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Beef meatball recipe that belongs to your recipe box! These beef meatballs are tender, moist and versatile, perfect to make ahead and freeze. Save time & money by making a big batch!

Why you’ll love this recipe:

Ever find yourself at 5pm with no dinner plans surrounded by hungry mouths asking for food? 

Now imagine, you had a stash of meatballs in your freezer to throw into a quick and delicious dinner in minutes, like this Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs (<- my boys’ favorite!) Jackpot, right?

Investing an hour to make and freeze a big batch of homemade meatballs is a smart way to meal prep for busy weeknights.

This big batch recipe yields 4+ pounds of beef meatballs, which means 4 dinners to feed a family of 4!

And did I mention, it takes less than an hour to prepare?!

4 reasons homemade meatballs are better:

Sure, store-bought frozen meatballs are a life-saver in a pinch, but homemade is always better. And here’s why…

✔️ You know exactly what goes in those meatballs. No additives, no flavor enhancers, just good quality ingredients!

✔️ And you can customize the meatballs to your taste. Add some onion, or load them with veggies! Up to you!

✔️ You can shape them into whatever size you want to. Love jumbo meatballs? Make them bigger! Or make smaller balls for soups.

✔️ Finally, it’ll probably cost you way less! Now, I don’t know how much it costs to buy frozen meatballs, but my guess is that these homemade meatballs cost a fraction of the ones from the store!

How to make these meatballs:

The secret to the most tender and moist meatballs is in panade, aka Panko soaked in milk.

  • Step 1. Combine Panko and milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Step 2. Mix all ingredients together except for ground beef first. Then stir in beef. That way you won’t over-mix the meat, or you’ll get dense meatballs.
  • Step 3. Shape the meatballs and arrange them on baking sheets, lined with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  • Step 4. Freeze the meatballs uncooked or bake them and then freeze later.

TIP 1: Use a medium cookie scoop for faster and more uniform meatballs!

TIP 2: Line your baking sheet with a silicone mat, or parchment paper for an easy clean up.

2 baking sheets full of raw beef meatballs... Big batch make-ahead beef meatball recipe

You can also make these meatballs with ground turkey or chicken. Just bear in mind, the fattier the protein, the more tender and flavorful the meatballs are.

How do you make moist beef meatballs?

The secret to moist meatballs is 3 ingredients: milk, breadcrumbs, and eggs. Do not skip any of these ingredients or else you’ll end up with tough and dense meatballs.

Also, try not to over-mix the mixture as this can also make them denser. 

How many meatballs does a pound of meat make?

With this big batch beef meatball recipe, I usually get about 125 1-inch meatballs. (Yes, I counted them! And not just once.)

A pound of ground beef will make roughly 30 medium-size (1-inch) meatballs.

If you’d like to try this recipe with just 1lb of meat, I did calculation for you:

  • ½ cup Panko Japanese breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoons ground black pepper

How to freeze meatballs:


  • Arrange the meatballs on baking sheets in one layer and place them in the freezer for about 2 hours.
  • Once they’re frozen, transfer them into freezer bags. I like to divide the meatballs into 4 bags, a little over 1lb each. Don’t forget to label them!
  • Frozen meatballs are good for up to 4 months.


  • Allow baked meatballs cool completely.
  • Arrange the cooled meatballs on a baking sheet lined with a parchment paper or silicone mat, and place it in a freezer for about 2 hours.
  • Then transfer the frozen meatballs into freezer bag.
  • Frozen meatballs are good for up to 4 months.

What to make with frozen meatballs?

This beef meatball recipe is so versatile. Here’re some quick and easy dinner ideas: 

Beef Meatball Recipe (Big Batch)

This homemade beef meatball recipe yields tender, moist and versatile meatballs, perfect to make ahead and freeze. Save time & money by making a big batch!


  • 1 ½ cups Panko Japanese breadcrumbs, Note 1
  • ½ cup milk, Note 2
  • 4 lbs lean ground beef, Note 3
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper


  • To make panade, in a medium bowl, combine panko and milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  • To make the meatballs, in a large bowl, mix together soaked Panko, beef, garlic, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. With clean hands, mix the beef mixture until well combined.
  • To shape the meatballs, using a medium cookie scoop, shape the meatballs and arrange them on 2 baking sheets, lined with foil, or a silicone mat. (I usually get about 125 1-inch meatballs.) If desired, roll the meatballs between your palms to smooth out the surface.
  • At this point, you can either freeze the meatballs raw on a sheet pan and then divide it into freezer bags. Or bake it and then freeze the cooked meatballs for later use, which eliminates the searing step later on.
  • To bake the meatballs, bake in preheated 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool completely and then arrange on a clean baking sheet in a single layer. Place it in the freezer for about 2 hours. Once the meatballs are frozen, divide into 4 freezer bags, or vacuum seal for longer storage.


Note 1: Because Panko is made with crustless bread, it’s super light and ideal for this meatball recipe. It lightens the meatballs without weighing it down. In a pinch, you can use regular breadcrumbs or an old bread.
Note 2: You can use any kind of milk – whole, 2% or even skim.
Note 3: If you prefer, you can also use a mixture of pork and beef.
Freezing Tips:  This big batch recipe yields 4+ pounds of beef meatballs, enough for 4 dinners to feed a family of 4! Freeze the meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet first, and then divide into freezer bags. That way, all the meatballs will stay separated, and easy to take out in small quantities.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 202kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 112mg, Sodium: 606mg, Potassium: 456mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 76IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 44mg, Iron: 3mg
All images and text ©. Disclaimer: Nutritional information is estimate only. Read full disclosure here.

This post was originally published on October 15, 2018, and last updated on April 24, 2020.

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