Joe’s Big Italian Meatballs

Joe’s Big Italian Meatballs are the classic Italian-American comfort food!  Who doesn’t like a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs?

Joe makes big juicy meatballs that are the size of baseballs.  Of course, you can make them smaller, but then they won’t be Joe’s Big Italian Meatballs!

Why does Joe make his Meatballs so Big?

Joe says that making the meatballs this big may seem like the easy way out. It is much quicker to make big meatballs than the smaller meatballs most people are accustomed to.  But the real reason is that when Joe is making a big pan of sausage and meatballs, cooking them together is key to developing the rich red sauce that Southern Italians and Sicilians are so fond of.  Since the sausage takes much longer to cook than the smaller sized meatballs, making the meatballs larger helps to keep them juicy and prevents them from becoming dry while cooking them along side the sausage.

Baking your Meatballs and Sauce

Joe’s big secret is that he bakes his meatballs in his Basic Italian Tomato Sauce in the oven instead of cooking them in a big pot on the stove top.  How unorthodox! 

(Since you’ll be cooking the meatballs for a long time, you don’t need to pre-cook the tomato sauce, just combine the ingredients for the sauce and pour over the meatballs.)

This eliminates the need to check and stir them constantly.  In addition, you do not have to worry about burning the sauce or meatballs on the bottom of your pan.  Your dish will cook evenly.  Plus, this will give you to the chance to catch up on other things around the house and not slave away in the kitchen.

Joe’s Big Italian Meatballs make Great Leftovers

We always make more Italian Meatballs then we really need for the meal we are preparing them for.  Joe’s Big Italian Meatballs are a great leftover ingredient for the next day’s lunch.  They also freeze very well and can be defrosted, warmed up and served when you are in a hurry or just craving spaghetti and meatballs after a busy day at work. 

These meatballs make a great sandwich! Cut them in half, place them in a crusty roll and cover with mozzarella cheese.  Heat the sandwich up until everything is piping hot and the cheese is really melty.  

Joe’s Big Italian Meatballs

3 from 5 votes
Recipe by Joe Sanfelippo Course: Main Dish, MeatCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


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Joe’s Big Italian Meatballs are the classic Italian-American comfort food!  Bake them in his Basic Italian Tomato Sauce for big flavor and little effort!


  • 1 pound 1 ground beef

  • 1 pound 1 ground pork

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 panko or plain Italian breadcrumbs 

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 pecorino romano cheese, grated

  • 1/2 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped 

  • 1 tbsp 1 garlic salt

  • 1 tbsp 1 oregano

  • 1 tbsp 1 extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 2 large eggs

  • 2 quarts 2 basic tomato sauce (you don’t have to cook this first, since it will cook a long time with the meatballs)

  • 1 cup 1 pecorino romano cheese, grated


  • Turn on the broiler setting of your oven.
  • Set aside the tomato sauce and mix all the other ingredients together until combined. 
  • Form into 12 big meatballs that are approximately all the same size. 
  • Place the meatballs in a large roasting or foil pan and place under the broiler until the meatballs are browned, turning halfway thru (about 5 minutes).
  • Take the meatballs out of the oven. Reset your oven to 350F.
  • Pour the tomato sauce over the meatballs and cover tightly with a lid or foil. The meatballs should be almost completely covered with the tomato sauce.
  • Bake for 90 minutes.
  • Place your meatballs on a platter. Serve along with a bowl of extra tomato sauce and some grated pecorino romano cheese!


  • Add some of the tomato sauce to 2 lbs of cooked pasta and serve along side your meatballs. Now you’re ready for a feast!

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