Cast iron skillet meatballs are so easy to assemble and cook entirely on the stove top. Tender, flavorful and perfectly seasoned for serving with pasta, polenta or in meatball subs!
So Easy Cast Iron Skillet Meatballs
This delicious recipe combines the simplicity of an easy meal with the irresistible flavors that only a cast iron skillet can impart. They are make-ahead and freezer friendly, making them a great busy weeknight meal option.
But, they’re perfect for parties, too. Serve them as an easy homemade appetizer, or impress your guests by serving a mound of saucy meatballs over a giant platter of creamy polenta. And, what game day wouldn’t benefit from some tasty meatball sliders?
Grab that skillet and get cooking!
Why Use Cast Iron?
Because cast iron has unbeatable heat retention and is naturally nonstick, you can achieve a gorgeous crusty sear without losing half the meatball to the bottom of the pan! It’ll transform ordinary meatballs into yummy spheres of savory perfection.
And, since it’s also got a rustic charm, there’s no need for a serving platter. Go straight from the stove top to the dinner table.
Gather Your Ingredients for Skillet Meatballs
In addition to kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, you’ll need…
- Ground meat — I love grass-fed ground beef whenever I’m making all beef meatballs or burgers. To lighten things up a bit but still keep that classic flavor, I’ll sometimes use a combination of ground beef (80%) and 93% lean ground turkey (you could also use ground chicken). Forget the beef and make full-on turkey meatballs if you prefer.
- Panko — I like the coarse texture of these Japanese style bread crumbs. The panko is mixed with liquids and added to the mix to help keep the meatballs tender.
- Liquids — It’s pretty typical for breadcrumbs or fresh bread to be combined with milk to make a panade for meatloaf, burgers and meatballs. In this recipe, I add Worcestershire sauce and coconut aminos (a substitute for soy sauce) along with milk to soften the breadcrumbs.
- Egg — one lightly beaten egg serves as a binder for the meatballs and other ingredients and helps keep their shape.
- Onion — I typically go for a Spanish onion, but red onion works, too. Whichever you choose, be sure to finely mince the onion so you don’t end up with big uncooked chunks.
- Garlic — you gotta have garlic! Finely mince the cloves or use a garlic press. In a pinch, sub in a teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Italian seasoning blend — your favorite dry blend!
- Red pepper flakes — this is optional, but I like a the subtle hint of heat this provides.
- Parmesan cheese — If you can swing it, I recommend freshly grated parmesan right off the block. This recipe only calls for 1/4 cup, but you can actually taste the fresh parm.
- Olive Oil — for searing the meatballs, but avocado oil is another great choice.
- Tomato sauce — use your own homemade sauce or just pop open your favorite jar of marinara sauce, pomodoro, spicy arrabbiata or vodka sauce…basically, go where your mood takes you.
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Steps to Make Cast Iron Skillet Meatballs
- Combine panko, milk, coconut aminos and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to allow the panko to absorb the liquid. Add everything else except the ground meat to the mixing bowl and stir to distribute evenly. Finally, add the ground meat and mix gently until everything is just combined.
- Using a small ice cream scoop is the easiest way to get meatballs of uniform size (I use a 2 tbsp scoop). Measure out a scant scoop of meat mixture and deposit each onto a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment. Once all scooped, use wet hands to roll them into perfectly round meatballs.
- Heat olive oil in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs in a single layer and allow them to sear on one side. Roll the meatballs around so they get a seared all over. Remove them to a plate and repeat with the rest of the meatballs.
- Remove the skillet from the burner so it cools slightly, and turn the burner down to medium heat. Return all the meatballs to the skillet, and add your tomato sauce being careful of splatter. Put the skillet back on the burner, cover it and cook the meatballs with the sauce for 15 minutes.
Once done, garnish with freshly chopped parsley or basil and some extra parm!
Serving Suggestions for Cast Iron Skillet Meatballs
Obviously, these cast iron meatballs and are going to be perfect with pasta! But, they’d be divine in some other ways, too:
- Over a cheesy, creamy polenta (or grilled polenta)
- In meatball subs or sliders with melty mozzarella cheese
- On a pizza!
- Smoosh them into a grilled cheese sandwich
- Try them with different sauces like Swedish meatball gravy, stroganoff sauce, or bbq sauce
Storing + Reheating Leftover Meatballs
Transfer leftover meatballs and sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
You can also freeze meatballs and sauce in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months.
To reheat leftovers, place the meatballs and sauce (thawed, if frozen) in a pan and warm over low heat until the meatballs are warmed through.
Timesaving Tip: Make a double batch and freeze for a busy weeknight!
These tender meatballs are so flavorful! Depending on your mood, switch up the spices or type of cheese in this juicy meatball recipe to achieve different flavors for use in your regional or international dishes!
Looking for More Comfort Food?
Spaghetti + meatballs are a favorite comfort food in our home. You might also enjoy these other comforting dishes.
- The Ultimate Lobster Mac + Cheese
- Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Pasta Bake
- Award Winning Chorizo + Black Bean Chili
- Kimchi Grilled Cheese
- Rosemary Dinner Rolls with Poppy Seed Honey Butter
Stovetop Cast Iron Skillet Meatballs
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 tsp coconut aminos or low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup onion finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic pressed or finely minced
- 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning blend
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes or more, to taste
- ¼ cup parmesan freshly grated
- fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 1 lb ground meat I like equal parts 80% fat ground beef and 93% lean ground turkey
- 1 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
- 24 oz jar of your favorite tomato sauce
- fresh basil or parsley finely chopped, for garnish
- In a large bowl, mix together panko, milk, coconut aminos and Worcestershire sauce. Allow it to sit for a few minutes until the breadcrumbs have absorbed the liquid.
- Add everything else but the ground meat and mix to evenly distribute.
- Finally, add the meat and mix until just combined, being careful to not overwork the mix.
- Measure out meatballs using a scant 2 tbsp scoop. Gently roll them with wet hands into spheres.
- Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, add half of the meatballs to the pan. Allow them to get a good sear on one side, then roll them round to sear a couple other sides. This should take no more than about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs.
- Move the pan off the burner and reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add your favorite sauce directly to the pan (it may splatter). Return all the meatballs the pan, cover and return to the burner. Cook for 15 minutes, moving the meatballs around half way through in case there are hotspots in the pan.
- Garnish with fresh parsley or basil and enjoy!
- Transfer leftover meatballs and sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or freeze meatballs and sauce in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months.
- To reheat leftovers, place the meatballs and sauce (thawed, if frozen) in a pan and warm over low heat until the meatballs are warmed through.
- These are make-ahead friendly, so whip up a double batch and freeze for a busy weeknight.
Nutritional values are estimated and provided as a general guideline only. I earn a commission from Instacart from qualifying ingredient purchases.
Pin for Later! Stovetop Cast Iron Skillet Meatballs
(Originally published January 26, 2021. Updated May 23, 2023.)