This recipe for meatballs with ricotta cheese uses common ingredients and comes together quickly for a delicious dinner with minimal effort. Easy ricotta meatballs are an obvious match for pasta, but they also make a tasty meatball sandwich.
I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.
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Why you should make this recipe
- Make ahead – You can easily make these and stash them in the fridge overnight to cook the following day.
- Quick and easy – This ricotta meatballs recipe is super fast and requires very little effort.
- Versatile – Obviously, pair them with pasta, but you can also tuck them into a roll for a delicious meatball sub.
Meatballs made with ricotta cheese
Adding ricotta to meatballs gives them a light and fluffy texture, but it also gives them incredible flavor.
This recipe makes 18 meatballs, or 6 servings. You can easily freeze the leftovers or have them for lunch later in the week.
They are an obvious match with a bowl of pasta, but they make a tasty sandwich too. Ricotta meatballs can be made smaller and added to soups, like Italian wedding soup, or served as appetizers.
This recipe for meatballs with ricotta cheese uses common ingredients and comes together quickly for a delicious dinner with minimal effort.
- Ground beef – Because I’m adding ground pork to the mix, I use 90/10 ground beef instead of the usual 80/20 mix.
- Ground pork – Ground pork adds great flavor and fat to this meatball recipe.
- Egg – Egg binds the meat, breadcrumbs and cheese together.
- Pecorino Romano cheese – Less expensive than Parmesan and tastes fantastic.
- Garlic – Just a little gives the meatballs another layer of flavor.
- Breadcrumbs – I use regular Italian breadcrumbs in meatballs.
- Ricotta cheese – We can’t have ricotta meatballs without ricotta cheese.
- Milk – Adds moisture to the meatballs.
- Salt, pepper and dried basil – Minimal seasoning to let the other flavors shine.
This is the scale that I own and use daily. It is easy to use, plus it measures in pounds, ounces and grams.
Measuring ingredients by weight, ESPECIALLY in baking, is much more accurate than cup measurement.
How to make meatballs with ricotta cheese
Making meatballs is a quick and simple task. The key to making them tender is not overworking the meat.
First, add everything except the breadcrumbs to a large mixing bowl. Gently mix meatball ingredients together.
Then, sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the mixture and very gently incorporate into the mixture. I do this by using a clean hand and scooping from the bottom over the top – essentially folding the mixture, just as you would when folding egg whites.
Using a scoop, portion the mixture into 18 meatballs. At this stage, I wrap them in plastic and let them rest before browning them in a pan.
Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and remove excess oil/grease, if needed. Add your favorite sauce to the pan and nestle meatballs back into the pan. Simmer until cooked through.
Ricotta meatballs recipe FAQ’s
Yes. Freeze ricotta meatballs in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
You can store cooked leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Chilling the meatballs helps them to hold their shape as they are cooking.
Yes. Bake at 400°F / 200°C for 20 minutes.
Variations and substitutions
You can choose any combination of ground meat that you prefer. As long as the amount equals 1 pound, or 454g, the recipe will work.
You can substitute Pecorino Romano with any similar cheese: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano, Ricotta Salata, etc.
Serve with your favorite sauce and pasta with a bit of ricotta on the side. It’s so delicious.
Helpful tools and equipment
- This is the scoop I used to portion the ricotta meatballs recipe. It holds 1.25 oz., which makes a decent-sized meatball.
- Enameled cast iron brasier – This pan is wide, with sloping sides. It is the perfect pan for so many recipes.
- Slotted flexible spatula – Because this spatula is thin and flexible, it allows you to really get under the meatball to flip it. No more leaving the browned part of your meatball stuck to the pan.
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- 1 lb. ground meat of your choice *See note
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese // 35g
- 1/2 c. ricotta cheese // 113g
- 1/4 c. whole milk // 50mL
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, washed, dried and finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 c. Italian breadcrumbs // 68g
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except breadcrumbs. Gently mix meatball ingredients together.
- Next, sprinkle breadcrumbs over the ricotta meatball mixture. Fold the breadcrumbs into the mixture gently. I use a clean hand to scoop from the bottom of the bowl, folding the mixture over the top, and rotating the bowl with every turn until the mixture is fully incorporated. Be careful not to overwork the meat, this will make your meatballs tough.
- Use a scoop to portion out 18 meatballs and place them on a baking sheet. (If time allows, cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for an hour, up to overnight, in the fridge.)
- Using lightly oiled hands, roll the meatballs in your hands to shape them into a rounded shape.
- Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a wide pan. When pan is hot, carefully place meatballs in the pan and brown. Gently flip over and brown the other side.
- Remove meatballs from pan and wipe out excess oil or grease, if necessary. Add your favorite sauce, either homemade or store-bought to the pan and lower the heat to medium low.
- Return meatballs to pan and simmer, with lid partially covering pan, for 20 - 22 minutes, or until cooked through. **See note
- Cool to room temperature before storing. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
For meat: I used 10 1/2 oz. ground sirloin (90/10) // 298g + 5 1/2 oz. ground pork // 156g. The ratio I like is 2/3 beef + 1/3 pork.
I serve these meatballs with sauce and extra ricotta on top of pasta, but they are also delicious tucked inside of a roll and covered with a slice of provolone for a meatball sub.
Beef meatballs benefit from low and slow cooking. If time allows, let them gently simmer for an hour to become tender.
Serving Size:3 meatballs
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 338mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 27g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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