The best EVER spaghetti and meatballs recipe comes straight from my Italian grandma. This tasty meatball recipe is tender beef and pork meatballs simmered in an easy homemade marinara sauce and served over a bed of spaghetti. There is nothing quite like the comfort and amazing flavor of this classic, family favorite pasta dish! Your families are going to LOVE this authentic Italian dinner just as much as mine does!

spaghetti and meatballs served with garlic and bread and topped with fresh basil

Spaghetti and Meatballs – Our Favorite Family Meal

There just really isn’t much better in life than a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.

My grandma just happened to be 100% Italian and my favorite meal that she made us was this delicious recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. It’s a crowd favorite and I’ve never made it for anyone that didn’t just absolutely LOVE it!

This recipe is so special and one that gets made again and again in my family. I’m super excited to share with all of you too! I know your family will love it just as much as mine does. We make this for every special dinner. It’s our go-to for Christmas Eve dinner, birthday parties and when my brother comes in from out of town.

Not only does this spaghetti and meatballs meal taste amazing, I have really special childhood memories of helping my grandma and mom roll meatballs. Ha! Now if I could only get my own kids to help out!

spaghetti and meatballs in a white bowl topped with parmesan cheese and fresh basil

Ingredients & Variations

This is one of those recipes that gets passed down from generation to generation and there are small changes along the way. Sometimes I make substitutions when I make this. Let’s chat about the details:

  • Sauce. The marinara sauce recipe is a simple mix of sautéed onion & garlic, store-bought tomato sauce, tomato paste and seasonings. It’s very basic, but believe me, when it cooks up with the meatballs, it tastes amazing.
  • Meatballs. My grandma’s original meatball recipe uses a 50/50 mix of pork and beef, but you can also make all-beef or all-pork meatballs if you prefer. I’ve also had success using part ground bison for a leaner meatball. If you would prefer turkey meatballs, check out my turkey meatball recipe.
  • Spaghetti. You can’t have homemade spaghetti and meatballs without the spaghetti! But feel free to enjoy these flavorful meatballs and tomato sauce over any pasta you have on hand. Other long pasta noodles like bucatini, pappardelle, capellini, or linguine work great. Even short pasta noodles, like fusilli, rotini, macaroni, or penne would be a fun way to mix things up. If you want a low-carb meal, try serving the meatballs with roasted broccoli or a fresh Italian salad instead of pasta.
spaghetti and meatballs twirled around a gold fork and served with garlic bread

How to Make Spaghetti and Meatballs

For best results, the sauce needs to simmer for approximately 3 hours, so this recipe starts by making the sauce. While the sauce is simmering, you can make the meatballs.

How to Make Tomato Sauce

Whereas my tasty, no sugar added marinara sauce, uses crushed tomatoes, this tomato sauce uses a combination of tomato sauce and tomato paste. It’s still super easy to make and the flavor is enhanced by the addition of sautéed onion & garlic and meatballs cooked right in the sauce.

  1. Prep. Dice the onion and garlic and get all of the other sauce ingredients ready-to-go!
  2. Sauté. In a large pot, sauté onions and garlic until softened and fragrant.
  3. Simmer. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover with a loose lid, and simmer on low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

How easy was that?! After the sauce has simmered for about 1 1/2 hours, it’s time to start prepping the meatballs!

How to Make Meatballs

Making homemade meatballs can be done in 3 simple steps.

  1. Prep. Combine all ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. It’s a little messy, but I find the easiest way to get all of the ingredients fully incorporated is to use my hands to mix them up. Roll the meat mixture into meatballs.
  2. Simmer. Brown meatballs (on all sides) in a frying pan. You will not want meatballs to be completely cooked through, just browned around the outside. Add meatballs to simmering marinara sauce for the last hour of sauce cooking time.
  3. Cook pasta. When everything is close to being done, get that pasta cooking. If you’re like me and always seem to have sticky pasta, give this video from Gordon Ramsey a watch. It’s a total game changer!!
  4. Serve. Top a big bed of spaghetti with meatballs and sauce. And don’t forget the Parmesan cheese and garlic bread.
meatballs cooking in tomato sauce

Make Ahead Meatballs

Because this meal does take some simmering time, it’s one of those recipes I often make ahead of time. Plus, making the meatballs and sauce in advance gives the flavors time to deepen and become even more delicious.

You can make the meatballs and sauce 1 to 2 days ahead of time. Store them in the fridge in a covered container. When you’re ready to enjoy, simply reheat in a large pot over the stove.

