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A side shot of a bowl of pasta with large meatballs on top

Jumbo Meatballs with Marinara

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  • Author: Jenni
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Jumbo Meatballs with Marinara Sauce 1x
  • Category: Mains, Appetizers & Bites
  • Method: Oven / Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian-American


These Jumbo Meatballs with Marinara are tender, juicy, and savory. Ground beef and sausage combine with Italian herbs and a generous measure of ricotta cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano. After par-baking, these meatballs finish cooking in a savory pot of marinara sauce that makes this dish extra cozy. This recipe makes four generous servings but is easily doubled to accommodate a larger crowd.



For the jumbo meatballs:

  • 3 oz (1 1/2 cups) fresh white Italian or French bread, crustless and cubed or torn
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) buttermilk (may sub for whole milk, half-and-half, or cream)
  • 3/4 lb ground beef (80/20 fat ratio)
  • 3/4 lb ground pork sausage (bulk or Italian)
  • 124 g (1/2 cup) whole milk ricotta
  • 28 g (1 oz or 1/2 cup) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 oz (1/4 cup) fresh parsley, minced (or 4 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • Approx 1-2 tbsp olive oil, to brush the tops
  • Optional: Fresh basil and extra grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, to top

For the marinara sauce:


For the jumbo meatballs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F / 220 C. Prep a baking sheet with parchment paper and reserve to the side.
  2. Make a panade. In a large mixing bowl, add the cubed or torn bread. Cover with buttermilk and using clean hands or a fork, briefly toss to combine. Allow the mixture to soak into the bread for a few minutes to fully hydrate, then using clean hands or a fork, mix until the mixture breaks down and becomes paste-like. This should happen very quickly if the buttermilk has had a few minutes to soak into the bread fully.
  3. To the bowl of panade, add the ground beef, ground pork sausage, ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, egg, parsley, salt, oregano, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Using clean bare hands (or clean gloved hands), gently combine the mixture just until it comes together evenly. You do not want to over-mix the meat, which can result in tough meatballs.
  4. Once the meatball mixture is combined, gently even it out in the bowl by pressing it down softly (do not compress it tightly), then divide the mixture into four quadrants by pressing channels into the meat mixture. This makes it easier to portion out the meatballs when shaping.
  5. To help prevent the meatball mixture from sticking to your hands, moisten them with cold water first. Keeping the meat cold when shaping will help ensure that the meatballs hold their round shape better when they bake. Working with the meat mixture one quadrant at a time, gently shape the meat mixture into balls. Do not pack the meat firmly or compact it tightly. Instead, gently toss from hand to hand until the meat is shaped into a round ball. You want the balls to just hold their shape but not become too compacted, which can result in tougher, denser meatballs. Transfer each of the four meatballs to the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Brush the tops of each meatball lightly with olive oil. Transfer the meatballs to the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden.

For the marinara (and to finish):

  1. In the last 10-minutes or so of the meatballs bake time, start the marinara. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the garlic olive oil (or regular olive oil + minced garlic). Allow heat until shimmering and fragrant, then add the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Allow to come to a low simmer, adjusting the heat if needed so the mixture doesn't boil.
  2. Once the meatballs have finished baking,carefully transfer each of them to the pot of marinara sauce. Using a spoon, cover the tops of each meatball so that they are fully covered in marinara sauce. Allow the mixture to come back to a gentle simmer, then cover with a lid. Allow the meatballs to cook for approximately 30-minutes, or until they have reached an eternal temperature of 165 degrees F / 74 C. I like to check the meatballs every 10-minutes or so to ensure that the marinara sauce is not cooking to a boil and scalding. Flip the meatballs halfway through to ensure that they are evenly cooked.
  3. Serve these Jumbo Meatballs with Marinara over the top of pasta, polenta, or with a side of crusty bread, burrata, salad, or vegetables. I love to dress the meatballs with a little fresh basil and an extra sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.


Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.


  • Serving Size: 1 meatball with 1/4th batch marinara
  • Calories: 884
  • Sugar: 15 g
  • Sodium: 2353 mg
  • Fat: 60 g
  • Saturated Fat: 22 g
  • Carbohydrates: 40 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 42 g
  • Cholesterol: 157 mg