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Spicy Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs

Mini-meatballs with just a bit of a kick are stuffed with mozzarella cheese for a hearty appetizer or comforting dinner on a cold day. 

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 35 meatballs
Author Liz


  • marinara sauce (see note above)
  • cooking spray optional, used for baking meatballs
  • 2 shallots peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained (5-6 sun-dried tomatoes)
  • 1/3 c. packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 c. shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs. 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 4 oz. mozzarella pearls (about half a container)



  1. If baking meatballs, preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside and continue to making and forming meatballs.

  2. If cooking meatballs in marinara sauce, make sure marinara sauce is made and hot, sitting on stove set over low heat.

Make the Meatballs:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped and starting to come together.

  2. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and with clean hands, add beef and pork. Mix together until well combined.

  3. Use a standard ice cream scoop to portion out meatball mixture. For each, gently flatten. Place a mozzarella pearl into the center of each, gently folding the meat around the cheese and forming into a meatball.

Cook the Meatballs:

  1. If baking, meatballs may be placed on prepared baking sheet, about 1/2-inch apart. Bake in preheated oven until meatballs are cooked throughout, 20-30 minutes. Serve hot, with a side of marinara sauce, or over pasta with marinara sauce. Meatballs may also be cooked and then frozen in a single layer (once frozen, transfer to an airtight container for long-term storage) for later use.

  2. If cooking the meatballs in the marinara sauce, place formed meatballs directly in the pot, gently stirring to submerge meatballs in sauce. Meatballs should cook for about 90 minutes. Stir again, and periodically, to ensure all meatballs get cooked throughout, for about 90 minutes more. Serve hot. Meatballs may be frozen in sauce for later use, if desired.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes about 35 meatballs. I'd plan for 2-4 meatballs per person as an appetizer (depending on what else you're serving), and about 5 meatballs as part of a main course - whether it's for sliders or to serve over pasta.