Chef John's Ricotta Meatballs Recipe -
Chef John's Ricotta Meatballs  Recipe
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Chef John's Ricotta Meatballs
See how to turn regular beef meatballs into a ricotta-filled sensation. See more
  • READY IN 1 hr

Chef John's Ricotta Meatballs

Recipe by  

"Ricotta-spiked meatballs are so tender, so flavorful, and so delicious. There are hardly any ingredients. Of course we're going to throw this over some spaghetti, because we're Americans and that's what we do with meatballs."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 32 meatballs Change Servings
  • PREP

    20 mins
  • COOK

    40 mins

    1 hr


  1. Saute onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir garlic into onion and turn off heat. Transfer onion mixture to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir ground beef, ricotta cheese, parsley, egg, kosher salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper with onion mixture until almost combined; stir in bread crumbs and continue to mix until thoroughly blended.
  3. Roll about 2 tablespoons of mixture into a 1-inch ball for each meatball. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil in same skillet used to cook onions. Place skillet over medium heat and brown meatballs on all sides in hot oil, about 5 minutes. Hold a crumpled paper towel in a tongs and use it to remove excess grease from skillet.
  4. Pour marinara sauce and water over meatballs in skillet. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through and no longer pink in the center, about 30 minutes.
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  • Tip
  • Aluminum foil can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.

Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Dec 18, 2013

Wonderfully delicious moist melt in your mouth meatballs. Since I was the first to make this recipe I followed exactly, even using the paper towel to drain my juice, a very nice tip by the way. I used my own homemade marinara sauce and had about 32 ounces, which was a nice amount to cover the meatballs and go over spaghetti noodles for four. I got 34 meatballs with my one inch melon ball scoop. The problem I had was the meatballs are very moist and were sticking to the pan and were falling apart, I had to be very delicate in cooking them and lost a few to crumbles. I will be making this one again, but think I'll put my meatballs on a baking sheet and bake them to brown them and then add to the sauce and simmer, hopefully that will keep them from falling apart.

Most Helpful Critical Review
Apr 28, 2015

They were good but not anything super special. But I'll take the idea of adding ricotta to my regular meatballs.

Feb 23, 2014

This is another Chef John winner! I got close to 30 meatballs using my close to two tablespoon cookie scoop. I used part regular parsley and part basil for the meatballs, but the marinara I used was an organic tomato basil marinara from Trader Joe's. I followed the recipe as written otherwise. I formed the meatballs earlier this afternoon and so they were cold when I added them to the pan. My big mistake tonight was to use only my 10" pan rather than the 13" that would have made it all so much easier and without having to clean up my mess! We have leftovers, and I think that's what I'll have for breakfast tomorrow! Thanks, Chef! EDIT: After eating some of the leftovers, I wanted to add that you don't need to be afraid to add a little more flavor to these meatballs. We thought that they could have used just a little more spice to them. But, still, yum!

Apr 12, 2014

These are delicious! For those who complained about the meatballs being too fragile, make sure you are actually following the recipe's measurements. Ricotta cheese sold in the small containers contains more than one cup. If you use too much ricotta, of course the meatballs won't hold together that well. (They'll still taste great, though.) So make sure you are measuring and not just dumping in the whole container as I suspect some people might have done. Another winner from Chef John - thanks!

Dec 20, 2013

I just finished frying these up and was disappointed at how fragile they are. You really need to take your time or use a very non-stick pan. I think I will do as the previous reviewer mentioned next time and bake them in the oven. That being said, the flavor of these is absolutely wonderful! I didn't change anything and my sons are taking spoonfuls of it out of the pan right now and making "num, num, num" noises! We will definitely make these again, so says my eldest! Maybe even tonight if I don't have enough for dinner!

Feb 27, 2015

Now I've been making meatballs for years and these are fantastic. Followed recipe as written except I did not add the 1 cup of water to the sauce since I like a thicker sauce. I also added 2 Tbl. spoon of parma cheese to the mix along with 1/2 a teaspoon of Italian Spice blend. Next time I will add just a little less ricotta since I like a firmer meatball. Bake in oven at 425 for 15 to 20 min. I could'nt stop "testing" them before dinner was served. Very tender and flavorful. Excellent Meataball!

Apr 04, 2014

These are so soft and cheesy! I did not cook them as the recipe states though, just stuck to my normal, which is roll into balls place on a greased baking rack (over a baking sheet) and baked 25 minutes at 350. Delicious :) Served over Zucchini noodles.

Dec 31, 2013

Best meatball recipe I have ever made! I had no trouble with them sticking or falling apart. The only suggestion I have would be adding additional sauce if you are serving them over spaghetti or in a hoagie roll. Delicious!


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  • Calories
  • 331 kcal
  • 17%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 18.9 g
  • 6%
  • Cholesterol
  • 75 mg
  • 25%
  • Fat
  • 20.9 g
  • 32%
  • Fiber
  • 3 g
  • 12%
  • Protein
  • 16.3 g
  • 33%
  • Sodium
  • 865 mg
  • 35%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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