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Oh my gosh, you guys look.

Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvest

I made a meal my oldest brother would LOVE.

Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvestSimple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvest

When my brother comes to visit around the holidays, I always try to make the food he loves, but the rest of the year, I never make the type food he is into. My more usual fare has too many weird flavors, too many green things and never, EVER, enough beef.

BUT today I nailed it. Meatballs + pasta = Creighton food for sure. I only wish I could actually give him some to eat. I guess I will be making these around Thanksgiving… or Christmas, which kind of fits, seeing as the primary colors here are red and green.

Ok, sorry, no Christmas talk, but what about Halloween, can we talk about that yet?? This year I am more excited than most. I don’t know why, it’s not like I have crazy fun plans…or really any plans, but I don’t know. I think I am just SO happy that I have NO barn stuff to deal with this fall. Last year was beyond stressful, so this year I really want to do all the fun holiday things, and that means getting way too excited for Halloween!

Please tell me you guys are with me on this? Like can we just please pretend to be young kids and embrace that spirit that’s still alive within us somewhere?? Yes. <–DO IT.

Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvest

And speaking of Halloween. I think this would be a pretty amazing pre trick or treating dinner… or in our family’s case, an after trick or treating dinner (my family doesn’t do anything EARLY!). It’s just such an easy, hearty, and of course, totally cozy, meal. A great way to both start and finish the month….you know, tomorrow is October first after all!

So here’s the deal. Aside from Creighton, no else is very big on meatballs. The idea of ground beef rolled into a ball just isn’t our thing, BUT, I found a way to make it our thing. Instead of ground beef, I really love using spicy Italian sausage. It just adds SO much flavor and the meatballs never come out dry. Another little secret of mine? Wet bread.

Yup, wet pieces of white or whole grain bread. I learned this trick from my grandma, who learned it from her mom. Both my grandmas make an amazing meatloaf. It’s probably my brother Creighton’s favorite meal. I have been saying for SO long now that I am going to make a meatloaf, but I just haven’t gotten the chance yet. I’m pretty sure my grandma has told me how to make it like five time now, and I still have yet to actually muster up the courage to try it out.

I think I’m kind of afraid to. I mean, you hear all these horror stories about meatloaf, bland, dry and tasteless meatloaf. Eeww! Who want’s that? Plus, most of the food I make, I make for the blog, and well I’m kind of scared to make meatloaf, and even more than a little horrified to photograph it.


Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvestSimple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvest

My point? If there’s one thing I have taken away from my grandma’s instructions on how to make her meatloaf, it’s that wetting your bread prior to mixing it with the meat is KEY for moisture. Trust me, the first time she told me this I literally said, “wait, what?”.  I had just never heard of actually putting bread under running water and squeezing out the excess water, seems weird, right?

Kind of, but it works, and it works really well. I used this same method for making my meatballs, and they turned out SO good! I do believe it’s all because of the bread. It’s magic guys!!

Ok and maybe all that oregano and sausage in there helps a little too!

Now let me tell you the bestest part about this dinner. It requires almost no effort. You mix your meatballs together, roll them into balls, place them in a baking dish, bake for a little, add your tomato sauce, add your cheese (and then a little more), bake a little longer, and… DONE. Yep, and only one pan – no frying the meatballs, no completely messy stove top and no broken, crumbly meatballs. Prayers answered, right?!?

And um, then – just add pasta!!

Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvest

Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvest

Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvest

Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories Per Serving: 553 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.


  • 1 pound ground spicy Italian Sausage may use ground beef if preferred
  • 2 slices thick soft whole grain or white bread
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano chopped OR 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses may use regular molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Gochujang Korean chile paste, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 1 (28 ounce) can san marzano tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 2 tablespoons harissa optional
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced
  • 4 ounce provolone shredded
  • pasta for serving


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with olive oil.
  • Add the ground sausage to a mixing bowl. Take the bread and run it under water until dampened, but not soaked. Gently squeeze the excess water out of the the bread and then crumble the dampened bread into pieces and add to the bowl with the sausage. To the bowl, add the egg, oregano, cumin molasses and Gochujang. Coat your hands with a bit of olive oil, and roll the meat into 2 tablespoon size balls (will make 10-12 meatballs). Place the meat balls in the prepared baking dish and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are crisp on the outside, but not yet cooked through on the inside.
  • While the meatballs are baking, combine the olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, harissa (if using) and a pinch of salt + pepper in a bowl. Once the meatballs are ready, pour the sauce over them. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes longer or until the meatballs are cooked through. Remove the foil and add the cheese. Place back in the oven until the mozzarella and provolone cheese are melted and golden, about 10 minutes. Serve with fresh oregano and your favorite pasta!


