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Michael Symon's Ricotta Meatballs

Michael Symon's Mom's Meatballs
Michael Symon's Mom's MeatballsNathan Congleton / TODAY


Pomodoro sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 small bundle fresh oregano
  • 1 small bundle fresh thyme
  • 2 15-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hands
  • Basil, to garnish
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Torn fresh basil, for serving
  • Grated pecorino cheese, for serving

Chef notes

My mom used to make these all the time when I was growing up. They remind me of home and they're full of flavor. The ricotta cheese makes the meatballs incredibly soft and moist.

Technique tip: Keep a small bowl of olive oil nearby for your hands while forming the meatballs.

Swap option: You can use all ground beef for this recipe.


For the pomodoro sauce:

Place the olive oil in a sauce pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables soften, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the chili flakes and tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Tie the oregano and thyme together with a piece of butchers twine then add it to the sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium low heat for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the herb bundle and purée on low to preserve the red color. Stir in some torn or chopped basil then set aside to keep warm.

For the meatballs:


Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook until softened and translucent, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.


In a mixing bowl combine the ground meats, ricotta, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley and nutmeg. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add the cooled onions and garlic. Mix until thoroughly combined. Scoop in to 1½-ounce. meatballs.


Place a sauté pan over medium heat and add a film of olive oil. Add a layer of meatballs, leaving spacing in between and deeply brown on all sides. You may need to do this in batches. When all of the meatballs have been browned add them to a pot of simmering Pomodoro to finish cooking, about 20 minutes.

To serve:

Serve with torn basil and freshly grated pecorino.