Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

This classic spaghetti and meatballs recipe I’ve been making for over 20 years comes from Sicily.  For lighter, lower calorie meatballs, use ground turkey (Italian seasoned flavor if available) instead of pork.  If using turkey, avoid the super lean variety since the 85/15 variety will provide more flavorful and tender meatballs.  The recipe works equally well with ground beef if that’s what is on hand.

When making a tomato based pasta sauce from scratch, the San Marzano tomatoes from Italy make all the difference.  For a less expensive option, use the San Marzano style tomatoes grown domestically and found in most grocery stores.  They’re not as flavorful as the ones from Italy, but still very good.

Cooked meatballs ready for sauce

Classic Spaghetti And Meatballs Recipe

4 to 6 servings


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 28- ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes in juice
  • 4 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
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  • 2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages casings removed
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  • 1 pound of spaghetti


  • FOR SAUCE: Crush tomatoes in their juice by hand in a big bowl - do not drain. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion, sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juices and 2 tablespoons basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens,about 1 hour. Mix in 2 tablespoons basil. Season with salt and pepper. Set sauce aside.
  • FOR MEATBALLS: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil baking sheet. Mix crumbs and milk in medium bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Mix in Parmesan, onion, basil, egg, garlic and pepper. Add sausage and blend well. Using wet hands, form mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place on baking sheet. Bake until meatballs are light brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add to sauce.
  • Have the sauce at a low simmer by the time the spaghetti is done and place a ladle-full (or two) of sauce in a big pasta bowl. Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain (do not rinse) or fish out the spaghetti with long tongs or a pasta net and place pasta in the bowl with the ladle of sauce. Toss the hot spaghetti with the small amount of ladled-out sauce. Spoon additional sauce and meatballs over spaghetti to serve and garnish with fresh basil leaves.


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