*Gochujang (Korean chile paste) may seem odd in this recipe but it adds a great unique flavor and if you have some, give it a try!
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Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvest

Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs = Happiness!

Simple Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs | @hbharvest

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  1. 5 stars
    I have never, ever been a fan of meatballs. Seemed to me they tasted of fillers and not meat. But it’s frigid here today and a sheet of ice —my husband was craving meatballs and insisting he would be happy to make them. I dutifully searched your site and was intrigued by the seasoning combination so we made them together while I wondered if these would be different. My gosh. These meatballs on simple plain pasta was one of the best meals we’ve had since the holidays. You’re a seasoning wizard—the combination of spices in the meatballs and the sauce was so unexpected but it was perfect. I consider myself an experienced cook and good with seasoning but these were next level.

  2. 5 stars
    I love this recipe and make it keto/low carb by subbing bread with pork rinds and use edamame spaghetti noodles. Soooo good.😋

  3. 5 stars
    Made this tonight, and it was a big hit with my family. Tweaked due to husband’s T2D. Used panko pork and grated parm as binder and served over zucchini noodles. Used turkey Italian Sausage and subbed Calabrian chile paste for harissa and gochujang because that is what I had. Whole fam loved it. Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    This will become my “go-to” recipe for meatballs! I excluded the Gochujang and harissa and worried about the flavor. But they turned out beautifully! We had to make ourselves stop eating them!

    1. Hi Barb,
      Happy Monday!!🇺🇸😎 I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear it was a winner! xT

  5. 5 stars
    Made these for supper! They were amazing my husband kept saying it was s the best meatball he has ever ate… better than at any restaurant…

    They were amazing

    1. Hi Ashley,
      Fantastic!! I appreciate you making this recipe and your comment, love to hear that it turned out well for you!🍒🥭

  6. 5 stars
    i just used sambal oelek in my meatballs, and it worked well. This recipe was so so sooo easy and the first time i’ve been successful with meatballs! another one being added to my cookbook!

    1. Hey Rose,
      Happy Monday!! I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad it turned out well for you:)

  7. 5 stars
    Sooo good! I didn’t have the right cheese so used ricotta and Brie, lol, but will definitely make this again, and have the right ones, next time. I could drink that sauce. Loved the meatballs and they were so moist and tender….wet bread, who knew? I appreciate you and thank you for sharing your culinary expertise!

    1. Hey Paula,
      Happy Wednesday! ❄️ I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear it turned out well for you! xT

  8. 5 stars
    I found your book in a mountain Airbnb in British Columbia we stayed at over New Years. I fell in love with your content, and I can’t wait to get all your books and get cooking. I was intrigued with this recipe and made it last night and followed your recipe word for word. The only change was I served it with spaghetti squash. WOW! These were amazing. Even though there are some different ingredients in this dish, none of them are overpowering. They all just work together to make the most flavorful meatball and sauce. Amazing the next day for lunch too.

    1. Hey Kelli,
      Happy Friday!! I appreciate you trying this recipe and sharing your review, so glad to hear it was a hit! Thanks so much for your kind message and making so many recipes!⛄️ xT

    1. Hi Elisa,
      For this recipe, you will want to use ground cumin. Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope this turns out well for you! xx

    1. Hey Betsy,
      Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your review! Love to hear that it was enjoyed! Happy Sunday!🎄

  9. 5 stars
    This was delicious! The meatballs were incredible, I used my own tomato sauce that I made with garden tomatoes but want to try your harissa infused recipe too. Family raved and everyone was happy.

    1. Hey Sheila,
      Happy Monday!! I am delighted to hear that this recipe was tasty for you! Thanks for making it:) xx

  10. Had to try this because of the unusual ingredients. Made these with half beef and sausage. These cooked thoroughly within fifteen minutes in my oven which is gas! I cooked at 445 degrees- this when I poured sauce over the garlic didn’t cook enough in the sauce.of course I couldn’t cook at 25 minutes more at that point. Baked with sauce additional 10 minutes. Perhaps quick sautee garlic first?

    1. Hi donna,
      Thanks for giving the recipe a try! Sure, you could sauté the garlic first:) Let me know if you have any other questions! xx