstick vegetable oil spray and bake them for 20 minutes, or until they are cooked through.
  6. In a saucepan, heat the tomato sauce over moderate heat until it is hot, add the meatballs, and stir the mixture gently.

ROASTED FRESH TOMATO SAUCE - Roasting the tomatoes in the oven before making this homemade sauce brings out a wonderful depth of flavor. Freeze and use in place of canned sauce.

  • Makes about 5 cups
  • 4 pounds ripe, unblemished plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 8 to 10 garlic cloves, or to taste, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional flavoring:
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as basil, rosemary, dill, oregano, chives, or parsley)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into quarters, and arrange them in one layer in a shallow roasting pan.
  3. Sprinkle the onion and the garlic around the tomatoes, and drizzle the oil over the vegetables.
  4. Roast the vegetables for 50 to 60 minutes or until the tomatoes are lightly browned and the garlic is tender when pierced with a knife.
  5. Transfer the mixture, in batches, to a food processor, and chop coarsely or puree until fine (to produce either a chunky or a smooth sauce). Add salt and pepper to taste, and the chopped herbs (if using).
About The Author
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Joan Lunden’s in-house research and writing team works with Joan to create content that complements her focuses and the interests of her fans. The team is dedicated to creating a thriving community through content and conversations, and hopes their work, like Joan’s, can make a difference in the lives of her readers everywhere.

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