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Ricotta Meatballs Recipe

If you're a fan of Italian cuisine, you'll love this recipe for ricotta meatballs. These meatballs contain a blend of ground beef and ricotta cheese, making them incredibly tender and flavorful. Tossed in a rich marinara sauce, they're perfect for serving over pasta or on a sub for a hearty sandwich. This recipe is simple to prepare, yet packed with flavor.

Ricotta Meatballs Recipe

Photos of Ricotta Meatballs Recipe

All the ingredients in this recipe are fairly common and should be easily found in your local supermarket. One thing to note is the ricotta cheese. This is a type of Italian whey cheese that's known for its creamy texture and mild, sweet flavor. If you've never used it before, it's usually located in the dairy or cheese section of most supermarkets.

Ingredients for Ricotta Meatballs Recipe

Onion: Adds a base flavor to the meatballs.

Olive oil: Used for sautéing the onion and browning the meatballs.

Garlic cloves: Provides aromatic flavor to the mixture.

Ground beef: The main protein component of the meatballs.

Ricotta cheese: Adds creaminess and moisture to the meatballs.

Italian parsley: Provides a fresh, herbal note.

Egg: Helps bind the ingredients together.

Salt: Enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.

Black pepper: Adds a mild heat and complexity to the flavor profile.

Cayenne pepper: If you like a little spice, this will add a nice kick.

Bread crumbs: Works with the egg to bind the meatballs and keep them intact.

Marinara sauce: A rich tomato sauce that complements the meatballs.

Water: Thins the marinara sauce to the proper consistency.

One reader, Jonie Mill says:

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This ricotta meatballs recipe is a game-changer! The combination of ricotta and ground beef creates the most tender and flavorful meatballs. The addition of cayenne pepper gives it a nice kick. The marinara sauce ties everything together perfectly. It's a must-try for anyone who loves Italian cuisine!

Jonie Mill

Essential Techniques for Making Ricotta Meatballs

How to sauté the onion: Sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir the garlic into the onion, then turn off the heat. Transfer the onion mixture to a large mixing bowl.

How to roll the meatballs: Roll about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture into a 1-inch ball for each meatball.

How to brown the meatballs: Place the skillet over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides in hot oil for about 5 minutes. Hold a crumpled paper towel in tongs and use it to remove excess grease from the skillet.

How to simmer the meatballs: Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and no longer pink in the center.

How To Make Ricotta Meatballs

With tangy marinara sauce, these ricotta meatballs combine ground beef, bread crumbs, spices, and loads of ricotta cheese for a juicy skillet-cooked dish.

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour



  • ½onion,minced
  • 4tbspolive oil
  • 3garlic cloves,minced
  • 1lbground beef
  • 1cupwhole milk ricotta cheese
  • ¼cupItalian parsley,packed, chopped
  • 1egg,beaten
  • tspkosher salt
  • ½tspfreshly ground black pepper
  • 1pinchcayenne pepper,or to taste
  • cupdry bread crumbs
  • 28ozmarinara sauce,(1 jar)
  • 1cupwater


  1. Sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir the garlic into the onion, then turn off the heat. Transfer onion mixture to a large mixing bowl.

  2. Stir the ground beef, ricotta cheese, parsley, egg, kosher salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper with onion mixture until almost combined. Stir in the bread crumbs, then continue to mix until thoroughly blended.

  3. Roll about 2 tablespoons of mixture into a 1-inch ball for each meatball. Pour the remaining olive oil in same skillet used to cook onions.

  4. Place the skillet over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides in hot oil for about 5 minutes. Hold a crumpled paper towel in tongs and use it to remove excess grease from skillet.

  5. Pour the marinara sauce and water over meatballs in skillet. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.

  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until meatballs are cooked through and no longer pink in the center.

