Giant Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs: Tender, herby meatballs with gooey mozzarella cheese inside! These Giant Meatballs are perfect for sharing and make a great romantic appetizer or cozy dinner for two!

This post is sponsored by Ohio Beef. As always, all opinions are my own.

giant meatball with parmesan and basil garnish

You probably aren’t ever going to find a Surprise Inside Cake on this blog. I’ll leave all that fancy pants dessert making to I Am Baker.

But a Surprise Inside Meatball? Well, that’s right up alley. 

I mean, what could be better than diving into a big, delicious meatball and discovering that the center is filled with CHEESE? Cheese is the best kind of surprise IMHO, and I’m here to deliver that kind of joy to your life.

This giant meatball recipe is actually modeled after one of my favorite restaurant’s signature appetizers. Here in Columbus, Marcella’s is famous for their giant meatball, which arrives in a deep cast iron crock with a puddle of rich marinara at the bottom.

It’s an appetizer big enough to share but delicious enough to consider hoarding all for yourself.

If you’ve found someone worth sharing with, a Giant Meatball is a pretty great way to express your love this Valentine’s Day. 

Then again, if no one meatball worthy has made their way into your life, make this meatball recipe for yourself and enjoy every last cheesy, savory bite.

Stuffed meatball with mozzarella in the center

What You’ll Need to Make Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

All the standard meatball ingredients are here, with the notable addition of mozzarella for the centers! Mozzarella balls (or bocconcini) are a convenient way to stuff the meatballs, but if you’d like more cheese to meatball ratio, feel free to cut bigger cubes from a loaf of fresh mozzarella.

Alright, gather up the following ingredients, and let’s make some meatballs!

  • Bread crumbs– I prefer using a day old Italian loaf for this
  • Milk– I use 2% because it’s what we keep on hand
  • Ground beef– 85/15 is great for meatballs
  • Eggs
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes– this is optional, but I love a little heat!
  • Fresh parsley
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Onion– I grate mine using this microplane grater, so it just melts into the meatball.
  • Garlic
  • Mozzarella

bowl of ingredients for meatballs

If you want, you can use your favorite marinara sauce to accompany the meatballs. However, this homemade sauce is REALLY good and easy to make. All you need is:

  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Canned crushed tomatoes– Imported Italian tomatoes, like San Marzano are the best!
  • Fresh Basil
  • Sugar- I usually add a very small amount of sugar to my marinara, but sometimes it doesn’t need any at all!
  • Balsamic Vinegar

How to Make Giant Meatballs

  1. Begin by placing the bread (torn into large chunks) in a food processor. Pulse until it’s in fine crumbs. Mix the bread crumbs and milk together and allow to soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. To a large bowl add the beef, eggs, salt, pepper flakes, parsley, Parmesan, onion, and garlic. Stir in the soaked crumbs and use your hands to gently mix all of the ingredients together.
  3. Form the dough into 6 very large meatballs. I’m not kidding when I say these things are huge! Like, size of your face huge! Place the meatballs in a large baking dish.
  4. Use your finger to make a deep indent in the center of each meatball. Stuff with the mozzarella then reshape the meat around it to seal.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the meatballs have a nice browned exterior. They do not have to be 100% cooked, since we’ll be cooking them further in the sauce.

Now for the sauce!

  1. While your meatballs bake, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, basil, sugar, and balsamic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the meatballs to the sauce for the last ten minutes of cooking, turning the meatballs occasionally and ensuring they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees before serving.

giant meatball with parmesan and basil on top

Tips for Making Meatballs

  • Many meatballs call for a variety of meats, but I’ve actually found using all ground beef makes a tender, juicy meatball.
  • Use milk (or even half and half!) to soak the breadcrumbs and add moisture to the meatballs, keeping them tender and soft.
  • Use a light touch when forming the meatballs. A meatball that is too pressed and compact can be tough and rubbery.
  • Taste the mixture before baking! If you’re unsure of the seasoning amounts, simply fry up a piece of meatball in a hot skillet and taste, then adjust salt and seasoning accordingly.
  • Bake the meatballs on a tray with space between each one. Baking will give the meatballs a nice crusty exterior, but if the meatballs are touching they’ll steam rather than brown in those parts.

toasted bread dipping into bowl of marinara sauce and meatballs

What to Serve with Mozzarella Meatballs

You could absolutely go the classic route with these and serve them over a bed of spaghetti, like in my Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs.

