Classic comfort food with loads of flavour

  • SERVES: 4 – 6 people
  • COOK TIME: 20 – 30 mins
  • DIFFICULTY: easy
  • IDEAL FOR: midweek meal
  • BUDGET: £

Top tips for making perfect meatballs

Meatballs aren’t difficult to make.

But you can end up with little round, solid, balls of dryness if you’re not careful.

So, here are a few tips so you end up with well-seasoned, juicy and tender meatballs.

Choosing the meat

My favourite is pork because it’s fattier which gives flavour… and moisture.

If I used beef, I’d go 50/50 with pork.

Chicken or turkey meatballs are delicious, check out my IKEA meatballs and this decadent chicken meatballs recipe.

But be careful not to overcook them as they’ll dry out.

2. Keep your meat chilled

If you keep the meat chilled, this will mean the fat in the meat will melt in the pan.

And not beforehand.

You want to keep the fat from melting and breaking down before you cook the meatballs, so keep your meat and ingredients as cold as possible. Make the mixture in a chilled bowl, and if you are adding pre-cooked ingredients like onions, let them cool down completely before adding them in.

3. Add moisture

This is a bit of an obvious one but it’s getting the right balance.

And knowing what best to use to add moisture.

Eggs and binders like breadcrumbs mixed with milk all help with keeping meatballs tender and moist, so don’t skip any of these.

4. Taste

Once you’ve made your meatball mixture.

Take a little test patty and quickly fry it to taste.

Then adjust the seasoning, spices, herbs, if need be.

5. Be gentle

Try not to overwork the meat when forming the meatballs.

If you pack them too tightly then they’ll come out tough.

It’s a messy job but you can oil your hands so that the mixture won’t stick.

Then gently form the meatballs.

6. Bake vs. not fry

It’s up to you really.

But if you fry them until cooked through, they could end up a bit tough.

I prefer to brown them in the frying pan (don’t overcrowd them so you may need to do in batches).

And then finish them off in the sauce you make in the same pan.

Of course, the oven is just as good… but personally you won’t get as much flavour into your sauce.

‘Do’s’ for a perfect meatball

  • Do season your meatballs.
    • If you’re adding parmesan, then you can use a little less.
  • Do add herbs.
    • This will make them taste epic.
    • Try herbs like parsley, basil, mint, oregano, marjoram, and chives.
  • Do not use too many eggs or breadcrumbs.
    • These are used for binding the meat mix, not adding moisture.
    • You only need 1 -2 eggs for 500g (1lb) of meat.
    • And for breadcrumbs, use about ½ cup per 500g (1lb).
  • Do use your hands to mix the meat and spices etc.
    • You have far more control and a gentle touch.
  • Do try and make the meatballs all the same size.
    • This is so they cook evenly together.
  • Do lightly oil your hands.
    • This will help stop the meat from sticking so much when you roll them into balls.
  • Do sear your meatballs.
    • But then braise them.
    • This way you get a nice brown crust i.e. flavour.
    • And then you make your sauce in the same pan.
    • This means using the brown bits stuck on the pan to help add flavour to your sauce.
    • And when you add the meatballs, they will finish cooking through.
    • You can use an oven if you want to brown the meatballs.
    • But you won’t benefit from the brown bits in the sauce.
Tim’s homemade meatballs

Tim’s homemade meatballs

Course Main Course
Keyword beef meatballs, meatballs
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 people
Cost £


  • 1 kg beef mince
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Quick tomato sauce

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 x 400 g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste


  • In a large bowl, (using your hands is better) gently mix together the mince, herbs, salt and pepper, diced onion, egg and breadcrumbs.
    Make into small balls the size of a golf ball and place on baking paper on a baking tray.
    Bake in the oven for 20 mins (or until cooked through) at 180 C. While the meatballs are cooking, make the tomato sauce.

Quick tomato sauce

  • In a pan, heat the olive oil, add the onions and cook on low heat until soft.
  • Add the garlic and tomato purée. Cook for a few minutes then add the chopped tomatoes and oregano. S
    Season generously and simmer for 20 mins.
  • Serve the meatballs with your sauce.