Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

Every Sunday afternoon, our neighborhood would be filled with the tantalizing aroma of Italian spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. It was Mrs. Bianchi, our lovely Italian neighbor, who introduced us to this delightful dish. She would often invite us over for dinner and share tales of her childhood in Naples, where she learned this traditional recipe from her Nonna. The memories of those evenings, filled with laughter, love, and plates piled high with spaghetti and meatballs, are something I cherish to this day.

Today, I want to share Mrs. Bianchi’s legacy with all of you. While I’ve added a few tweaks here and there, the essence of the recipe remains unchanged – a heartwarming meal that brings families together.

How to Prepare Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

Ingredients for Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound of quality ground beef
  • 1 cup homemade bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon of dried parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon of garlic granules
  • 1 fresh egg, whisked

For the Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup of finely diced onions
  • 5 fresh garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) of whole tomatoes, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated white sugar
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 small can (6 ounces) of concentrated tomato paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon of dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Directions for Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

  1. Begin by assembling all the necessary ingredients on your counter.
  2. In a sizable mixing bowl, merge the ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, black pepper, garlic granules, and the whisked egg. Mix thoroughly until combined and shape into 12 even meatballs. Place these in the fridge to firm up.
  3. Heat a deep saucepan over a medium flame. Sauté the diced onions and chopped garlic in olive oil until the onions become translucent.
  4. Integrate the tomatoes, salt, sugar, and bay leaf into the saucepan. Put the lid on, reduce the flame to low, and let it simmer for 90 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
  5. Mix in the tomato paste, basil, and black pepper. Gently place the meatballs in the sauce and allow everything to simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  6. Ladle onto hot spaghetti, sprinkle with some more Parmesan, and relish the taste of Italy at home!

What type of tomatoes are best for the sauce?

For a rich and flavorful sauce, it’s best to use whole peeled tomatoes. They break down beautifully during the simmering process, resulting in a thicker and more robust sauce.

Can I use ground turkey instead of beef for the meatballs?

Absolutely! Ground turkey can be a lighter alternative to beef. Just ensure to season it well and possibly add a tad more breadcrumbs to hold them together.

How can I store leftover spaghetti sauce?

Place any remaining sauce in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days. For longer storage, you can freeze the sauce for up to a month.

What pairs well with this spaghetti and meatball dish?

A crisp green salad, garlic bread, or even roasted vegetables make great companions to this hearty dish.

Can I omit the sugar from the sauce?

Yes, the sugar helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes, but if you’re avoiding added sugars, you can omit it or replace it with a natural sweetener of your choice.

How do I ensure my meatballs are soft and juicy?

Be careful not to overmix the meatball mixture, and simmering them in the sauce helps keep them juicy and tender.


Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6


  • Meatballs:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 28 ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic powder and beaten egg. Mix well and form into 12 balls. Store, covered, in refrigerator until needed.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent.
  • Stir in tomatoes, salt, sugar and bay leaf. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 90 minutes.
  • Stir in tomato paste, basil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and meatballs and simmer 30 minutes more.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!
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