  7. Serve and enjoy.


  • Calories: 84.40kcal
  • Fat: 6.09g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.05g
  • Trans Fat: 0.17g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 2.92g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.46g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.25g
  • Fiber: 0.56g
  • Sugar: 1.55g
  • Protein: 4.03g
  • Cholesterol: 19.51mg
  • Sodium: 141.94mg
  • Calcium: 30.12mg
  • Potassium: 136.74mg
  • Iron: 0.63mg
  • Vitamin A: 22.26µg
  • Vitamin C: 1.35mg

Expert Advice for Perfecting Ricotta Meatballs

When forming your meatballs, try to keep them all the same size. This ensures that they all cook evenly and at the same rate. If some meatballs are larger than others, they may require more cooking time, which could result in smaller meatballs becoming overcooked. A cookie scoop can be a handy tool for portioning out the meat mixture evenly.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing Ricotta Meatballs

Prep ahead: Prepare the meatball mixture the night before and refrigerate it. This will save time on the day of cooking.

Use a scoop: Use a cookie or ice cream scoop to portion out the meat mixture for uniform meatballs, saving time and ensuring even cooking.

Bake: Consider baking the meatballs in the oven instead of pan-frying them. This method allows you to cook a large batch at once, saving time and effort.

Freeze: Make a double batch of meatballs and freeze the extras for future use. This way, you'll have a quick meal ready to go whenever you need it.

Pre-made sauce: Opt for a high-quality pre-made marinara sauce to save time on preparing the sauce from scratch.

Multi-task: While the meatballs are simmering, use that time to prepare a side dish or set the table to make the most of your time in the kitchen.

One-pot meal: Consider serving the meatballs directly in the skillet to save time on dishwashing and presentation.

Substitute Ingredients For Ricotta Meatballs Recipe

  • ricotta cheese - Substitute with cottage cheese: Cottage cheese has a similar creamy texture and mild flavor, making it a suitable replacement for ricotta in meatballs.

  • ground beef - Substitute with ground turkey: Ground turkey is a leaner alternative to ground beef and can be used to create lighter meatballs with a slightly different flavor profile.

  • marinara sauce - Substitute with tomato sauce mixed with Italian seasoning: This combination can replicate the flavor profile of marinara sauce and provide a base for the meatballs.

Presenting Ricotta Meatballs for Maximum Appeal

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the ricotta meatballs, focus on creating a visually appealing plate. Arrange the meatballs in a neat and organized manner, and consider using a garnish of fresh parsley to add a pop of color.

  2. Incorporate contrasting textures: Add a textural element to the dish by serving the ricotta meatballs on a bed of creamy polenta. The smooth and velvety polenta will complement the hearty meatballs, creating a delightful contrast in every bite.

  3. Emphasize the sauce: Drizzle the marinara sauce around the meatballs in an artful manner, ensuring that each meatball is lightly coated. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also allows the flavors of the sauce to shine through.

  4. Utilize elegant serving ware: Choose sophisticated ceramic plates or platters to showcase the ricotta meatballs. Opt for minimalist designs that allow the vibrant colors of the dish to take center stage.

  5. Add a touch of sophistication with cheese: Grate a generous amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the ricotta meatballs just before serving. The nutty and savory notes of the cheese will elevate the overall flavor profile and add a touch of luxury to the dish.

  6. Consider the visual balance: Pay attention to the overall composition of the plate. Aim for a balanced presentation, ensuring that the meatballs, sauce, and accompanying elements are harmoniously arranged to create an enticing visual display.

  7. Highlight the freshness of ingredients: If possible, source locally grown tomatoes and herbs to showcase the vibrant flavors and freshness of the ingredients. This not only enhances the dish but also reflects a commitment to quality and sustainability.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Ricotta Meatballs

  • Skillet: A skillet is a flat-bottomed pan used for frying, searing, and browning foods. It's a versatile tool for cooking meatballs and other dishes.
  • Mixing bowl: A mixing bowl is essential for combining the ingredients for the meatballs. It provides a spacious and convenient space for mixing and blending the meatball mixture.
  • Tongs: Tongs are used for flipping and turning the meatballs while they are being browned in the skillet. They provide a secure grip and help in handling the meatballs easily.
  • Paper towel: Paper towels are used to absorb excess grease from the skillet after browning the meatballs. They help in removing the excess oil without damaging the meatballs.
  • Food processor: A food processor can be used to finely chop the onion and garlic for the meatball mixture, making the preparation process more efficient.
  • Measuring cup: A measuring cup is used to accurately measure and pour the marinara sauce and water for cooking the meatballs. It ensures precise quantities of liquid are added to the skillet.
  • Spatula: A spatula is useful for gently stirring the meatballs in the skillet and ensuring they are evenly coated with the marinara sauce. It helps in the cooking and serving process.

