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Mama's Meatballs

Homemade meatballs by Donatella Arpaia
Donatella Arpaia’s recipe for homemade meatballs – perfect for a spaghetti dinner or mini sliders for lunch. – August 19, 2015Samantha Okazaki / TODAY


  • 1 small loaf stale Italian bread (about 8 thick slices) torn into 2½-inch chunks
  • 2 pounds 80% lean ground beef or veal chuck, broken up or combo of both
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil for frying

Chef notes

Make kid-friendly meatballs full of flavor with this recipe from Donatella Arpaia.


Put the bread in a bowl and add enough warm water or milk to cover the bread. Let stand for 5 minutes, turning to moisten evenly. Gently squeeze out excess water.

Add the beef, garlic, parsley, egg and 3/4 cup of Parmigiano to the bread and combine. Season with the salt and pepper. Knead the mixture for at least 5 minutes with your hands, until uniformly combined and smooth.

Pinch a tablespoon of meat into your palms and shape into a ball. Place on a baking sheet and continue with the rest of the mixture.

Fill a 10-inch skillet halfway with the canola oil and heat over high heat. When strands form along the bottom, slide 8 to 10 meatballs at a time into the oil. Do not overcrowd. They should be 3/4 submerged in oil. Reduce the heat to medium and fry for 6 to 7 minutes each side, turning only once.

Remove the meatballs from the oil and turn the heat back up to high before starting the second batch.