Our best recipes with meatballs include everything from the tastiest, juiciest Italian style meatballs of the kind mum and dad made back in the 1970s – when they were served with, not on, spaghetti! – to our Cambodian pork meatballs recipe for aromatic little meatballs fragrant with ginger, garlic, shallots, kaffir lime, and lemongrass, served with rice porridge or on num pang, Cambodian banh mi.
Who doesn’t love meatballs?! Whether served on their own, with salad, in a soup or rice porridge, or with pasta in the much-loved spaghetti with meatballs, it seems everyone in the world is looking for home-cooked recipes with meatballs right now, and recollecting the incredibly charming film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Remember that?!
I have no idea why we’re all on the search for recipes with meatballs, though I have to confess that we’ve made meatballs twice this week and tomorrow I’ll be making them again. More meatball recipes coming soon. Perhaps it’s because meatballs are delicious, comforting, and endearingly old-fashioned, and in a world that’s so upside down right now, we all need comfort and a reassurance that some things never change.
But before we tell you more about our best recipes with meatballs, we have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve cooked our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo by supporting our epic Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon, which you can do for as little as the price of a coffee. Or you could buy us a coffee and we’ll use our coffee money to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing.
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Lastly, you could browse our Grantourismo store for gifts for food lovers, including food themed reusable cloth face masks designed with my images. Now let me tell you all about our best recipes with meatballs.
Best Recipes with Meatballs from Italian Style Meatballs to Spanish Albondigas
Tastiest Juiciest Italian Style Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
My recipe for the tastiest, juiciest Italian style meatballs of the kind my mum and dad made back in the 1970s – when it was served with, not on, spaghetti! – is perhaps the best of our best recipes with meatballs.
The recipe is based on the classic Southern Italian meatballs, which Italians called polpette, made in Sicily and Calabria with ricotta, parmesan and pecorino cheeses that are fried until brown then simmered in a rich classic Italian tomato sauce.
Cook them in your favourite fry-pan or trusty skillet, although we actually use a round flat bottomed wok to heat the olive oil and fry the diced onion until soft and translucent – a lot of recipes call for raw onion, but soft fried onion is key for me – and fry the meatballs, as it’s easier to brown them more evenly.
You can use breadcrumbs – and I do use them in other meatball recipes – but for this old-fashioned meatball recipe, I do as my mother and grandmother did and soak white bread in whole milk as that’s one of the secrets to super-moist meatballs.
Serve these meatballs with tomato sauce as the Southern Italian do, at the centre of the table, sprinkled with chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, celery leaves or fragrant basil, with a simple salad of fresh rucola tossed in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar – or with your favourite pasta.
Spanish Meatballs Recipe for Albondigas, a Traditional Spanish Tapas Dish
This classic Spanish meatball recipe for albondigas makes another one of our best recipes with meatballs. These juicy Spanish-style meatballs simmer in a rich tomato sauce spiced with smoky paprika and a slight kick of chilli.
Albondigas is a tapa, a small snack plate available at tapas bars in Spain, where a tapas bar crawl – a bar-hop to sample these delicious snacks – is must-do for food-loving travellers, and fun to replicate at home.
We use our kitchen scales to weigh the spoons of minced meat mixture before shaping it into meatballs to ensure they’re uniform in size – we like to aim for 32 g / 1.13 oz for these – so that they cook evenly. That size is what you’ll find in most tapas bars. It’s meant to be a snack not a full meal, plus that smallish size will cook faster. The mixture makes us around 30-32 meatballs.
We recommend serving up a dish of these juicy morsels with slices of crusty bread to mop up the sauce, as part of a tapas spread. This recipe was the first in a series of Spanish tapas recipes, which so far includes recipes for chorizo and potato croquettes, Spanish chorizo in red wine for chorizo al vino tinto, and Spanish style garlic shrimp.
Southeast Asian Grilled Pork Meatballs with Rice Paper, Rice Noodles, Salad and Pickles
Our grilled pork meatballs recipe with rice paper, rice noodles, salad, and pickles makes a sharing style dish popular in Southern Cambodia and Vietnam, hence ‘Southeast Asian’, and it’s another of our best recipes with meatballs. Best presented on a platter so people can help themselves, it’s a delicious DIY dish that you can eat as you wish, wrapping and rolling the meatballs with salad and pickles in the rice paper.
These grilled pork meatballs should be served with rice paper, vermicelli rice noodles, fresh salad vegetables and fruit, a quick pickle of carrot and daikon, and a dipping sauce to create a delicious sharing plate that can be served as an appetiser or main course or family-style in the centre of the table as part of a larger feast of Vietnamese food, Cambodian food or Southeast Asian food.
While our Cambodian friends from Phnom Penh and Southern Cambodia would call this a Cambodian dish, our Vietnamese friends would argue it is Southern Vietnamese. The reality is that it’s one of a genre of dishes consumed in both countries; dishes that have crossed borders, existed before there were borders, and travelled over land and ocean, because you’ll find variations of this dish not only in Cambodia and Vietnam, but in the Vietnam and Cambodian diasporas.
We love this grilled pork meatballs recipe with rice paper wherever we eat it and whatever form it takes, because what’s most fun about this dish is that it’s a sharing dish that can be eaten as a communal meal, shared amongst friends and family, and there are few better things to do in the world than that, especially right now.
