Skip to Content

Authentic Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs

This Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe is savory and delicious. It has been handed down for generations from my Italian great-grandma, so it’s 100% authentic!

Italian spaghetti and meatballs in a white dish.

Spaghetti and meatballs is a go-to dinner for so many families.

Most make it with a jar of spaghetti sauce and pre-made meatballs.

While this method is definitely easier, the traditional flavor for spaghetti and meatballs just isn’t there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a quick and easy dinner, but sometimes it’s nice to make the real thing.

This Italian spaghetti and meatballs recipe came from my Italian great-grandmother. It’s 100% authentic and tastes like it came straight from a traditional Italian restaurant.

It does take some time for the sauce to simmer, so this is perfect for a Sunday dinner when you have time to let the sauce cook all day.

How do you make spaghetti and meatballs from scratch?

BROWN 2 cloves of minced garlic in a small amount of olive oil in a large saucepan.

Browned garlic in a large pot.

ADD 2 (6 ounce) cans of tomato paste and 2 (8 ounce) cans of tomato sauce to the pan.

THEN add 1 can of water for each can of paste and sauce used (for a total of 4 cans or 28 ounces).

Spaghetti sauce ingredients in a pot.

SPRINKLE in a pinch each of dried mint, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper and stir well.

Spaghetti sauce in a pot.

SIMMER uncovered on low heat for 4-5 hours.

WHILE the sauce is simmering mix 1 pound of hamburger, 1 teaspoon of salt, a dash of pepper, 1/4 cup of bread crumbs, 1 egg, and a pinch each of dried parsley, basil, and mint.

Authentic meatball ingredients on a white table.

FORM the mixture into 16 gold-ball sized balls.

FRY the balls in a bit of oil in a large frying pan rotating after each side is done cooking to keep the ball shape.

Homemade meatballs for spaghetti in a fruing pan.

PLACE the meatballs in the sauce to finish slow cooking.

Italian spaghetti and meatballs recipe.

COOK spaghetti according to package directions and serve meatballs and sauce over cooked spaghetti.

FAQs

Spaghetti meatball sauce over pasta.
What is the best pasta to have with meatballs?

Italian meatballs are traditionally served with the longer pastas like spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, or linguine.

These longer pastas allow you to twirl some on your fork and then grab a pit of meatball at the same time. The smaller pastas are more difficult to maneuver once you’ve got them on your fork, so if you want to serve those, make smaller meatballs!

Can you put raw meatballs in spaghetti sauce?

You can, but you may end up with meat sauce instead of meatballs.

The benefit of frying the meatballs is to give them a nice browned texture that holds up well in the simmering sauce.

Should I bake or fry meatballs?

That’s up to you!

Frying the meatballs is quicker and allows the meat to slow cook in the sauce.

If you bake the meatballs, you’ll save some calories by omitting the oil and the meatballs may retain their shape a little better. You should start baking the meatballs about 30 minutes before the sauce is done. Here is a great tutorial on how to bake meatballs.

Can you overcook meatballs in sauce?

If you leave your meatballs in sauce for several hours on end, it’s possible that they may start falling apart.

The right amount of time is between 3.5 – 4 hours (or the time it takes for you to get the meatballs mixed, formed, and fried while the sauce is simmering).

What do you eat with spaghetti and meatballs?

I love to keep this meal as traditional as possible, so we eat spaghetti and meatballs with a green salad, green vegetable, and some sort of bread.

Here are a few ideas:
– Green beans
– Roasted broccoli and cauliflower
Scrambled eggs and zucchini
– Caesar salad
– Spinach salad with strawberries and balsamic dressing
– Garlic bread
– Crusty bread, like a baguette
– Artisan bread
– Breadsticks

Recipe Tips and Substitutions

Spaghetti and meatballs in a white dish.

The first time I made this recipe, I really messed up the sauce. It did not taste good. The sauce needs to simmer uncovered for the full 4-5 hours. I just put it on the back burner on my stove and turn it down to between 2 and 3 on my gas burner and let it go.

The sauce will make a bit of a mess, so be sure to clear the space around the stove unless you want things splattered with sauce!

The best tool for mixing the meatball mixture is your bare hands!

The trick to keeping the meatballs round is to rotate them after 30 seconds on each side. They don’t need to fully cook. You’re just giving them a nice browned crust, so rotate them as soon as one side is browned.

Use a wooden spatula to rotate each meatball to the side touching the one you just browned. So instead of flipping it over like you would a steak or piece of chicken, you should just push it to the next closest side.

The meatballs won’t be a perfect ball, so if you’d like them to keep their shape, you can bake them in the oven.

Once you put the meatballs in the sauce, don’t touch them again or you may end up with meat sauce instead of meatballs.

More Like This

Authentic spaghetti and meatballs on a dinner plate.

Looking for more delicious pasta recipes? You’ll love these!

I hope your family loves this Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe! If you make it, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Instagram with @ashcroftfamilytable and use the hashtag #ashcroftfamilytable!

 

And if you’d like to get a 4-week meal plan featuring my recipes, just enter your email in the form above and you’ll get it straight to your inbox!

Italian spaghetti and meatballs in a white dish.

Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes

This is the authentic Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe you've been looking for! It features a savory red sauce and tender meatballs served over a bed of warm spaghetti.

Ingredients

Spaghetti Sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans of tomato paste
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans of tomato sauce
  • 28 ounces water (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 16 ounces spaghetti

Instructions

    1. Brown garlic in olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat.
    2. Add tomato paste and tomato sauce to the saucepan.
    3. Then add 1 can of water for each can of paste and sauce used, for a total of 28 ounces.
    4. Sprinkle in mint, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper, and stir well.
    5. Simmer the sauce uncovered on low heat for 4-5 hours.
    6. While the sauce is simmering, mix hamburger, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, egg, and dried parsley, basil, and mint together in a medium mixing bowl.
    7. Form the mixture into 16 gold-ball sized balls.
    8. Fry the balls in a bit of oil in a large frying pan rotating after each side is done cooking to keep the ball shape.
    9. Place the meatballs in the sauce to finish slow cooking for 3-4 hours.
    10. 15 minutes before serving, cook spaghetti according to package directions
    11. Serve meatballs and sauce over cooked spaghetti.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 614mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 13g
A Pinterest image with text and a collage of the process to make Italian spaghetti and meatballs.

Crockpot Asian chicken thighs served over rice.
Previous
5 Ingredient Crockpot Asian Chicken Thighs
Creamy chicken noodle soup in a stockpot.
Next
The Easiest Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Skip to Recipe
shares