Not Quite My Mother’s Meatballs

No one, and I mean no one, makes a meatball like my mother.  I have been asking her for over a decade to tell me how she makes them.  She has patiently recited the recipe to me over the phone at least a hundred times.  She has written the recipe down, most recently on an index card in a nice recipe book she put together for me.  Somehow, the meatballs I make using this recipe are never quite the same.  They’re always good, but they never have the “wow factor” that my mom’s meatballs have.  I suspect there’s something she puts in them or something she does to them that never gets written down or passed on, and I have yet to figure out what it could be.  In the meantime, I get to experiment with replicating the recipe while Lane gets to eat tasty meatballs.  Not a bad deal.

I like these because they’re baked, which makes them easier as there’s less hands-on time required than for meatballs that are pan-fried.  While these are baking, I put together some of my quick pasta sauce and get some water boiling for pasta.  Dinner’s ready in about half an hour, which is especially great on the nights M has soccer practice.  These also freeze very well, so I like to make a double (or triple) batch, bake them, and freeze them for another meal or two.  I heat them in the sauce for about half an hour, and dinner is served.  So, even though these aren’t exactly like my mother’s, these are the meatballs from the recipe she’s provided, and they are very, very addictive good.

Not Quite My Mother’s Meatballs


  • 1 lb. ground beef (I find 85/15% works best but 90/10% works well)
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 C. Italian seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper


Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5-10 minutes, until softened.

Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the onion mixture to cool completely.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup, skip this step if desired).

Combine the cooled onion mixture, ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, and salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl, using your clean hands to mix thoroughly.

Roll the mixture into approximately 1 inch meatballs and place on the foil lined baking sheet and repeat until all of the beef mixture has been used.

Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through.

Remove from oven and place into sauce to keep warm until ready to serve.

Makes approximately 16 meatballs.

Source: My mother


2 thoughts on “Not Quite My Mother’s Meatballs

  1. Similar to a recipe I have used. Mine is just 1 lb. of ground beef, 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs (4C brand), 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of milk, one egg and salt and pepper. Yummy! Someone once told me if you make a recipe and it doesn’t taste like the original, it’s because you may use a different amount of seasoning than your mom or whomever gave you the recipe.


    1. I’ve tried adding some Parmesan cheese to mine, and they are yummy! I think my mother must secretly shake something into them or that her idea of a large garlic clove and mine might be different 🙂


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