Skip the slow cooker and make this hearty Italian meatball appetizer on your stove top in less than 30 minutes. It's easy to make, packed full of flavor, and perfect for game day.
- Ingredients for Stove Top Italian meatballs
- How to Make Skillet Italian Meatballs Appetizer
- Make Homemade Frozen Meatballs
- Looking for More Hearty Appetizer Recipes?
- Make Italian Meatballs Ahead of Time
- Drink Pairings for Saucy Italian Meatballs
- Print the Recipe Card
- Stove Top Italian Meatballs Appetizer in Sauce
I'm not a big fan of the grape jelly/chili sauce meatball recipes, so I'm always trying to come up with different delicious ways to make and serve meatballs. Especially since they're a popular request at family gatherings.
Saucy and cheesy, this easy appetizer can double as dinner on a busy weeknight. Just add a side salad and you're good to go! You can also use this recipe as a base for meatball subs. Choose large meatballs and scoop everything into a sub bun for serving.
Meatballs are my favorite way to get food on the table quickly - whether its for a last minute gathering or weekday dinner. Any type or size meatball will work in this easy recipe, so choose your favorite. As an appetizer for a larger group, cocktail meatballs work best. If you're making these easy skillet meatballs as a meal, choose larger meatballs.
Ingredients for Stove Top Italian meatballs
- Marinara sauce - Choose your favorite sauce. A jar from the store works great here, or you can make your own homemade tomato sauce for this recipe.
- Balsamic vinegar - Adds a depth of flavor and a bit of sweetness to the sauce.
- Dried basil and oregano - Two herbs to always have on hand, these give the tomato sauce a bit more flavor.
- Garlic powder and onion powder - My favorite two pantry staples that go into most of my savory dishes. These add great flavor without overpowering the sauce or adding in the texture of fresh garlic and onions.
- Frozen meatballs - Pick up a bag from the store, or make and freeze homemade meatballs with my large batch meatball recipe. Traditional ground beef meatballs, turkey meatballs, and chicken meatballs all work great in this recipe.
- Whole mozzarella cheese - Choose fresh mozzarella from the deli section of your grocery store for this recipe. If you can’t find it or don’t have any on hand, shredded mozzarella cheese will work well too.
- French bread (for serving) - You’re going to want some fresh bread for dipping into this cheesy sauce. I love using a fresh loaf of French bread or ciabatta bread, but any good quality fresh bread would be delicious. You could also use garlic bread if you prefer.
- Fresh basil (garnish) - Completely optional but delicious when finely chopped and sprinkled on top of the finished dish.
How to Make Skillet Italian Meatballs Appetizer
Combine marinara sauce, dried basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and balsamic vinegar in a high sided, large skillet over medium heat.
Cook until the mixture begins to bubble.
Add the frozen meatballs into the simmering sauce. Stir to combine.
Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes or until meatballs are thawed and heated through, stirring occasionally.
Remove lid and layer thin slices of mozzarella cheese over meatballs and sauce.
Cover again and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Top with finely chopped, fresh basil if desired. Serve immediately with French bread for dipping.
Make Homemade Frozen Meatballs
Keeping a bag of meatballs in the freezer is one of my favorite meal time hacks. My large batch homemade meatballs are made with a mixture of ground beef and ground pork for extra flavor and juiciness.
This recipe for baked meatballs makes enough for several meals and freezes perfectly. Make these flavorful meatballs whenever you have time to keep your freezer stocked with an easy, go-to meal solution. I love using them in this recipe and in my 15 minute stovetop barbecue meatballs.
Make Italian Meatballs Ahead of Time
Planning to make this stove top Italian Meatballs Appetizer for a crowd? Save yourself time and make it a day or two ahead of your party.
Follow the recipe until the meatballs are heated through. Stop here, cool the meatballs and sauce and store the mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you're ready to serve them, simply place everything back into a skillet to reheat, add the cheese to melt, and serve hot.
Drink Pairings for Saucy Italian Meatballs
Light and slightly tart drinks pair best with these stove top meatballs in marinara sauce. Try one of these refreshing sips: