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Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

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Molly Aronica

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is the ultimate comfort dish, nothing lets someone know how much you care about them more than presenting them with a bowl of the homemade stuff. I am such a meatball fanatic, in fact, that I wrote my college admissions essay about them (not a joke).

Coming from a traditional Italian heritage, it is a time-honored tradition in the Aronica family to pass down this very meatball recipe from generation to generation -- my dad loves to tell the story of the day his father said to him, “Son, today you learn to make the meatballs”. The trick to making this meatball recipe is that the consistency is all about how it feels. The ratio of breadcrumbs and water to meat are difficult to quantify since it varies from batch to batch. Be conservative with both to begin with and then add more later if the consistency seems off.

Click here to see Recipe SWAT Team: Meatballs.


For the tomato sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¾ cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 pound cooked spaghetti


For the tomato sauce:

Add oil to a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sautée until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Toss the red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, basil and oregano into the pot and cook with the aromatics for one minute. Slowly pour in the tomatoes, wine, and vinegar and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 2 hours.

For the meatballs:

Place the beef, breadcrumbs, cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, basil, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. With clean hands, gently combine the ingredients just until they’re mixed together. Working slowly, add the water to the beef in a steady stream so that it is fully incorporated. The consistency of the mixture should be soft and wet, but not soupy. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cooking.

After cooling, the consistency of the mixture should be more solid, but still soft. When you’re forming the meatballs they should be able to maintain their shape, feel free to add more water or breadcrumbs a tablespoon at a time to reach your desired consistency. Add one teaspoon olive oil to a cast iron pan (or any other heavy bottomed skillet) over medium-high heat. Working with only a few at a time, add the meatballs to the pan and sear gently on all sides. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for at least 1 hour.

When you’re ready to eat, cook the spaghetti according to the box’s instructions and serve immediately with the meatballs and sauce.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Delicious, rich, satisfying, perfect. Spaghetti and meatballs will make anyone smile.

freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

Freshly ground black pepper

can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes

can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes

white or red wine (optional)

Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper

whole fresh basil leaves, chopped (optional)

spaghetti, cooked to al dente

  1. To make the meatballs: combine the meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and a splash of milk in a mixing bowl. Mix together well, using your hands. Roll into 25 1½-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet into the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.
  2. To brown the meatballs, heat the olive oil in a heavy pot or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, about eight at a time, turning to brown on all sides (they&rsquoll finish cooking in the sauce later). Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate after each batch. Set meatballs aside.
  3. To make the sauce: in the same pot, add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes, or until translucent. Pour in crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes with their juices and wine, if using. Add the red pepper flakes (as desired), parsley, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir to combine and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the meatballs to the pot and stir gently into the sauce. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring very gently a couple of times.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the basil, if using. Serve over cooked spaghetti and sprinkle with extra parmesan.

I love&mdashI mean love&mdashmaking spaghetti and meatballs. Oh, don&rsquot get me wrong&mdashI love eating it, too. But if I had to choose forever between cooking it and eating it&hellipwell, wait a minute. I don&rsquot know which I&rsquod choose. Never eating spaghetti and meatballs again in my life would be pretty devastating.

What I&rsquom trying to say in a roundabout, backward, incoherent, motormouthed way is that I derive a great deal of satisfaction from cooking spaghetti and meatballs. There&rsquos just something about the mixing of the meatballs, the forming them into compact little rounds, the browning them in the same pot in which you&rsquoll eventually add the sauce ingredients, the adding of the meatballs to the sauce. The steady simmer, during which the meatballs impart their flavor to the sauce.

The Cast of Characters: ground beef, ground pork, garlic, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, canned crushed tomatoes, canned whole tomatoes, onion, Parmesan cheese, spaghetti and olive oil.

You can use whatever ground meat you&rsquod like to use, actually. This is beef (left) and pork (right), but you could use all beef if that&rsquos what you have&hellipor even ground chicken or turkey.

And fresh parsley is all I had, but in the summer I like to use a lot of fresh basil, too. Gives it a nice herby flavor.

You also need red pepper flakes. It&rsquoll give the sauce some kick.

And wine&mdashwine is good. I was fresh out&mdashhiccup!&mdashbut it really adds a nice flavor.

Okay, the first thing I needed to do was make some breadcrumbs since I never have any store bought breadcrumbs on hand. I had some day-old French bread, so I sliced it lengthwise and put it in a 250 degree oven for about 25 minutes or so. This just dries it out and gets it nice and crispy and hard. That&rsquos what you want for breadcrumbs.

