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Best meatball recipe for cooking the classic at home

Meatballs made with lean ground turkey or beef,

Meatballs made with lean ground turkey or beef, shown served in tomato sauce over spaghetti. Credit: Marge Perry

Here’s the thing about meatballs: you can put them on spaghetti, throw them in rolls, or eat them all by themselves as an appetizer, snack or full meal. You can make a bunch and freeze them, which means you have an almost-instant dinner or after school snack on hand. They are a great addition to a cook’s repertoire, because (in this cook’s opinion) there is always an occasion in which they are the perfect tasty solution.

To freeze meatballs, lay them out on a sheet pan or tray and freeze them individually — then throw the frozen balls in a bag all together. They will not only maintain their shape, they will come apart easily when you are ready to take some out.

You can make really good meatballs with leaner ground beef (85%) or turkey. You do want to be sure not to overwork it when forming the balls, though. Too much mashing and compressing with result in tougher, dryer meatballs. Compress them enough so that they hold together nicely, but not so much that you are compacting the meat.


1 large egg

1 ¼ pounds ground turkey (or lean ground beef if you prefer)

1/3 cup (Italian) seasoned breadcrumbs

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoons olive oil

1. Lightly beat the egg with a fork in a medium bowl. Add the turkey, breadcrumbs, cheese, salt and pepper, and combine thoroughly. Form into 12 meatballs.

2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook, turning occasionally, until they are well browned and cooked through, about 9-10 minutes.

At this point, you can transfer the meatballs to a skillet with warm tomato sauce, then spoon it all over spaghetti; or spread some of the sauce on the cut sides of a hero roll and add the meatballs and a little more grated Parmesan; or stick toothpicks in them and serve them with or without a dipping sauce for game day or an afternoon snack.

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