Ricotta Meatballs

Ricotta meatballs are soft, juicy, and incredibly tender. They’re just as easy as regular Italian meatballs, but ricotta cheese is added to the mix to give them the most amazing texture. Serve them with pasta, or rice, or use them to make meatballs subs.

meatballs in a skillet with cheese and tomato sauce

A month or so ago, I binged the newest season of The Chef Show on Netflix and, after watching the episode with meatballs, got a serious craving. That craving led to some web browsing, and when I saw Chef John’s ricotta meatballs, I thought, “Well, doesn’t that sound delicious?”

And that’s how we got to where we are today with this new recipe. Being a fan of meatballs, I love experimenting with ways to make them, and these ricotta meatballs? Well, they’re pretty amazing.

Ricotta does something magical to meatballs – it’s not really about the flavor but instead the texture. The cheese melts into the meatballs, making them very juicy and tender. They practically melt in your mouth.

a bowl of ricotta cheese

How to Make Them

I was inspired by Chef John’s creation to play around with one of my own meatball recipes and landed on this new variation I’m sharing today. It’s a simple mix, roll, and brown operation.

More Meatball Recipes

Easy Meatballs (No Chopping) | Chicken Spinach Meatballs | Cheesy Meatballs | Pesto Meatballs

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Ricotta Meatballs

ricotta meatballs.

Ricotta meatballs are soft, juicy, and incredibly tender. They’re just as easy as regular Italian meatballs but ricotta cheese is added to the mix to give them the most amazing texture.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Pan Fry
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, grated or finely minced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 4 ounces ground beef
  • 4 ounces mild Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Combine the onion, garlic, ricotta cheese, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt, pepper, and egg in a large bowl.
  2. Add the ground beef and sausage and, using your hands, mix the meat into the breadcrumb mixture.
  3. Make 0.8-ounce balls (just under one ounce) with the mixture and place them on a plate or baking sheet.
  4. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, lower the heat to medium and brown the meatballs in batches. With a large 10-inch pan, you will probably need to do two batches. Cook the meatballs for approximately 10 minutes or until they are brown all over and cooked through.
  5. Serve them with your favorite pasta sauce over pasta or rice. Or, cool them and freeze them for up to two months. The recipe makes approximately 32 small meatballs.

Notes

This recipe does not have a lot of meat – the ricotta is the star! Because of that, the meatballs are pretty delicate. Be sure to cook them in a non-stick skillet with oil and gently turn them to brown them all over.

You can serve them in sauce with some garlic bread on the side, spoon them over rice with the sauce, or use them to make spaghetti and meatballs. If you want to serve them with pasta, Don’t toss them with the pasta – instead, take the meatballs out of the sauce, add the pasta to coat it, and then place the meatballs on top. If you toss them, they will fall apart but they’ll still be delicious.

These ricotta meatballs are so good, and I hope you try them! But if you prefer meatier meatballs, you might like my easy turkey meatballs or slow cooker meatballs better.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 7 meatballs
  • Calories: 260
  • Sugar: 1.1g
  • Sodium: 470.4mg
  • Fat: 18.4g
  • Saturated Fat: 10.2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 7.1g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.6g
  • Fiber: 0.8g
  • Protein: 13.8g
  • Cholesterol: 78.3mg

Keywords: ricotta meatballs, Italian meatballs

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.

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Substitutions

I like to do equal parts ground beef and mild Italian sausage. I’ve also tested the recipe with plain ground pork, and it’s good, but not as good as Italian sausage. You could also use ground turkey, but the meatballs will be leaner and not as juicy.

I haven’t tested the recipe with panko breadcrumbs, but they should work fine in place of the dried breadcrumbs.

If you like heat, add some red pepper flakes when you make the meatball mixture.

ingredients for the recipe

Recipe Tips

First things first: the onions and garlic. I don’t enjoy big chunks of either in meatballs and prefer to chop them up very small. There are a few ways to do this:

Easiest: Chop them up in a food processor. It takes no time, but it does mean an extra thing to clean up. For me, the trade-off is worth it.

