Spaghetti and Meatballs in homemade marinara sauce. These are amazing “WOW”-inducing MEATBALLS – so tasty and juicy and BIG! We’re sharing all of our secrets for incredibly tender and flavorful meatballs.

Spaghetti and Meatballs served family style garnished with basil

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Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe:

The secret to getting uber tender meatballs is bread; yes, bread. And the secret to getting uber flavorful meatballs is in the combination of meats – I’m talking about lean ground beef with sweet Italian sausage.

You’ll finish these up by simmering them in the super yummy and easy home-made marinara sauce. This are seriously the best spaghetti meatball recipe I’ve ever tried.

Store-bought meatballs can’t touch these (in an MC Hammer kind of way) – I have no idea why I keep referencing Mr. Hammer? I think I grew up in the 90’s, in Seattle.

The Best Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe in a bowl topped with parmesan and basil

Ingredients for Meatballs (makes 22-23 meatballs):

  • White bread is best but you can use whole wheat or other soft sliced bread
  • Use lean ground beef – 7% to 15% fat content
  • If you aren’t able to find Italian sausage meat only, use sausages and remove casings
  • Use freshly grated parmesan or finely shredded pre-packaged
  • Do not skimp on the garlic in the meatballs or the sauce

Ingredients to make meatballs for spaghetti

Ingredients for Marinara Sauce:

  • It seems like alot of chopped yellow onion but it shrinks considerably
  • If you use “Crushed tomatoes with basil” you can omit the fresh basil if desired
  • Bay leaves are nice, but optional if you don’t have them on hand

Ingredients for Homemade marinara sauce with crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil

How to Make the Best Italian Meatballs:

1. Combine diced crustless bread pieces with 2/3 cup water and set aside for 5 minutes then mash together with a fork.

Bread and water soaking in a bowl

2. In a large mixing bowl (I use my KitchenAid mixer to do the work), add: 1 lb ground beef, 1 lb sausage, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 egg and the mashed moist bread crumbs. Mix until well combined.

How to make meatballs with all meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl

3. Form into 1 1/2″ meatballs (about a flat ice cream scoop’s worth of meat). Dredge/roll meatballs in flour. Heat a deep, large, heavy skillet or a Dutch oven over medium heat with about 3 Tbsp oil. Add meatballs in batches so you don’t crowd the pan and saute until browned on all sides (6 min total or 2 min per side). Remove meatballs to a separate dish and set aside (don’t worry about cooking through at this point).

How to shape, dredge and saute Italian meatballs

How to Make Marinara Sauce:

1. In the same skillet over medium heat, add more oil if needed and saute 1 cup chopped onion stirring often until soft and golden (5 min). Add 4 cloves minced garlic and stir 1 minute.

Sauteed onions for marinara sauce

2. Stir in 2 cans of crushed tomatoes and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a light boil (stir to make sure it’s actually boiling and hot and not just letting bubbles to the surface).

3. Add meatballs back into the pan with tomato sauce, partially cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 min, turning the meatballs occasionally. Meatballs will be tender and sauce will be thickened. 5 minutes before your sauce is done, stir in chopped fresh basil and add salt and pepper to taste.

Adding crushed tomatoes and meatballs back to the pot and adding basil

Finishing Details:

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions until aldente or softer if your family loves it that way! Truth be told, I love slightly overcooked pasta. Drain pasta and return to the empty pot.

2. Pour sauce and meatballs over spaghetti and toss gently to combine. To serve family-style, transfer to a large platter, garnish with more parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves if desired and serve hot.

Spaghetti and meatballs in a dutch oven pot

More Family-Favorite Pasta Recipes:

Creamy Shrimp Pasta – so creamy with plump juicy shrimp
Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo – Mom’s classic recipe
Chicken Tetrazzini – creamy, cheesy and easy with rotisserie chicken

Spaghetti and meatballs served on a plate garnished with parmesan cheese

Watch Natasha Make Spaghetti and Meatballs:


This recipe is also great for meal prep and to-go lunches since it freezes and reheats really well. I hope this becomes a new favorite recipe for you!

