Skip to Content

We Tried Every Frozen Italian-Style Meatball Our Grocery Store Sold. Here’s What We Thought.

Tired of your go-to frozen Italian-style meatball? We were too. That’s why we tried every variety available at our local grocery store.

Sometimes the best ideas are the strangest ones.

Like the day I started thinking about taste tests, my aversion to the go-to brand of meatballs that my family had been eating for years and how I could find something better.

Frozen meatball taste test? Yesssss.

So I suggested to my daughter that we try every meatball in the grocery store and she instantly said yes. I love her adventurous spirit. After a little prep work, we realized we’d need to narrow it down some — or risk complete meatball annihilation. So we honed the plan.

We’d stick to Italian-style meatballs.

Beef Italian-style meatballs (though blends were fine).

And we’d cook them all in the same way: In the microwave.

We ended up with seven frozen Italian-style meatball varieties. One came in sauce. For the rest, we ate them with a favorite tomato sauce on the side. Those we tasted with and without sauce.

Totally scientific, right?

Seriously though, as we were tasting we took note of certain things like size, texture, seasoning, how well the meatball paired with sauce, if it needed sauce and flavor.

And though it was unplanned, with all these meatballs in the freezer, we also did a little extra tasting as we packed them in thermos or reheated them later.

Here’s the verdict.

Our Favorite Italian Beef Frozen Meatballs

Rosina Meatballs Italian-Style

These smaller meatballs were juicy with good flavor. Although they paired well with sauce, they didn’t need it. If you do sauce then, make sure it’s a good sauce — they deserve it.

Rosina meatballs are great for spaghetti and meatballs, subs or any other use for meatballs you can dream of.

Pineland Farms Italian-Style Beef Meatballs

Before we scoured the grocery store for meatballs, I’d never noticed this Maine brand in the freezer. But now that we’re familiar with it, we may never go back. Also a smaller meatball, Pineland Farms meatballs are light and airy. We loved them most with sauce.

For these, we recommend them eating them alone or with pasta. But if you are hoping for a good meatball sub, use a different variety — the delightful lightness won’t stand up to bread like you’d need it to.

Best Frozen Meatballs to Reheat

One of the more interesting things we discovered was that some meatballs were better reheated.

Rao’s Meatballs and Sauce

These larger sized meatballs came in sauce and were fine. We noted on the first taste test that they would be ideal in a meatball sub. But when it came to reheating, they had the best flavor, texture and consistency.

Best Frozen Meatballs to Pack in Thermoses

Another unexpected outcome of our taste test was having so many meatballs to pack for lunches. While we loved Rosina meatballs when they were just cooked, we didn’t love them when they sat in a thermos for a few hours. Likewise, some of the stronger flavored meatballs — Cooked Perfect and the Hannaford store brand, for instance — were tastier after sitting for a bit. But one brand shined through as a clear favorite.

Pineland Farms Italian-Style Beef Meatballs

This frozen Italian-style meatball variety wasn’t just good freshly made. They were also delicious after being packed in a thermos. In fact, they were so good that Paige made note of it later to tell me, thinking they hadn’t been a favorite in the first round (they had).

We like these packed with sauce and perhaps a bit of parmesan. Plus, the smaller size made eating them on the go a little easier — no cutting needed!

Do you have a favorite frozen Italian-style meatball?

For our taste test, we relied on what was available at our local grocery store. But there are more meatballs out there than this! Do you have a favorite? Perhaps a variety we didn’t try? Tell us in the comments below!

richard ruesch

Thursday 12th of October 2023

they all looked like "you guessed it; s--t", to us..........we eat what we prepare and homcook.

Sarah Walker Caron

Sunday 22nd of October 2023

Hi Richard, sounds like you stumbled on a post that wasn't useful to you. While I certainly love homemade meatballs too (check my archives -- many recipes in different varieties there!), for busy families like mine, having something ready to go can be a godsend when you are trying to fit in a quick meal between work and rehearsal, for instance, as my daughter did yesterday.

Also, while they may not look good to you, some frozen meatballs are really quite enjoyable.