Spaghetti and meatballs are a classic easy quick dinner. This is why I always stock my freezer with homemade meatballs.
Weeknights here are pretty busy and I don't always have time to wait for ingredients to thaw before cooking. Meatballs to the rescue! Because they are so small they can easily be cooked from frozen. They make a great fast meal.
This guide will show you several ways to cook frozen meatballs so that they are cooked all the way through while still being tender and juicy.
The best way to cook frozen meatballs depends upon their end use and how much time you have.
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- How to Freeze Meatballs
- Do You Have to Thaw Frozen Meatballs Before Cooking?
- How do You Thaw Frozen Meatballs?
- How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in the Oven
- How to Cook Frozen Meatballs on the Stove Top
- How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in a Slow Cooker
- How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in an Air Fryer
- How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in a Microwave
- How do You Know When Meatballs are Fully Cooked?
- Serving Suggestions
- How to Store Leftover Meatballs
Frozen meatballs can be homemade or purchased at a grocery store. If making your own meatballs try looking beyond traditional Italian meatballs. There are many other flavor combinations you could try. Here are a few suggestions:
How to Freeze Meatballs
- Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer for a couple of hours until the meatballs have frozen.
- Transfer the meatballs to a zip-top freezer bag or freezer-safe container and label it with the contents and date.
Uncooked meatballs can be stored in the freezer for up to one month.
Do You Have to Thaw Frozen Meatballs Before Cooking?
Nope. Because of their small size cooking meatballs from frozen is quick and easy. No thawing is necessary. Frozen meatballs are ready to eat in just a few minutes.
How do You Thaw Frozen Meatballs?
Even though meatballs can be cooked while they are still frozen. You may want to thaw them first. Thawing will reduce the overall cook time.
Meatballs can easily be thawed in the refrigerator overnight.
Simply remove the meatballs from the freezer and place them in an air-tight container or a ziplock bag. Thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator for approximately 24 hours.
How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in the Oven
Cooking meatballs in the oven is one of my favorite methods. It is relatively hands-free which means my attention can turn to the other components of dinner. It is also a great method when you are feeding a crowd and need a lot of meatballs quickly.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Arrange the meatballs in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake the meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes until they are cooked through.
- For more even browning, turn the meatballs a few times during the baking time.
- After baking, add the meatballs to your favorite warmed pasta sauce and enjoy.
Note: If using a convection oven the cooking time will need to be reduced.
How to Cook Frozen Meatballs on the Stove Top
If serving in a sauce:
- Pour your favorite sauce into a large frying pan.
- Add the desired number of frozen meatballs and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.
If serving without sauce:
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.
- Add the meatballs and saute for 15-20 minutes. Stir the meatballs several times during the cooking time.
How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are a great low-effort way to make sure there is a meal waiting for you when you get home from work. When cooking meatballs in a slow cooker or crockpot you will need some sort of sauce or liquid. Try cooking meatballs in different kinds of sauces like pasta or marinara sauce, salsa, or bbq sauce.
- Add sauce and meatballs to the slow cooker or crockpot.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in an Air Fryer
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add meatballs in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the air fryer basket.
- Cook for about 10 minutes turning the meatballs halfway through the cooking time.
How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in a Microwave
This is probably my least favorite way to cook meatballs but it will work in a pinch. This method is great if you only need a couple of meatballs.
If microwaving meatballs I recommend serving them in a sauce because they will not have a nice crispy crust.
- Place meatballs in a microwave-safe dish.
- Cover with sauce.
- Cover the dish but leave a small gap for the steam to escape.
- Microwave on high for 1 minute.
- Stir and test for doneness.
- Continue cooking in 30-second intervals until the meatballs are fully cooked.
I love using this magnetic microwave cover to prevent splatters. The lid uses magnets to stick to the top of the microwave when not in use.
How do You Know When Meatballs are Fully Cooked?
An easy way to check to see if your meatballs are fully cooked is to cut one in half. If the center is no longer pink the meatball is done.
You can also use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Cook meatballs until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spaghetti and meatballs topped with pasta sauce is the traditional way to serve meatballs. You could also use them as a pizza topping or make meatball subs.
How to Store Leftover Meatballs
Store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Refreezing previously frozen meatballs is not recommended.
- Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or foil to make cleanup easier.
- These cooking methods will work for ground beef, chicken, pork, or vegan meatballs.
- When cooking raw meatballs you want to make sure they are fully cooked before serving. Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. Cook meatballs until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cook times will vary depending on the size of the meatball. Little meatballs will cook faster than larger meatballs.
- Looking for some yummy sauces for your meatballs? Try this veggie-loaded spaghetti sauce or this fresh spinach pesto.
- Want to speed up the cooking time? Thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
What is your favorite cooking method for frozen meatballs?
Thanks for Reading!
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