• The Perfect Giant Meatball

The Perfect Giant Meatball

Let’s face it, there is something really appealing about eating a giant meatball.  It’s like a feat.  Sure you can eat ten smaller meatballs and you are bound to be just as full but there is so much less satisfaction than knowing you conquered the giant meatball, right?  And just the presentation alone is worth it, friends.  Here’s your plate and your one giant meatball.  Enjoy.  People get a kick out of it.  Well…at least I do.

I’ve made a lot of meatballs in my life and there are many different ways to go about it.  For this recipe I thought I’d try something new and mix in some crispy diced pancetta – which I’ve never tried before.  Pancetta is just uncured Italian style bacon.  You could use bacon instead if you wanted. So it’s obviously delicious. A little savory, a little salty, a little crunchy – in other words perfect.  You can buy it two different ways – thinly sliced or cubed.  For the purposes of a meatball the cubed works better.  Once I browned the pancetta until crispy I did then dice it again into really small cubes so that it would mix eventy and well into the beef/pork mixture.

The other tip I have about meatballs, that’ I’ve learned over the years over several batches of okay meatballs when I could have had amazing meatballs, is that a mixture of milk and fresh breadcrumbs really helps bind the meatball together but also keeps it tender.  So no matter what else you tweak on this recipe (and feel free to get creative) I’d recommend keeping the bread and milk components.

The sauce served it over for the picture was a heirloom tomato sauce.  It was so yum but feel free to use your own favorite homemade sauce or store bought is just great, too.   The recipe for the tomato sauce will be for another blog day.  This meatball recipe made four giant meatballs and I’d recommend one per person (or risk a heart attack).

Ingredients for Giant Meatball

Giant Meatball ingredients

All the fixins’

Step by Step

Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and brown the pancetta until crispy.  Cool and then dice into fine cubes.  (this step can be done ahead of time and then stored in the fridge until ready to make the meatballs).

Crispy pancettta

Crispy pancetta

Preheat oven to 350 to finish the meatballs once browned.

In a large bowl combine the ground beef, ground pork, diced pancetta, flat leaf parsley, egg, diced garlic, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried basil, grated parmesan, salt and pepper, fresh breadcrumbs, and milk.  Use your hands to incorporate all the ingredients evenly throughout the mixture.  I like to salt and pepper a little at a time so I make sure to get all the meat seasoned.  Don’t overdo the salt because the pancetta is pretty salty, too.

Meatball mixture

Meatball mixture



Finished meatball mixture

Form the mixture into four equal-sized meatballs and roll in the panko breadcrumbs.

Roll in panko

Coat meatballs with panko breadcrumbs

Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat and add in remaining 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Brown the meatballs evenly on all sides.  Place in oven to finish until just cooked through.  Should take about 8-10 minutes.

Brown the meatballs

Brown the meatballs on all sides

Plate on top of tomato sauce and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil.


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The Perfect Giant Meatball

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 meatballs


  • 4 oz diced pancetta (or bacon)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon depending on your spice tolerance)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt (approx 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • Pepper 1/2 teaspoon


  1. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add in 1 Tablespoon vegetable or canola oil. Cook the pancetta until crispy. Cool and chop into small pieces.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl add in the ground beef, ground pork, cooked pancetta, parsley, garlic, egg, parmesan, red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, breadcrumbs, milk and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to combine and form into 4 large meatballs.
  3. Place the panko breadcrumbs on a rimmed plate and roll the meatballs in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat and add in the last 2 Tablespoons of oil. Brown the meatballs on all sides and then bake in the over until cooked through - approximately 8-10 minutes.

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