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Baked Mini Meatballs (Polpettini)

Acclaimed Italian cookbook author, Anna Francese Gass, shares the recipe for mini meatballs that are perfect for parties.

baked mini meatballs

Baked Mini Meatballs, or Polpettini, from Anna Francese Gass’ new cookbook, Italian Snacking.

Every Southern Italian household has a meatball recipe; these baked mini meatballs are inspired by my mother's.

One summer, I was hosting a dinner party and wanted something bite-size to serve with pre-dinner cocktails. I decided to change up the old faithful to truly spectacular results.

I took my mother’s recipe but rolled the meatballs very small (polpettini translates to "mini meatballs"), added a crumb coating ("Cheesy Breadcrumbs" of equal parts Pecorino Romano and unseasoned breadcrumbs) and baked them. They are so good and very poppable, making them perfect for parties. Serve polpettini with toothpicks and drinks. Just don’t forget the marinara dipping sauce.

This baked mini meatballs recipe, found in my second cookbook, Italian Snacking — Sweet and Savory Snacks for Every Hour of the Day, makes a lot of meatballs (an estimated 142). Freeze whatever you don’t think you’ll use prior to baking. Store them in zip-top bags in the freezer. They’ll keep for up to one month. I love throwing them into soup or a baked pasta dish as well!

[RELATED: Read The Cookbook Love Letters of Anna Francese Gass]

Buon Appetito!

Baked Mini Meatballs (Polpettini)

Baked Mini Meatballs (Polpettini)

Recipe by Anna Francese Gass
0.0 from 0 votes

142 single

Prep time


Cooking time




  • For the Meatballs
  • 1/2 pound 1/2 ground beef

  • 1/2 pound 1/2 ground pork

  • 1/2 pound 1/2 ground veal

  • 1 tablespoon 1 chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 teaspoons 2 kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon 1 freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 large 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1 cup 1 plain breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 whole milk

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 Gina’s Tomato Sauce, warmed

  • For the Cheesy Breadcrumb Coating
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 grated Pecorino Romano cheese


  • In a large bowl, combine the three meats, the parsley, salt, pepper, eggs, Pecorino, breadcrumbs, and milk and mix with your hands to combine (the hand-mixing helps prevent over-mixing.)
  • Roll into small balls, about 1-1/2 teaspoons each.
  • In a large shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs and Pecorino (cheesy breadcrumbs).
  • Drop the meatballs, a few at a time, into the mixture and rotate the dish in a circular motion to roll the meatballs and coat with the cheesy breadcrumbs.
  • Divide the meatballs among the prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake for 6 minutes.
  • Remove the baking sheets from the oven and gently shimmy the pans to turn the meatballs.
  • Return to the oven and bake for 6 minutes more.
  • Let cool slightly and serve with tomato sauce on the side for dipping.

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