Pan-fried beef meatballs are caramelized on the outside but juicy and tender on the inside. They’re golden brown, easy to make, and smothered in a hearty mushroom gravy.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
Homemade meatballs in mushroom gravy are quick and simple to make, but far better than store-bought. Say goodbye to bland, dry, and flavorless meatballs, this recipe is hearty & satisfying with no additives or weird ingredients.
- Pan-fried instead of baked
- Makes amazing leftovers
- Easy to customize
- Served in a savory mushroom gravy
I love to serve meatballs in mushroom sauce with creamy mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, or oven roasted vegetables. This recipe is comfort food at its best, unfussy, cozy, & downright delicious.
Key Ingredient Notes:
Smothered meatballs require simple ingredients that deliver BIG flavors like garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and simple seasonings.
For the beef meatballs:
- Breadcrumbs – I prefer panko Japanese style breadcrumbs for their light and flaky texture. If you don’t have panko, plain or Italian-style breadcrumbs work great too!
- Milk – The breadcrumbs soak in milk so they have a chance to absorb it. This mixture, referred to as panade, is then mixed into the beef to create a binder and moisture retainer for the meatballs.
- Ground beef – Any type of ground beef works, but the more fat content, the more tender the meatballs.
- Garlic – A garlic press makes thing easy! For a mild garlic flavor, use one or two cloves instead of three.
- Egg – The egg binds the beef, breadcrumbs, and seasonings together so the meatballs don’t fall apart.
- Seasoning – Seasoning is vital for a flavorful meatball. Unsalted meat tastes bland and boring. Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning do the trick!
For the mushroom gravy:
- Mushrooms – White button mushrooms have an earthy, mild flavor but feel free to use any variety you like. Cremini, shitake, or swiss browns are great options.
- Garlic – Garlic sweetens and mellows as it cooks. It adds a depth of flavor to soups and sauces.
- Flour & butter – Flour and butter create a roux, which thickens the sauce for a rich and smooth gravy.
- Beef stock – Beef stock is the backbone of the mushroom gravy. It creates a rich, dark brown gravy. For best results, purchase a high-quality brand of beef stock or make homemade beef bone broth!
- Worcestershire sauce – Worcestershire is an easy way to pack in more flavor. It’s a little bit sweet and sour with a distinct umami quality.
- Seasoning – Taste and season as you go!
How to make meatballs in mushroom gravy:
To make the meatballs:
- In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk. Let the mixture soak for a minute.
- In a large bowl, mix the soaked breadcrumbs, ground beef, garlic, egg, Worcestershire sauce, & seasoning with your hands until well combined.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a medium cookie scoop to loosely shape the meatballs and place them onto the baking sheet.
Avoid overworking the ground beef mixture. This can cause the meatballs to get tough and chewy.
For the mushroom gravy:
- Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Place the meatballs into the hot skillet in an even layer. Let one side caramelize before turning them over with your tongs. Brown all sides and transfer them to a clean plate. The meatballs don’t need to be cooked through at this point.
- Add the remaining olive oil then the mushrooms and garlic. Cook the mushrooms until they’re golden brown and fragrant – about 3 minutes. Transfer them to a clean plate.
- Add the butter to the same skillet, then stir in the flour. Cook the mixture for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Don’t skip this step. Cooking the roux prevents the sauce from tasting floury.
- Carefully pour in the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce, then bring it to a boil. Whisk frequently to prevent the sauce from burning.
- Transfer the meatballs and mushrooms back into the skillet and cook until the meatballs are completely cooked and the sauce is thick – about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Season to taste. Top with chopped parsley and serve!
The gravy thickens as it cools. It’s okay if the gravy seems a bit too thin at first.
Tips for Success:
- It’s important to cook the raw flour taste out of the roux. A couple minutes of whisking does the trick.
- The gravy thickens quickly as it cools. If the gravy gets too thick, add a little bit more beef stock. If the gravy feels too thin, reduce it for longer over medium heat.
- Don’t walk away from the stove while the gravy cooks. Keep an eye on it, stirring as necessary, so the gravy doesn’t burn.
- It’s best to use a higher percentage of fat for meatballs. I recommend ground chuck, which is 80 percent lean.
- Meatballs with mushroom gravy taste just as good (if not better) on day two! Feel free to make it a day or two ahead of time and reheat.
- Reheat it on the stovetop in a large skillet over medium heat until warmed throughout. If the gravy looks separated, just give it a good stir.
- Smothered meatballs in brown gravy will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Store in an airtight container in the back of the fridge.
- Meatball gravy freezes well too! Transfer any leftover meatballs and gravy into a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight.
- Reheat on the stovetop in a large skillet over medium heat until hot and bubbly.
Meatballs can be frozen raw or cooked! I like to freeze them cooked so all I have to do is reheat and serve. However, if you want to change up the sauce or cooking style, raw meatballs are perfect for that.
Browning meatballs in a hot skillet caramelizes the outside for more flavor, color, and texture. It’s an easy way to add depth of flavor to a dish.
Yes, meatballs are delicious with all kinds of meat. Ground pork, chicken, turkey, or Italian sausage are commonly used. Keep in mind that the amount of fat varies in different cuts and types of meat. The more fat a meatball contains, the more tender it will be.
Beef Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy
- ½ cups (30g) Panko breadcrumbs Note 1
- ¼ cup (60ml) milk
- 1 lbs (500g) ground beef Note 2
- 2-3 garlic cloves pressed
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
For mushroom gravy:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 oz (170g) mushrooms sliced, Note 3
- 2 garlic cloves pressed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups (700ml) beef stock
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley if desired
- Mashed potatoes for serving
To make the meatballs
- In a small bowl, combine Panko and milk. Set aside to soak for a minute.
- In a large bowl, mix together soaked Panko, beef, garlic, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. With clean hands, mix the beef mixture until well combined.
- Using a medium cookie scoop, shape the meatballs and arrange them on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
To make the gravy:
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
- Arrange the meatballs in one layer and brown on all sides, turning each meatball using a kitchen tong. (Note: Meatballs don’t need to be cooked all the way, we’re just browning for now.) Remove onto a clean plate.
- Pour the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the same skillet and add mushrooms along with garlic. Cook the mushrooms stirring frequently for about 3 minutes, or until they’re nice and brown. Remove onto a plate.
- In the same skillet, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook the flour mixture for at least 2 minutes, whisking constantly. (That’s how we make roux to thicken the gravy. If you don’t cook the roux long enough, you will taste raw flour in your gravy, so don’t rush this step.)
- Slowly pour in the stock and Worcestershire sauce and bring it to a boil, whisking frequently.
- Add browned meatballs and mushrooms and cook for additional 8-10 minutes. If the gravy thickens too much, add a little bit of water, or stock to thin it out.
- Salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add chopped parsley before serving. Serve over mashed potatoes for a complete meal.
Tips & Notes:
– Smothered meatballs in brown gravy will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Store in an airtight container in the back of the fridge.
– Meatball gravy freezes well too! Transfer any leftover meatballs and gravy into a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
– Thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight.
– Reheat on the stovetop in a large skillet over medium heat until hot and bubbly.
This recipe was originally published on March 8, 2016.