Table of Contents
  1. Why I love this recipe.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other holiday recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Festive Holiday Meatballs Recipe

This hearty dish is an exceptional comfort meal for the holidays. A blend of veal and beef forms a lighter yet well-balanced meatball, delivering both flavor and richness. Added ricotta, onion, and garlic make each meatball a savory delight. Topped with a simple red sauce, this dish is sure to become a seasonal favorite.

Why I love this recipe.

I grew up knowing the only meatball was a hamball. Hamballs are delicious with a sweet and tangy sauce, but they are not the traditional meatballs the rest of the world knows. A meatball is festive in itself. A mixture of meat, herbs, and breadcrumbs that is shaped into a large ball. The key is to ensure they are soft with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. No one wants a dry and dense meatball. This recipe is designed to be fail-proof. A mixture of ground beef and veal starts the road to a perfect texture. Ricotta, parmesan, and breadcrumbs ensure the best meatball when mixed with seasonings. These can be shaped into large balls for a festive main dish or smaller for a red sauce and pasta night.

Round baking dish filled with red sauce covered holiday meatballs with Christmas plate to the side.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Ground beef is traditional when it comes to meatballs and adds the robust beef-like flavor needed in a recipe like this.
  • Ground veal adds a soft, delicious flavor that’s always tender for that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
  • Breadcrumbs help to bind everything together while holding in the necessary moisture for a delicious meatball.
  • Ricotta cheese increases the flavor and helps keep the soft texture of the meatballs.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to prepare holiday meatballs including beef and veal, tomato sauce, breadcrumbs, spices, onion, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Make the meatball mixture. In a large bowl, add the ground veal, ground beef, and breadcrumbs. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until smooth, then add to the meat. Then, finely grate the onion, adding it to the bowl. Mince in the garlic cloves. Add the Parmesan cheese, dried Italian seasoning, black pepper, and kosher salt. Mix together using your hands.
  1. Measure the meatballs. Using a food scale, weigh the meat mixture. Then, divide the total meat weight by the number of meatballs you want to create. Use the scale to equally divide the meatballs to match that number. Shape into uniform balls using your hands.
  1. Cook the meatballs. Place the meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and douse with olive oil. Place the pan in the preheated 425°F oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Then turn the temperature of the oven down to 375°F and cook for an additional 18 to 24 minutes until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 145°F.
  1. Prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil in an oven-safe pan over medium heat. Grate the onion and slice the garlic using a mandoline. Add to the olive oil and let simmer slowly. Once the garlic has browned slightly, add red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, and fresh basil. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir together. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Once the meatballs are near their final temperature, remove them from the oven. Add the meatballs to the saucepan and cover with the sauce. Return to the oven to cook for an additional 10 to 12 minutes until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 160°F. Remove the basil leaves and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • For this meatball recipe, grating the onion works better than chopping it. The onion should melt into the meatball, and the texture of finely grated onion works better for this purpose. Otherwise, the onion pieces may be too large and not cook fully, adding unwanted texture to each meatball.
  • Cottage cheese works well as a substitute for the ricotta. It may not be traditional in a meatball, but the tangy flavor still comes across well.
  • The meatball should be well mixed. If it is not, there could be pockets of ingredients that don’t get evenly distributed, affecting the flavor and cooking of the meatball.
  • If you have a Parmesan cheese rind, use it in the sauce when the meatballs cook for the second time. It can be removed after they’re finished cooking, providing immense flavor to the dish.
Christmas holiday plate with meatball sliced in half showing interior texture with gold fork to the side.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Can the size of each meatball be estimated if a scale is not available?

Yes, the meatballs can be visually split into 8 and then formed into uniform, smooth balls. For smaller meatballs, simply divide into the desired number and then form accordingly.

Can the ricotta cheese be substituted for something else?

Yes, blending cottage cheese is a great substitute for ricotta cheese and can be used if ricotta is unavailable.

How many meatballs does this make?