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

4.96 from 640 votes
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Spaghetti and Meatballs in homemade marinara sauce. Learn how to make juicy Italian Meatballs - so tender and big! The Best Homemade Spaghetti Meatballs.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 8 (2-3 meatballs per serving)

Ingredients for Meatballs (makes 22-23 meatballs):

  • 3 slices white bread, (crusts removed), diced or torn to pieces
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, (7%-15% fat)
  • 1 lb Sweet Ground Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, to dredge meatballs
  • 3 Tbsp Light olive oil to saute, or use vegetable oil

Ingredients for Sauce:

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 lb spaghetti

Instructions

How to Make the Best Italian Meatballs:

  • Combine bread pieces with 2/3 cup water and set aside 5 min then mash with a fork.
  • In a large mixing bowl add: 1 lb ground beef, 1 lb sausage, 1/4 cup parmesan, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 egg and mashed bread crumbs. Mix until well combined.
  • Form into 1 1/2" meatballs (about a flat ice cream scoop of meat). Dredge/roll meatballs in flour, dusting off excess. Heat a deep, large, heavy skillet or a Dutch oven over medium heat with about 3 Tbsp oil. Add meatballs in 2 batches without crowding the pan and saute until browned on all sides (about 6 min total or 2 min per side). Remove meatballs and set aside (don't worry about cooking through at this point).

How to Make Easy Marinara Sauce:

  • In the same skillet over medium heat, add more oil if needed and saute 1 cup chopped onion stirring often until soft and golden (5 min). Add 4 cloves minced garlic and stir 1-2 min until fragrant.
  • Stir in 2 cans of crushed tomatoes and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a light boil (stir to make sure it's actually boiling and not just sending bubbles to the surface).
  • Add meatballs back into the pan with tomato sauce, partially cover with lid or cover with a splatter screen to reduce splatter and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 min, turning the meatballs occasionally. Meatballs will be tender and sauce will be thickened. Five minutes before sauce is done, stir in chopped fresh basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

How to Make Spaghetti and Meatballs:

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions until aldente (or to desired doneness), drain and return to the empty pot.
  • Pour sauce and meatballs over spaghetti and toss gently to combine. To serve family-style, transfer to a large platter, garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh basil and serve hot.

Notes

*Basil is nice but optional if your crushed tomatoes jar has basil as 1 of the ingredients. 

Nutrition Per Serving

696kcal Calories73g Carbs35g Protein29g Fat9g Saturated Fat101mg Cholesterol1112mg Sodium1110mg Potassium6g Fiber11g Sugar520IU Vitamin A21.5mg Vitamin C167mg Calcium6.4mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
696
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
29
g
45
%
Saturated Fat
 
9
g
56
%
Cholesterol
 
101
mg
34
%
Sodium
 
1112
mg
48
%
Potassium
 
1110
mg
32
%
Carbohydrates
 
73
g
24
%
Fiber
 
6
g
25
%
Sugar
 
11
g
12
%
Protein
 
35
g
70
%
Vitamin A
 
520
IU
10
%
Vitamin C
 
21.5
mg
26
%
Calcium
 
167
mg
17
%
Iron
 
6.4
mg
36
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Spaghetti Meatballs
Skill Level: Easy/Medim
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 696

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

Twirling spaghetti onto fork 

♥ FAVORITE THINGS ♥
Shown in this post: (nope, no one paid us to write this; just stuff we love):
* The Le Creuset French Ovens are made to last a lifetime. They’re lovely too.
* These glass bowls by pyrex are perfect for prepping & serving. Love them!
* These Joseph Joseph utensils sit next to the stove and they get used. ALOT!

What is your all-time favorite comfort food? 

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Artie
    April 27, 2024

    Followed recipe really close. I did deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine. Also added a teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Meatballs were totally tender and flavorful. BTW Cento crushed tomatoes made the sauce. Awesome recipe.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 27, 2024

      Sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

  • Sandra
    April 24, 2024

    I didn’t change a thing but I did bake them on parchment. Paper for 30 minutes at 350. They came out so moist, best recipe !!! Thank you for all the.time you put in to share.

    Reply

  • Michael Gizara
    April 20, 2024

    Very good base recipe for a mild flavored sauce and meat. Try adding a Tbs. of Italian seasoning to the meatball mix and a hot dry red pepper to the sauce. A little red wine sautéing with the onions will help build this into something special. 😀

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 20, 2024

      Sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

  • Tony DeGregorio
    April 7, 2024

    After making this over 10 times, i felt it only right to actually leave a review. For the first time on any recipe really. This is absolutely delightful! A symphony of delectable flavors explode all at once upon first bite. No need to change anything. The fresh basil at the end is perfect. Meatballs are maybe the best I’ve ever tasted. Family loves it. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  • Laura Murphy
    April 2, 2024

    I have made this several times and my family loves it. Cooking like this brings me joy, thank you for this wonderful recipe.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 2, 2024

      You’re very welcome, Laura! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Kathleen
    March 19, 2024

    Made this for dinner. Everyone enjoyed this meatball & spaghetti. Excellent 😋

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 19, 2024

      I’m so glad you all loved it, Kathleen!

