How to Cook Frozen Meatballs on the Stove

Frozen meatballs can be a lifesaver when you need to throw a quick and delicious dinner together. Whether you bought your frozen meatballs at the supermarket or made a batch of your own and have leftover meatballs, this is how you should cook them.

If you are making frozen Italian meatballs and are wondering how to cook them on the stove, I have a pretty easy and delicious method. I’ve made a lot of meatballs at the restaurant and for catering jobs lately. I’ve also made a lot of frozen meatballs that I’ve shipped all over the country. People tell me they are the best-frozen meatballs around.

Allowing your meatballs to cook on the stove in a simmering sauce is a great way to flavor the meatballs and the sauce. Whether you are cooking your own meatballs or you bought them, you’ll end up with the most tender meatballs. As they simmer, they will soak up so much of that delicious tomato sauce. If you want really flavorful meatballs, make sure you use a good homemade tomato sauce or a quality red sauce from the grocery store.

Meatballs are ready when the internal temperature of the meatballs is 165 degrees F. You can test the temperature of the meatballs by putting an instant-read thermometer into the center of the meatball. A meat thermometer is the most accurate way to check the temperature, but if you cook them long enough you’ll know when they are done.

There are so many different ways to cook frozen meatballs.

You can cook them in an air fryer which is an easy cooking method.

You can line a baking sheet or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lay the frozen meatballs in a single layer.

You can bake frozen meatballs in a pan with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. With a really nice homemade marinara sauce, you can’t go wrong.

If you want to know how to cook frozen meatballs on the stove, this is a great way to do it. I am going to give you a recipe on how to cook frozen meatballs directly in a large pot of tomato sauce. This is an easy frozen meatball recipe that will create a beautiful rich sauce.

I’m not saying it’s the best way to cook meatballs, but if you want to make some good frozen meatballs, this is good.

This is a great recipe to make some delicious meatballs on a busy weeknight or long Sunday afternoon. It might even become one of your favorite meatball recipes.

Frozen Meatballs Cooked on The Stove – The Main Ingredients

If you have your frozen meatballs and tomato sauce, you’re ready to go. You can make your own pasta sauce with your favorite recipe or buy some good spaghetti sauce at the grocery store.

If you want to make a big batch of meatballs and freeze them, here are some necessary ingredients from one of my favorite meatball recipes.

What You Need to Make Your Own Homemade Frozen Meatballs

My personal meatball recipe has the following ingredients.

Ground beef and ground pork: they make a perfect meat mixture. You can use just beef, if you want, but the pork adds a lot of flavor. Also, choose a ground beef mix that has at least 20% fat content.

Garlic, parsley, and seasoning: always prefer fresh alternatives to dried products. I like using garlic cloves and flat-leaf Italian parsley, both finely chopped. For the seasoning, I just use Kosher salt and ground black pepper.

Pecorino romano or parmesan cheese: some people have been asking which is the best grated cheese for meatballs in the comment section of our post about pecorino vs parmigiano. The truth is that they’re both perfect, as long as you pick high-quality products. Pecorino will give you saltier, spicier meatballs, while parmesan will give them a nuttier flavor.

Breadcrumbs: I actually use small cubes of Roman pizza bianca soaked in milk. But unless you are making pizza on a daily basis, this method takes too much time. So, you can simply go with store-bought breadcrumbs. Your meatballs will be delicious anyway.

Eggs: as a rule of thumb, I usually go with one large egg for every pound of meat. If you or some of your guests have an allergy, check my post on how to make eggless meatballs.

ingredients for frozen meatballs

What You Need To Make a Homemade Tomato Sauce

Italian-style meatballs need a great tomato sauce. You can either make your own tomato sauce or buy a good quality tomato sauce at the supermarket. If you choose to make it yourself, you will need the following ingredients:

  • canned crushed tomatoes or tomato puree;
  • garlic;
  • a white or yellow onion, diced;
  • extra-virgin olive oil;
  • fresh basil;
  • Kosher salt and black pepper.

If you don’t want to make your own sauce, you can try my homemade marinara sauce. I make it with my own hands everyday, using only high-quality, fresh ingredients.

How to Make Your Homemade Frozen Meatballs

I’ve posted a lot of recipes in our Meatballs Archives lately. You can follow the link and check them out, if you want. The basis is always the same:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. I mean a very large mixing bowl. You want enough room to really work all of the ingredients together.
  2. Form your meatballs with a 2-ounce cookie scoop. You can vary the size of the meatballs depending on your taste. However, I think that the perfect meatballs are the size of a golf ball.
  3. Put the raw meatballs on a baking sheet, making sure they have enough space.