Break the hard, crusty bread into pieces and throw them into the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse the bread several times until it&rsquos mostly broken up.

Then measure it out and have it ready.

Now, in a bowl combine the breadcrumbs with the meat and two eggs&hellip

Then add plenty of freshly grated parmesan&hellip

And some parsley and garlic.

And finally, a splash of milk and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a little salt. The parmesan is salty, so don&rsquot overdo it.

Use your grubby little hands to mix it all together&hellip

Then scoop out balls and roll them up neatly.

I don&rsquot care what I do or how many times I throw this together, I always&mdashalways wind up with 25 meatballs. And I&rsquom always searching for the hidden significance in that number. What does it all mean? Why don&rsquot I ever wind up with 24 meatballs, or 26?

After you roll them out, stick the pan into the freezer for about 5 or 10 minutes. This just firms them up a little and helps them stay together while they brown.

Next, heat up some olive oil in a heavy pot or skillet. Just make sure it&rsquos large enough to hold the sauce ingredients, because I don&rsquot believe in using separate pans in situations like this.

It&rsquos simply against my set of beliefs.

When the oil is hot, add about eight of the meatballs.

Cook them for a couple of minutes, turning them to brown on all sides.

Remove the meatballs when they&rsquore brown on the outside but not done on the inside. We&rsquoll want them to finish cooking in the sauce later.

Repeat with all the meatballs until they&rsquore all browned and delicious.

Keep the same pot over medium-high heat&hellip

Then throw in the onions and garlic.

Stir it around and cook for a couple of minutes&hellip

Then pour in the crushed tomatoes&hellip

And the whole tomatoes with their juice. You can add the wine here, if you&rsquore using it.

Then add some red pepper flakes. (Note: I did not use all of these I just sprinkled in a healthy pinch.)

Then add salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar, just to counteract the acid in the tomatoes.

Heat it up and cook the sauce for about 20 minutes, just to get the ball rolling.

Then carefully add the meat-a-balls&hellip

And stir them into the sauce.

Now you just allow the sauce to simmer for about 30 more minutes. The yummy juices inside the meatballs will work their way into the sauce, giving it some really delicious flavor&hellipand the meatballs themselves will eventually turn into little nuggets of love.

Stir the sauce very gently a couple of times.

And that&rsquos it, my darlings! Perfect, rich and yummy.

You&rsquore cooking spaghetti in the meantime, right? Right. Add it to a generously-sized bowl.

Oh, and make sure the spaghetti&rsquos al dente! No mushy noodles allowed.

And pile on the sauce. You could also just serve the whole thing on a huge platter I do this if I have company, which is about once a decade. It makes an impressive presentation!

And then&hellip(you know where I&rsquom headed&hellip)

And serve it up to an adoring crowd with garlic bread and Caesar salad. The perfect meal.


  • for the meatballs
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1⁄₂ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • for the sauce
  • 1⁄₄ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 11⁄₂ cups)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 fresh bay leaves, or 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1⁄₂ teaspoon peperoncino flakes
  • Three 28- ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated Grana Padano


Recipe Summary

  • Sauce:
  • 5 (14.5-ounce) cans no salt-added whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Meatballs:
  • 1 (1-ounce) slice white bread
  • ⅓ cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 large egg white
  • Cooking spray
  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 1 pound uncooked spaghetti
  • ⅓ cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

To prepare sauce, place half of the tomatoes in a food processor, and process until smooth. Pour pureed tomatoes into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining tomatoes.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion cook 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in pureed tomatoes, red pepper, salt, black pepper, and bay leaves bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaves. Keep warm.

To prepare meatballs, preheat oven to 400°. Place bread in a food processor pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1/2 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup cheese, and the next 7 ingredients (cheese through egg white). Shape mixture into 24 (1-inch) meatballs, and place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until done. Add meatballs to sauce cook over low heat 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta return to pot. Spoon about 2 cups tomato sauce (leaving meatballs in pan) into pasta, and toss well to coat. Transfer pasta mixture to a platter top with remaining sauce and meatballs. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese.

Recipe Variations

Can I Cook This In An Instant Pot Instead?

If the make-ahead tips didn’t quite do it for you, you’re probably a fellow Instant Pot believer. Go for my Instant Pot spaghetti recipe! It’s right up your alley.

But want these luscious meatballs too? Got you covered: my Instant Pot spaghetti and meatballs recipe is waiting for you!

Can I Cook This In A Crockpot Instead?

I adore my Instant Pot, but there’s something extra delicious about food cooked in a Crockpot. Crock pot spaghetti is no different — that sauce simmering for hours, those noodles soaking up all that tomatoey goodness. Perfection, ready for you by dinner time!

