Polpette di Ricotta | Alternitive to Meatballs

Ricotta balls

Polpette di Ricotta

Polpette di ricotta are a great alternitive to meatballs. This vegetarian-friendly recipe is easy to make and it is delicious. The trick to making these decadent ricotta balls is to use well-drained ricotta cheese and fresh basil and to not over-mix the ingredients.  Not all ricotta brands need to be drained. However, if you purchase one that is watery it’s best to take the extra step and drain it.  This will help during the rolling of the ricotta mixture into balls. Also, less moisture will make the polpette less fragile and easier to cook and serve.

These polpette di ricotta are a nice option for a dinner party. Yes, vegetarians will enjoy them. However, I’ve had many meat eaters tell me that they were surprised as to how much they liked eating them too.  This is a simple recipe with only a few ingredients that pack a tasty punch. So make them for your friends and family and let them decide. I guess that they will quickly disappear soon after their first bite. 

One great thing about this recipe is that you can easily swap out ingredients. Try using fresh oregano instead of basil, or even use Parmesan cheese instead of the pecorino.  I even like to add a strip or two of finely minced lemon zest to add another element of Southern Italian flavor.  You’ll find your favorite variations eventually but until then stick to this original recipe and get to cooking!


  • Add the drained ricotta, eggs, breadcrumbs, pecorino cheese, garlic, and basil to a mixing bowl.
  • Season all with salt and pepper
  • Mix them all together.

Tip: Do not over-mix the ingredients. As soon as all is thoroughly combined stop mixing.

  • Oil your hands a little. Then roll a tablespoon amount of the mixture into a ball.
  • Place the balls on a tray and reserve them in the refrigerator as you make (or reheat) your tomato sauce.
  • Once your sauce is ready add the polpette to the cooking pan.

Tip: Do not overcrowd the pan.  This will make it easier to turn them halfway through the cooking process.

  • Make sure the sauce isn’t too thick.  It will thicken as the ricotta balls cook. If it’s thick from the start the polpette may stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Place the pan over a medium-low heat. Make sure that you can move the ricotta balls freely in the sauce.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let them cook for 10 minutes.

Tip: Do not try to turn them until they’ve cooked a full 10 minutes.  Any sooner the polpette may fall apart when you try and turn them.

  • After 10 minutes remove the polpette from the heat and uncover them.
  • Now very carefully turn them in the sauce.

Tip: Make sure that they have not stuck to the pan. If so loosen them first before turning. Add a little water to the sauce if it has thickened too much. This also helps them not to stick as you cook them one more time.

  • Once you have turned them all and have ensured that the polpette won’t stick cook them an additional 10 minutes.
  • The polpette will become firmer and grow in size. This is a good indication that they are done.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and keep the cover on.
  • Let them cool for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.
  • Then serve them with the sauce and a generous amount of pecorino cheese.
polpette di ricotta

Taste the goodness!

Tip: The interior of the polpette will be mouthwatering and delicious!

polpette di ricotta


Buon Appetito!

Click here for another delectable recipe that uses ricotta cheese.