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Bowl of Italian Meatballs in red sauce with parmesan orzo and fresh oregano leaves on top.

Italian Meatballs Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Erin Jensen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner/Entree
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian-Inspired


Saucy Italian Meatballs + Parmesan Orzo is the BEST bowl of comfort food! Juicy and delicious meatballs in red sauce with creamy orzo!



Saucy Italian Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 heaping teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, grated
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs (regular or gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 24 oz marinara sauce
  • 15oz can diced tomatoes

Parmesan Orzo

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • reserved pasta water


  • additional grated parmesan cheese
  • dollop of basil pesto
  • chopped fresh basil
  • fresh oregano leaves
  • fresh parsley
  • grilled bread


Saucy Italian Meatballs

  1. Combine ground beef, ground pork, Italian seasoning, lemon zest, grated onion, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine. 
  2. Take approx. 2 tablespoons of the meatball mixture at a time and form into a meatball. Set aside on a plate until all the meatballs are formed. 
  3. Bring a 12 inch cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Add butter and let melt; swirl to coat the pan. Add meatballs and sear on all sides. Add marinara sauce and diced tomatoes. Cover and let simmer 15 minutes.

Parmesan Orzo

  1. Meanwhile, add chicken broth and water to a medium-saucepan. 
  2. Cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Add orzo and let simmer, uncovered, 8-10 minutes or until cooked al dente. 
  4. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
  5. Drain and return orzo to the pan but remove from heat. 
  6. Add butter, salt, pepper, a little lemon zest and cheese. Gently stir to combine – the cheese will take a minute to fully melt. Add splashes of the reserved pasta water to thin out and make the consistency more creamy. 
  7. Taste and add any additional salt, pepper, or lemon zest. 

Build Your Bowl

  1. Place your desired amount of Parmesan Orzo in each bowl along with some Italian Meatballs and plenty of sauce (when that sauce combines with the creamy Parmesan Orzo … it’s sooo good)! Garnish with additional grated parmesan cheese, maybe a dollop of basil pesto or just some fresh basil leaves! Serve with Grilled Bread for the ultimate dinner! 


  • Parmesan Orzo: of course feel free to skip the Parmesan Orzo if you need to and just serve with pasta (regular or gluten-free) – you could also serve with some zoodles if you wanted!
  • Serving: love serving this with some Air Fryer Broccolini, Steamed Broccoli or Grilled Asparagus!
  • Storage: store leftover meatballs and orzo separately (otherwise the orzo will soak up the sauce and get mushy) – store both in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 


  • Serving Size: 6oz
  • Calories: 857
  • Sugar: 35.4 g
  • Sodium: 4153.6 mg
  • Fat: 35 g
  • Carbohydrates: 81.7 g
  • Protein: 51.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 165.4 mg