A16 Meatballs

a16 meatballs

We’ve gone through quite a few meatball recipes and wanted to share what we think is the best traditional meatball recipe ever. A16 is known for their meatballs, so before we moved to San Francisco we purchased the A16 Food + Wine book. The A16 meatball recipe has been our go-to ever since.

The A16 Food + Wine book has an extensive discussion on southern Italian wines written by our friend Kate Leahy, Shelley Lindgren, and Nate Appleman. The cookbook has some of our other favorite recipes like ricotta gnocchi, ragu, and grilled shrimp with Meyer lemon. It’s also full of extra technique tips.


a16 meatballs


If you can, we recommend that you work with your butcher to have them freshly grind the pork, pork fat, and beef mixture together. Olivier’s Butchery does a fantastic job with this, but be sure to call ahead. We usually substitute extra pork fat for prosciutto, but I’m sure it would be a delicious addition. We also like to double the recipe so we can freeze some and pull them out for an easy dinner.

We prefer to use Microplane graters when finishing our dishes with Grana Padano. They are extremely sharp and last a long time. You can find some of our favorites here and here.

Rolling meatballs is a great way to get your children in the kitchen. Last week our friend Stacy was in town with her 2-year old son and her mom Jeanie. He had a ball rolling the meatballs!

If you can stand waiting, these are always better the next day and they freeze well!


A16 Meatballs
  • 10 oz pork shoulder, ground
  • 10 oz beef chuck, ground
  • 4 oz pork fat, ground
  • 6 oz day-old country bread (or panko breadcrumbs), ground or finely chopped
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • ⅔ cup fresh ricotta, drained
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1-28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Grana Padano
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare large baking sheet with olive oil.
  2. Combine pork, beef, bread, pork fat, parsley, 1 tablespoon salt, oregano, fennel seeds, and chili flakes with your hands in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, just combine ricotta, eggs, and milk. Combine this mixture into the meat mixture until just incorporated. Do not overwork.
  4. Form 1½ inch balls and place on the baking sheet or a roasting pan. You should have about 30 meatballs.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the meatballs are browned. Rotate the pan if needed for even browning.
  6. Mix remaining salt with the tomatoes.
  7. Take the pan out and lower the temperature to 300F.
  8. You can use the same pan or put them into a roasting pan, cover tomatoes and a tight layer of foil.
  9. Braise for 1 to 1½ hours or until the meatballs are tender and have absorbed some of the sauce.
  10. Remove pan and distribute the basil leaves into the sauce.
  11. Serve topped with Grana Padang and olive oil to finish.
The original recipe calls for 2 oz pork fat and 2 oz prosciutto.


1 Comment

  1. The recipe doesn’t show oregano in the ingredient list. How much do I need?

    And I’m sitting on the breadcrumbs but recipe doesn’t say when to add them! Into meat first? Or when I combine with the eggs&ricotta?

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