Make ahead meat balls are ideal this time of year. As fans of cooking once and enjoying the fruits of our kitchen labors time and again, we believe if you're going to take the time to make meat balls, why not cook a ton of them at once. That way you can freeze some or all of them right away and have great tasting, home made party food at the ready for impromptu gatherings and for feeding hungry visitors.
When our kids were small we used 3 pounds of meat to make our favorite meat ball recipe, but now that they are bigger we've had to increase the meat volume to 6-7 lbs to ensure we have leftovers to freeze. Here's how we make a big batch of meatballs:
Outta The Park Big Batch Party Meatballs
(Makes 100+ meatballs)
- 4 lbs. Ground Beef
- 2 lb. Ground Pork
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups plain or seasoned bread crumbs
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 eggs beaten (may need 4 if using small eggs)
- 1/2 cup Outta The Park BBQ Sauce
- 1/4 cup red onion finely diced
- 1/4 cup celery finely diced
- 1/4 cup carrot finely diced
- 1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro (optional)
- 1 TBS Salt
- 1 TBS black pepper
- 1 TBS parsley
- 1 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp nutmeg
In a small bowl mix spices together with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Stir this mix well to evenly distribute the spices.
Put meats in a very large mixing bowl or pot. We use our stock pot as a mixing bowl when working with this much meat. Add beaten eggs, veggies* and bread crumb spice mixture to the pot.
*Of course all the chopped vegetables are optional but I think they add a lot of great flavor and a nice texture so I love adding them to the mix. IMO, meat balls that contain just meat, breadcrumbs and eggs tend to be dense. Plus I like seeing bits of fine vegetables in mine but not everyone does so do what you think will please your crowd. Keep in mind the finer you dice your veggies the less visible they are in the end. Plus most people pop the entire meatball into their mouths and as a mom I love adding healthy veggies to what I feed my family every chance I get.
So, back to mixing - after you've put all your ingredients in the pot/mixing bowl, combine everything using your hands to mix thoroughly. Squish, squeeze and mix. Once everything is well mixed, assess the texture, if the meat seems too wet, mix in more bread crumbs.
Next, form into meatballs roughly 1" in diameter, and be careful not to over pack the balls. A gentle squeeze and roll is desired over a heavy hand pack job - again the goal is to avoid making your meatballs dense and hard like briquettes.
Place meatballs on well-oiled broiling pan and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until done. Turn once during cook time at around the 15 minute mark. We use 2 broiling pans at once and 2 racks in the oven to speed up cooking time for this amount of meat balls. We've also improvised and used a Pampered Chef non-stick cooling rack on top of a rimmed cookie sheet and that has worked great as a cooking pan too - with the cookie sheet catching the fat drippings.
These meat balls can be cooked in advance and frozen for future use. Defrost in fridge or on the stove top with sauce - whether that's bbq sauce for your party meatballs or spaghetti sauce if you're cooking Italian.
If you've got a party crowd to feed, you can reheat meatballs in a crockpot adding enough BBQ sauce to cover meatballs. Add a splash of water to thin out sauce as needed.
Serve hot and enjoy!