should meatballs be fried before putting in sauce

Bobby Flay’s famous Italian Meatball Recipe has a 3-meat combo that you can make on the stove top or in the Crock Pot. Simmer the meatballs in his homemade marinara sauce and serve with spaghetti or in a sub!

There are thousands of meatball recipes out there, I know. But this recipe is one that stands out to me the most with the 3-meat combo, Parmesan cheese, and homemade marinara sauce.

The cooking method is also perfect. It leaves you with super flavorful meatballs that hold their shape but are also super tender.

Yes. You can fry or bake the meatballs before letting them simmer in the tomato sauce.
should meatballs be fried before putting in sauce

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How to Freeze Meatballs

Meatballs freeze well and can be frozen before or after they’ve cooked in sauce.

  • Place the uncooked rolled meatballs on a plate and flash freeze them 30 minutes. This will prevent them from sticking together.
  • Store them in a freezer bag or airtight container in the freezer for 3-4 months.
  • When you’re ready to cook them, add the frozen meatballs to marinara sauce and let them simmer until they’re cooked through, about 80 minutes.
  • Place them in an airtight container along with some sauce. Let it cool completely.
  • Freeze for 3-4 months.
  • Defrost in the microwave and reheat on the stove until heated through.

I like to prepare these meatballs 1 day ahead of time:

  • Brown the outside of the meatballs in a cast iron skillet with oil. (This is optional, but creates a nice texture on the outside.)
  • Let them cool and refrigerate them in an airtight freezer bag until ready to serve. Note: Do not eat until you have finished cooking them in the Slow Cooker or Stove Top.

Stove Top:

  • Please the meatballs in a large saucepan and cover them with marinara sauce.
  • Heat simmer over medium-low heat for 55 minutes, with the lid cracker slightly.

Slow Cooker:

  • Cover them with sauce.
  • Heat them on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • If the sauce begins to bubble, decrease the heat to warm.


  • Cooked meatballs should be stored in an airtight container and will remain good for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.


  • Meatballs maintain their best quality for the first 3-4 months in the freezer, but can still be cooked and eaten after that time.

No time for homemade sauce? Rao’s Homemade Marinara is always my sauce of choice for that. (Worth every penny.)

Cook meatballs raw in the sauce or brown them first??


Should I fry my meatballs before putting in sauce?

You can brown the uncooked meatballs in a sauté pan before adding them to the sauce. You can brown them in the oven. Or you can skip browning altogether and put the raw meatballs straight into the sauce to cook.

Is it better to cook or fry meatballs?

Baking will result in meatballs with a crunchy exterior, though the caramelisation achieved from frying will be superior. Baked meatballs take the least amount of effort, as you’ll only need to turn them once or twice throughout the cook and you can make a larger batch at once.

Should you cook meatballs before adding sauce?

It is a matter of personal preference, but it is generally recommended to cook the meatballs before adding them to the sauce. This ensures that they retain their shape and texture. You can either bake or fry the meatballs until they are browned on the outside before simmering them in the sauce. How can I make the sauce for meatballs?

How do you make a fried meatball?

INGREDIENTS: In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, breadcrumbs, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, garlic, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix until just combined. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls. In a large skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium-high. Working in batches, fry the meatballs until browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes.

How long do you cook fried meatballs?

In a large skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium-high. Working in batches, fry the meatballs until browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. In a large pot, heat the crushed tomatoes over medium. Carefully add the fried meatballs to the sauce. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

How do you cook meatballs without sauce?

Portion out meatballs as directed above and fry in a thin layer of olive oil on both sides until browned evenly. Again, you don’t want to fully cook them in the center if you are finishing them off in the sauce. If you are serving them without sauce, be sure to cook them all the way through!

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