Last Updated on: 28th February 2024, 11:47 am
Find out how long to cook meatballs at 350 degrees in oven and much more about how to make homemade meatballs, easier ways to cook them, what to serve with them and common mistakes.
I’ve been making delicious, moist meatballs for decades and have been asked for my recipe numerous times! The meatball recipe I use is from my late aunt- my mother’s sister. They were close especially because they were the only siblings in their family that moved to America from southern Italy.
Every summer, they made homemade sauce from New Jersey tomatoes. I have memories of stuffing basil in the bottom of Mason jars and cranking the tomato strainer on hot August days.
Now, I’m a firm believer that meatballs should be cooked in tomato sauce or Sunday gravy as my late mother called it. The tomato sauce flavors the meatballs and the meatballs flavor the sauce, which is one of the most important reasons I make them together. It’s the best way to make meatballs.
For this recipe, you may be using your own meatball recipe or frozen meatballs, so I’ll get into how long to cook them either way.
I find the best way to make meatballs is to make them homemade, roll them and plop them, raw, into a pot of cooking sauce. There’s no baking, frying and no more dirty dishes to wash.
However, when I tell people this, they always look at me surprised because they’ve never done it this way before. So, I’ll go over some of the pros and cons of cooking them three ways: put raw in the sauce, baked in the oven, and fried and then put in sauce.
There are different ways to cook meatballs and each of them has it’s pros and cons.
- Put raw meatballs in sauce- This method is the least prep, it’s quicker and fewer dishes to wash but, no crusted sides, if you prefer it.
- Baked in oven- This common method provides one crusted side on the meatballs, takes longer and you have to wash the baking trays.
- Fried meatballs- This method provides the best taste but, is more fattening and more costly (especially if using olive oil) because you use more oil, must clean a frying pan and oil splatters on stove.
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Making homemade meatballs is easy and they taste so much better than the frozen ones you buy at the grocery store because they don’t have fillers and preservatives. I also make homemade meatballs for my Italian Wedding Soup but, I don’t bake those. I just plop them in the soup.
There are different ways to make meatballs. For example, sometimes I’ll make Italian Sausage Meatballs with ground Italian sausage. You can also make ground turkey or chicken meatballs. It’s great for when I want a different variation and they’re seasoned in the same way.
I’ve also made meatballs with brown gravy in my Cheesy Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy.
How Long to Cook Meatballs at 350
Large Baking Sheet
You can put raw, rolled meatballs on large baking sheets. I like these aluminum commercial baker’s half sheet ones.
When you make the meatballs, you may put them on a large baking sheets but, you don’t have to oil spray the sheets first. The fat from the meat will not make them stick but, if you want to spray the sheets, that’s fine too.
The cooking time to bake meatballs in your preheated oven at 350F or 177C is only 15 minutes if they’re raw and not frozen. Of course it depends on the size of the meatballs but, it would only be off by about two minutes more if they’re big meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) than if they’re smaller meatballs (about 1 inch in diameter.)
If the meatballs are cooked and frozen, it’s best to follow the instructions on the package but, it’s probably going to be somewhere around 25-30 minutes.
If you’re going to eat the meatballs right out of the oven, meaning you’re not going to cook them further in spaghetti sauce, it’s important to ensure they’re cooked entirely. It’s best to cut one in the middle to ensure it’s not still red or pink. You don’t want to risk food poisoning without overcooking the meatballs as they can become dried out.
Internal Temperature of the Meatballs
The internal temperature of the meatballs should reach 160F using an instant-read thermometer upon removing them from the oven.
Remember, if you happen to undercook the meatballs and are going to put them in your sauce, they’ll finish cooking in the sauce. It only matters if they’re fully cooked if you’re going to eat them as is.
I use ground beef but, if you want to use ground turkey or ground chicken, that will work too for the same seasonings and cooking time.
You’ve probably heard of recipes that use two to three different meats such as ground: beef, pork and veal. With the rising costs of meat, especially beef, you may be interested in trying different types of meat.
Type of Ground Beef
I use 85% lean ground beef and find that to have the perfect amount of fat. If you use 70+% lean, that’ll be too fatty and you’ll have grease all over the baking pan but, if that’ all you have, you can still use it.
Of course you can use 90% lean ground beef but, I find it doesn’t have quite enough fat to make juicy meatballs. Again, make it the way you like it.
Other Types of Ground Meat
If you don’t like beef or if you want to eat healthier, you can make meatballs with ground turkey, chicken, lamb, veal or ground Italian sausage in the same way. You can still put them in the sauce or not.
I always use Italian style seasoned bread crumbs. If you have plain bread crumbs, add a pinch of garlic powder and dried parsley (or Italian seasoning) to your plain bread crumbs.
You can also make your own bread crumbs with stale bread and season it as mentioned above.
I ALWAYS put chopped onions in my meatballs (and meatloaf too.) They add so much flavor to the ground beef that I wouldn’t dare make meatballs without fresh onions.
I usually will use yellow onions but, white onions will work too.
I put both minced, fresh garlic and garlic powder or granulated garlic in my meatballs. If you put your nose to the meat mixture, you should smell some garlic. That’s how you know there’s probably enough.
You can use either garlic powder or granulated garlic in the same measurements.
Use fresh parsley to make homemade meatballs. If you don’t have any, you can substitute dried parsley but, it’s not the best way to make them. Be sure it’s on your grocery list.
Good meatballs contain parmesan cheese. Add grated Parmesan cheese to your meatball mixture. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese will make them taste even better.
If you have a different type of hard Italian cheese like Pecorino Romano or Grano Padano, you can certainly use that instead but, Parmesan is the traditional cheese used to make meatballs.
Always use a large mixing bowl to make meatballs. There are quite a few ingredients and the best way to mix them is by hand. You’ll need a large, sturdy bowl to do this.
The benefits of cooking meatballs in your oven are:
- You won’t get oil splatters on your stove therefore, it doesn’t need to be cleaned.
- Your meatballs will get a little crusty one the side in which they’re baking.
- The meatballs will be healthier because they’re not fried.
- It only takes 15 minutes too cook meatballs in your oven.
You can cook the meatballs in your air fryer but, I don’t recommend this if you’re making a lot of meatballs. It will take much longer than cooking them in your oven. However, if you’re making a small batch, that will work.
This may go without saying but, always preheat your oven. It should be at 350F before the meatballs go in. If you put them in sooner, it’ll take longer to cook them.
Common mistakes people make with meatballs are:
- Adding too much bread crumbs.
- Adding too many or not enough eggs
- Using 73% lean ground beef which makes them too greasy
- Not putting enough garlic in the meatballs which doesn’t add enough flavor
- Not using fresh onions which doesn’t add enough flavor
- Don’t use Worcestershire sauce to make Italian meatballs. (Worcestershire sauce is American, not Italian.)
What do you serve with meatballs?
Meatballs are often and best served with with pasta such as:
Over the years, meatballs have become a staple in American cooking, not just in Italian American cooking. Dare I say they may be even more popular here than in Italy! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a good meatball. How about you?
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