Mini meatballs (Polpettine di Carne) — Italian street food that’s also great as an appetizer or snack! So easy to prepare at home!
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It might come as a surprise that these are sold as street food in Italy. Yep, I had the same reaction when I saw it in Venice — but they are!
I’ve never seen them anywhere in the south, though.
So, if you’re in Napoli or Palermo, don’t go looking for Polpettine di Carne; try their Neapolitan Eggplant Meatballs (Polpette di Melanzane) and Panelle (Sicilian Chickpea Fritters) instead.
Whether you’re serving them as appetizers or snacks, they’re great on their own or with some marinara sauce.
But I leave that part to you. Enjoy them with whatever type of sauce you prefer — spicy, sweet, or off-the-chart-hot. 🙂
- Ground beef and ground pork – sometimes called minced beef and minced pork; regardless, it should be a mix of both.
- Breadcrumbs – you can use more than a third of a cup, depending on how wet the mixture will end up.
- Oregano – dried or fresh will do, although I used dried oregano in this recipe.
- Parsley – I used fresh parsley in this recipe, but you can also use dried parsley if that’s what you have on hand.
- Salt and pepper
- Parmigiano Reggiano – freshly grated ones, if possible.
- Oil – it has to be a vegetable oil, not olive oil, for frying.
Start by combining ground meat, salt & pepper, oregano, egg, parsley, Parmigiano Reggiano, and breadcrumbs — in a large mixing bowl (photo 1).
Mix just enough to combine.
Take a teaspoon of the meatball mixture and form a small ball (photo 2).
Place all the mini meatballs on a tray while starting to heat oil (for frying) on a small to a medium-sized saucepan (photo 3).
Once the oil is ready, start frying the mini meatballs (photo 4).
Cook until golden and darker in color — then place it on a kitchen towel to drain any excess oil.
Serve with marinara sauce if desired.
- Add more breadcrumbs if the meatball mixture is too wet.
- You can add other herbs like rosemary or thyme if you prefer.
- Make sure the oil is hot before you start adding the meatballs, then you can lower the heat once they are already frying.
- Do not cover the pan before or while cooking the meatballs.
- CAN I PREPARE THEM IN ADVANCE?
You can either refrigerate the mixture after combining everything or chill the meatballs once they have been formed.
Just make sure you cover them with a plastic wrapper and take them out once you’re ready to start frying.
Do you want a vegetarian version that’s equally delicious? Then check out Neapolitan Eggplant Meatballs (Polpette di Melanzane)!
Note: This post was initially published in Jan 2018. It’s now updated to include more recipe details as well as step-by-step images and a video.
Italian Mini Meatballs (Polpettine di Carne)
- 1 lb mixed ground meat (ground beef & ground pork), about 1/2 kg
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp parsley, chopped roughly
- 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, heaping
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 to 1 & 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Using a large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, salt, pepper, oregano, egg, parsley, Parmigiano Reggiano, and breadcrumbs.
- Mix just enough to combine.
- Start forming the mini meatballs by using a teaspoon to scoop a portion of the mixture and rolling them with your hands.
- Place all the mini meatballs on a tray while heating the vegetable oil on a small to a medium-sized saucepan.
- Once the oil is ready, start frying them.
- Cook until golden and darker in color — then place it on a kitchen towel to drain any excess oil.
- Serve with marinara sauce if desired.
- Do not hesitate to add more breadcrumbs if you think the meatball mixture is a bit too wet.
- Add other herbs like rosemary or thyme, if you prefer.
- Check that the oil is hot before you start adding the meatballs, then you can lower the heat once they are already frying.
- Do not cover the pan before or during the frying of these mini meatballs.