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Easy Oven Baked Meatballs

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Easy Oven Baked Meatballs are juicy, tender, and super flavorful. These baked ground beef meatballs are ready in less than an hour with no grease splatter to cleanup which makes them the perfect meal any day of the week. Serve them over pasta, as an appetizer, in a sandwich, or get ahead with your meal prep by doubling the batch and freezing some for later!

baked meatballs on a cookie sheet.

Up until recently, I’ve only really posted slow cooker meatball recipes in a variety of sauces, because if you know me, cooking anything in a crockpot is basically my love language.

I make everything from sweet and spicy meatballs to honey garlic meatballs and everything in between.

However, every time I share them, I get people asking for homemade meatballs instead of store bought frozen meatballs. Enter oven baked meatballs. 

Meatballs in the oven are amazing and so easy to make. 

They can be used in any of my saucy meatball recipes but they’re also great with pasta or in meatball subs.

Make them small enough and they’re the perfect appetizer size too!

Why you’ll love this easy meatball recipe

Perfectly Moist – No need to worry about your meatballs overcooking or drying out. These are always juicy.

Great Texture – These are tender and yet sturdy enough that they won’t fall apart when you stick your fork in them.

Feeds a Crowd – Just one batch of baked meatballs yields 24 meatballs and you can easily double the batch for more people. They’re also great for freezing for a shortcut to dinner at a later date.

Easy to Make – With just 10 minutes of prep time, ground beef, and plenty of flavor and seasoning, all it takes is to roll them up and bake them! An easy dinner ready in 35 minutes.

overhead shot of baked meatballs on a cookie sheet.

Equipment you’ll need

Ingredients

Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.

  • Onion & Garlic – We cook these down in oil first to release the liquid to prevent soggy meatballs but softening these aromatics first adds a depth of flavor which is amazing.
  • Olive Oil – A bit for sauteing the garlic and onions.
  • Ground Beef – I use lean (80/20) so there’s enough fat to keep the oven baked meatballs moist but not too much that they’re too greasy.
  • Seasoning – Dried Thyme, fresh chopped parsley, salt, & pepper. A blend of Italian seasoning is a great alternative.
  • Egg – Helps to bind the meatball ingredients together.
  • Dijon Mustard – A tangy condiment that gives it a punch of flavor.
  • Tabasco Sauce – More or less depending on how spicy you like your meatballs. If you don’t have any on hand, you can add your spice by using red pepper flakes.
  • Saltine Crackers – Use a food processor to crush these into fine crumbs. The cracker crumbs will absorb the extra moisture while helping to bind the meatballs.
  • Milk – Use just a bit of milk to help soften and moisten the cracker crumbs so they’re not too dry.
overhead shot of labeled ingredients laid out to make meatballs.

How to make Oven Baked Meatballs

This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.

  1. Step One: Sauté the onion and garlic in oil in a skillet over medium heat until translucent. Season with thyme, black pepper, and salt. Cook for a few minutes and then remove the pan from the heat and allow the onion mixture to cool.
overhead shot of onions sauteing in a pan.
  1. Step Two: In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, egg, mustard, and hot sauce. Mix either by hand or with a wooden spoon, as long as you don’t overmix!
raw beef mixture in a mixing bowl.
  1. Step Three: Add the crushed saltines, milk, onion mixture, and chopped parsley and mix until completely combined. Again, do not overmix ground beef or your meatballs will end up dry and dense.
  1. Step Four: Scoop out 2 Tablespoon portions of the meat mixture and if not using a proper scoop, use the palms of your hands to roll them into balls. Place them onto a prepared baking sheet in a single layer, leaving a bit of space in between each one for even browning. Repeat until you’re out of the meatball mixture.
  1. Step Five: Cook for 25-30 minutes until cooked through and then let them rest on the tray for about 5-10 minutes for the juices to settle. Enjoy with your favorite sauce, pasta, or in a meatball sub!
tongs holding a baked meatball.

What to serve with Oven Baked Meatballs

Meatballs are so versatile, which means they’re not just meant for spaghetti! Although, that is one of the best ways to enjoy them 🙂

Simmer them in a tasty tomato sauce or homemade marinara sauce and serve them over your favorite noodles.

You can also smother them in a honey BBQ sauce or a homemade teriyaki sauce and serve them as an appetizer on their own, or overtop some rice or mashed potatoes for a meal.

Use them in a meatball sub or on top of a pizza! You can also keep it nice and light with just a salad or some veggies on the side.

