Cheesy Inside-Out Meatballs Don't NEED to Exist, but They Do, and They're Scrumptious

POPSUGAR Photography | Maggie Panos
POPSUGAR Photography | Maggie Panos

I'm not really a "food fad" person, but when I was challenged to make inside-out meatballs, I practically ran to the store to claim as much ground meat as they'd let me have. It may seem like a silly reconstruction of a dish that was perfected centuries ago, but there's something about biting into a larger-than-average meatball only to find lava-like cheese and sturdy starch waiting for you on the inside.

POPSUGAR Photography | Maggie Panos

While I have never put spaghetti inside of a meatball before, I have made meatballs. My favorite recipe of all time is Anne Burrell's Excellent Meatballs, but frankly I didn't have time to make the pancetta-laced tomato sauce, and without that, what's even the point? I turned to another standby: Ina Garten's Real Meatballs (a hilarious title that indirectly accuses all other meatball recipes of being fake). Honestly, you can use whatever meatball recipe floats your marinara boat, because inside-out meatballs are all about the method of preparation.

POPSUGAR Photography | Maggie Panos

For some basic intel on how to create these beasts, I turned to Thrillist's Spaghetti-Stuffed Meatballs recipe. The recipe is great, but I did make some tweaks. For one, I put mozzarella in mine. I happened to have some whole-milk string cheese in my refrigerator, but any kind of mozz' will do. Heck, put some provolone in there! Get crazy.

POPSUGAR Photography | Maggie Panos

I prefer my meatballs to have some crispy edges, so I pan-fried mine before tossing them in the oven. I think it makes a big difference in the overall mouthfeel of a meatball, but you do have to be careful about rotating them; if meat sticks to the pan, you could compromise the structural integrity of the ball. (That's an overly complicated way of saying the cheese might melt out.)

POPSUGAR Photography | Maggie Panos

Once the meatballs are cooked, serve them in whatever way, shape, or form you please. No sauce? No problem. Extra spaghetti? Put those bad boys on top. Guests? Challenge them to eat one in a single bite. Will they laugh at you for making something that didn't need to exist? Maybe. But who cares — they're delightful.

POPSUGAR Photography | Maggie Panos

Inside-Out Meatballs

Prep Time45
Cook Time45
Yield4 servings

Adapted from Ina Garten and Thrillist


    • 1 pound ground pork
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 cup fresh crumbs from white or sourdough bread
    • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (seasoned or plain)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 extra-large egg
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 pound spaghetti
    • 1/2 cup of mozzarella (fresh, balls, sticks, whatever)
    • 2 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)


    1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

    2. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions for al dente (this is usually around 7 minutes). Don't forget to salt that water like it's the ocean, and sprinkle some olive oil in there for good measure. While the water is heating up and your spaghetti is cooking, start the meatball mixture.

    3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, beef, fresh and dry breadcrumbs, parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and egg. You can use a wooden spoon, but it'll go a lot faster if you just smoosh it all together with your (just-washed) hands.

    4. Separate the meaty mix into however many meatballs you want to make. Bear in mind that you'll need enough of the mixture to form a whole ball over some spaghetti and cheese. I used a spatula to measure out six sections for my meatballs.

    5. Take a soon-to-be meatball and form it into a cup in your hand. Swirl some spaghetti — it's done now, right? — with a fork and place it gingerly inside. Take a tablespoon-sized amount of the mozzarella and stick it on top of the pasta, then close that lil' meatball right over the pasta pocket. Repeat with all your meatballs.

    6. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a nonstick pan. Place each of the meatballs in, letting them brown on one side before rotating. You may need to fry them in shifts.

    7. Once the meatballs are browned on all sides (they won't be entirely cooked), transfer them to a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake them in the oven for 25-to-30 minutes.

    8. To plate, you can either serve them individually or on a plush bed of pasta, if you have extra. Spoon your marinara on top, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley.


    Ina Garten's original recipe calls for veal, but that may not readily be available. It's totally fine to just use pork and beef, or any combination of ground meats. You can find Thrillist's instructions here.