Pair of tong holding meatball over a cast-iron skillet.
Photography, Art Direction & Food Styling: Anthony Contrino

Every Italian American thinks his or her grandma makes the best meatballs, and I’m no exception!  My gram made the BEST meatballs.  No one (even in my family) makes them the way she used to.  As a young boy I would make them with her, and no matter how hard I tried, I could never replicate them – and I still can’t.  BUT, these are pretty damn close and just as flavorful and delicious.

Pair of tong holding meatball over a cast-iron skillet.

Almost Grandma’s Meatballs

5 stars (1 rating)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ medium yellow onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef, 80/20 blend
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • cup parsley, chopped finely
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
  • Using a mini food processor, puree the garlic and onion, scraping down the sides, as needed; a few little chunks are fine; transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add the ground beef, milk, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, pecorino, Parmigiano Reggiano, salt and pepper.
  • Using your hands, gently mix until all ingredients are combined; do not mash or overmix the mixture.
  • Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Fill a large, high-sided skillet with a 1-inch of vegetable oil, and heat to 350-degrees.
  • Meanwhile, using a ¼ cup scoop, portion the meat.
  • Gently roll each portion into a ball, being sure not to pack the meat too tight.
  • Fry the meatballs in batches, cooking each side until deep brown, about 1-2 per side.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the prepared sheet pan.
  • Bake to an internal temperature of 165°F, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Alternatively, you can finish cooking the meatballs in simmering marinara sauce for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with a good tomato sauce and your favorite pasta.


If you want to avoid frying, bake the meatballs in a 400°F oven to an internal temperature of 165°F, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Course: Main Course
Author: Anthony Michael Contrino