9 Best Alison Roman Meatball Recipes + Tips

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Who doesn’t love a good meatball? They are like mini meatloaves usually slathered in a tasty sauce and they are a terrific idea for something to make with your kids! They are the perfect portable lunch as you can throw these in a thermos and enjoy them hot and yummy right from your thermos! They work as appetizers or main dishes and leftovers are amazing between two slices of bread or on top of a pizza!  We even have a version that looks like it’s right out a fancy magazine. We have 3 types of meatball recipes here from Alison Roman, plus some tips to help perfect them every time!

1. Alison Roman’s Goodbye Meatballs

Alison Roman's Goodbye Meatballs
Alison Roman’s Goodbye Meatballs

First up is a traditional meatball and marinara sauce recipe. A unique ingredient in this, is the use of ricotta cheese as part of the binder but you can also use cottage cheese in a pinch. The style of breadcrumb that is called for in her recipe is panko – it’s a Japanese style breadcrumb which only uses the white part of the bread which creates a lighter breadcrumb. Fresh breadcrumbs can also be used, but she does not recommend using Italian breadcrumbs as they can make for a sandy texture.

There is definitely a method of creating a great browned meatball that will also help to flavor the sauce and that is browning them in the pot that you will also make your sauce in. This particular recipe is the ‘doubled’ version Alison’s One-Pot Meatball with Marinara recipe, as these were meant for a larger group.

Get the full recipe and directions from NY Times.

2. Alison Roman’s Spicy Pork Meatballs In Brothy Tomatoes And Toasted Fennel

Alison Roman's Spicy Pork Meatballs In Brothy Tomatoes And Toasted Fennel
Alison Roman’s Spicy Pork Meatballs In Brothy Tomatoes And Toasted Fennel

These spicy pork meatballs venture from the typical tomato saucy version and have more of a tomato brothy type of sauce. Yogurt helps to bind the ingredients together, but the fat from the pork keeps them moist. Without using eggs or breadcrumbs, this is a lighter textured version that just feels meaty.

Chili flakes add heat, while smoked paprika, fennel seeds, chives and parsley give them their complex flavor. The pan roasting of the meatballs is critical and you want them to get a deep brown crisp as to bring out all the flavors for the broth, this should take about 8-10 minutes and don’t worry if they aren’t as round as you started with, they will still taste just as good.

You’ll use the brown bits and fat from the searing to cook down the garlic and shallots until translucent and once they do, add the tomatoes and cook those until they burst and caramelize on the bottom of the pan to create the brothy sauce after adding the water and vinegar and they will deglaze the pan of any yummy goodness and give your broth the most flavor.


Get the full recipe and directions from Nigella.

3. Alison Roman’s Brothy Meatballs with Peas, Fennel, and Tiny Pasta

Alison Roman's Brothy Meatballs with Peas, Fennel, and Tiny Pasta
Alison Roman’s Brothy Meatballs with Peas, Fennel, and Tiny Pasta

Up next we have a fancy and elevated soupy meatball dish with a fresh crisp vegetable topper. This dish is very pretty and definitely would impress your dinner guests since it looks quite fancy. These also only use yogurt to pull them together, but be careful not to over mix them or they could become too dense.

The broth is where this recipe really shines. The fennel adds a unique and delicate and faint licorice flavor when cooked in the broth and the shallots and garlic along with the browned bits from searing give this broth its richness. Add the meatballs back to the broth and add the additional ingredients.

Don’t forget to add the English peas and the sugar snap peas and cook them slightly in the broth. The dill, fennel and pea shoots tossed in vinegar make a great refreshing top to the dish. The addition of fregola, Israeli couscous, or farro makes this a meal. Add a wedge of lemon and it really lightens things up and makes this a wonderfully rich, yet light dish. 


Get the full recipe and directions from Bon Appetit.

Tips for Making Meatballs

A few easy things you can do to have the best meatballs whichever recipe you decide to use.

4. If a Recipe Calls for Two Types of Meat, use Both!

A lot of recipes use both pork and beef. There is a reason for this. Ground pork tends to be fattier and therefore helps to add much needed moisture, while beef is where you will get a lot of flavor. The combination makes for a moist, but tasty meatball. You will also see some recipes that call for veal, beef and pork and they all add some great flavors.

5. Hydrate the Binder

Most meatball recipes have a binder such as a bread crumb, or we’ve even seen oatmeal. An important step is to make sure to rehydrate the binder whichever it is using the wet ingredients. So for the recipe we have it’s using the ricotta and egg to rehydrate the panko. Panko is a great type of breadcrumb to use and you can find it in most grocery stores now in the Ethnic food section. It’s a breadcrumb that is more light as it only uses the white part of the bread.

6. Sear Them Thoroughly

Sear Meatballs
Sear Meatballs

Take the time to sear your meatball in a pot. The searing does a couple of things. Searing helps to keep the moisture in, while the brown bits from searing will add additional flavor to your sauce. It’s not that trying to brown them on a sheet in the oven doesn’t work, it just doesn’t brown it as much as it steams it in the oven. The sear on the pan definitely will be a more crisper brown. And the other benefit are those tasty brown bits in the pan for your sauce!

7. Use a Cookie Scoop or Ice Cream Scoop

TesA great way to have evenly sized meatballs is to use a small cookie scoop with a scraper to help you drop the meatballs (or even an ice cream scoop with a scraper if you prefer a larger size). You may then need to use your hands to form the balls a bit better. But, this helps to make them evenly sized much faster. If you don’t have one on hand, you could do similar like dropping cookies with two tablespoons or serving spoons for larger sized ones, and then forming them.t

8. Give Them a Test

Before you even roll out all the meatballs, you can cook one up and taste it to make sure they have enough seasoning and taste the way you want them too. If needed, you can add a bit more salt or seasoning to your liking. Once you’ve made sure that they taste good, you can roll the rest of them out.

9. Freeze Them

Freeze Meatballs
Freeze Meatballs

Made too many meatballs? No problem! They hold up so well in the freezer and they can pretty much be used in any recipe later. Throw into another pasta dish, or even a salad!


We have given you a few recipes to give a try and they are all different in their own right. Whether you need a crowd pleasing dish to bring to a gathering, a nice midweek dinner, or a more refined and beautiful take on meatballs, we have you covered. Go and enjoy some yummy meatballs and let us know how it goes!

If you like this post, we think you’ll love this Alison Roman Shallot Pasta post.

Alison Roman Meatballs
Alison Roman Meatballs
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