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5 from 5 votes

Meatballs al Forno

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Braise Time:45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6


For the Marinara:

  • 1 [28-ounce] can whole peeled tomatoes preferably san Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped thyme leaves about 5 stems
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped oregano leaves about 3 stems
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley leaves

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef 85% lean
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal can sub for more pork
  • 1 strip of bacon very finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For Serving:

  • pasta, cooked according to package instructions for serving
  • freshly grated parmesan for serving
  • freshly chopped parsley for serving


  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Make the Marinara:

  • Pour the can of san Marzano tomatoes in a large bowl and using your hands, squeeze the whole tomatoes so that they break apart. Set aside.
  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat with 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the garlic and gently saute, being careful not to burn, about 2 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the salt, pepper, red wine, thyme, oregano, and parsley and cook, simmering gently, while you prepare the meatballs.

Make the Meatballs:

  • In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients (except for the olive oil). Using your hands, mix the meat until well combined and mixed evenly. Form the meatballs into 1.5 inch sized round meatballs.
  • Heat a dutch oven or oven safe skillet with tall sides over medium heat with the 3 tbsp of olive oil. In two separate batches, add the meatballs in a single layer without overcrowding the pan and brown both sides, about 3 minutes a side. The meatballs do not need to be cooked through yet, just browned on each side so that they hold their shape and add flavor. Set the browned meatballs on a paper towel lined plate and continue until all of the meatballs are browned.
  • Clean and wipe down the skillet or dutch oven to remove all of the browned bits on the bottom and remove from heat. Place the meatballs in a single layer across the bottom of the skillet. Pour marinara over the top evenly.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the middle rack of the oven and braise, covered, for 45 minutes.
  • When the cook time is complete, remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve over prepared pasta and garnish with grated parmesan and freshly chopped parsley.
  • Enjoy.