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Overhead shot of meatballs in tomato sauce

Sicilian-Style Meatballs

Sicilian-Style Meatballs are a unique take on a classic Italian meatball - they're studded with pine nuts and currants, bringing the North African influence into these flavorful, texture-packed meatballs. They're incredibly simple to make - from the meatballs themselves, to the no-fuss, garlicky tomato sauce. These meatballs are absolutely wonderful, especially when served with a crusty baguette, and a nice glass of red wine!

Course Appetizer, Beef, Dinner, Main, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword chicken meatball recipe, easy italian meatballs, homemade meatball recipe, homemade meatballs, italian meatball recipe, italian meatballs, meatballs with pine nuts, meatballs with raisins, old school italian meatball recipe, sicilian meatballs, sicilian style meatballs
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 6
Author Molly | Spices in My DNA

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 2 slices white bread, crust removed
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef*
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1/3 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (for frying)

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Begin by placing the white bread in a bowl. Cover with the milk - ensuring that all of the bread is moistened by the milk. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes while you get the rest of the ingredients together.

  2. Place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Add the soaked bread (crumble it between your fingers into very small pieces to ensure it gets evenly incorporated), eggs, garlic, parsley, oregano, parmesan cheese, currants, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, salt, allspice, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Work the meat together with your hands, making sure all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Be careful to not overwork your meat - or else you can end up with tough, dry meatballs! Form the meat into golf ball-sized meatballs - you should get 20-22 meatballs total.

  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the meatballs in batches, cooking for about 2 minutes per side, 4-5 minutes total, rolling them around on all sides for even cooking, until golden brown on the outside. Transfer meatballs to a rimmed baking sheet or plate.

  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds - 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salt. Stir to combine. Cover and bring sauce to a simmer. Once simmering, add the meatballs, gently stirring them into the sauce. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes. An hour or longer is even better!

  5. Season to taste the sauce with additional salt if needed. Serve meatballs with freshly grated parm, a baguette, pasta, or whatever you wish!

Recipe Notes

*I like to use 80/20 or 85/15 ground beef for these meatballs for optimal flavor and texture.
*These meatballs freeze beautifully for up to 3 months.