Craving Italian on the griddle? Make these easy flat top grilled meatballs, then serve them on a garlic cheese bread sub roll for an awesome meatball sub sandwich!
Last time I made my Italian sausage and meatball marinara over fried polenta cakes for a YouTube video, I got some slack in the comments section about using frozen store-bought meatballs, so I had to redeem myself!
While packaged pre-made meatballs are nice when you’re running short on time or you’re just feeling a bit lazy, they can’t compare to these homemade meatballs on the griddle. My version is packed with roasted garlic and pecorino romano cheese for an intense Italian flavor that you only get from making them yourself.
Here’s how to do it:
Flat Top Grilled Meatballs Ingredients
- 80/20 ground beef
- ground sausage
- ground mild Italian sausage
- sliced white bread – We actually used a Honey White bread because that’s what we had on hand.
- grated onion
- ricotta cheese
- pecorino romano cheese
- fresh basil
- fresh parsley
- 1 head of roasted garlic – I reserved 4 cloves of the head of roasted garlic for the bread of my meatball sub.
- salt and pepper
How to Make Homemade Italian Meatballs on the Flat Top Grill
These flat top grilled meatballs may seem difficult to make, but just follow these steps and you’ll be enjoying these homemade bites of Italian goodness in no time:
Step 1: Make the meatball mixture.
Start by combining all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. I find it easiest to mix all of the ingredients for meatballs with my hands, but if that grosses you out, feel free to use plastic gloves.
A few notes about the ingredients:
- I used a box grater to grate half an onion for my meatball mixture. I find it quicker and easier than dicing the onion by hand.
- It’s best to leave your bread slices out on the counter overnight before making your meatballs, but it’s not completely necessary.
- Roasting your own garlic adds such a depth of flavor to any flat top grill recipe, and it’s super easy to do. Just remember that it takes a full hour to roast, so prepare accordingly. You can watch this Italian Dinner video on YouTube for how to roast your own garlic in the oven.
- You can substitute fresh grated parmesan cheese for the pecorino romano if you wish.
After your meatball ingredients are well combined, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Roll the meatballs and refrigerate for one hour.
Roll the meatball mixture into balls that are slightly smaller than a golf ball. My meatball recipe below should yield about 40 meatballs.
If your meatballs are too large, they may not cook properly on the flat top grill, or they could burn before being cooked through. Also, I added my meatballs to a meatball sub sandwich, so I didn’t want mine to be too large.
After all of your meatballs are rolled, refrigerate them for at least an hour before cooking them on the griddle. This helps all of the flavors to marry and the egg and bread act as a binder so that your meatballs don’t fall apart on the flat top grill.
Step 3: Cook the Italian meatballs on the preheated flat top grill until cooked through.
When your meatballs are almost done in the refrigerator, you can go ahead and preheat your flat top grill. I grilled my homemade meatballs on the Pit Boss Ultimate Griddle, but any outdoor griddle will do just fine.
Once the griddle is preheated, just put your meatballs on the surface like this:
You’ll notice that I didn’t add any extra oil or butter to my griddle surface. With ground sausage and 80/20 ground beef, these meatballs have plenty of fat, and the non-stick surface of the Pit Boss doesn’t really require any extra oil to prevent sticking in this recipe.
Be sure to not crowd your griddle when cooking the meatballs as well. And you’ll notice that I have a small sauce pan of marinara sauce heating on the flat top grill at this point also.
So, when are your grilled meatballs ready to flip over to the second side?
That depends largely on how hot your griddle is, what the outside temperature is, and how big your meatballs are… But once your meatballs seem to start releasing from the griddle surface, they’re probably ready to flip. When flipping, be sure to use some sort of spatula to “scrape” the crust off the grill and really get under the meatball. Just like when making smash burgers, you don’t want to leave all of that flavor behind on your griddle surface.
You can see here that I was using my Earlywood Wood Spatula, which I love for the non-stick ceramic coated surface of the Pit Boss Ultimate Griddle:
Just continue to cook the meatballs on the second side. After the second side has developed a good crust also, you’ll need to flip the meatballs multiple times to allow them to cook through without burning.
If you’re going to be making meatball subs, then you may want to add the cooked meatballs to the marinara sauce in your pan. Or, you can just transfer them to a wire cooling rack or a plate to cool before serving.
Step 4: When the grilled meatballs are cooked through, transfer to a plate to cool before serving.
Carefully remove your meatballs from the flat top grill and transfer to a plate or cooling rack to allow them to cool.
It may be tempting to just serve the meatballs immediately, but allowing them to cool down a bit first helps them to stay together.
And if you’re not able to eat all 40 meatballs in one sitting (though they’re so good you may want to!), you can store them in a freezer bag in your freezer and reheat in the oven later.
Serve these yummy and easy homemade flat top grilled meatballs on a meatball sub or add them to your favorite pasta dish… or do like my oldest daughter does and just eat them plain… no sauce needed!
Hope you guys enjoy this easy flat top grill recipe! Feel free to print the recipe down below… and check out my YouTube channel to watch me make these homemade Italian meatballs on the flat top grill!
And be sure to PIN this recipe to your Flat Top Grill Recipes board on Pinterest to save it for later:
Flat Top Grilled Meatballs
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 lb. ground sausage
- 1/2 lb. ground mild Italian sausage
- 2 slices white bread dried on counter overnight
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 white onion grated
- 3/4 cup ricotta
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese or substitute parmesan
- 5 fresh basil leaves chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 head roasted garlic
- salt and pepper
- Tear 2 slices of bread into small pieces and add to a large bowl.
- Add eggs, the ground meats, grated onion, ricotta and pecorino ramono cheeses, basil, parsley, roasted garlic cloves, and salt and pepper to the bowl.
- Use your hands to combine all of the meatball ingredients thoroughly.
- Roll the meatball mixture into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball and place on a plate or baking sheet. The mixture should yield about 40 meatballs.
- Refrigerate meatballs for at least one hour before cooking on the griddle.
- Preheat flat top grill or griddle on low.
- Add chilled meatballs to the griddle and allow to cook on the first side until they develop a nice crust and start to release from the griddle surface.
- Carefully flip the meatballs to the other side, being sure to "scrape" the crust up from the griddle surface.
- Allow to cook on the second side until a nice crust develops.
- Continue to flip the meatballs while they finish cooking so the crust develops evenly and they don't burn. Cook until an internal thermometer reads 160 degrees.
- Remove cooked meatballs from the griddle and transfer to a plate or wire cooling rack. Allow the meatballs to cool before serving.