Perfect Sausage & Beef Meatballs Smothered in Sauce and Cheese


I have avoided trying meatball recipes because my mother in law makes the best meatballs I have had, and they are at the top of my husband’s list of things he loves to eat when he goes home. I tried a few times to replicate them to dismal success. I realized I had to go a completely different direction from the compact, small, classic meatballs he has grown up with and try something else.

After cruising Tyler Florence’s cookbook, The Ultimate, I was inspired to try his meatball recipe. It combined sausage and ground beef and then was topped with mozzarella cheese for baking.

Well, these suckers were breathtakingly good. So tender, a total kick of spice from the hot italian sausage I had on hand (which I am going to swap out for sweet italian sausage next time to make them more kid friendly), and swimming in marinara sauce topped with gobs of melted mozzarella.

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My husband and I had them over brown rice, he had them with pasta, and we both were transported to a magical food land when we smashed them between delicious rolls for meatball sandwiches. We did not share with the kids (under the auspices that they were too spicy) and I am totally ok with that.

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Perfect for a party! Or make a batch on Sunday for several weekday meals, which I may have to do again this week.

Perfect Spicy & Tender Meatballs

Modified from Tyler Florence's The Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs in his The Ultimate cookbook. Pg. 172


  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried italian seasoning (or dried oregano)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 slices of whole grain bread (or whatever you have), crusts removed and cut into small cubes
  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 1 lb hot italian sausage (or sweet italian)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 4 cups good marinara sauce
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, grated
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. Oven to 350.
  2. Pour milk over bread in a small bowl and let soak while you cook the vegetables.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the onions and garlic in 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Cook until soft but not too colored. Transfer to a bowl to cool and wipe out skillet.
  4. In a large bowl combine meats, italian seasoning, egg, parmigiano cheese, salt and pepper. Squeeze the excess milk out of the bread cubes and add that to meat mixture. Combine all together with your hands, getting everything uniformly distributed, but not overworking it - once it looks all combined stop. This will keep them tender.
  5. I used a large ice cream scooper - you could also do a measuring cup - 1/4 or 1/3 - to portion out the balls.
  6. You are going to brown them in the skillet you used before, so heat that up over medium high heat with 3-4 Tablespoons olive oil. Don't be shy with the oil - don't want them to stick.
  7. Brown the meatballs on all sides - or at least the top and bottom - then place them in a large casserole dish. Do them in batches - don't crowd the pan and use tongs to gently turn them.
  8. Pour the marinara all over the browned meatballs in the casserole dish and then cover with the shredded mozzarella.
  9. Bake about 30 minutes.
  10. Serve with pasta, rice or on rolls.

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