Taste of Home
Written by Lisa Kaminski
Looking for the Best Meatballs? Our Test Kitchen Found the Brand You Need to Try.
For this blind taste test, we searched high and low for the best meatballs you can find in the frozen section. Don’t worry—we won’t tell Nonna.
About Best Loved Brands
When you’re looking for the absolute best, grocery shopping can be a real chore—dozens of brands, hundreds of choices. From cake mix to coffee, hot sauce to hummus, it can be daunting to make the picks that will make your homemade creations their best yet. That’s where Taste of Home comes in. Our culinary and editorial experts put 100+ products to the test. After undergoing a thorough review, our Best Loved Brands emerged.
Finding the Best Meatball
When it comes to the best meatballs around, I think we can all agree that our grandmothers, aunties and moms tend to have the best recipes (though our Test Kitchen might have found a winner, too!). But let’s be honest: We don’t always have time to make meatballs from scratch. That’s why a bag of meatballs from the frozen section is so appealing. Just heat them up, add them to your recipe and before you know it, dinner is served. But how do you find the best meatballs for your next dinner? Enter our Test Kitchen crew, who tested seven brands to pick the best.
When it comes to a good meatball—be it frozen or homemade—we’re looking for the same things: a great savory flavor paired with on-point seasoning (no bland meatballs accepted) plus a stellar texture—not too dry or spongy. With this in mind, our Test Kitchen panel tested a handful of meatball brands in a blind test and judged them according to these qualities:
In the end, we found a few good brands worthy of stocking our freezers with. After all, having a bag of meatballs on hand allows us to make easy, satisfying appetizers like these beautiful meatballs with chimichurri sauce, barbecue beer meatballs or simple Swedish meatballs. Oh, and of course we can’t forget the classics like meatballs marinara. A new sauce made with some fresh ingredients makes it easy to transform these freezer favorites. Now, see what brands are worth shopping for.
First Place: Nature’s Rancher
For a great substitute (and shortcut) to Nonna’s meatballs, our Test Kitchen recommends reaching for Nature’s Rancher meatballs, available exclusively at Whole Foods. These homestyle meatballs had a great texture that was fork tender. Our culinary team really appreciated the slightly charred flavor mixed in—it made us think of meatballs being lovingly made over the stove. These Nature’s Rancher meatballs also had a nice blend of herbs inside including parsley and garlic, as well as some nice cheese flavors (the mix contains ricotta and Romano). We think these would be a great compliment to one of our Best Loved Brands pasta sauces!