American Style Italian Meatballs – That’s a spicy meatball!


Hello hungry peoples,

There is a reason Americans are crazy for their meatballs. They are just delicious man. Something about the construction and cooking process produces meatballs that taste extra meaty, but also kind of light and bouncy. This texture can be difficult to achieve but when you get it right it is heavenly, especially when smothered in a good basic red sauce with spaghetti. The flavour explosion is achieved by taking humble balls of mince and building complexity by using a mix of meats (including bacon of course), herbs and cheese. This is also one seriously kid friendly dish and one of my kids all time favorites.

American style Italian meatballs with sauce

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: Serves 6
Calories per serving: 819



  • 500 g pork mince
  • 500 g beef mince
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • garlic cloves
  • 50 g grated parmesan
  • onion
  • 4 rashers bacon
  • 2 slices white bread
  • egg
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or milk with a splash of lemon juice)

Red sauce

  • 2 * 700 g jars passata
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch basil

Cooking Directions

  1. The first thing you need to do is create a flavour explosion for your meatball. It called also be called the bits other than meat. I like to do this in the food processor as it is quick but you could just finely mince everything by hand. Cut the crusts off the bread and cut the remainder into chunks. In your food processor add the bread and buttermilk, mash it together and let it soak for a bit. This is an alternate to plain ol breadcrumbs, which makes your meatball drier and denser. Peel your onion and 2 garlic cloves and also place them in the food processor. Add the parley, the tbsp dried oregano, egg and bacon and then it blitz it together. The fattier the bacon you get the better as this prevents the meatballs drying out.
  2. You will now mix this into your mince. I like to use a pork/beef combination but any mince is fine. Mix everything together. Using your hands make the meatball shapes. The size is really a personal preference thing. I like the size of squash balls. Some people like baseball size. Put the meatballs on a tray lined with alfoil (to save some mess and cleaning up).
  3. Next we want to caramelize the meatballs before they are placed in the sauce to cook. In the past I would pan fry the meatballs in batches, turning them regularly. This method is slow and laborious, as well as making some of your meatballs misshapen and in the worst cases fall apart. This other technique is so easy and effective, I was jumping up and down with excitement. Put your grill on the highest heat. Spray the meatballs with some olive oil spray and put your meatballs under the grill, as high as will fit. Grill the meatballs for about 5-10 minutes. If they are not nicely caramelised leave them a bit longer. When one side looks good, flip the balls, spray with a little bit of olive oil and repeat for the other side. You should have some lovely browned meatballs, ready for some saucing.
  4. Since you have put so much effort into flavouring your meatballs, it is best to keep the accompanying red sauce nice and simple so the flavours you have already put in come through. Crush your garlic coves and fry in a little olive oil. Once they start to brown put the chilli and oregano in. This gives the sauce a nice little kick. Let it get fragrant and then add your passata, as well as your basil. Put on a medium heat until it is bubbling. It is now ready for your meat-a-balls! Add your meatballs and give them a stir. Put the lid on and turn the heat down slightly. You want to finish cooking the meatballs in a red sauce until cooked through. Anymore and they start to dry out. I find this takes about 10 minutes. That’s it, you’re done!
American style Italian meatballs
American style Italian meatballs

Difficulty: Medium

One Comment Add yours

  1. Serena says:

    Light bulb moment, we have meatballs quite often but I have never thought to grill them….so much easier than standing at frypan!

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