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Giada De Laurentiis’ Beef Meatballs Feature a Deliciously Cheesy Secret Ingredient

Nothing’s heartier, homier, or more comforting than a heaping pile of al dente pasta topped with three or four juicy, oversized meatballs cooked to perfection and sprinkled with freshly gated parmesan cheese. And if we were to follow anyone’s meatball recipe, it’d be — hands down — the Italian chef herself, Giada De Laurentiis. De Laurentiis’ Italian dishes are not only authentic and mouthwatering, but they’re also approachable and super easy to make. Case in point? De Laurentiis’ beef meatballs, which feature a very special, very cheesy secret ingredient: ricotta.

“Ricotta makes the meatballs super fluffy and light, so I really like it,” De Laurentiis says in an episode of Giada Entertains.

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One of De Laurentiis’ favorite ingredients to add to meatballs, ricotta gives them, as she puts it, “an amazingly tender texture.” And lucky for us all, her meatballs take just 10 minutes to prep and just 30 minutes to cook.

To start, you’ll need your ingredients, which include panko breadcrumbs, a few tablespoons of whole milk, an egg, one pound of ground beef, a jar of marinara sauce (yep, store-bought is totally fine for this recipe!), parmesan cheese, and — the most important ingredient — the ricotta cheese.

First, you’ll combine the breadcrumbs, milk, egg, ricotta cheese and parmesan, followed by the beef and salt. Roll the meatball mixture into balls and get ready to place them into your hot pan. But don’t use any ‘ole pan to cook your meatballs. For De Laurentiis’ Beef Ricotta Meatballs, use a medium-size straight-sided skillet; and we like Lodge’s cast iron skillet. It’s affordable and gets the job done (and done well).

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“It’s a very southern Italian tradition to add a little bit of ricotta in there,” De Laurentiis says.

Brown the meatballs for a little less than 10 minutes. Then, after pouring out the excess oil from the pan, add the marinara and let the meatballs simmer in said sauce for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat — and enjoy!

“There’s nothing like meatballs slowly simmering away in tomato sauce on a Sunday afternoon,” De Laurentiis writes.

Get the full recipe at Giadzy.

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