Cheater’s Italian Sausage Meatballs

Sorry for being MIA for a week. My body got a little annoyed with me last week and decided not to cooperate. The result was an appetite for only the blandest of foods. That being said, I’m finally back in the kitchen and have been in desperate need of something flavorful to eat. So, case in point, I’ve been craving meatballs. I have no clue why, but that, my friends, is the only thing that I wanted when I felt better.

Traditionally, these are simmered for hours, seasoned with fresh herbs and, in some cases, have a nice handful of pine nuts sprinkled into the mix. Now, I normally make meatballs using ground chicken. This, while leaner, can be a time consuming process as I prefer to bake them and make them with a balsamic glaze (I’ll post that recipe next time I whip some up). But, on the average weeknight, time consuming recipes are just not going to cut it.

Late last week, my mom and I picked up some ground Italian sausage, and, last night, I finally put it to use. These are quick and easy, and, since the meat came pre-seasoned, half the work was done for me. All I had to do was add in some aromatics, and these were good to go.

I opted not to add mine to a sauce, but, if you want to cook these only part of the way through and finish cooking them in a rich tomato sauce, I’m sure that would taste great. I wound up having mine in a pasta dish with mushrooms, broccoli, and grape tomatoes. Cleaning out the fridge? I think yes.

So, not the healthiest dish today, but it sure is satisfying in a pinch. Happy eating!

Italian Sausage Meatballs
I used ground Italian sausage, but you can also use fresh Italian sausage links. Just remove the casings.


  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced/run through the garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 lb fresh, ground, hot Italian sausage
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • EVOO


  • In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO. Add in your onions and garlic. Cook until soft (about 5 minutes), then add in your tomato paste. Cook for an additional 2 minutes to remove that raw tomato flavor.
  • Add in your basil and dried herbs, along with your red pepper flakes. Set aside to cool.

  • Once cool, mix your onion mixture with the sausage (I prefer to use my hands–much easier). Add in your salt and pepper. 

  • Shape into 1-inch balls and set aside.

You have a few options at this point to cook the meatballs:

  • Option 1: In the same skillet you used before, heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO over medium-high heat, and cook just enough meatballs to comfortably sit in the pan (usually between 10 and 12), turning so that all sides are browned.

  • To cook through, reduce your heat and cover the pan. Allow to cook for 5 to 7 minutes, then remove from the pan and allow your oil to drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Option 2: Cook your meatballs in the skillet but, instead of cooking through in a skillet, add to a pot with your favorite sauce and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through.
  • Option 3: Bake your meatballs in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes.
  • Serve warm with your favorite pasta and sauce.

Serves 6.

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