Italian Meatball Tartlets

These Italian Meatball Tartlets are the perfect gameday appetizer!

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These Italian Meatball Tartlets are the perfect gameday appetizer!
Happy Friday everyone!  We’re down to just over a week until the big game.  Check that.  We’re down to just over a week until the big commercials and halftime show!  Yes, that’s better.  Truth be told, I’ll be watching the game and the commercials and the halftime show.  And for the record, that leaves very little time to get up and restock your appetizer plate.  Or get another beverage.  Or let the dogs outside.  But I digress.  

These Italian Meatball Tartlets are the perfect gameday appetizer! Are you a die-hard, live-for-football kinda person?  If not, it’s totally fine.  But you still have to be able to talk about football when you find yourself standing around with friends and neighbors watching the game next Sunday.  So here are a couple of fun facts that you can drop into the conversation.

  • The average football game lasts for 3 hours, but the ball is only in play for about 11 minutes.  So where does that extra time go?  Replays.  Replays and commercials.  Replays and commercials and shots of players in the huddle or standing on the sidelines.  Think about it.  It’s true!
  • This coming weekend is actually the 2nd biggest grilling weekend of the year…behind only 4th of July.  I personally find this one a little hard to believe as our grill is usually covered by ice and snow in early February.  I like love grilled food as much as the next guy, but I’m not putting on my snow boots to get the grill out!
  • The average gameday party has 17 guests.  17!  Better have a double batch of Italian Meatball Tartlets on hand.  Wait…what?  Meatball tartlets?  Yup, that’s right.  Meatball tartlets.  Bring an Italian flare to this year’s party with these Italian Meatball Tartlets!

These Italian Meatball Tartlets are the perfect gameday appetizer! Laura walked in the door from work a couple of days ago, took one look at the tray of Italian Meatball Tartlets on the countertop and said, “Oh, hello, dinner!”  (Unfortunately for her, that tray went with me to the curling club that night…where a couple of the guys quickly repeated, “Oh, hello, dinner!”)  Laura might have snagged one of these Italian Meatball Tartlets for herself, though…which Robbie then proceeded to eat.

Laura has already asked me to make another batch of these tartlets for our party next weekend.  (And unlike the average party, ours will consist of 4 people this year.  Us and the neighbors.  5 if you count Robbie…although he’ll be asleep by the end of the 1st quarter.)

These Italian Meatball Tartlets are the perfect gameday appetizer! Italian sausage is a staple around our house, and we always keep a couple packs of Johnsonville’s Italian Ground Sausage on hand.  The folks at Johnsonville know their Italian sausage, and the flavors and spices mixed into the sausage are always perfect!  A couple of years ago, my mother-in-law taught me how to make one heck of a tasty Italian meatball.  Those meatballs are good.  Like really good.  So I decided they needed to be on the menu for this year’s gameday.

Since gameday appetizers need to be handheld, I nestled those meatballs into flaky pieces of puff pastry.  A spoonful of marinara sauce and a bit of mozzarella cheese finished these bad boys off.  Gameday appetizer deliciousness right there!

These Italian Meatball Tartlets are the perfect gameday appetizer! Speaking of gameday appetizers, Johnsonville has been on a quest to add to their official book of Game Day Recipes.  This year, they launched an online reality cooking show competition called The Sausage Dome.  Finalists, including a 13-year-old-chef and an Italian grandma named Nonna Gina, pitched their ideas to 6 Johnsonville employees.  And the winning recipe?  Spicy Touchdown Sausage Stuffed Bites.  Click here to check out the Bites along with other official Johnsonville Game Day Recipes!

No matter what team you’re pulling for, I hope your game day party is epic this year.  And if these Italian Meatball Tartlets are involved, then I can promise you’ll at least have delicious appetizers for those 11 minutes of football!  Cheers!

These Italian Meatball Tartlets are the perfect gameday appetizer!

Italian Meatball Tartlets

These Italian Meatball Tartlets are the perfect gameday appetizer!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 151kcal


For the Meatballs

For the Tartlets


For the Meatballs

  • In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk. Let soak for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients (ground sausage, onion, egg, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper and Parmesan). Mix until well combined. Shape the mixture into 24 meatballs. (Tip: Take care not to overmix or the meatballs may be tough.)
  • Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and cook just until browned on all sides; remove meatballs from skillet. Place meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until fully cooked.

For the Tartlets

  • Meanwhile, roll the puff pastry into a 10”x15” rectangle. Cut into 24 (2.5”) squares. Press one square into cups of a mini-muffin pan.
  • Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, or until pastries turn light golden brown.
  • Remove tartlets from oven and add a cooked meatball in each. Top with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • Return tartlets to oven and bake for 4-5 more minutes, or until cheese has melted.
  • Garnish with additional chopped parsley before serving.


If you're running short on time, just grab a pack of Johnsonville's Italian-Style Meatballs instead!

These Italian Meatball Tartlets are the perfect gameday appetizer!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Johnsonville. The opinions and text are all mine.

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    1. Yeah, it really is crazy how fast time is flying, Manali. I know we say that often…but woah! 🙂 It’s time for gameday appetizers…and these tartlets are quite delicious. Hope you have an awesome week!!