Tips & Suggestions

  • I can’t stress this enough, to avoid tough meatballs, mix the ingredients until just combined. Do not overwork it!
  • Use a digital thermometer to test for doneness. The internal temperature of a cooked meatball should be 165 degrees F.
  • I do recommend using a cookie scoop. Not only to ensure all the meatballs are the same size to cook evenly, but also so that you’re not having to overwork the meat.

How to reheat and store Oven Baked Meatballs

How to store leftovers

Once completely cooled, store meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge.

How long will baked meatballs last in the fridge?

If you’re lucky enough to have leftover meatballs, you can enjoy them for up to 5 days after!

Can I freeze this baked meatballs recipe?

Absolutely! I encourage you to double the batch and freeze half.

Once you’ve cooked them, allow the meatballs to cool completely. Flash freeze them on a sheet pan until they’re solid then transfer them to a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. This is so that they don’t freeze in one giant lump.

How to reheat frozen baked meatballs

You can either thaw them first or reheat them straight from frozen. If I know I’ll be using them in a sauce, I just simmer in the sauce until they’re heated through. Otherwise, I’ll use the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

sauce being spooned over meatballs on pasta.

FAQs

Can I make these oven baked meatballs gluten-free?

Absolutely! Just replace the saltine crackers with a gluten-free alternative like almond meal, gluten-free flour, crushed gluten-free crackers, or even oats.

How long does it take to bake meatballs in oven?

This will depend on the size of the meatballs and the temperature of the oven. A 2 oz meatball will cook through in a 325-degree oven in about 30 minutes. Use a thermometer for an accurate reading to determine when they are fully cooked through. You can push it to 35 minutes if you want them a little crispier. Just be careful not to overcook them!

Should I sear the meatballs before baking?

I see the temptation but in this case, you don’t need to! As long as you give enough space in between each one and the oven is high enough, oven baked meatballs get a beautiful crust on the outside all on their own.

Can I make these with a different type of ground meat?

Ground beef, ground pork, and ground lamb are all great even in combination with each other.
Ground turkey and ground chicken can also be used for a lighter meatball, however, they are also leaner and tend to dry out if not prepared properly.

What can I use instead of saltines?

Replace saltines with Panko breadcrumbs or even regular breadcrumbs, if preferred. I like the lightness of the Panko or Saltines, but use what you’ve got!

Meatballs in Oven

Need more meatball recipes? Try these:

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

3-Ingredient Crock Pot Grape Jelly Meatballs

Slow Cooker Meatballs Stroganoff

Click here for my entire collection of meatball recipes.

meatball sub on a white plate.
baked meatballs on a cookie sheet.

Easy Oven Baked Meatballs

Melissa Williams | Persnickety Plates
Easy Oven Baked Meatballs are juicy, tender, and super flavorful. These baked ground beef meatballs are ready in 35 minutes with no grease splatter to cleanup which makes them the perfect meal any day of the week. Serve them over pasta, as an appetizer, in a sandwich, or get ahead with your meal prep by doubling the batch and freezing some for later!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 24 meatballs
Calories 50 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • ½ large diced yellow onion
  • 6-8 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 pound ground beef 80/20 ratio
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon tabasco sauce or to taste
  • 1 ounce milk
  • 24 saltine crackers crushed to fine crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons fresh Parsley chopped

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil, diced onion and minced garlic. Saute until translucent and then season with thyme, black pepper and salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until fully incorporated. Remove the pan from heat and set aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the ground beef, egg, dijon mustard and tabasco and either hand mix or use a wooden spoon or heavy duty spatula to combine.
  • Add the crushed saltines, milk, cooled onion mixture, and chopped parsley. Mix until completely combined.
  • Using a 2 TBSP or #20 Scoop, form 2 ounce meatballs and add to the prepared baking sheet, repeating until out of mixture.
  • Cook for 25-30 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
  • Let sit on the tray for about 5-10 minutes to rest, then serve with your favorite sauce, pasta, or as a delicious meatball sandwich!

Notes

Place any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate. Cooked meatballs can be enjoyed for up to 3-5 days after cooking.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 50kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 5gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 111mgPotassium: 84mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 15IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  1. Kelly Kardos says

    5 stars
    Adapting and making these right now! I took some ground beef/pork out for dinner with the intention of making meatballs! This recipe showed up on IG-kismet!

    • Melissa Williams says

      Oh good, let me know how the blend goes! 🙂

Melissa Williams/Persnickety Plates is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. For more details, please see my Privacy Policy & Disclosures page.