Can I Bake The Spaghetti Too?

If you love the rich flavor of Crockpot cooking, the oven is calling! Baked spaghetti has a layer of crunch and richness that Crockpot spaghetti doesn’t. And if you want to really up the richness factor, go for my baked spaghetti with cream cheese. I promise it’s as delicious as it sounds!

Can I Use Chicken Instead?

Of course! Chicken spaghetti is a tender twist to the hearty heaviness of meatballs. Cheesy chicken spaghetti is a family favorite in my house — who doesn’t love cheese and chicken and pasta? It’s like fancy mac n cheese!

Want a zesty option? My chicken spaghetti with Rotel is just for you! Rotel adds such a bright Mexican burst of flavor. And speaking of Mexican twists…

Can I Make This With A Mexican Twist?

Taco Spaghetti! I’ve yet to meet anyone who can resist the flavor combination of tacos and spaghetti. It’s a marriage of two perfect things!

If you want to truly celebrate all that’s good about Mexican and Italian food, Mexican spaghetti is where it’s at! I love serving this with chopped lettuce and tomatoes as garnish.

What You’ll Need To Make My EASY Spaghetti and Meatball Recipe

For the most flavorful meatballs, I recommend using equal parts beef, veal, and pork at most supermarkets, this blend is labeled “meatloaf mix.” If your market doesn’t carry the blend, you can use half beef and half pork (since ground veal isn’t readily available).

For the cheese, be sure to use the real-deal imported Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy domestic Parmesan pales in comparison. You can always tell if it’s authentic by looking at the rind, which is embossed with the name over and over. If the cheese is already grated, it should be labeled “Parmigiano-Reggiano,” not “Parmesan.”


3. Roll teaspoon size balls and place in fridge while preparing sauce.

1. Add onion, garlic, oil, blend 5sec/sp5.
2. Cook 7min/120deg/sp1.
3. Add rest of ingredients cook 20min/100deg/sp2.

while sauce is cooking boil 400g spaghetti.

Heat oil in a frypan and cook meatballs in batches till cooked.

When sauce is finished you can blend to your desired consistency.

Accessories you need

Spatula TM31

This recipe was provided to you by a Thermomix ® customer and has not been tested by Vorwerk Thermomix ® or Thermomix ® in Australia and New Zealand.
Vorwerk Thermomix ® and Thermomix ® in Australia and New Zealand assume no liability, particularly in terms of ingredient quantities used and success of the recipes.
Please observe the safety instructions in the Thermomix ® instruction manual at all times.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 medium onion, grated (1 cup)
  • 4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 12 ounces spaghetti

Heat broiler with rack 4 inches from heat source. In a medium bowl, mix 1/4 cup onion, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until combined. Add beef mix gently until combined. With moistened hands, form beef mixture into 16 balls (each equal to 2 level tablespoons). Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and broil until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add carrot, remaining 3/4 cup onion, and remaining 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and add meatballs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.

Add pasta to boiling water 10 minutes before meatballs are cooked cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and return to pot. Add meatballs and tomato sauce to pasta toss to combine. Serve with additional Parmesan, if desired.

  • small spaghetti squash 1 1
  • very lean ground beef (95% lean) 1 lbs 454 g
  • plain bread crumbs 1/4 cup 1/4 cup
  • grated, reduced-fat Parmesan cheese (divided) 3 tbsp 3 tbsp
  • water (plus extra for cooking squash, divided) 3/4 cup 3/4 cup
  • chopped fresh parsley 2 tbsp 2 tbsp
  • eggs 1 1
  • garlic powder 1 tsp 1 tsp
  • black pepper 1/2 tsp 1/2 tsp
  • low-sodium spaghetti sauce 2 cup 2 cup

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Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup) and spray with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk. Set aside to rest while you prepare the remaining ingredients for the meatballs. (The breadcrumbs will absorb the milk as they rest.)

Add the beef, egg, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper to a medium bowl. Add the soaked breadcrumbs. Using your hands, mix gently just until all of the ingredients until just combined.

With lightly oiled hands, gently roll the meat mixture into 16 balls (roughly 2 inches in diameter), and place them an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti al dente according to the package directions.

Pour the marinara sauce into a medium sauté pan or Dutch oven and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve the meatballs and sauce over the cooked spaghetti. (You can also toss the spaghetti with the sauce and meatballs before serving if you prefer. If you do this, reserve a cup of pasta water. Add this pasta water as needed to thin the sauce when tossing with the pasta.) Top with freshly grated Parmesan and basil (if using).


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