Giant Meatballs

You’re probably surprised to see a recipe for giant meatballs (with herbed ricotta) here on LM, but I’ve been craving some restaurant favorites recently and for whatever reason, this one is popping into my mind a lot these days!

Giant Meatballs + Herbed Ricotta

Giant Meatballs

So meatballs aren’t a dish I’m apt to order of my own accord, but my husband is a big fan and I always like the addition of protein!

When we lived in Culver City, we frequented two restaurants in the downtown area that offered these giant meatballs as part of the appetizer/happy hour selection – A|R Cucina and Wildcraft (where we learned about mushroom toast and which is sadly now closed).

I remember the first few times we ordered them… I obliged their selection, but when I dug in (usually with a grilled piece of bread in one hand), I was always so happy with the pick!

Giant Meatballs + Herbed Ricotta

Giant Meatballs as Appetizer or Entree

Whenever I see recipes for meatballs as an appetizer, they’re always tiny and bite-sized. That’s fine (though usually they have some sweet sauce on them – often made with fruit jelly). Not my jam (hah!).

What I love about this giant meatball recipe is that they’re a hearty appetizer or a meal in and of themselves. You can share them as a starter or as a single serving for lunch or dinner!

I wholeheartedly recommend serving this setup with a big, crusty piece of bread and a nice glass of pinot noir. You could also serve them with crispy polenta and a good salad!

Looking for more? Try serving these with one (or more) Italian appetizers.

Giant Meatballs + Herbed Ricotta

What Type of Ground Meat for Meatballs?

This recipe calls for ground beef, but there are always questions… The most scrumptious and indulgent is obviously something like 80/20, but if that isn’t your cup of tea (it isn’t usually mine), there are other options.

You can always do a lower fat content. Any makeup should work here especially since you’re adding egg and baking them. The bed of herbed ricotta helps as well!

If you aren’t into ground beef, you can certainly do ground pork. If you want to do ground turkey or chicken, I’d recommend getting the highest fat content to prevent them from drying out.

Another option is to combine meats – say turkey and beef. If you’re trying to cut back on red meat but want the flavor, this is a great way to go. The recipe instructions won’t change a bit!

Goat Cheese or Ricotta with Meatballs?

Ricotta cheese screams Italian to me, but I know (from my sister) that ricotta isn’t for everyone. You can easily do an herbed goat cheese instead of ricotta – not a problem!

I do think goat cheese can be a bit dry, however, so you can easily add in some milk or plain yogurt to make it creamier! It’ll still be so delectable!

What to Serve with Meatballs

Since these giants meatballs are so filling, you don’t need much to round out the meal. I’m always trying to eat more veggies, so I’d recommend this simple radicchio salad with corn or this swiss chard with ginger!

Want some Pasta Recipes?

Want some good pasta recipes? This lemon and tuna pasta recipe is easy, inexpensive and delicious! Simpler versions (great as a side dish too) are peas and pasta and this one pot summer pasta with green beans is a mandatory one in our house.

On the lighter side, this fresh cherry tomato pasta with ricotta is divine and this vegan broccoli pasta is heartier than you’d ever expect from a plant-based meal!

Giant Meatballs + Herbed Ricotta
Print Recipe
4.89 from 9 votes


Craving those giant meatballs you have at restaurants for appetizers or atop your pasta? Then these will hit the spot. Delicious, tender meatballs atop herbed ricotta make the perfect dish! This giant meatball recipe is actually quite simple and will be a favorite in no time at all!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Appetizers, entree, Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: appetizers, dinner, easy dinner, italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 458kcal
Author: Luci Petlack



  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¼ cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Herbed Ricotta

  • ¾ cup whole milk ricotta
  • ¼ cup freshly grated or shredded parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 cup prepared marinara warmed
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish



  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Start by making the meatballs. Place the beef, bread crumbs, egg, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Use clean or gloved hands to mix all ingredients. Form into 4 round balls.
  • Place in a shallow baking dish (large enough that there is at least a ½ inch of space around each meatball). Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

Herbed Ricotta

  • While the meatballs bake, make the ricotta. Add the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of the parmesan, chives, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Stir to combine all ingredients.*
  • To serve, spread two plates or shallow bowls each with half of the ricotta. Top each plate with two meatballs and marinara sauce. Garnish with the remaining parmesan and fresh parsley before serving.


*If making the ricotta ahead of time, refrigerate after combining herbs and cheese. Remove from refrigerator when you when you start making and baking the meatballs!
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Calories: 458kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 924mg | Potassium: 598mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 634IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 208mg | Iron: 4mg

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    1. Hi there! Yes, it serves two as a hearty dinner. You can easily use all the same amounts to serve it as a appetizer for four, however. Thanks! Luci

  1. 4 stars
    They were good the only thing I would do differently is have the herb ricotta be at room temperature, so not to cool down the dish

    1. You are ABSOLUTELY right about that! I’ll make a note in the recipe now. Thank you so much.

  2. 5 stars
    How many meatballs did you make? I saw this renders 4 servings – does this mean 4 meatballs?

    1. Hi Helena! Yes, the recipe makes 4 meatballs. Let me know if you have an other questions. Thanks. xo Luci

  3. 5 stars
    You mentioned one cup of marinara but I don’t see where to use it. I assume it goes over the meatballs but just wanted to mention that it’s in the ingredients but not in the directions

    1. Oh goodness. Yes, you are absolutely right – it goes over the meatballs on the serving dish. I have served the marinara sauce under the meatballs too, however, so it’s good wherever! I’ve updated my recipe for clarification. Thank you so much!!

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