Spicy Italian Meatballs

A bigger, badder meatball…

There are many ways to spice up an Italian marinara or pasta dish, but definitely one of our favorites is to go directly for the spicy Italian meatball. Building the spice into the meat itself pairs deliciously with a mild marinara sauce. It’s a mouth explosion: sweet, spicy, tangy, and meaty.

Spicy Italian meatballs don’t take a lot of extra work either. Adding a little crushed red pepper and cayenne pepper powder during different steps fires up both the meat as well as the onion and garlic used in the mixture. Feel free to adjust the amount of spice used in the recipe, too. The amounts listed in the recipe are guidelines that lead to a very eatable level of spiciness.

If you really want to go fiery, try a spicy marinara sauce on top of these meatballs. You could pair both a traditional marinara and this spicy version on the side of the dish so your guests can choose which way to go. And, if you’re looking for a good side to serve with these meatballs, try our spicy garlic bread. It also uses crushed red pepper as its heat source, so it’s very simple to make!

spicy Italian meatballs

Spicy Italian Meatballs

A bold twist on the traditional
4.5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Meal
Servings 6 servings
Calories 450 kcal


  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 large onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • Pinch salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a skillet or sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium.
  • Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook the onions until translucent (approximately 5 minutes).
  • Add the garlic and crushed red pepper. Continue to cook the mix, stirring often, for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, eggs, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, and cayenne pepper powder. Mix the ground beef thoroughly until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  • Add the onion and garlic mix to the mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Then add the water and a pinch more salt, and mix until fully combined.
  • Shape the meatballs, then brown them quickly in an olive oil coated sauté pan. Transfer them to a foil-lined baking sheet, then bake them for 15 to 20 minutes (or until cooked through).
  • Once cooked, add them to marinara sauce (spicy or otherwise!) and enjoy!


Calories: 450kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 24gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 611mgPotassium: 346mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 695IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 264mgIron: 2.8mg


Keyword Cayenne Pepper, Crushed Red Pepper
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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on August 17, 2019 to include new content. It was originally published on June 14, 2016.