At this point, I would usually tell you to bake them at either 350, 400, or 425 degrees. This time, however, you’re going to freeze them, so the method is different.

After you’ve put the meatballs on the baking sheet, leave them in the freezer for 4-6 hours until they are completely frozen. Once they are, place them in a zip lock bag or airtight container and put them back in the freezer until you are ready to use them.

How To Cook Your Frozen Meatballs in Sauce

In a large skillet or large pot, heat some tomato sauce on the stove top. I usually start it out on medium-high heat and add my raw meatballs to the pan. When the sauce comes to a boil, I lower the stove to medium-low heat and let the meatballs cook slowly.

heating tomato sauce before cooking frozen meatballs

The meatballs will be completely cooked in about 30 minutes, but the cooking time can be longer. Allowing the meatballs to simmer in the sauce for a long time will give you a really nice sauce that you can use to toss with your pasta.

cooking frozen meatballs on a stove in tomato sauce

Like I always say, use your sauce of choice. If you decide to make your own tomato sauce all you need is a little bit of olive oil, garlic and crushed tomatoes or tomato puree. Some people like to add tomato paste, but I usually don’t. Add some salt, pepper and your favorite herbs. Fresh herbs are recommended. I like fresh basil in my tomato sauce.

Make your sauce in a dutch oven, large sautè pan or frying pan and you have easy skillet meatballs.

Always add some extra grated parmesan cheese to the sauce and give your meatballs a good coating of the tomato sauce and cheese.


Can I freeze my meatballs in sauce?

Yes. You can make a double batch of meatballs and freeze the leftovers. Put them in an airtight container and place them in the freezer. You’ll be glad you have them when you are in the mood for a meatball sub.

Alternatively, you can take an oven-safe baking dish and add tomato sauce to the bottom. Place your meatballs in a single layer and cover with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese. Cover the meatballs with aluminum foil and place the prepared baking dish in the freezer. When you are ready to eat the meatballs just take them out of the freezer and cook them in the oven.

Can I cook the meatballs before putting them in the sauce?

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

Can I make meatballs with different types of meat?

Yes. This recipe will work with ground turkey and ground chicken. Chicken meatballs and turkey meatballs are a healthy option if you are looking for something with less fat.

Can I use this meatball recipe for meatloaf?

Yes. This meatball recipe will make a delicious meatloaf mix. Instead of forming meatballs, form a loaf and bake it in the oven on a sheet pan or deep baking pan.

How many meatballs should I prepare per person?

How many meatballs you should prepare per person depends on the size of the meatballs. In my experience, after catering many parties over the years, you can average 2-3 meatballs per person if the meatballs weigh about 2 ounces each. If you are making small balls, make enough to give every person 4-6 ounces of meatballs.

Can I use a slow cooker for this recipe?

Yes. If you have a tomato sauce already cooked, you can add it to a slow cooker and place in your uncooked meatballs. You can also add some Italian sausage which go great with meatballs and pasta.

What to Serve with Meatballs Cooked on the Stove in Sauce

Pasta: Boil your favorite pasta shape and toss it with the tomato sauce you cooked the meatballs in.

Side Dish: I like a nice cheesy garlic bread to mop up the sauce on my plate.

Salad: A simple mixed greens salad with a red wine vinaigrette is a good choice.

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How to Cook Frozen Meatballs on the Stove

  • Author: Mortadella Head
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x



12 frozen meatballs

2 quarts of tomato sauce

Or, if you’re making meatballs from scratch:

1 lb ground 80/20 beef 

1 lb of ground pork

5 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic

2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 eggs

1 cup plain bread crumbs

1 cup grated Romano cheese 


To make the meatballs:


  1. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. I like to use my hands because you can really get everything incorporated nicely. 
  2. Form the meatballs with your hands. I try to get the meatballs about the size of a golf ball. I think that size is perfect for soaking up the sauce and staying nice and moist. 
  3. Place the meatballs on a baking dish and freeze them for 4-6 hours. Then, keep ’em in the freezer until you need them.

To cook frozen meatballs:

  1. In a large skillet or pot, heat your tomato sauce on medium-high heat. 
  2. Add your meatballs to the sauce and bring it to a boil. Turn the stove down to medium-low heat and allow the meatballs to simmer for about 30 minutes or longer.
  3. Enjoy!
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Category: Meatballs
  • Method: Cooked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: frozen meatballs, how to cook frozen meatballs on the stove

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