However, my favorite way to serve these is with a side of Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread or Rosemary and Olive Oil Focaccia for dunking and sopping up all the delicious marinara sauce. These meatballs really are amazing enough to stand on their own. No pasta needed.

If you’d like to round things out a bit with something green, this Italian Salad from The Modern Proper is amazing, and we also love this Simple Summer Salad and 1905 Salad with Garlic Dressing.

Wondering what wine to pair with beef? Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold and rich wine that pairs well with the robust flavors of beef, including these Mozzarella Meatballs! If you’re looking for something more subtle, a soft Pinot Noir is also a great pairing for this dish.

mozzarella stuffed meatball with marinara

More Valentine’s Day Beef Recipes

It’s no secret beef is our go- to for special occasions! We love breaking out the premium cuts like Ribeye and Tenderloin for romantic date nights at home.

This Cast Iron Ribeye with Mushrooms is a restaurant quality dish that’s made in 30 minutes! Other favorites include Seared Filet Mignon with Caramelized Onions, Beef Short Ribs Recipe, and Braised Beef Ragu.

If you really want to go out, Easy Prime Rib Roast is an absolutely stunning centerpiece, and the flavor can’t be beat!

And of course, we love serving these Giant Meatballs! They are the perfect romantic meal for 2!

Need ideas for desserts, sides, or even breakfast in bed? Check out my collection of Valentine’s Day recipes!

Ohio Beef farmers work tirelessly every single day of the year to care for their livestock and provide safe, nutritious, and affordable beef to families. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and spending time with several Ohio farmers, and their love for their work, their land, and their animals is apparent in every single interaction. Want a peek yourself? Watch this short video to see how the Rittenhouses, beef farmers from New Carlisle, work to get their cows to a nearby pasture, where they can watch over them closely, as a winter storm approaches. You can also visit OhioBeef.org for more recipes and information about beef farming!

Stuffed meatball with mozzarella in the center

Giant Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

These Giant Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs are perfect for sharing! Serve them as a romantic dinner for two or fun appetizer.

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 2 cups bread crumbs (from about 1/4 loaf of stale Italian bread)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 3 cloves grated garlic
  • 6 mini mozzarella balls

For the marinara sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

For the meatballs:

  1. Begin by placing the bread (torn into large chunks) in a food processor. Pulse until it's in fine crumbs. Mix the bread crumbs and milk together and allow to soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. To a large bowl add the beef, eggs, salt, pepper flakes, parsley, Parmesan, onion, and garlic. Stir in the soaked crumbs and use your hands to gently mix all of the ingredients together.
  3. Form the dough into 6 very large meatballs. Place the meatballs in a large baking dish.
  4. Use your finger to make a deep indent in the center of each meatball. Stuff with the mozzarella then reshape the meat around it to seal.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the meatballs have a nice browned exterior. They do not have to be 100% cooked, since we'll be cooking them further in the sauce.


For the sauce:

  1. While the meatballs bake, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, basil, sugar, and balsamic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the meatballs to the sauce for the last ten minutes of cooking, turning the meatballs occasionally and ensuring they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees before serving.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 434Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 996mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 32g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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7 Comments

  1. This is my favorite Meatball recipe. I’ve made it once, now I’m making it a second time. Family wants me to bring them to family functions. Thanks for putting this up! I highly recommend it. You’ll never make meatballs any other way after this (we added some fresh basil to our balls)

  2. Tired of the same old spaghetti and meatballs. I made giant meatballs and stuffed each one with mozzarella ball. I peeled and diced an eggplant whil the meatballs and sauce was cooking. Then I breaded the eggplant cubes and fried them.
    I put the sauce on the bottom of a soup/pasta bowl, put 3 of the meatballs in the middle (my guys are big eaters. I only had 1 meatball). Then scattered the fried eggplant around the meatballs, sprinkled grated parm over it all, then served it with a Caesar Salad. It was a huge hit. None of them missed the pasta. I’ll be making this again. It was delicious!

  3. THIS IS AMAZING!!! Omg this is the comfort food I needed today. I didn’t have mozz balls so I used the kids string cheese…lol. I also used ground moose meat and ground beef mixed together and it gave it a Smokey taste. Super good. Thank you for this amazing recipe!!❤️

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