Oh, this update has been a long, long time coming. I’ve had this meatball recipe on the blog for over five years now, and while I would love to just sit here and make fun of my photos back in the day, I’ve decided to be kind to myself and say “look how far you’ve come.” Because while the quality of the photo has changed, the quality of the food hasn’t. And this skillet Italian meatball recipe is by far one of my absolute favorite dinners to make. One that my husband will quite literally beg for sometimes…
Now the Italian meatball is a tradition in my family—and a challenge. While my grandmother taught me the classic way to make her meatballs—with soaked bread and hours of simmering sauce—I decided to change it up a bit. I don’t have hours in my day to get dinner ready, I have about 30 minutes tops before I melt into a puddle on the couch and call it a day. So my recipe changes up a few things—and it can all be made in your cast iron skillet.
Unlike the big, fatty meatballs my grandmother will roll up, my meatballs are a bit smaller and easy to fry up. I would say they’re almost the size of cocktail meatballs, with about a 1-inch diameter. They’re faster to cook in the skillet, making it even easier to get dinner on the table on a weeknight.
Over these past five years, I’ve developed a few more tricks for my skillet Italian meatballs that make them even tastier. The first one starts with a mistake. I forgot to add in garlic powder one time, so in a lazy attempt to get that flavor, I sprinkled the tops of my meatballs with garlic salt instead—and now I’ll never make meatballs without this nifty little flavorful trick.
Second, I’ve found that adding some diced onion into the mix also elevates the flavor. While some of the onion will fall out of the meatballs while cooking, you can still mix it into the sauce and get the flavor you desire.
Lastly, I stopped draining the fat from the meatballs. I do the same with my skillet sausage pasta recipe because I like mixing in that fat with a jar of pasta sauce. It gives the sauce a little extra oomph of flavor at the end.
And of course, if you can, freshly grated parmesan is always a go-to for me. Sure, grated parmesan in a jar is fine and will do on a busy weeknight. But if you have a little extra time (and patience), I recommend grating it yourself. It’s melt in your mouth good.
Alright, here’s a step-by-step on the magical skillet Italian meatballs.
Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and—yes—mix with clean hands. It’s a little gross, but it’s the only way to really do it, people. If you’re making meatballs, you’re going all in.
Roll your meatball mixture into 16-20 meatballs—usually around 1-inch diameter.
Heat up your cast-iron skillet with a very small amount of olive oil. You really don’t need much because the meatballs will release all of that juicy, delicious fat and you’ll use that to cook them. But just a little olive oil to get started is fine.
Place the meatballs on a bed of spaghetti, penne, or even some zoodles if you’re looking to keep it light for dinner. And sprinkle on some freshly grated parmesan, of course!
Alright here’s the recipe card so you save it for later!
Skillet Italian Meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1 small onion diced small (about 1/3-1/2 cup)
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Garlic salt for sprinkling on top
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 24-28 oz. jar of marinara sauce
- Mix all of the ingredients (besides the garlic salt and olive oil) in a large bowl with clean hands until combined.
- Roll the mixture into 1-inch meatballs (around 25-30). Sprinkle the tops lightly with garlic salt.
- Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for around 5-7 minutes—or until the meatballs are cooked and only slightly pink on the inside.
- Pour the marinara sauce on top, mix and wait for the sauce to simmer and completely warmed through.
- Serve on a bed of spaghetti, penne, or even zoodles!