Spaghetti and meatballs will keep for about 5 to 7 days, covered and in the fridge.

How to Freeze Meatballs

The meatballs and sauce will freeze fabulously! Let the dish cool completely, then ladle into freezer-safe containers, leaving about an inch of room for expansion. I like to double this recipe and freeze half for a quick dinner on a busy weeknight.

Meatballs and sauce will keep well in the freezer for up to about four months. When you’re ready to enjoy, defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat over medium-low heat on the stovetop.

While meatballs are heating, boil up some fresh spaghetti for an easy meal ready to go!

spaghetti and meatballs served with a gold fork

Tips for Meatballs

  • I recommend dicing the onion finely, so the meatballs are easier to form and picky kids won’t notice the onion.
  • This recipe can easily be doubled to feed a crowd or freeze half for later.
  • Don’t over-mix the ingredients, or the meatballs will be tough. Work the ingredients just enough so that the mixture comes together.
  • A combination of ground beef and ground pork is recommended for the best flavor. However, you can substitute ground bison or turkey for the ground beef, if you prefer.

Spaghetti and Meatballs Video Tutorial

More Favorite Italian Dinner Recipes:

Easy Healthy Lasagna

Italian Sausage Pasta

Homemade Margherita Pizza

Baked Chicken Parmesan

If you try this spaghetti and meatballs recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.

meatball cut in half served over pasta
spaghetti and meatballs served with garlic and bread and topped with fresh basil
Print
4.55 from 46 votes
Nutrition Facts
Best Ever Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe
Amount Per Serving (4 meatballs w/ sauce)
Calories 296 Calories from Fat 115
% Daily Value*
Fat 12.8g20%
Saturated Fat 5.1g32%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 70.3mg23%
Potassium 706.4mg20%
Carbohydrates 23.5g8%
Fiber 4.8g20%
Sugar 13.6g15%
Protein 22.4g45%
Vitamin A 1100IU22%
Vitamin C 12.1mg15%
Calcium 159mg16%
Iron 3.7mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Servings:10 servings
Best Ever Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
3 hrs
Total Time:
3 hrs 20 mins
 

An authentic Italian family spaghetti and meatballs recipe that's huge on flavor!

Ingredients
FOR THE SAUCE:
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 2-3 minced garlic cloves
  • 4 1/2 cups tomato sauce (I bought one 33.5 ounce carton and one 8 ounce can)
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 4 (6 ounce) cans water (use the tomato paste cans to measure out your water)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (coconut sugar works)
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
FOR THE MEATBALLS:
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground beef or ground bison or another pound of ground pork
  • 1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs (4 slices of bread ground in food processor)
  • 1/2 cup very finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for pan frying meatballs
FOR SERVING
  • 1 box pasta, garlic bread, Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and a fresh green side salad
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a very large pot or dutch oven. Sauté onion for about 5 minutes and until soft. Add garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes.
  2. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, sugar, basil and oregano. Simmer 3 hours with loose lid and stir occasionally.

  3. While sauce is simmering; combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. I used my hands to thoroughly combine ingredients together.
  4. Roll meat mixture into meatballs and pan fry in a large skillet with olive oil. You will most likely have to do this in several batches, depending on the size of your skillet. You will not want meatballs to be completely cooked, just browned around the outside.
  5. Add meatballs to simmering sauce for the last hour of sauce cooking time.
  6. Enjoy sauce and meatballs served over your favorite pasta.

Recipe Notes

Nutritional information includes meatballs and sauce (not pasta). I made each meatball weigh about 30 grams, which made 39 meatballs. Nutritional information is based off of each person getting about 4 medium meatballs and an equal amount of sauce. 

Freezing meatballs: Let the sauce and meatballs cool completely, then ladle into freezer-safe containers, leaving about an inch of room for expansion. I like to double this recipe and freeze half for a quick dinner on a busy weeknight.

Meatballs and sauce will keep well in the freezer for up to about four months. When you're ready to enjoy, defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat over medium-low heat on the stovetop.

While meatballs are heating, boil up some fresh spaghetti for an easy meal ready to go!

Photos by Molly at Yes to Yolks.

Author: Kim
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: best spaghetti and meatballs, classic spaghetti and meatballs, homemade spaghetti and meatballs

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @kimscravings on Instagram and be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy and delicious recipes straight to your inbox! 

This homemade spaghetti and meatballs recipe was originally posted in September of 2018 and was updated with new content in September of 2020.