The authentic Italian meatballs recipe works ground beef, breadcrumbs, parmesan, and egg into delicious, crusty outside and tender inside, bites of delight. Here comes the Italian polpette recipe!

authentic Italian meatballs recipe in a pan
authentic Italian meatballs in a pan


The city of elegance

Papal Rome

The city of food


The city of opulence

Italian meatballs are a significant example of the Cucina Povera, the peasant cuisine of Italy: recipes made with ingredients people had at hand, produce of their land, cheap products at the market, and very often, leftovers. The first meatballs, as a matter of fact, were made with the leftovers of boiled meat, minced and mixed with tasty ingredients: a satisfying and energizing dish for the whole family. Now we use ground beef, and make rich, nutrient, and savory beef polpette.

authentic Italian meatballs mixture
authentic Italian meatballs recipe in the making

This is the very basic polpette recipe, the one made in many (maybe all?) Italian kitchens. The authentic Italian meatballs recipe ingredients are ground beef, breadcrumbs, parmesan, and egg.

A recipe from the SIMPOSIO book series

The Italian meatballs recipe is a recipe from the Meatballs Project of the Italian Spring Simposio (my Italian cooking and living book series). You’ll find many other, beefy or meatless, meatballs recipes and lots of Italian Spring recipes, traditions, and stories.

authentic Italian meatballs

Course main
Cuisine Italian
Servings 24 small meatballs
Author Claudia Rinaldi | Gourmet Project


  • 14 oz minced beef 400 gr
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 2-3 tablespoons parsley
  • 3.5 oz breadcrumbs 100 gr - I use stale bread
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese 1.8 oz - 50 gr
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Grind together shallot, parsley, breadcrumbs, and parmesan. 

  2. Place them in a bowl, add meat, egg, salt, and pepper and knead with your hands.

  3. Shape meatballs, trying to keep the same size for each one - to have the same cooking time.

  4. In a large frying pan heat the olive oil and cook meatballs over medium heat, turning them often, but gently. They are ready when you see a tasty, crispy crust.
  5. Serve your authentic Italian meatballs recipe hot.


If Italians tell you “Ti farò a polpette”, I will make meatballs of you, start running, they have really bad intentions.

But if they say “ Ti farò le polpette”, I’ll make meatballs for you, sit down, and adjust a napkin under your chin: a great meal is about to begin. In both cases, if it’s an Italian Nonna talking, double the possibilities. Neapolitan Nonna? Triple them – and add a lot of shouting.

See, it’s all about articles and prepositions. And states of mind, especially when in Italy.


Enjoy your authentic Italian meatballs!