Storing and Freezing Ricotta Meatballs for Later

  • Allow the ricotta meatballs to cool completely before storing or freezing. This will prevent them from becoming soggy or losing their shape.

  • To store in the refrigerator, place the cooled meatballs in an airtight container along with any leftover marinara sauce. They will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge.

  • For longer storage, freezing is a great option:

    • Arrange the cooled meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure they aren't touching each other.
    • Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours, or until the meatballs are frozen solid.
    • Transfer the frozen meatballs to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
    • Label the container or bag with the date and contents for easy reference.
    • Frozen ricotta meatballs will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • To reheat frozen meatballs, you have two options:

    1. Place the frozen meatballs in a covered pot or saucepan with the marinara sauce and simmer over low heat until they are heated through, stirring occasionally. This may take about 20-30 minutes.
    2. Alternatively, you can thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat them in a covered pot or saucepan with the sauce over low heat until warmed through, which will take less time than reheating from frozen.
  • When reheating, make sure the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure they are safe to eat.

  • If you have frozen the meatballs without sauce, you can add them directly to your favorite pasta sauce or use them in other recipes that call for pre-cooked meatballs.

How To Reheat Leftover Ricotta Meatballs

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the leftover ricotta meatballs in an oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the meatballs are heated through. This method helps retain moisture and prevents the meatballs from drying out.

  • For a quicker option, use the microwave. Place the meatballs in a microwave-safe dish and cover with a damp paper towel. Heat on high for 1-2 minutes, or until the meatballs are heated through. The damp paper towel will help keep the meatballs moist during reheating.

  • If you have leftover marinara sauce, reheat it in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the meatballs are heated through. This method allows the meatballs to absorb more flavor from the sauce.

  • For a crispy exterior, reheat the meatballs in a skillet. Add a small amount of olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are heated through and have a crispy exterior.

  • If you have an air fryer, you can use it to reheat the meatballs. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C) and place the meatballs in the basket. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the meatballs are heated through and have a crispy exterior.

Interesting Trivia About Ricotta Meatballs

The ricotta meatballs recipe is a delicious and versatile dish that can be served as a main course or appetizer. Ricotta cheese adds a creamy texture to the meatballs, making them moist and flavorful. This recipe is a great way to incorporate ricotta cheese into a savory dish, and it pairs perfectly with marinara sauce. Ricotta cheese is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory recipes, adding richness and creaminess to dishes. It's a good source of protein and calcium, making it a nutritious addition to your meals.

Budget-Friendly Ricotta Meatballs for Home Cooking

This ricotta meatballs recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. Ground beef is a budget-friendly protein, and the addition of ricotta cheese stretches the meat, making it more economical. The use of pantry staples like onion, garlic, and bread crumbs keeps the cost down. The total cost for a household of 4 people is approximately $15. The overall verdict rating for this recipe is 8/10, considering its affordability, delicious flavor, and the fact that it can be served in various ways, making it a versatile and budget-friendly option for families.

Are Ricotta Meatballs Healthy or Unhealthy?

This recipe for ricotta meatballs is a delicious comfort food, but it does have some aspects that could be considered unhealthy. The main concerns are:

  • High in saturated fat due to the ground beef and whole milk ricotta cheese
  • Significant amount of sodium from the kosher salt and marinara sauce
  • Use of refined bread crumbs, which lack fiber and nutrients

However, the recipe also includes some healthy ingredients, such as onion, garlic, and parsley, which provide antioxidants and flavor without adding excessive calories.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following modifications:

  • Replace the ground beef with lean ground turkey or chicken to reduce saturated fat
  • Use part-skim ricotta cheese instead of whole milk ricotta to lower the fat content
  • Reduce the amount of kosher salt and opt for low-sodium marinara sauce to decrease the overall sodium content
  • Substitute the refined bread crumbs with whole wheat bread crumbs or rolled oats for added fiber and nutrients
  • Incorporate more vegetables into the meatball mixture, such as finely chopped spinach or grated zucchini, to increase the nutritional value without compromising taste and texture
  • Serve the meatballs with a side of steamed or roasted vegetables and a small portion of whole grain pasta for a balanced meal

