How to Make the Right Amount of Meatballs for any Party

Meatballs are found in all sorts of foods around the world because different places all over the world use meatballs differently.

Though not all meatballs are the same, the average person will eat anywhere from 5-10 bite-sized meatballs. People, on average, eat around 5 meatballs when meatballs are part of the meal (such as spaghetti and meatballs), and around 10 if meatballs are the bulk of the meal (such as in a meatball sub).

Meatballs are used in all sorts of foods, but the amounts of meatballs will differ because they are all different.

The Right Amount of Different Kinds of Meatballs

There are many types of meatballs. There are Italian meatballs, American meatballs, Turkish meatballs, Swedish meatballs, Spanish meatballs, Polish meatballs, and Dutch meatballs, and more.

Italian Meatballs

When someone thinks of Italian meatballs, the thought often comes of spaghetti and meatballs, but Italian meatballs are never used in spaghetti. Rather, it is American meatballs that are used in any form of pasta.

On average, the serving size for Italian meatballs is about 6 meatballs. This is because they are most commonly bite sized. Because they are used as a part of the main course, it is necessary to have at least enough to be a complete serving size. On average, you may even need closer to 10 per person because some people will eat more meatballs than the serving size suggests. If you plan on serving a group of people these kinds of meatballs, you will need around 6 per person. Because people do not generally eat serving sizes, it is good to have extras. A decent buffer for this is to have around 10 of these meatballs for each person you will be feeding.

Italian meatballs are a completely separate course from pasta and are a part of the main course. Meatballs are covered in sauce and brought out in a bowl.

Swedish Meatballs

In places where meat was expensive or hard to get a hold of, breadcrumbs were added to the meatballs to make a more filling meal. Swedish meatballs do this, and they are quite filling and delicious.

The serving size for Swedish meatballs is 5 meatballs. The fillers that are used, such as breadcrumbs, make this a more filling dish, so it will not be necessary to have as many of these types of meatballs. They are also larger than bite-sized.

Again, they are used as the main dish, so having 5 Swedish meatballs should be plenty filling. Swedish meatballs are also known as Kottbullar. These are the meatballs that IKEA has popularized.

Spanish Meatballs

Spanish meatballs are also known as Albondigas. These meatballs started as a Berber dish but were brought to Spain through Islam. In comparison to a bite-sized meatball, if they are around the same size as a bite-sized meatball, 6 is a serving. If the meatballs are twice the size of a bite-sized meatball, the general serving is 3.

This does not mean you should only buy enough for each person to have a serving. Doing this can result in running out of meatballs since people will more often eat more meatballs than is recommended. If the meatballs are bite-sized, be prepared with about 10 per person. If the meatballs are large, be prepared with 3 to 4 meatballs per person.

Spanish meatballs are served stand alone, so having more than the serving is recommended.

Each of these meatballs is used for completely different dishes, and they are made differently. Because they are different, they can be used in diverse ways. For this reason, they each have their serving size.

Meatballs come in all sorts of sizes because they were made in diverse places across the world. This makes meatballs an interesting part of history because they are different for each place. Something can be learned from each culture through their meatballs.

The Right Amount of Homemade Meatballs

When making your own meatballs, you will just need a few ingredients that are more common ones you can use in other recipes. Mix ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. When mixing the ingredients, be sure to not over mix them. When you over mix the meat, it can become tough.

If the mixture is not wet, add some milk to the mixture. Roll the mixture into 1 1/2″ balls.

As you are making the meat into balls, use a cookie scoop to make sure all the meatballs cook the same way. You can also use an ice cream scoop for larger meatballs. Since the meatballs will be the same size, they will cook more evenly and you will not need to worry about some of them getting burnt.

Cook them in the oven for 17-20 minutes and flip them halfway through the cooking time.

Making your own meatballs is always a good idea because you can use ingredients that you have extra. This helps you prevent food from being wasted. Since meatballs use common ingredients around your house, you will not have to buy a ton of obscure ingredients that you will never need for another recipe.

The Right amount of Meatballs for Different Types of Foods

In America, our meatballs come from European influence. We often use them in pasta, on a pizza, or in a sub sandwich. This is quite different from the ways meatballs are used around the world. Often, meatballs are not used in pasta, rather this is a true American tradition.

When using meatballs on a sandwich, the size of the bread for the sandwich affects how many meatballs you will count as part of the serving size. An average foot-long sandwich will use about 8 meatballs, whereas a 6-inch sub sandwich will use between 3 and 4 meatballs.

You can also use meatballs in a casserole, or just toss them in the crockpot with some barbeque sauce. Depending on the size of the meatballs you use, the serving size will change. Small meatballs, for example, can be eaten in larger helpings, while large meatballs can only be had a couple at a time.

For example, when using meatballs in a portion of pasta, if the meatballs are bite-sized, the serving size will be around 6 meatballs. If they are bigger, the serving size for the meatballs will be less.

How Many Meatballs to Make for Diverse Group Sizes

There is no true serving size that applies to all foods that use meatballs. Depending on what you are eating, the number of meatballs will change. A sub sandwich, for example, that is a foot long will need about 8 meatballs to cover the bread.

If you are making meatballs for a large group for a dish like spaghetti, the average serving size will be around 6 small meatballs or 3 larger-sized meatballs. This is a great example of a dish to make that has meatballs because you can use meatballs of any size.

Number of PeopleMeatball SizeAmount of Meatballs Needed
25 peopleBite Sized Meatballs150
25 peopleLarge Meatballs75
50 peopleBite Sized Meatballs300
50 peopleLarge Meatballs150
100 peopleBite Sized Meatballs600
100 peopleLarge Meatballs300
150 peopleBite Sized Meatballs900
150 peopleLarge Meatballs600
This table is to help guide how many meatballs you will need to serve a large group of people.

Cooking Meatballs for a Party

There are multiple ways to prepare meatballs for a party. One way is to cook them in a crockpot with barbeque sauce. This is a family tradition my family uses at Christmas. We have finger foods and one of the finger foods is meatballs. If you follow the general serving size given on the package, you can never go wrong.

You can also heat meatballs in the oven and use them in pasta. A good serving size for this is 3 because there is pasta to go with the meatballs.

When you are wondering how many meatballs you should prepare for a group gathering, follow the serving provided on the meatballs you are preparing. If you are worried this will still not be enough, you can always make more.

Meatballs as a Side Dish

Smaller meatballs are the best to use if the meatballs are not the main food you will be eating. For example, small meatballs are used in spaghetti or as a side dish to something else. When using the meatballs as a side dish, you can cook them in a variety of ways.

For example, you can cook them in a crockpot with barbeque sauce. Our family makes these for Christmas dinner since we eat snack type foods because it is easier with smaller kids and there were so many of us.

Meatballs as a Main Dish

A good way to use meatballs as a main dish at a party would be using them in a sandwich or on top of rice. Meatball subs are the best example of this. When using meatballs on a sandwich, you will need many more meatballs so you can taste the meatballs. The meatballs become the focal point because whatever is used on a sandwich is where the flavor of the sandwich comes from.


Being part of a really big family, cooking for big groups of people is just how we do things. Cooking, baking, and outdoor cooking have all been huge parts of my life, and I love sharing what I've learned with you.

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