The ideal internal temperature of a cooked meatball is 74 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees Fahrenheit
How to Cook Meatballs: Pan Fry
There are several different ways to cook meatballs. For the rustic and traditionalists, the only way to cook meatballs is the ‘old fashioned’ or pan fried way. (That’s probably because hot ovens were not always immediately available to Italians hundreds of years ago.)
Cooking in a pan or pot was faster and did not require an oven or the time it would take to heat one. Unfortunately, frying in a pan can be messy and requires you to stand over the pan to turn over the meatballs so they cook evenly. This can be quite a chore if you have more than a couple dozen meatballs to cook.
Meatball traditionalists espouse that the benefit that pan-frying produces a crispy outer crust on the meatball and for many this is what they grew up eating and their preference. We won’t argue because we know it can lead to an angry exchange of protocol which could lead to fisticuffs in an Italian kitchen.
How to Cook Meatballs: Oven Baked
We recommend using an oven at a high temperature to cook and produce a slight crust if this is desired. It is fast and easy, which we think outweighs the pan-frying method. Also, you can cook a couple dozen at a time if you need to.
If you don’t have an oven then you can pan fry or use the other preferred method: braising.
To bake your meatballs in an oven… Once you have all your rolled meatballs on a non-stick pan or parchment paper, place the pan in the oven at 425 degrees. Use the middle rack of your oven. You don’t have to turn over the meatballs while cooking, but I like to turn them over about the 10 min mark to even out the cooking process. Once cooked, you can decide whether you want them in a pasta sauce or just serve as is. – see our recipes.
How to Cook Meatballs: Braised
By far the best meatballs served in our family were always braised. Braising essentially cooks the meatballs in liquid. If you intend to serve your meatballs with a pasta sauce (Marinara, Ragu, or Cream-based sauces) already in a pot on the stove-top, then take the raw meatballs and submerge them directly into the sauce and cook them right in the pot with a lid on top.
You may need to add a little water if your sauce is thick. If you intend to cook a lot of meatballs, remember you are going to need a fairly large pot.
In all Italian kitchens, there is always a pot of pasta sauce on the back burner. What gets left over, gets used in meatball sandwiches or keeps refrigerated or frozen for later use.
The meatballs take a little longer to cook when you braise but the sauce gets all the juices that each meatball imparts and flavors the sauce while they cook. 25-45 min. cooking time for 1 1/2 inch meatballs.