Editor's Take on This Delightful Ricotta Meatball Recipe

The combination of ricotta cheese and ground beef in these meatballs creates a rich and flavorful dish. The addition of cayenne pepper adds a subtle kick, while the marinara sauce brings a comforting and familiar taste. The method of browning the meatballs before simmering them in the sauce ensures a delicious caramelized exterior and tender interior. Overall, this recipe offers a delightful twist on traditional meatballs, making it a delightful addition to any meal.

Enhance Your Ricotta Meatballs Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus: Tender asparagus spears roasted to perfection with a crispy garlic parmesan topping.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Chives: Smooth and creamy mashed potatoes with a hint of chives for a burst of flavor.
Honey Glazed Carrots with Thyme: Sweet and tender carrots glazed with honey and a touch of thyme for a delightful side dish.
Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette: A refreshing mix of greens tossed in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette for a light and crisp accompaniment to the ricotta meatballs.

Tasty Alternatives to Ricotta Meatballs

Creamy Chicken Alfredo: This creamy and indulgent pasta dish is perfect for a cozy night in. The combination of tender chicken and rich alfredo sauce will leave you wanting more.
Grilled Vegetable Skewers: These colorful and flavorful vegetable skewers are perfect for a summer barbecue. The charred veggies are a delicious and healthy option for any gathering.
Mango Sorbet: This refreshing and fruity dessert is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. The sweet and tangy flavor of mango makes for a delightful treat.

Perfect Appetizers and Desserts to Complement Ricotta Meatballs

Stuffed Mushrooms: Impress your guests with these savory stuffed mushrooms, filled with a delicious mixture of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs. The perfect bite-sized appetizer to kick off any meal.
Caprese Skewers: These colorful and flavorful caprese skewers are a refreshing and light option for any gathering. Fresh mozzarella, juicy cherry tomatoes, and fragrant basil leaves are drizzled with balsamic glaze for a simple yet elegant appetizer.
Chocolate Lava Cake: Indulge in a decadent, rich chocolate dessert that oozes with a molten center. This elegant and impressive dessert is perfect for a special occasion or a romantic dinner.
Tiramisu: Transport yourself to Italy with this classic dessert featuring layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and creamy mascarpone cheese. Tiramisu is a timeless and sophisticated treat that is sure to impress your guests.

Why trust this Ricotta Meatballs Recipe:

This recipe guarantees a delectable experience with ground beef and ricotta cheese as the star ingredients. The combination of Italian parsley and garlic infuses rich flavors, while the addition of cayenne pepper adds a subtle kick. The use of marinara sauce ensures a classic Italian touch, elevating the dish. With meticulous attention to detail, these meatballs promise to be tender, juicy, and bursting with savory goodness. Trust in the expertise behind this recipe for a truly satisfying culinary delight.

Share your thoughts and experiences with the Ricotta Meatballs Recipe in our Recipe Sharing forum section.
How can I make the meatballs more flavorful?
You can enhance the flavor of the meatballs by adding additional herbs and spices such as oregano, basil, or red pepper flakes. You can also experiment with different types of cheese, such as Parmesan or Pecorino, to add a unique flavor to the meatballs.
Can I use a different type of ground meat for this recipe?
Absolutely! You can use ground pork, ground turkey, or a combination of different meats to create your own unique blend of flavors. Just keep in mind that different meats may require adjustments in cooking time and seasoning.
Can I prepare the meatballs ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the meatballs ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking. This can be a time-saving option for busy days or when hosting a gathering.
How do I know when the meatballs are fully cooked?
The meatballs are fully cooked when they reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). You can use a meat thermometer to ensure they are cooked through, or simply cut one open to check for any pinkness in the center.
Can I freeze the meatballs?
Yes, you can freeze the meatballs after they have been cooked. Allow them to cool completely, then place them in an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, simply reheat them in the marinara sauce until heated through.

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