Learn how long to bake meatballs to achieve the most tender and flavorful meatballs you'll ever have. Our baked meatballs recipe is perfect for spaghetti on a weeknight, meatballs subs, or an easy appetizer for game day.
You may be wondering, "is it better to cook meatballs at 350 or 400?" - and we've got the answer for you. We tested batches of baked meatballs to determine which temperature resulted in a tender inside and golden brown outside.
Plus we're sharing a recipe for everyday Italian baked meatballs that stand up alongside some of our other favorite Italian-inspired recipes like Italian meatball soup, gluten-free pizza, and Instant Pot spaghetti.
This simple baked meatball recipe is made with bread crumbs, fresh herbs, garlic, parmesan cheese, and ground meat. Bake them in the oven for 30 minutes and enjoy plain, with a delicious marinara sauce, or overtop your favorite pasta.
Keep reading to learn what temperature to bake meatballs, how to mix and make the best meatballs, the secrets to tender and juicy meatballs, and more. I followed these guidelines for my firecracker meatballs!
Baked meatballs are so popular because they're a flavorful mixture of herbs, breadcrumbs, and spices. Plus the serving options are endless!
Baking the meatballs makes prep easier. We love to serve them as an appetizer, main dish, or even snack. The recipe's simplicity and endless flavor possibilities make baked homemade meatballs a favorite at our house, especially for weeknight dinner meal prep (so easy to freeze!).
What Temperature is Best for Baking Meatballs?
425°F is the best temperature to bake meatballs. This approach gets the outside of the meatballs crispy and the insides tender and juicy. The high heat creates a crispy crust to lock in the juices quickly while taking less time to bake. It usually takes between 30 minutes to bake chicken wings.
Pro tip: put the oven rack in the highest position to maximize the golden brown outside of the meatballs.
Like in the guide for how long to bake chicken wings, we love to bake meatballs and wings at 425°F. The cooking temperature won't change from recipe to recipe, but the cooking time may vary based on the size of the meatballs and your particular oven.
What Temp Should Meatballs Be Cooked to?
How do you know when meatballs are done baking? Always use an instant-read thermometer to determine doneness for best results. The size of the meatballs can vary and so can everyone's oven temperature, so using a thermometer is ideal. Meatballs should be cooked to 165°F when you insert a meat thermometer into the center of the meatball.
No matter if you're making baked chicken meatballs, or baked meatballs with a mixture of pork and/or ground beef, you'll want to bake them to 165°F.
Is it Better to Cook Meatballs at 350 or 400?
You can bake meatballs at both 350°F and 400°F. Baking at a higher temperature (400°F) will result in a golden brown outside and juicy inside in a shorter amount of time. A 350° F oven will still result in a juicy center too, it will just take longer to cook all the way through.
We prefer to bake meatballs at a higher temperature. In fact, we recommend baking meatballs at 425°F over 350, 375, or even 400 degrees f.
How Long Does it Take to Bake Meatballs at 350?
Bake 1 ½ - 1 ¾ inch meatballs at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 165 degrees fahrenheit. Meatballs that are 2 inches in diameter will take about 30 minutes to bake at 350.
How Long Does it Take to Bake Meatballs at 375?
Bake 1 ½ - 1 ¾ inch meatballs at 375°F for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 165 degrees fahrenheit. Meatballs that are 2 inches in diameter will take about 25 minutes to bake at 375.
How to Bake Meatballs
This is an overview with step-by-step photos, to make this easy chicken wings recipe. Full printable instructions are in the recipe card below.
Make a panade: mix breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. This allows the breadcrumbs to absorb the moisture. Mixing bread and milk together to fold into a meat mixture is called a panade.
Mix the meatballs: add the ground pork, Italian sausage, garlic (or garlic powder), herbs, salt, and parmesan cheese. Use clean hands to mix everything together until all of the ingredients are well distributed.
Note: you can swap the ground pork out for lean ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken. The bake times and the internal temperature will stay the same.
