The best frozen meatballs might never rival your nonna’s but they’ll come close. Whether you’re looking for frozen Italian meatballs, frozen Swedish meatballs, or frozen meatballs ready-to-eat in marinara sauce, we tasted the best.
Over the course of two ball-tastic taste tests, we tried nearly 20 different types of frozen meatballs and nine stood out above the rest. Among our tasters was Danny Palumbo, a man who makes his own meatballs from scratch, dagnabit. “I’ve made meatballs professionally (as a Palumbo does) for years in Italian restaurant kitchens,” he says. You might argue that would make him ill-equipped to judge frozen meatballs, but he contends it makes him the most qualified. “I can tell you, in great detail, what makes a good meatball and what makes a bad one,” he attests.
So what are we, the Sporked team, looking for in the best frozen meatball? Well, we want to taste meat. Too many meatballs out there taste like they’re filled with grain and miscellaneous fodder. Unfortunately, not many of the meatballs we tried tasted like actual beef, pork, or chicken, so the ones that did automatically made our list. Secondly, we like a soft, tender meatball. Meatballs shouldn’t be overly dense or tightly packed. Additional flavor notes like herbs and aromatics are fully welcome, too.
Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s get into our ranking. Here are the best frozen meatballs to buy.
- Applegate Well Carved Organic Mediterranean Style Meatballs
These aren’t traditional frozen meatballs by any stretch of the imagination. They’re made of turkey and they feature dill. “These wouldn’t be the star of the show,” said Sporked senior staff writer Jordan Myrick, “but maybe with some pickles, some pita, some tzatziki sauce, it could work.” Jordan’s got the right idea. These frozen turkey meatballs are a great alternative to a beef or pork meatball, but don’t go throwing any red sauce on them, and definitely don’t serve them with pasta. Honestly, I would love to take some pita bread, wrap these bad boys up with some lettuce and some labneh, and go to town. They’re the best frozen meatballs to sub in for falafel at home. — Danny Palumbo
Ryan Martin / Amazon
- Kroger Flame Broiled Homestyle
The packaging would lead you to expect these frozen meatballs are marked with grill lines. They are not. You also might expect them to be smoke-kissed. They are not. But they’re still really good. They’re made with a mix of chicken along with pork and beef, but the chicken is the most prominent flavor. If you’re trying to cut out red meat but can’t quite go cold turkey (or chicken), these are a great option. They’re slightly heartier than all-chicken frozen meatballs. Toss them in a light, creamy sauce, like a really good jarred alfredo! — Justine Sterling
Credit: Liv Averett / Kroger
- Open Nature Homestyle Angus Beef Meatballs
These frozen meatballs have a really nice, beef-forward flavor that I enjoy. Again, the problem with most frozen meatballs is that they don’t taste like meat. But that’s not a problem here. These Angus meatballs are beefy and tender. You can just tell the quality is higher than your average store-bought frozen meatball. But, while the beef is good, these meatballs lack flavor overall. That said, they’re not beyond saving. Add these to a spicy red sauce for some extra kick. — Danny Palumbo
Ryan Martin / Instacart
- Kroger Swedish Style Meatballs
Kroger’s frozen Swedish meatballs are better than Ikea’s Swedish meatballs. I’m afraid of the ire I might inspire by saying that, but I stand by it. They’re small but not mini with a smooth texture inside that’s contrasted by tasty crispness on the outside. These have an edge over Ikea’s because they’re much more savory—not just salty, but savory with lots of umami flavor. They would be absolutely killer paired with some tangy lingonberry jam (which you’ll probably need to get from Ikea, sorry). — Justine Sterling
- Rao’s Meatballs & Sauce
These frozen meatballs don’t pack a whole lot of flavor, but, man, the size is great and they’re really soft and tender. They’re made with beef and pork, but in my opinion, the ratio of breadcrumbs to meat is a little off.. But that’s all made up for because these frozen meatballs come sauced in a pool of that delicious, liquid gold that is Rao’s homemade marinara (our top marinara sauce). Pop this tray in the oven or nuke it in the microwave, then nestle the meatballs and sauce in a hoagie bun or a crusty french baguette to make a delicious meatball sandwich. That’s what these are the best frozen meatballs for, in my opinion, although there is enough sauce in the package for a serving or two of pasta. Rao’s misses on these a bit, but the convenience of meatballs in sauce is too good to ignore. — Danny Palumbo
Ryan Martin / Target
- Farm Rich Italian Style Meatballs
These frozen Italian meatballs from Farm Rich are herbaceous and juicy, and they’re a good size to boot. Most of the meatballs on this list fall on the medium-to-small scale, but these actually look like the monster homemade meatballs your grandma makes. This is another beef and pork blend, with some added herbs to brighten things up. Overall, a pretty good frozen meatball. — Danny Palumbo
Ryan Martin / Instacart
- Trader Joe’s Italian Style Meatballs
Trader Joe’s has a bunch of frozen meatball products, but their frozen Italian meatballs are the best. There’s this oddly specific, pepper jack cheese flavor in the mix, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m positive you’ll also taste it. It’s not red pepper flakes, mind you—these frozen meatballs have more of a cheesy, spicy fruitiness that our palates associate with pepper jack cheese. They’re made with beef only (no pork), parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, and spices, and the mellow heat actually works. They’re definitely not the most Italian-tasting things in the world, but they still provide enough flavor to warrant a pickup on your next TJ’s run. Drown them in sauce and you won’t be disappointed. — Danny Palumbo
Credit: Ryan Martin
- Johnsonville Italian
If size does matter to you when it comes to frozen meatballs, these frozen Italian meatballs from Johnsonville should satisfy you. They’re not baseball sized like some restaurant meatballs, but they’re at least the size of golf balls. And they taste like Italian sausage. There’s a pleasant tang from some pepper and a nice hint of spice at the end. Try them in a sub, topped with peppers and onions as if you were eating an Italian sausage at a ball game. If you want a visual representation of how good these are, managing editor Gwynedd Stuart did a sort of snake dance when she tasted them. That’s how good they are. — Justine Sterling
Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart
- Kirkland Meatballs
Hallelujah, you can actually taste ground Italian sausage in these frozen meatballs! There’s delicious pork flavor in every bite of Costco’s frozen meatballs, more so than any other meatball we tested. Quite frankly, Kirkland puts every other meatball to shame with its deliciously fatty, spicy, porky flavor. There’s some noticeable black pepper flavor, and the meatballs are salted well, too. In my opinion, all you really need to make great meatballs is a nice blend of beef and pork, salt, and pepper. Kirkland proves that. These were the closest to homemade meatballs that I’ve experienced from a retail grocery store, so they’re the best frozen meatballs by a wide margin. — Danny Palumbo
Credit: Ryan Martin / Costco
Best with Alfredo
Best Meatball Sandwich
Best Trader Joe’s Meatballs
Best of the Best
Other frozen meatballs we tried: Great Value Homestyle, Cooked Perfect, Signature Kitchens, Trader Joe’s Turkey, Trader Joe’s Mini Party Meatballs, Carando Abruzzesse, Rosina Italian, Kroger Italian Style, Bremer Italian Style, Butcher Shop Meatballs, Applegate Asian Style, Earth’s Best
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