Ricotta Meatballs

These Ricotta Meatballs are easy to make on the stove top, bake in the oven, or cook in the Crock Pot! They are so flavorful and are perfect with pasta, in a sub, or with a side salad!


  • 32 oz. marinara sauce
  • ½ cup olive oil, divided

Herb Ricotta

  • 15 oz. Ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic


  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Egg, whisked
  • ½ cup half and half, can sub cream
  • ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley, plus more to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 lb. ground chuck, 80% lean
  • ½ lb. ground pork, or ground sausage or veal


Stove Top Method (See notes for baking/crock pot methods)

  • Combine the Herb Ricotta mixture and set aside.
  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet and add the finely diced onion. Soften for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Set aside and let cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the egg, half and half, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, Italian seasoning, mustard powder, and ¾ cup of the herb Ricotta mixture. Add the cooled onions/garlic.
  • Season the meat with salt and pepper, add it to the large bowl and gently mix it with your hands until well-combined. (Don’t overwork the meat or it will become tough.)
  • Roll into 1 ½-inch meatballs and transfer them to the fridge for 15 minutes.
  • Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Use enough oil to cover the meatballs almost halfway.
  • Brown the meatballs in batches, leave plenty of room around each so that you can easily rotate them without having to pick them up to flip them. Brown for about 1 ½ minutes per side. Use kitchen tongs to remove and set aside.
  • Remove excess oil from the skillet and add 32 oz. of marinara sauce. The sauce will thicken and reduce during cooking so I recommend that you add about ¼+ cup water as well so that the sauce doesn’t get too thick. You can do this now or later as you judge the consistency. (The ricotta topping thickens it more as well.)
  • Add the meatballs to the skillet and spoon the sauce on top. Cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, partially covered. Use a small cookie scoop to dollop the remaining herb ricotta mixture on top and allow it to heat through during the last 15 minutes.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve.


Pro Tips

  • I use Rao’s marinara sauce with this recipe, it’s the best marinara sauce you’ll ever try! Feel free to make this with my easy homemade marinara sauce as well.
  • Any combination of ground chuck, ground pork, ground sausage, and ground veal can be used in these meatballs.
  • Grate the Parmesan cheese from a wedge for best flavor and consistency, try to avoid using packaged grated cheese. I use Belgioioso Parmesan cheese.
  • Coating your hands in a little oil makes it easier to handle and roll out the meatballs.

Baking Method:

  • Method 1: Bake with sauce– Once the meatballs are browned, add ¾ of the marinara sauce to a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Add the meatballs and top with remaining sauce. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and add dabs of the remaining herb ricotta on top. Bake uncovered for 15 more minutes.
  • Method 2: Bake without sauce- Assemble and brown the meatballs on the stove top as outlined in the recipe. Line a light 18 x 13 baking sheet with parchment paper or with a silicone baking sheet. If you don’t have either, you can lightly spray it with nonstick spray. Note that dark baking sheets attract more heat which could burn the bottom of the meatballs. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, the internal temperature needs to reach 160°.

Slow Cooker Method:

  • Assemble and brown the meatballs on the stove top as outlined in the recipe. Transfer to the Crock Pot and add the marinara sauce. Heat on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7.
  • Add the remaining ricotta mixture during the last 20 minutes or so, to allow it time to heat up.

Make-Ahead Method

  • Brown and Refrigerate: Assemble and brown the meatballs as outlined. Let them cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Add them to the sauce and give 10 additional minutes of simmering time.
  • Brown and Freeze: Assemble and brown the meatballs as outlined. Let them cool completely. Place on a baking sheet or plate and freeze for 1-2 hours. Remove and transfer to a gallon freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. They can be thawed in the fridge overnight or added to sauce from a frozen state until warm and cooked through.


  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutritional info below is per serving. The number of servings are at the top of the recipe card in the middle. This recipe makes approximately 43 meatballs, nutritional info is per meatball and includes sauce and ricotta topping.

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