Beef meatball recipe that belongs to your recipe box! These beef meatballs are tender, moist and versatile, perfect to make ahead and freeze. Save time & money by making a big batch!
Why you’ll love this Beef Meatballs Recipe
Ever find yourself at 5pm with no dinner plans surrounded by hungry mouths asking for food?
Now imagine, you had a stash of meatballs in your freezer to throw into a quick and delicious dinner in minutes, like this Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs (<- my boys’ favorite!) Jackpot, right?
Investing an hour to make and freeze a big batch of homemade meatballs is a smart way to meal prep for busy weeknights.
This big batch recipe yields 4+ pounds of beef meatballs, which means 4 dinners to feed a family of 4!
And did I mention, it takes less than an hour to prepare?!
4 reasons homemade Make Ahead Meatballs are better:
Sure, store-bought frozen meatballs are a life-saver in a pinch, but homemade is always better. And here’s why…
✔️ You know exactly what goes in those meatballs. No additives, no flavor enhancers, just good quality ingredients!
✔️ And you can customize the meatballs to your taste. Add some onion, or load them with veggies! Up to you!
✔️ You can shape them into whatever size you want to. Love jumbo meatballs? Make them bigger! Or make smaller balls for soups.
✔️ Finally, it’ll probably cost you way less! Now, I don’t know how much it costs to buy frozen meatballs, but my guess is that these homemade meatballs cost a fraction of the ones from the store!
Ground Beef Meatball Recipe Ingredients
- Panko – Japanese breadcrumbs. Because Panko is made with crustless bread, it’s super light and ideal for this meatball recipe. It lightens the meatballs without weighing it down. In a pinch, you can use regular breadcrumbs or an old bread.
- Milk – You can use any kind of milk here. Whole, 2% or even skim milk works.
- Lean ground beef – My go-to for making these meatballs. You’d like you can use a combination of beef and pork too.
- Eggs – Helps to bind the meat mixture.
- Worcestershire sauce – Deepens the flavor.
- Italian seasoning blend – adds well-rounded flavor. You can use your favorite brand of seasoning and a homemade blend.
How to make Homemade Meatballs
The secret to the most tender and moist meatballs is in panade, aka Panko soaked in milk.
- Step 1. Combine Panko and milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Step 2. Mix all ingredients together except for ground beef first. Then stir in beef. That way you won’t over-mix the meat, or you’ll get dense meatballs.
- Step 3. Shape the meatballs and arrange them on baking sheets, lined with parchment paper or silicone mat.
- Step 4. Freeze the meatballs uncooked or bake them and then freeze later.
You can also make these meatballs with ground turkey or chicken. Just bear in mind, the fattier the protein, the more tender and flavorful the meatballs are.
Meatball Recipe Ground Beef FAQ
The secret to moist meatballs is 3 ingredients: milk, breadcrumbs, and eggs. Do not skip any of these ingredients or else you’ll end up with tough and dense meatballs. Also, try not to over-mix the mixture as this can also make them denser.
With this big batch beef meatball recipe, I usually get about 125 1-inch meatballs. (Yes, I counted them! And not just once.)
A pound of ground beef will make roughly 30 medium-size (1-inch) meatballs.
If you’d like to try this recipe with just 1 lb of meat, I did calculation for you:
– ½ cup Panko Japanese breadcrumbs
– 6 tablespoons milk
– 1 lb lean ground beef
– 2 garlic cloves, pressed
– 1 egg
– ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
– 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
– ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
Since these meatballs are smaller size (1-inch balls), I serve 7-8 meatballs per person.
How to freeze Meatballs:
FREEZE FROM RAW
- Arrange the meatballs on baking sheets in one layer and place them in the freezer for about 2 hours.
- Once they’re frozen, transfer them into freezer bags. I like to divide the meatballs into 4 bags, a little over 1lb each. Don’t forget to label them!
- Frozen meatballs are good for up to 4 months.
FREEZE FROM COOKED
- Allow baked meatballs cool completely.
- Arrange the cooled meatballs on a baking sheet lined with a parchment paper or silicone mat, and place it in a freezer for about 2 hours.
- Then transfer the frozen meatballs into freezer bag.
- Frozen meatballs are good for up to 4 months.
More Favorites from Busy Cooks
Meatball Recipe Ground Beef (Big Batch)
- 1 ½ cups Panko Japanese breadcrumbs Note 1
- ½ cup milk Note 2
- 4 lbs lean ground beef Note 3
- 5-6 garlic cloves pressed
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- To make panade, in a medium bowl, combine panko and milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- To make the meatballs, in a large bowl, mix together soaked Panko, beef, garlic, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. With clean hands, mix the beef mixture until well combined.
- To shape the meatballs, using a medium cookie scoop, shape the meatballs and arrange them on 2 baking sheets, lined with foil, or a silicone mat. (I usually get about 125 1-inch meatballs.) If desired, roll the meatballs between your palms to smooth out the surface.
- At this point, you can either freeze the meatballs raw on a sheet pan and then divide it into freezer bags. Or bake it and then freeze the cooked meatballs for later use, which eliminates the searing step later on.
- To bake the meatballs, bake in preheated 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool completely and then arrange on a clean baking sheet in a single layer. Place it in the freezer for about 2 hours. Once the meatballs are frozen, divide into 4 freezer bags, or vacuum seal for longer storage.
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
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This post was originally published on October 15, 2018, and last updated on April 24, 2020.