This recipe can make as many or as few meatballs as desired. For large meatballs, it makes 8. For small, it can make 12 to 24.

How should this be served?

These are best served with red sauce alongside a salad, potato, or with pasta.

Watch how to make this recipe.

More Christmas recipes

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

Round baking dish filled with meatballs topped with red tomato sauce with center one sliced in half showing interior texture.

Festive Holiday Meatballs

5 from 6 votes
This hearty dish is an exceptional comfort meal for the holidays. A blend of veal and beef forms a lighter yet well-balanced meatball, delivering both flavor and richness. Added ricotta, onion, and garlic make each meatball a savory delight. Topped with a simple red sauce, this dish is sure to become a seasonal favorite.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 44 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 4 minutes
Servings 8 meatballs

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ medium onion grated
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ medium onion grated
  • 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • 2 15-oz cans crushed tomatoes

Instructions
 

For the meatballs

  • Preheat the oven to 425℉.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground veal, dried breadcrumbs, eggs, ricotta cheese, grated onion, minced garlic, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, black pepper, and dried Italian seasoning. Mix the ingredients well to ensure all of the meat and ingredients are well combined with no pockets of non-incorporated ingredients.
    1 lb ground beef, 1 lb ground veal, 1 cup dried breadcrumbs, 2 large eggs, 1 cup ricotta cheese, ½ medium onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 ½ tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • Portion into 8 large meatballs and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil.
    2 tbsp olive oil
  • Place the meatballs in the preheated 425℉ oven and roast until they are beginning to brown, 15-20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375℉ and bake until the internal temperature reaches 145℉, 18-24 minutes. While they are roasting and baking, prepare the sauce.
  • Once the sauce is prepared and the meatballs are roasted, add the meatballs to the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the meatballs and return them to the oven to finish roasting until the internal temperature reaches 160℉, 10-12 minutes. Once finished, remove the basil leaves, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and serve.

For the sauce

  • In a large oven-safe skillet or braiser, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the garlic is beginning to brown, 4-6 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low as needed to make sure the garlic doesn't burn.
    2 tbsp olive oil, ½ medium onion, 4 cloves garlic
  • Add the red pepper flakes, black pepper, kosher salt, tomatoes, and basil. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.
    ½ tsp red pepper flakes, ½ tsp black pepper, 1 tsp kosher salt, 2 15-oz cans crushed tomatoes, 6 leaves fresh basil

Notes

For this meatball recipe, grating the onion works better than chopping it. The onion should melt into the meatball, and the texture of finely grated onion works better for this purpose. Otherwise, the onion pieces may be too large and not cook fully, adding unwanted texture to each meatball.
Cottage cheese works well as a substitute for the ricotta. It may not be traditional in a meatball, but the tangy flavor still comes across well.
The meatball should be well mixed. If it is not, there could be pockets of ingredients that don’t get evenly distributed, affecting the flavor and cooking of the meatball.
If you have a Parmesan cheese rind, use it in the sauce when the meatballs cook for the second time. It can be removed after they’re finished cooking, providing immense flavor to the dish.

Nutrition

Serving: 1meatballCalories: 455kcal
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Difficulty Easy
Method Roasting

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So Simple yet So DELICIOUS!!! I love watching your cooking videos (I love watching all your videos)….I have so many of your recipes copied so that I can make them…everything looks so Delicious and you make everything look so easy to make….I just recently discovered you on Facebook and I love watching your videos!…Thank you so Much for Sharing…..,…….(I don’t like to eat veal either but with good beef it is still delicious – I live less than a mile from a family owned farm established in 1894 where livestock is humanely raised on home grown forages with no hormones, growth stimulants or antibiotics – good quality beef…)

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this meatball recipe twice now, the second time I quadrupled the recipe to save for freezer meals. They freeze and warm up great in the oven. Both times the meatballs have been incredibly moist and flavorful with raving reviews from my family that these are the best meatballs they have had.

    Warning – if you start making these you might not go back to your old meatball recipe!