Easier: If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the onion using a box grater. For the garlic, you can use a rasp or finely mince it with your knife. Or, just buy the garlic paste in the tube (or jarred minced garlic) and exert no effort at all.

Kind of a pain: Sometimes, finely chopping onion by hand is very therapeutic! It takes longer, but it is gratifying. This is what I tell myself, anyway, when I have to take time to chop something finely.

collage showing ingredients in bowl and mixed in bowl

Once you’ve handled the onions and garlic, combine them with the breadcrumbs, egg, seasonings, and cheese. I like to do this first before adding the meat. It makes mixing everything a lot easier.

When I add the ground meat, I like to break it apart into small chunks to start and then use my hands to mix everything together.

The easiest way to mix is to pull the mixture up over itself (sort of like kneading dough) and squeeze it all every so often until it’s mixed.

photo collage of the meatballs being scooped and lined up on a baking sheet.

I like smaller meatballs which is good because they’re cute and bite-sized but bad because it takes longer to scoop them. So, you are welcome to size yours however you like – but just keep in mind the bigger they are the longer they take to cook.

For this recipe, I scooped approximately 0.8-ounce of the meat mixture to form each ball. Just under one ounce. A small cookie scoop works great for scooping.

I scoop and then gently roll the meat mixture between my hands to form a ball. You don’t want to pack the meat – that will make them dense. So use a light hand.

A non-stick skillet works best for cooking them. I’ve tried using a regular pan, and they stick even with the vegetable oil. In a non-stick one, you can easily roll them around and get an even sear.

I also recommend cooking them in a couple of batches for best results. If you crowd them all in at once, they won’t brown as nicely.

meatballs browning in a pan

I’ve made these in the oven, too, and they’re delicious. You won’t get the all-over golden brown color, but you can bake them all at once to save time. I usually bake them at 375°F for 15ish minutes or so (for small ones). You can always cut into one to make sure they’re done. Bake them on parchment paper for easier clean-up.

Different Ways to Serve Them!

If I’m serving them right away, I’ll warm up some marinara sauce and, once it’s hot, drop the meatballs in and simmer them for a few minutes.

Make the ultimate comfort food dinner: spaghetti and meatballs. They’re also great served over rice with the sauce. Sometimes I pile them on top of cauliflower mash – they’d be great with mashed potatoes, too.

Or, simmer them in the sauce and then sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese over the top and let it melt. Serve some crusty bread on the side and enjoy them just like that.

Meatballs subs would not be a bad idea either – the small meatballs fit perfectly in a bun. Top them with sauce and cheese and pop them under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melted.

Don’t forget garnishes – chopped parsley or fresh basil, grated Parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or pecorino cheese, and freshly ground black pepper are all good choices.

Storage Tips

You can make a big batch and freeze them for later, too. Allow them to cool on a baking sheet, and then place them in the freezer. Freeze them for 30 minutes or so, and then transfer them to a freezer bag or container. They will keep for a couple of months in the freezer.

Leftover meatballs will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

overhead shot of meatballs in a skillet with cheese and sauce

If you’ve been looking for a way to switch up meatballs, adding ricotta is a game-changer! Juicy, tender, delicious. That’s what you get when you give this ricotta meatball recipe a try. I hope you like it!

Happy cooking,

April

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10 Comments

    1. I’m making this recipe tonight for dinner, it seems like to make 42 meatballs at .8oz each you will need at least 34oz of meat. I’m going to more than double the recipe to make enough for the family 🙂 the numbers didn’t seem to add up in the recipe to make 42 sm. meatballs.

        1. They are about the ricotta – you can compare the photos of the uncooked meatballs in this recipe vs my beef meatballs and you can see they are less meaty. This makes them really soft and tender. When I tested this recipe, I preferred the less meaty ones. With more meat they were denser and I couldn’t really tell that the ricotta was even in there. I hope you enjoy them.

  1. Loved this recipe! I did bake mine on a wire rack, then broil for last couple minutes flipping once. Got that golden colour without frying. So good and so easy.

  2. I just made these ricotta meatballs and they are absolutely delicious! Perfect combination of flavors and textures. Definitely a new favorite recipe of mine. Thank you for sharing!

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