Shape meatballs: Use a large cookie scoop or heaping Tablespoon to divide and roll the meatball mixture into about 14-16 meatballs 1 ½ - 2 inches in diameter. Place them in a single layer on a large rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake: drizzle the meatballs with olive oil and bake them on the top rack in a 425°F preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Top with parsley and grated cheese and serve.
You can easily customize these baked meatballs by cooking them in different ways or using a different protein. Here are our favorite cooking and flavor variations!
- Turkey meatballs: swap the Italian sausage and ground pork for ground turkey. Turkey is lean, so it has a lot less fat than pork, which will result in a slightly dryer meatball so don't overcook them.
- Chicken meatballs: follow the instructions above to swap ground chicken for pork.
- Air fryer meatballs: instead of baking, air fry at 400°F for 10-15 minutes, like in these air fryer meatballs.
- Pan-seared meatballs: Sear the meatballs on all sides for a few minutes in olive oil. Or you can sear them and finish baking them in the oven like these gluten-free meatballs.
Ways to Serve Meatballs
- Add them to your favorite spaghetti sauce and pasta.
- Serve them in a meatball sub with melted mozzarella cheese.
- Serve them over tomato sauce with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.
Pan searing meatballs results in more caramelization and cook more quickly while baking gives you a crunchy, golden brown exterior and juicy center. Baking takes a bit longer but is completely hands off once they go in the oven. You need to watch seared meatballs closely and turn them off.
The best way not to overcook meatballs is to use an instant read thermometer to determine the internal temperature. Yoou should remove meatballs from the heat when they reach 160-165°F (target temp is 165). Allow them to rest for 5 minutes so the juices reabsorb back into the meatballs.
Browning meatballs in a pan on the stove gives them a caramelization on the outside and locks in the juices before you transfer them to the oven. While this gives you a gorgeous crust and juicy meatballs, it's not necessary. It's a great option if you have an oven-safe pan. However, you can still achieve golden brown meatballs if you bake them on the top rack nearest the heat source.
Meatballs that fall apart usually have a binding problem or not enough fat to hold them together. You need the right amount of breadcrumbs and milk to hold these meatballs together. A lot of meatball recipes call for eggs as a binder or a mixture of bread and milk (called a panade).
Allow the meatballs to cool to room temperature before storing. Place the leftover meatballs in an airtight container or plastic storage bag. Store the container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To reheat, preheat the oven or air fryer to 400°F (200°C) and bake the meatballs for 10-15 minutes, or until they are heated through. Alternatively, you can heat them up in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
Freeze baked meatballs: allow the meatballs to cool completely then arrange them on a large baking sheet and flash freeze them in a single layer for about 2 hours. Transfer the frozen meatballs to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Air fry or bake directly from frozen at 350 degrees f for 15-20 minutes or until heating through.
More Kitchen Tips
- How long to grill chicken breast
- How long to bake chicken wings
- Best temperature to grill steak
- How long to cook the perfect burgers on the grill
- Guide to the internal temp of beef
- How to grill ribeye
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
How to Bake Meatballs
- ½ cup breadcrumbs gluten-free if needed (Note 1)
- ½ cup milk any kind
- 1 lb ground pork
- ½ lb mild Italian sausage
- 1 small shallot minced
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley plus more for topping
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup grated pecorino romano cheese plus more for topping
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Large baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Adjust the oven rack to the top position. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix the breadcrumbs and milk in a large mixing bowl and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. This allows the breadcrumbs to absorb the moisture.
- Add the ground pork, Italian sausage, shallot, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, and cheese. Use clean hands to mix everything together until all of the ingredients are well distributed.
- Use a large cookie scoop or heaping Tablespoon to divide and roll the meatball mixture into about 14-16 meatballs 1 ½ - 2 inches in diameter. Place them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Drizzle the meatballs with olive oil and bake them in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Start checking for doneness around 18 minutes if the meatballs are smaller. Cover the pan with foil if the meatballs are browning too much before the meatballs are done.