      Reply

  • Cheryl
    February 10, 2024

    I have made a recipe very similar to this for over 30 years. Only difference, I use milk in place of water and don’t use flour. A number of years ago I started baking on a baking rack.

    I tried this recipe and it’s very very similar. I prefer milk to water. Thank you for your hard work.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 10, 2024

      Hi Cheryl, Thank you so much for trying my recipe and for sharing your feedback, I’m especially excited to read it resembles your own cherished version that you’ve been making for several decades! This is exactly why I love cooking, we can tailor recipes to our own taste, the substitution of milk for water and using a baking rack are excellent personal touches. I appreciate your kind review.

      Reply

  • SHAWN STAPINSKI
    January 28, 2024

    I made this an exactly as written, big hit with everyone!

    I’m an engineer and self proclaimed home chef…I research a lot of recipes.

    Your recipes are always at the top of the list!

    Thank you!

    Shawn

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 28, 2024

      That’s lovely to hear, Shawn. Thank you for trusting my recipes and for trying them out exactly as written.

      Reply

  • Kay Robbins
    January 6, 2024

    Hey Natasha, can I sub a different seasoning other than basil? They was other of basil on my Kroger delivery. I have oregano, Parsley or Italian seasoning. Will any of those three Work? Thank you

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 6, 2024

      Hi Kay! That would be fine too. The taste will be a bit different but it will still work.

      Reply

      • Kay Robbins
        January 6, 2024

        Thank you. I looked at the ingredients in my crushed tomatoes. Unfortunately, they do not have basil already in it, they actually don’t have any seasoning but salt. But, I got bay leaves and I know they will give flavor. So I am thinking about adding a small amount of oregano and thyme. Do you think it would be ok to add those 2? Or one or the other?

        Reply

        • Natashas Kitchen
          January 6, 2024

          I bet that would work!

          Reply

  • Stephanie shears
    December 20, 2023

    Hello, I made this tonight to make meatball hoagies and it was fabulous, first time I have ever on my 48yrs of life ever made homemade sauce usually I just dr up jarred sauce but I wanted to try something new! Thanks so much for a wonderful recipe my family loved it!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 20, 2023

      You’re very welcome, Stephanie. Happy to know that you loved it so much!

      Reply

  • Tawana
    December 6, 2023

    Followed the meatball recipe to the t and just didn’t have a great flavor overall. I could taste the white bread. I think using breadcrumbs would’ve probably rendered a better result!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      December 8, 2023

      HI Tawana, usually soaking the bread crumbs would cause them to disintegrate enough that you can’t really tell they are there. I wonder if they needed a little more soaking or a little more liquid?

      Reply

  • Mary Ellen
    December 2, 2023

    Very dry. Add more sauce. Meatballs very dry also. Disappointed.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 2, 2023

      Hi Mary! Did you make any substitutions to the recipe? I have never had these be too dry. Did you use leaner meat by chance, overwork the meat mixture, or overcook the meatballs? These are all common issues that can cause them to be dry and tough. You can add more sauce if you’d like. I have found this to be a personal preference.

      Reply

  • Gail
    December 2, 2023

    Finally found your recipe that I used before. My husband usually doesn’t eat meatballs but he loves these. This time I mark down your recipe so I wouldn’t lose it. They taste wonderful

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 2, 2023

      That’s so great! It sounds like you have a new favorite, Gail!

      Reply

  • KJ
    November 16, 2023

    The meatballs had a great savory flavor. I ended up using store-bought marinara sauce but will try this recipe again with homemade sauce.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 16, 2023

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, KJ!

      Reply

  • elena
    November 13, 2023

    what can i substitute the sausage and cheese with? I cant cook with port and cheese.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 13, 2023

      Hi Elena, a substitute may work, keep in mind if it’s not sausage, you would likely need some more seasoning as Italian sausage is more flavorful than ground chicken. Our readers have mentioned trying ground beef, ground chicken. Etc. I have not tested this without parmesan cheese but feel free to do an experiment with a dairy free substitute. Please share with us how it goes if you give that a try!

      Reply

  • william kamm
    November 7, 2023

    Can I combine the meatballs and spaghetti fully cooked and freeze them in a plastic bag so I have a complete meal when I thaw them

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      November 7, 2023

      Hi William. We prefer to make fresh noodles but generally it’s recommended to freeze spaghetti separate from the sauce for best texture.

      Reply

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