Beef and Ricotta Meatballs

Creamy ricotta adds moisture and keeps these meatballs on the lighter side.

Beef and Ricotta Meatballs - The Lemon Bowl

When I was little, I always wanted to be that iconic Italian mother in the kitchen who spent her days stirring a pot of something delicious.  My family is full of loud and crazy women who know their way around the kitchen but you’re more likely to find Stuffed Grape Leaves, Syrian Salad or Meat Pies than lasagna or raviolis.

Meatballs Ready for Oven - The Lemon Bowl

As fate would have it, I married an Italian man and gained a last name as Italian as it gets: Della Croce.  (Yes, we were married by my Rabbi but that’s beside the point.)  Now that we have a son who has Italian blood, I feel it is my maternal duty to make meatballs at least once a month.

Today’s version is inspired by Chef Michael Symon who shared his mother’s famous recipe on an episode of The Chew. (As Sheila can attest, I have a slight Chef Symon obsession. That man can zest a lemon like no other I’ve seen.)

My version is lightened up with lean sirloin and part skim ricotta but you are welcome to go all out and use a pork/beef mixture and full fat ricotta.

Your fork is waiting.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Beef and Ricotta Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Creamy ricotta adds moisture and keeps these meatballs on the lighter side.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 16 oz ground sirloin (90% lean)
  • ⅔ cup part-skim ricotta
  • ⅓ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 egg whites - whisked
  • 1 garlic clove - grated
  • ¼ cup minced parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspooon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and spray a foil-lined baking sheet with non-stick spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl. combine beef with ricotta, parmesan, egg whites, garlic, parsley, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Be careful not to over-mix - that causes dense, dry meatballs.
  3. Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, scoop out the meat mixture and roll into balls and place in an even layer on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned. Add to pasta sauce of choice and serve over whole wheat spaghetti.
Note: Serving size will vary depending on the size of your meatballs. If you're watching calories, divide the meat mixture in four and make sure you only eat ¼ of the total mixture.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 6 meatballs Calories: 298 Fat: 17.9 g Saturated fat: 8.8 g Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 3.5 g Sugar: 1.5 g Sodium: 587 mg Fiber: .1 g Protein: 31.4 g Cholesterol: 106 mg


  1. says

    I am really into making meatballs and freezing them for my son now! It is so easy for busy weeknights or lunches. These looks delicious. I love the ricotta in them! Do these freeze well do you know?

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      Yes they freeze VERY well!! Great idea to make them for your son – I need to do the same next time because he literally ate 5 in about 2 minutes – lol.

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      It’s funny – I think I prefer turkey meatballs over beef but I also crave beef every now and again so I like to switch it up! Let me know what you think!

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      Same thing with me – I rarely make them but every time I do my husband wants to marry me all over again. :-)

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      I am not a *huge* fan of plain ricotta but you truly don’t taste it in these meatballs. Mostly they are used to add moisture and an airy texture. It’s sort of like baking with yogurt which we both love doing. Try them! :-)

  2. says

    You know, I’ve never thought to add ricotta to a meatball. I was reading on Real Foods Real Deals about how to make my own ricotta, so I’m game to have some on hand, but it never occurred to me to use them inside a meatball. I’m sure they’d taste delicious.


  3. says

    I wish I had an Italian grandma that would come over every single Sunday and make sauce. It would simmer away all day and make my house smell amazing. That way I could just sit back and reap the rewards. I love this lightened up version of a classic.

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      It’s funny you say that – when I made this I wanted to freeze some for sandwiches but of course there were none left. 😉

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      Please let me know if you do – we were surprised with how great the texture turned out thanks to the ricotta!

  4. Shannon says

    I made these last night for me & my hubby… I was not impressed!

    The meatballs shaped up well & cooked perfectly in the time stated & looked pretty, but as far as taste goes, there was a lot left to be desired! They didn’t really have ANY flavor & turned out dry. Luckily, the bought sauce I put over them made them edible, but I will not be wasting a pound of meat on this recipe again. 😐

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      Hi Shannon: I am so sorry to hear you and your family did not enjoy these meatballs. My husband (the pickiest eater I know!) and 17 month old son both devoured these so they are usually my indication. Regardless, I appreciate your candid feedback and again apologize. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

  5. says

    These are the best meatballs ever, Liz! Thanks so much for sharing your fab recipe. The ricotta cheese is such a great addition. These meatballs are so moist and flavorful!!! My husband and I both agreed that we don’t need to look any further for our go-to meatball recipe. I can’t wait to make them again… I even have some leftover pasta sauce in the freezer. I like to plan ahead like that. :)

  6. Alice says

    Made these, they were delicious but they completely fell apart. Perhaps because I used whole milk ricotta which I already had. Next time ill use the skim.

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      Oh no – I’m sorry they feel apart on you!! If your meat mixture seems a little too loose you can always add more breadcrumbs. I’ve never tried them with whole milk ricotta but I’m surprised that made a difference. Sorry again!

  7. barbara says

    I absolutely love ricotta and will definitely be making these. Just wondering about the nutmeg. Do you taste it? was wondering if I could leave it out as I’m not sure I would like the taste in a meatball.


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