Savory meatballs are stuffed with cheese and wrapped in your favorite pizza crust recipe. Cheesy Meatball Bombs are a round homemade hot pocket and can be made last minute for an easy weeknight dinner or frozen for a quick snack.
When my kids were much smaller, we used to go to a local pizza place a couple of blocks from our house that sold gourmet pizza by the slice. You could get pretty much anything you wanted. However, all my kids wanted were this small little menu item called Bocce Balls. Named after the famous Italian yard game, the Bocce Balls were hand held nuggets of pizza dough wrapped around meatballs and maybe cheese. It's been so long I really can't remember.
What I do remember is how much my kiddos loved them.
Bocce balls or meatball bombs for the win
Make these easy pizza meatballs and...
- the kids will always eat their dinner...fast. And ask for more.
- freeze some for a quick snack or the nights when everyone is going in different directions.
- serve with some fun dipping sauces for a great game day appetizer.
What is a meatball bomb?
Simply put, a meatball bomb (or bocce ball as we call them) is a cheese-stuffed meatball wrapped in pizza dough and baked until golden brown. And it's crowned with a little crunchy parmesan topping that adds so much texture and flavor.
So let's start with the meatballs.
One great meatball recipe
For these cheesy meatball bombs, you'll start with the base ingredients from my Homemade Italian Meatball recipe and swap out the pork with Italian sausage....who doesn't want even more flavor?
How big to make the meatballs?
Once you've mixed up the meatball mix, it's time to shape them. There are a few things to keep in mind:
Big meatballs = ¼ cup Extra big meatballs = ⅓ - ½ cup
It really depends on how much cheese you want in the middle. Start with ¼ cup and increase it as needed to fully enclose the meat around the cheese.
- Mix the meatball mix in a large bowl
- Make your choice of measuring cup (¼, ⅓ or ½).
- Scoop a portion of meatball mix into one hand and place or fold a piece of cheese into the center.
- Enclose the meatball mix around the cheese sealing the cheese inside and rolling into a ball.
Best pizza crust for the job
No question my Homemade Pizza Crust is the best dough for the pizza bombs but your favorite store bought or local pizzeria crust works too. A single 1 pound ball of dough will yield approximately 16 meatball bombs (using ¼ cup measure).
You'll roll out the dough into a rectangle and cut it into eighths as shown.
Now for all the cheeeeeez...
Mamma mia...that's a cheese pull!
Now you can choose to stuff or not to stuff your meatball bombs with cheese. Some options:
- fresh mozzarella
- chunks or slices of sharp provolone tucked inside
- your favorite vegan alternative or keep it simple with no cheese at all!
What to do with leftover meatballs
If you have leftover meatballs in the freezer (whether in sauce or not), you can still make a stuffed meatball bomb. The layers will change to:
- pizza dough
- meatball mix
Pizza ball best dips
Meatball bombs can't be served without some sort of dip! Here are some favs:
Tomato Butter Sauce. One of the most popular tomato sauce recipes ever. So good!
Pesto. Such a good flavor with the pizza dough, meatballs and cheese! My favorite store bought pesto is from Costco. I also recommend Rao's pesto (and their marinara sauce is a great one!).
Storing, Freezing, Reheating
Of course you can make this bocce balls recipe ahead. A few pointers:
- let them cool completely
- lay the meatballs bombs in a freezer safe bag and seal it up. Don't forget to label it with the date but I don't expect them to last too long!
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
Refrigerate any leftovers up to 3 days.
See above but freeze for up to 3 months.
These pizza bombs reheat best in a preheated 350˚ oven for about 10-15 minutes depending on your oven.
I love this question. While I'd love it if you tried my homemade meatballs or pizza dough recip, store bought works! For the meatballs, lay the cheese on the pizza dough before wrapping the meatball inside.
Absolutely not! You can leave cheese entirely out the recipe and they'll still be great!
I haven't tried this with plant based "meat" yet but if you have a brand you love, give it a shot!
For the meatballs - see notes below for using frozen meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1½ kosher salt
- ¼ cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
- 1½ slices brioche or white bread, torn into small pieces or processed into crumbs
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic, from 2-3 cloves
- ¾ cup warm tap water
For the pizza dough
- 1 lb homemade pizza dough or store bought, homemade dough recipe here
- ½ lb fresh mozzarella or sharp provolone, sliced
For the meatballs
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
- Spray a 15x 18 sheet pan with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl and using clean hands, mix together the ground meat and sausage. Add the egg and seasonings. Mix together thoroughly. Add the warm water right at the end and mix again until well blended.
- Using a somewhere between ¼-1/3 measuring cup or a large cookie scoop, measure out a round of meatball mix. (The meat might be somewhat sticky so periodically rinse your hands in water as you shape the meatballs).
- Slightly flatten the meat in your palm and place a piece of cheese on top of the meat and carefully close the meat around the cheese creating a ball as you go. Slightly roll the ball and place on a prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining meatball bombs. Set aside as you roll out the pizza dough.
- Par bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Increase the oven temperature to 450.
For the pizza dough
- Defrost the dough as needed and/or let rest at room temperature for a minimum 30 minutes.
- Using a pastry scraper or sharp knife, cut the round of dough in half. Cover the piece you won't be using right away with plastic wrap or a damp towel.
- On a floured countertop or board, roll out the pizza dough to approximately a 10½" x 15" rectangle. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough horizontally down the middle and then crosswise into 8 pieces. See images in the post above.
- Place one meatball bomb in the center of each piece of dough. Bring in each side one at a time and seal the meatball. Place on a cooking sprayed or oiled sheet pan. Repeat with all the remaining meatballs. You should have approximately 16 meatballs.
- In a small ramekin, add 1 tsp water to the beaten egg and brush over the pizza dough meatball bombs.
- Using the chart in the notes below, bake the meatballs until a thermometer shows the inside is cooked to 165° approximately 20 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite pizza and tomato sauces - see ideas below!