    1. I agree, Kevin! Meatballs are the perfect gameday app…but they can be kinda hard to eat in your lap. That’s where the puff pastry comes in! These bad boys are delicious!! 🙂

  1. Mmmmm meatball tartlets? You had me at meatballs. I recently broke up with my Italian boyfriend, we were together for over six years, and his mother made the best meatballs I’ve ever put into my mouth. No matter how much I tried or how many times she tried to teach me, my meatballs were never as good as hers. I’m throwing a Superbowl party and want to make a simple meatball dish full of flavor, these meatball tartlets are perfect!!! Love it, David.

    1. Oh man, an Italian boyfriend? I bet his mother really did make some awesome Italian food. (Sorry to hear that you guys broke up, btw.) Your meatball story sounds a bit like ours. Laura and I kept trying to replicate her Mom’s meatball recipe. We got close, but it was never perfect. And then we finally just got her to show us how to do it! 🙂 Thanks so much, Mary!!

    1. Thank you so much, Gaila! This really is perfect finger food. 🙂 We had a great weekend over here (I spent the whole weekend at a curling tournament…). Hope you guys had a great weekend, too! Cheers, my friend!

  2. I’m totally not into football, but do love the food. I’m sitting here on Saturday morning at my kitchen island and drinking a latte and read your post to my hubby and when I read the fact about the game time being only 11 minutes, hubby looked up and said ‘I know, right????’ I do enjoy the half time show and will quietly sit and eat as others watch the game, which is perfect to me. Speaking of perfect, these tartlets! I love rich, buttery puff pastry and this is a brilliant idea. Pinned! I can understand why Laura would be excited to see these. Good thing you are making more 🙂 Happy weekend, my friend!

    1. Yeah, I get it. Not everyone is into football. But it’s hard not to watch the big game at least for the commercials and the halftime show! And then there’s the football appetizers thrown into the mix, too. Yum! These meatball tartlets turned out really well…I took this batch into the curling club last week, and they disappeared in about 8 seconds flat. Far less than the 11 minutes the ball is in play during the game. haha! Thanks, Dawn!!

      1. Hey Donna! The meatballs for this recipe can absolutely be made in advance. To reheat those, I would recommend placing them in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until hot. Unfortunately, puff pastry loses a lot of its flakiness when its reheated, so I would recommend baking the puff pastry portion of this appetizer before you serve them. I hope you enjoy this recipe – it’s always a hit here when we make it!!

    1. And the older you get, the sooner the holidays appear on the calendar. Or is that just because time passes faster? Either way, something for you to look forward to, mate! 🙂 Hmmm…I’ve actually never come across a vol-au-vant (I had to Google it…), but you’re right. It’s pretty darn similar. Either way, the puff pastry is the perfect nest for a tasty Italian sausage!

    1. These tartlets really are the perfect party food, Kathy! I mean I love a good meatball, but they’re kinda hard to eat in your lap. The puff pastry cups solve that problem. 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend, my friend!

  3. Okay, I’m not a football fan, and I’m not able to talk about football either (Well, I think, if a lavender field instead of a regular football one was involved, I might be more interested in that). But this fact – 3 hours vs 11 minutes is surprising. Almost shocking. And this idea to top pastry with some meatballs is awesome. Please, next time pretend you’re having a 16 guests on your party and then send all the leftovers to me (But make sure your 4-5 guests won’t eat like 16 people. Especially keep eye on Robbie. Thanks!)

    1. Hmmm…the thought of playing football in the middle of a lavender field is a bit funny, Ben. But, the good news is that everyone would smell great! 🙂 So if I made enough food for 16, but only invited 4 people, then there would definitely be leftovers. I’d be tempted to send you some, but leftovers also make great lunches the next day. Thanks, my friend!

  4. How make ahead are these? Like… could I make the tartlets and the meatballs the day before a family event and then just put them together when it’s time to serve them? Have you ever done that? Would I have to pop them in the oven to make sure the meatballs were heated through and the cheese melted a bit? Or can they be served at room temperature?

    1. Hey Erica! So I’ve never made these tartlets the day before an event. But you could absolutely make the meatballs the day before and just reheat them in the oven. However, since the tartlet portion uses puff pastry, it really will taste better if you are able to bake those the same day. In my experience, puff pastry just doesn’t reheat as well the next day. And, yes, these could be served at room temperature, too. I hope this helps, and I hope you enjoy these tartlets….they’re quite tasty! 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    I made these for a get together for a group traveling to Italy together. They were truly a hit. The meatballs were delicious. I had a small problem with the pastry puffing up so much in the initial baking that I had to force the meatball into the crust. I think my mistake was cutting fluted rounds instead of squares. My silicone mini muffin bakeware must be much smaller than yours, as I used the entire box of puff pastry and got 48 mini meatballs out of the recipe. They were the perfect size. After the first batch puffed up too much, I put the meatball into the pastry and baked them together. It worked! Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Hey Pati! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe – it really is a fun one! Now as far as that puff pastry, make sure to ‘dock’ it really well. Basically prick it all over with a fork. The tiny holes will allow the steam to escape which in turn means it won’t puff up quite as much. Either way, it’s not a big deal just to push the meatballs back into the pastry. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, too! 🙂

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