what to do with meatballs

Meatballs are a favourite at Clubnomnomnom.com. There are lots of simple recipes for the sauce and for the meatballs themselves. If you are looking for inspiration, you have come to the right place. Here is our guide on what to do with meatballs.

Making Meatballs

You can buy good quality meatballs from the supermarket, but making your own means you know exactly what is in them and you can customise them to your own taste. They are actually really easy to make too, and you can enjoy your dinner knowing that you have made everything from scratch. You don’t need to get too complicated, meatballs are comfort food so you can keep them simple.

Meatballs should be tender all the way through with a slight hint of toughness. They should also be just the right size. Big enough satisfy, but small enough to justify having a few on your plate.

The Meat

When you are trying to decide what to do with meatballs, you need to consider what meat to use. You can use any type of mince meat you like. It is quite common to mix beef and pork sausage meat, but you can use just beef or pork. Other good meats for meatballs are turkey, chicken, lamb or something gamey like venison for a rich flavour.

However, the more fatty the meat you use, the more tender your meatballs will be. Leaner meat can overcook easily, so you need to be careful.



To make sure that your meatballs don’t fall apart and stay tender, they need a binder. A great binder is breadcrumbs soaked in milk. Just mix in the soggy breadcrumbs in to the meat. The breadcrumbs helps to add moisture to the meat and prevents them from going tough. You may also want to add egg to the mixture, to increase the tenderness.

When you are mixing the ingredients, make sure you don’t overwork the meat. So, only mix until everything is just combined. It is best to mix the ingredients with your hands, as you can feel when everything is mixed in properly.

Cooking your Meatballs

what to do with meatballs

To cook your meatballs it is best to simmer them in the sauce. But before adding them to the sauce, you need to brown them off in a frying pan. 

Simmering the meatballs in the sauce keeps them tender. Also the flavour of both the sauce and meatballs combine, to make a rich taste.

The alternative way to to cook your meatballs is to roast them. This is the best way to cook them if you are going to put them in something other than a sauce, or you are making a batch to freeze.

Italian or Swedish?

When deciding what to do with meatballs, you need to decide between Italian and Swedish styles. Swedish meatballs are smothered in a rich creamy sauce, while Italian meatballs are traditionally served in a tomato sauce.

Italian Meatballs Recipe

Serves: 10      Prep Time: 30 mins    Cook Time: 30 mins     Difficulty: Easy

For the Meatballs

  • 8 good-quality pork sausages (Italian style works brilliantly)
  • 1kg beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • ½ a large bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 85g parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve if you like
  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs soaked in milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten with a fork
  • olive oil, for roasting
  • spaghetti, to serve (you’ll need about 100g per portion)

For the Sauce

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 x 400g cans chopped tomato
  • 125ml red wine (optional)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • ½ a large bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • few basil leaves (optional)


  1. First make the meatballs. Split the skins of 8 good-quality pork sausages and squeeze out the meat into your largest mixing bowl.

  2. Add 1kg beef mince, 1 finely chopped onion, ½ large bunch flat-leaf parsley, 85g grated parmesan, 100g fresh breadcrumbs, 2 beaten eggs and lots of seasoning. Get your hands in and mix together really well – the more you squeeze and mash the mince, the more tender the meatballs will be.

  3. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

  4. Roll the mince mixture into about 50 golf-ball-size meatballs. Set aside any meatballs for freezing, allowing about 5 per portion, then spread the rest out in a large roasting tin – the meatballs will brown better if spaced out a bit

  5. Drizzle with a little oil (about 1 tsp per portion), shake to coat, then roast for 20-30 mins until browned.

  6. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in your largest pan. Add 4 crushed garlic cloves and sizzle for 1 min.

  7. Stir in four 400g cans chopped tomatoes, 125ml red wine, if using, 3 tbsp caster sugar, ½ a large bunch flat-leaf parsley and seasoning. Simmer for 15-20 mins until slightly thickened

  8. Stir in a few basil leaves, if using, spoon out any portions for freezing, then add the cooked meatballs to the pan to keep warm while you boil the spaghetti (you’ll need about 100g per portion).

  9. Spoon the sauce and meatballs over spaghetti, or stir them all together and serve with extra parmesan and a few basil leaves, if you like.


Swedish Style Meatballs

Serves: 4 to 6      Prep Time: 30 mins    Cook Time: 30 mins to 1 hour    Difficulty: Easy

For the Meatballs

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 600g/1lb 5oz wild boar or pork, minced
  • 4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 100g/3½oz breadcrumbs
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 50ml/2fl oz milk or single cream
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Sauce

  • 25g/1oz butter
  • 25g/1oz flour
  • 100ml/3½fl oz white wine
  • 500ml/18fl oz beef stock
  • 2 tbsp single cream
  • 1 tbsp lingonberry jam or redcurrant jelly


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

  2. For the meatballs, heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for a further minute. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

  3. Put all the meatball ingredients, including the cooked onion and garlic, into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. Shape the mixture into balls somewhere between the size of a walnut and a golf ball – they should be around 40g/1½oz in weight. You should end up with around 24 meatballs. Put the balls on a baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.

  4. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan large enough to hold the meatballs. Add the flour and stir for 5-10 minutes until the flour and butter have combined into a roux and turned golden-brown. Add the white wine and stir vigorously until well incorporated, then gradually add all the beef stock, stirring thoroughly between each addition to avoid lumps, until you have a slightly thickened sauce. Add the cream and the jam, and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

  5. Remove the meatballs from the oven and place in the sauce pan. Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavours to combine. Serve with a sprinkling of dill, more jam on the side and lots of mashed potato.

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