The Best Meatball Pizza Recipe

Excellent Italian-American meatball pizza starts with the best meatballs—the rest is pretty easy.

Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Small meatballs can be distributed more evenly over the pizza surface than large meatballs.
  • Sautéing part of the meatball mix to flavor the sauce brings meaty flavor into every bite.

Meatball pizza consists of two Italian-American favorites, all rolled into one spectacularly comforting dish. But, as with all mashups, there's a bit of finesse to getting it right. It starts with our recipe for tender and juicy Italian-American meatballs—keeping the balls very small, which ensures that every bite is meaty—and pairs it with a simple tomato sauce flavored with a small amount of the cooked meatball mixture.

Recipe Facts

Active: 60 mins
Total: 60 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • 1 recipe Italian-American Meatballs in Red Sauce, prepared through step 5, including sauce

  • 5 tablespoons (75ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 medium bunch fresh basil leaves, divided

  • 1 recipe New York–Style Pizza Dough, divided into 3 balls, proofed, and ready to stretch and top

  • 1 pound grated full-fat dry mozzarella cheese (450g; about 4 cups)

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 ounces (45g) finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese


  1. Set aside 1/2 cup meatball mixture. Form remaining mixture into small balls, roughly 3/4 inch in diameter. Set aside on a plate in the refrigerator.

  2. Place a Baking Steel on the top rack of the oven directly under the broiler and preheat oven to its highest possible temperature.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons (30ml) oil in a medium saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add reserved meatball mixture and cook, breaking mixture up with a spoon, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add sauce and half of basil, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.

  4. Add meatballs, dropping them into the simmering sauce one at a time. Cook, without moving, until meatballs are starting to set, about 2 minutes. Carefully turn meatballs in sauce and continue to cook, stirring gently and occasionally, until meatballs are fully cooked, about 3 more minutes.

  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to a bowl or plate, taking along as little sauce as possible. Discard cooked basil.

  6. Turn a single dough ball out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press out dough into a rough 8-inch circle, leaving the outer 1 inch higher than the rest. Gently stretch dough by draping over knuckles, forming a 12- to 14-inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a pizza peel.

  7. Switch broiler on high. Spread approximately 2/3 cup sauce evenly over surface of crust, leaving a 1/2- to 1-inch border. Evenly spread one-third of cheese over sauce. Add one-third of meatballs. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil and sprinkle with remaining basil leaves and salt. Slide pizza onto Baking Steel and bake until cheese is melted, with some browned spots, and crust is golden brown and puffed, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, sprinkle with 1/2 ounce Romano or Parmesan cheese, slice, and serve immediately.

  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with remaining 2 dough balls, remaining sauce, cheese, meatballs, basil leaves, oil, salt, and Romano or Parmesan.

Special equipment

Baking Steel, saucepan or saucier, wooden pizza peel for launching pizza

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1314 Calories
78g Fat
97g Carbs
56g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 1314
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 78g 100%
Saturated Fat 27g 137%
Cholesterol 184mg 61%
Sodium 2516mg 109%
Total Carbohydrate 97g 35%
Dietary Fiber 8g 27%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 56g
Vitamin C 2mg 8%
Calcium 663mg 51%
Iron 8mg 47%
Potassium 781mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)