This easy ricotta-beef meatball recipe is a perfect Sunday supper. The meatballs are rich and moist and work perfectly on pasta or in a sub.
Meatballs have always been one of my favorite comfort foods since I was little. They can be made in an infinite number of ways, and every family has its own unique twist on them.
One of my favorite ways to make meatballs is with lots of ricotta cheese added to the mixture. It creates a light, airy, fluffy meatball that works perfectly in a tangy tomato sauce.
For these easy ricotta-beef meatballs, you just need a handful of ingredients, including:
- Ricotta cheese
- Heavy cream
- Italian-seasoned panko
- Lots of garlic powder or use roasted garlic pepper
- Crushed red pepper, more to taste
- Ground beef
Because the ricotta adds quite a bit of richness, I use leaner ground beef at 90/10. Use your favorite ground beef but just be mindful that 80/20 in combination with the ricotta cheese might have the tendency toward being a bit greasy. It’s all a matter of personal preference, though!
The meatballs in this easy ricotta-beef meatball recipe don’t need to be fried. If you prefer baking them, just line baking sheets with foil and throw the meatballs on the sheet. Just be careful not to overcrowd the baking sheets! Bake them at 400ºF for 12–15 minutes until mostly cooked through and then add to the sauce to finish cooking.
How to serve these easy ricotta-beef meatballs:
I served these in a simple sauce. Use your favorite store-bought tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes in addition to an onion, tomato paste, and a few basil sprigs.
Serve these meatballs over pasta, cooked polenta, or stuffed into a cheesy meatball sub.
Easy Ricotta-Beef Meatball Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup red wine, beef stock, or water
- 32 ounces crushed tomatoes or your favorite store-bought tomato sauce
- 2 sprigs fresh basil
- 1 Parmesan rind optional
- Salt pepper, and sugar if needed
Prepare the meatballs:
- Whisk the eggs, ricotta cheese, and heavy cream in a large bowl until smooth. Add the panko and mix until smooth. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic powder, crushed red pepper, shallots, and beef. Season all over with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until well-combined. Fry or microwave a small pinch of the mixture so you can taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
- Form the meatballs into tablespoon-sized balls and set aside.
Fry the meatballs:
- Heat the oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the meatballs in an even layer, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Cook in batches for 3–5 minutes per side until browned all over. It’s ok if they aren’t cooked through! Transfer all of the meatballs to a plate and set aside.
- Drain off excess fat but leave any browned fond stuck to the bottom as you’ll deglaze it with wine later.
Cook the sauce:
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot and turn the heat to medium. Once hot, add the yellow onion and cook, stirring often, for 5–7 minutes until it begins to soften. Add the tomato paste and mash it into the onion as it cooks. Sizzle the paste for at least 4–5 minutes until it deepens in color and begins to stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Stir constantly to lift any of the browned fond from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the prepared sauce and bring to a low boil. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and sugar if needed.
Finish the meatballs:
- Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce along with the basil sprigs and the parmesan rind, if using. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for least 45 minutes until completely cooked through.
- Serve with pasta, polenta, or as a meatball sub with extra fresh basil and grated parmesan on top.