Loading Video...

Italian Meat Bowls

These bite-size, hand-held meatball cups are filled with gooey cheese and marinara. A mini muffin tin helps make the shape possible. Use gluten-free breadcrumbs for a wheat-free version.
Save Recipe
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 40 min (includes freezing time)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 8 to 12 servings (24 pieces)
Share This Recipe


1/3 cup whole milk

1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup grated Parmesan 

Kosher salt

1 pound 80 percent ground beef

Nonstick cooking spray, for the rack

6 ounces part-skim mozzarella, cut in to 24 cubes

1/2 cup prepared marinara sauce 

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper


Special equipment:
a 24-cup miniature muffin tin
  1. Combine the milk and 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs in a large bowl and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, egg, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and 1 teaspoon salt. Use your hands to stir everything together until well combined. Add the ground beef and mix until just combined.
  2. Drop rounded tablespoons of the meat mixture into a 24-cup miniature muffin tin. Use your fingers to push the meat into the bottom and up the sides of each cup to form a small bowl shape. Press 1 cube of mozzarella into each bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. (This can be done a day in advance.)
  3. Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees F. Set a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet and spray it generously with cooking spray. Put the remaining 1/4 cup breadcrumbs in a small bowl.
  4. Use a small offset spatula or butter knife to help nudge the frozen meat bowls out of the muffin tin. Roll the outside of each bowl in the breadcrumbs to coat completely and place on the prepared rack. Spoon 1 teaspoon of marinara sauce into each bowl. Combine the oregano, crushed red pepper and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan in a small bowl and sprinkle some on each meat bowl.  
  5. Bake, rotating the baking sheet once halfway through, until the meat is just cooked through and the breadcrumbs are crispy, 15 to 20 minutes.