Whenever I have a party, the first appetizers that always disappear are the meat dishes…especially when meatballs are involved. I don’t know what it is, but people seem to go nuts over a good meatball!
Of all the popular appetizer options out there, I definitely appreciate how quick, versatile and easy meatballs are to make. And I’m all for any recipe that my friends will enjoy!
I’ve made them over the years with all sorts of fancy sauces and seasonings. But when it comes down to it, people still seem to love a good tomato sauce. So even though it’s basic, thought I would share one of my favorites recipes for easy meatballs.
The meatballs themselves are a little on the Italian side, but the sauce has an extra smoked paprika kick that I love. I typically just make them in a large saute pan on the stove. But if you are wanting to keep them warm and simmering for a party or game day, you can simply make and keep them cooking in the slow cooker instead. My friends always seem to get extra excited when they are served with these cute little bamboo forks or knotted toothpicks. But if you’re craving pasta, these would of course also be delicious atop a bed of spaghetti. (Or the pasta I just posted yesterday!)
However you serve them, these saucy meatballs pack lots of flavor, come together quickly, and — at least in my experience — never fail to be a crowd favorite. All hail the mighty meatball!
- 1.5 lb. ground beef or pork
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup finely-diced white onion
- 1/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 eggs
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes (I prefer fire-roasted)
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- chopped fresh basil or parsley for garnish
Combine the beef (or pork), breadcrumbs, onion, Parmesan, garlic, eggs, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Use a potato masher or your hands to combine the mixture until evenly-mixed.
Use a small scoop or a spoon to measure out a rounded tablespoon-full of the mixture, and then roll it into a ball. Set aside. Repeat with the remainder of the mixture and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the crushed tomatoes in a large, deep saute pan (or stockpot) over medium-high heat until simmering. Stir in the smoked paprika, season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the meatballs in a single layer, coating with the sauce. Cover and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through, turning the meatballs once or twice. Remove and set on a serving plate, ladling any of the extra sauce on top of the meatballs. Serve with bamboo forks or toothpicks if desired.
Stir together the crushed tomatoes and smoked paprika in the bowl of the slow cooker. Add the meatballs in a single layer, coating with the sauce. Cover and cook on low until meatballs are tender, about 4-6 hours.
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