Cambodian Pork Meatballs Recipe for Wraps, Rolls, Soups, Salads and Sandwiches
Our Cambodian pork meatballs recipe will make you juicy little meatballs that are incredibly delicious and aromatic thanks to a seasoning comprised of some of Cambodia’s most quintessential ingredients used in a Khmer kroeung or herb and spice paste, including ginger, garlic, shallots, kaffir lime, and lemongrass. It makes another one of our best recipes with meatballs.
Petite in size, these perfumed pork meatballs are perfect for wrapping in lettuce leaves with loads of fresh fragrant herbs; rolling up in rice paper with plump shrimp or prawns, rice noodles or vermicelli, basil, mint and coriander; added to Cambodian rice porridge, borbor, or noodle soups such as Cambodia’s kuy teav; and squeezed into crunchy num pang, Cambodia’s popular baguette sandwich akin to Vietnam’s banh mi.
This recipe makes quite a different meatball to the grilled pork meatballs recipe, above. While those pork balls are typically eaten with rice paper, vermicelli rice noodles, fresh salad ingredients, a quick pickle of carrot and daikon, and a dipping sauce – and these can be, too, of course – that pork mince mixture includes roasted rice and peanuts and none of the aromatic herbs of this meatball.
Here in Siem Reap, we typically grill our pork meatballs outside on the balcony on a traditional clay brazier using charcoal (we use these coconut charcoal BBQ briquettes), however, if the heat or rain forces us to grill indoors we use a typical stovetop Korean BBQ grill pan. I know if we had more space outside Terence would be using one of these outdoor barbecue or grills, and if we were back in Australia, we would probably be doing these on a Weber.
Cambodian Num Pang with Meatballs Recipe for the Best Summer Baguette Sandwich
Our Cambodian num pang with meatballs recipe will make you the best summer baguette sandwich and it’s another one of our best recipes with meatballs. Num pang is Cambodia’s less-famous but equally delicious cousin to Vietnam’s bánh mì.
Cambodian num pang with meatballs are a popular street food snack in Cambodia, particularly here in Siem Reap. French-style Cambodian baguettes (also called num pang) are filled with juicy fragrant pork meatballs, a quick pickle of carrot and daikon, salad, and fresh herbs.
Cambodia’s lesser-known num pang is typically compared to the globally-renowned Vietnamese banh mi and, in some ways, they are a bit ‘same same but different’ when it comes to fillings and flavours.
If you made and enjoyed our juicy pork meatballs recipe, above, or our num pang pâté recipe which makes a baguette filled with a thick spread of rustic French country-style pâté, generous layers of cold cuts, crunchy cucumber, fresh aromatic herbs, and creamy French mayonnaise, then you’re going to love this Cambodian num pang with meatballs recipe.
Make sure to heat up your baguettes. They’re extra delish when they’re warm. Spread your creamy mayo on thickly. This is not a time for light mayo. And do make some of our homemade Sriracha sauce, if you haven’t already, and squirt plenty of that on. Slices of bird’s eye chillies are optional, but we do love the extra bite.
Comforting Cambodian Rice Soup Recipe with Pork Meatballs for Borbor Sor Using Leftover Rice
This comforting Cambodian rice soup recipe with pork meatballs cooked in the congee is made with leftover rice and it’s another one of our best recipes with meatballs.
This Cambodian rice soup offers nourishment for the young and old, as it’s so easy to eat and so adaptable; it serves as home medicine for the sick; and it would have to be Cambodia’s rice soup for the soul.
While this rice soup is generally made in Cambodian homes with leftover boiled steamed jasmine rice, you could make it from scratch if you really wanted to, by following steps one and two in this Cambodian chicken rice porridge recipe.
There are just a couple of ingredients that need a pound and we recommend doing that in a mortar and pestle as it releases the flavours and aromas so wonderfully.
We often get asked which fish sauce we use. We use Cambodian fish sauces for Cambodian recipes, Vietnamese fish sauces for Vietnamese dishes, Thai fish sauces for Thai food, etc, however, if you’re not in Southeast Asia, we recommend Thailand’s Megachef for its quality consistency, although many of our American friends like the American-Vietnamese brand Red Boat Fish Sauce.
Russian Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe with Chicken Meatballs for a Comforting Old-Fashioned Soup
This Russian chicken noodle soup recipe with chicken meatballs makes my take on one of my Russian family recipes, my Russian grandmother’s chicken noodle soup – with a few tweaks – and it’s another one of our best recipes with meatballs.
It’s an old-fashioned chicken noodle soup – let’s call it a retro soup – but it’s also a comforting soup as only chicken soups made from scratch can be. Super easy to make, it comes together quickly, in just 30 minutes or so, and is perfect for easy weeknight meals or weekend lunches.
The chicken meatballs cook in the soup and thereis no stock to make, the flavour coming from the meatballs and subtle use of spice. It’s also a fantastic soup for leftovers, refrigerating well, and tasting even better the next day.
While baboushka made her chicken noodle soup in autumn and winter – when she didn’t have big pots of borscht or shchi simmering on the stove – Terence and I have lived in tropical Southeast Asia so long that we eat hot soups year-round. Southeast Asians believe hot soups make you perspire, thereby keeping you cool.
The flavours are well balanced, but if you want more punch, add a little paprika to the chicken meatballs, or sprinkle chilli flakes for even more kick. Chilli flakes aren’t very Russian, but plenty of fresh fragrant dill, sour cream, dill pickles, and slices of dark rye bread on the side will ensure this chicken noodle soup doesn’t lose its identity.
First Published 20 April 2022; Updated and Republished 17 May 2023
Please do let us know in the Comments below if you make any of our best recipes with meatballs as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.